Diary: June 2019

This month’s diary includes the memory of a famous European victory for Liverpool, a stage play featuring the mesmeric Gillian Anderson, and archive photos of the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance

2 June 2019, London
Barney Ronay in the Guardian on Liverpool’s 2-0 defeat of Tottenham Hotspur in the Uefa Champions League final. And what it shows about the team’s progress under German manager Jurgen Klopp.

5 June 2019, London
To the Barbican cinema for a live transmission from Stratford of an RSC production of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’.

Role reversal in Shakespeare. That’s new (not).

This version had already been cast as the “MeToo Shrew”  because it explores power through role reversal. So Kate is a man acting the part of a woman and Petruchio is a woman, renamed Petruchia, doing a male role.

I liked the Petruchia character, played by Claire Price. She gripped the part and made it her own, raising the comedy rating (which was flagging under the weight of the Big Idea) with a lovely caricature of male swagger and banter.

The play was directed by Justin Audibert.

6 June 2019, London
In the studio today TA was working on one of his big word images on the theme ‘God Is…’ It said: ‘God Is Everything’.

When I told him I was an atheist he was disbelieving. He sat and thought for a moment, continuing with his task, then leaned over and asked how long I’d been an atheist.

In my head I replaced the word atheist for vegan, even though I’m not one, so that was a bit weird.

He saw atheism as a lifestyle choice, as if all human beings are born to believe in God, and to not believe in God is to deviate.

I told him I had been an atheist all my life, and I reckon the £10,000 award for the ‘God Is …’ submission is already won.

12 June, 2919, London
At the Guardian Archive today I catalogued a set from Don McPhee, Box 22, titled ‘Abbots Bromley Horn Dance’.

14 June 2019, London
At the Glera quiz in the community centre last night, Jane followed me to the toilet to tell me I was mistaken about the answer I’d given to one of the questions. She spoke through the locked door, telling me that the TV theme music in the question we had just heard was not from ‘Cheers’ but from ‘Hill Street Blues’. She claims she merely wanted to verify her hunch about the correct answer because I used to have a thing for the HSB actor Veronica Hamel, who played a dishy super-confident lawyer. But I suspect the truth was that she wanted to tell me I was wrong.

15 June 2019, London
Ed Miliband has written an inspiring article in Prospect magazine in which he states early in the piece that more man-made damage to the environment through fossil-fuel emissions has come in the past 30 years “when we have known what we were doing” than in the previous centuries during which “we didn’t have a clue”.

15 June 2019, London, 
Micro-story: ’16 March 1977′. Liverpool versus St Étienne. Final score (3-2 agg)
After the game we went to the Willowbank rather than the Cabbage, for some reason. There were two Étienne supporters in there looking dead miz. Some fella went over to them and said, “Tell you what? I’ll keep dixie if you smile.” I’m not sure they knew what he was talking about.

16 June 2019, London
To the Barbican for a live screening of a National Theatre production of ‘All About Eve,’ starring a mesmeric Gillian Anderson. They did some interesting stuff with video – cameras embedded in mirrors, roving camerapeople on stage, but I’m not sure the dialogue from the original script stood the test of time.
Guardian review.

Interesting stuff with video

19 June, London
I finished indexing Box 22 of the Don McPhee photograph collection at the Guardian Archives today. The last entry was 29 sets of negatives from the 1994 Labour Party conference in Blackpool. That completes the project. I also met some people from U3A (University of the Third Age) who were advising on how to translate and decipher a bunch of a reporter’s old shorthand notebooks, written in Pitman shorthand. They intend to try scanning the pages and then get their members and volunteers to work on the translations remotely. If it works, this sounds like a partnership made in heaven for both U3A and the Guardian.

20 June, London
Michelle’s photo of me at work in the Submit to Love studio, posted on Instagram. I think I look too serious.


Read what I have to say about the picture.

And later (below): notes from a Headway East London brainstorm on ideas for a new approach to the Member-Led Training (MLT) programme.

Training notes

And later still, went to see the film ‘Late Night’ with Jackie. It starred Emma Thompson and played well to Thompson’s comedy skills, we both thought. Her co-star, Mindy Kaling, is credited with writing and co-producing.
Guardian review.

Emma Thompson’s gift for comedy

22 June
J had a ‘flight’ on a virtual-reality swing the Culture Mile organisers have installed on the estate at Fann Street, behind The Shakespeare pub.

Is Culture Mile a mere flight of fancy?

23 June 2019
For me, the most frightening thing about the prospect of Boris Johnson becoming UK Prime Minister is its potential to embed a revenge motive in the minds of the young. They will be so disturbed that the the leader of their country has effectively been appointed by a small group of white, middle class old men that they will be overcome by a desire to punish ALL of that group’s contemporaries, regardless of economic, social, racial, ethnic or political position. My generation could become the HATED generation. Expect the TV mini-series soon. Grisly.

27 June 2019, London
Below is an email I sent this morning in response to ward meeting of Common Councillors last week at the Frobisher Room in the Barbican Centre. It’s a bit unintentionally snotty.

Dear Alderman Graves
Can you please assure me that all Cripplegate council members are happy to represent the whole of the Cripplegate ward. At last night’s meeting in the Frobisher Room, some of them gave me the impression that they see themselves primarily as Barbican councillors, and while the Barbican is a big player in the Cripplegate ward. It is not the only one. Golden Lane residents already feel alienated and remote from what they perceive to be a ward run by the “Barbican Mafia”. Heaven help anybody who lives in Cripplegate but not in the Barbican or on Golden Lane. My own suggested answer is in this week’s City Matters newspaper and it is for more Golden Lane residents join common council, but I fear even that will not change the minds of the Cripplegate councillors who see themselves as Barbican councillors. Do you have any suggestions for a way forward?
Best regards

Billy Mann

27 June 2019, Hackney

Liverpool vs St Étienne 1977, a legend locally

The Étienne picture is coming along nicely. A few more stories to add and it’s finished. I have loads from redandwhitekop.com, who have a special ‘Were You There?’ feed about the epic European encounter.

28 June 2019, London
To Barbican Cinema 2 last night to see a live screening of a stage production of Andrea Levy’s ‘Small Island’. It was superb: extremely powerful but never intense, warm-hearted but with a cold eye on a legacy of racism. Though Liverpool is not part of the story, on a personal note, I found myself asking whether the city’s famed humour has part of its origin in Caribbean culture – the deadpan sarcasm, runaway gobbiness and the cockiness with a cheeky wink. It’s a stereotype of both cultures, to be sure. The West Indies characters in this play also have a massive sense of place and a sentimentality about national identity that seems to be forever in some sort of conflict.
Guardian review.

Warm hearted with a cold eye on racism.

28 June 2019, London
My City Matters column for June.

City Matters, Issue number 101, p23

29 June 2019, London

‘Over the past couple of weeks, a few Corbyn outriders seem to have inched a little closer to the idea that Jeremy might be a sub-optimal leader, and that Labour’s Brexit position is, to paraphrase, a bit of a shitter.’

Marina Hyde, the Guardian

30 June 2019, Hackney
To the Arcola Theatre in Dalston to see the monologuic play ‘Radio’. It was a fabulous bit of storytelling that put me in mind of ‘The Catcher In The Rye’, about love, loss and a metaphoric depiction of the rise and fall of the US space programme from the 1950s onwards as a reflection on the fortunes of the American Dream. But unlike ‘Catcher’, the ending points not to the individual but to society.
Guardian review.

Radio: A metaphor in Space

● Read my July Diary

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