Diary: April 2019

April’s diary includes… A very scary Elisabeth Moss, illicit photos from Wallingford Museum and Pierre Bonnard’s ‘The Colour of Memory’

Monday 1, London

We face the final completion of a Tory project … and the recasting of Britain – or, rather England – as a crabby, racist, inward-looking hole

John Harris, the Guardian

Tuesday 2, London
To the cinema to see Us, a nagging, unsettling film. Doppleganger Horror are the best two words I can come up with. Although it plays to fear in a fairly conventional way (fairground, hall of mirrors), the performances elevate it into something else and a reflection of generational shift. Stars a very scary Elisabeth Moss.

Are you with us or against us?

Thursday 4, London
Jane tells me she bought some toilet rolls from Iceland, but discovered to her displeasure that “they’re a bit hard”.

Then: A thought…
Operation Yellowhammer, Project Redfold, Operation Brock, Operation Kingfisher. These are the names of operations inside government to prepare for a worst-scenario departure from the EU. They sound like secret-service capers from the Cold War. Perhaps that is where we are now.

Friday 5, London


This is a big story across all media this morning. Listening to the interview on the radio, I can’t be sure that reporting it in this way tells the truth. The way I heard the player speak, and the slightly incoherent comments from him that led up to the quoted words, he might have actually have been saying that he wants to see the back of the inept governance in football that dishes out paltry fines for racism. But Danny Rose ‘can’t wait to see the back of bad football politics’ is not such a dramatic story. Of course, I could be wrong and the reporting might actually be a faithful reading of what he said.

Monday 8, Winchester
This is a story in today’s Morning Star.


It continues:
‘Alex Gordon reminded the party’s executive committee of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech in Coventry in February last year, when the Labour leader had warned that European Union treaties and directives would block some of his party’s policies. These included providing state aid to cutting-edge industry, extending public ownership, outlawing the super-exploitation of imported agency labour, reforming public-sector procurement rules and putting an end to outsourcing and privatisation…’

Wednesday 10, London

Peter Mitchell, a Liverpool councillor, despairs of new attitudes in the wake of Brexit. ‘I see society changing before my eyes, empowering the worst. This is the end product of Thatcher’s 1980s, where individualism has won out over collectivism: it’s all me and mine; a selfishness that comes from that idea that the private is better than the public.’

Polly Toynbee in the Guardian

Thursday 11, London
To Tate Modern with Headway to see ‘The Colour of Memory’ exhibition.

“Cut-price Monet”?

Chris described Bonnard’s work as “cut-price Monet”. The people in his pictures are cold and lacking personality. The compositions are photojournalistic. He painted his wife naked a lot, often in shoes. I only really liked one picture, ‘Woods in Autumn’ (1939).

My favourite Bonnard

In the Tate promo audio to this show, Stuart gets to speak about his rubbish memory. He tells an interviewer that he wakes up each day not knowing if he killed someone last night. The upside of his brain-injury, he says, is that each day is the start of something new, a blank canvas.

Friday 12, London
After a Headway Eats last night, at the bus stop outside Timber Wharf, Kingsland Road, a group of three youngsters on bicycles came weaving past at speed. A few minutes later I heard a sharp clack, turned around and saw a mobile phone in the centre of the road and the three cyclists disappearing back in the direction from which they had come.

I turned around again and a young woman was standing next to me looking distressed. One of the cyclists had snatched her iPhone then thrown it violently to the ground. I asked the woman if she was OK, tried to console her on what must have been a jolting experience and glimpsed the condition of her phone. It was pretty wrecked, but seemingly still in one piece.

The woman was shocked. Why would they steal a phone only to smash it to the ground? I suggested their task might have been to steal a specific type of iPhone, a sort of criminal commission, and that her phone did not meet the requirements. She attempted a resigned smile at this suggestion and we all got on the 243 bus, waving goodbye to B who had joined us at the bus stop.

I noticed later, spying the internal security camera on the bus that the victim was talking on her phone. I took this as good news, that she was not too traumatised, and when she thanked us as she departed the bus, I felt slightly less disturbed by the whole event.

Saturday 13, Wallingford

‘I wonder if Nigel’s failure to get elected to parliament seven times has anything to do with voters smelling his selfish priorities a mile off.’

Marina Hyde on Nigel Farage in the Guardian

There is an article in the Telegraph magazine in which a 30-year-old woman is explaining why she doesn’t want to have children. In the fourth paragraph she trembles with fear at being in opposition to “society’s expectations of me as a woman”. I have barely reached the last of its 95 words before I have Marie-Claire Chappet cast as a sad, pitiful character.



Wallingford’s finest

At the museum. I was told later that photography was not permitted. Apologies.

Food shaming. I have just read that some schools restrict the choices on the lunchtime menus for children on free school meals. They arrive at the front of the queue, make their lunch request to an adult serving them and are told, “No, you are on free school meals, you can’t have that”.

Thursday 18, London
To the cinema for ‘Wild Rose’, a redemption movie, directed by Tom Harper.

Wild in the country

It’s a very corny but also very sweet film. The role of women, especially motherhood, is the theme. The story itself resembles a country song in narrative. Rose is the difficult country-singing Glaswegian ex-con mother of two, Julie Walters plays her mother. Walters’ burning eyes are enough to pull a corny movie out of the mire of soft sentiment, and she don’t half do class with class.

Friday 19, Croydon

Wetherspoons, the inside story

To Spoons for a Good Friday lunch with Margaret, Sue, Lil, Mia, me and Jane at our regular meeting place, The George pub.

Saturday 20, Sutton
On our way to Paula’s I spotted this tree outside the Turkish restaurant near the train station, entangled in wires, connection boxes and lights.

Fresh view of Sutton

Sunday 21, London
To the Pierre Bonnard exhibition at Tate Modern for an Easter Sunday treat. At an earlier visit I thought the compositions very studied and a bit photographic. This time I tried to keep my concentration on the figures and their shapes.

My Pierre Bonnard rip-offs

Thursday 25, Brighton
A quote in today’s Guardian Weekly magazine from Malcolm Perera, a labourer at the scene of the Easter Sunday terror attack in Colombo, Sri Lanka: “With my friends I carried 37 bodies and 50 bags of body parts … the smell of blood is still on my body.”

Saturday 27, Brighton

‘they [Brexiters say] won a referendum and that victory should be honoured. They have a point. The trouble is that the parliament to which they wish to return sovereignty – the very democracy they are fighting for – has not found a way to honour it.

Gary Younge, in the Guardian

Sunday 28, Brighton
Two more mechanico-sketches I just did. I also made one of Zinedine Zidane’s legendary 2006 World Cup Final decking of the Italian player Marco Materazzi.


● Read my May Diary

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