Diary: September 2019

This month’s diary includes an octogenarian pain in the arse, Keith Haring and Jürgen Klopp in Liverpool, and chatting with Sgt. Pepper’s offspring

Sunday 1 September 2019, London
Only when Health, Education, Social Services and the Police are properly talking to each other will all citizens get the life chances they should be entitled to.

Monday 2 September 2019, London
At St Luke’s today P– told us that on Saturday she is off on a 7-stop cruise around the Med, departing from Southampton. 

She is a bit stressed because her octogenarian husband is a “Pain in the Arse” and likely to frighten all the other P&O cruisers with his Tourettic swearing. She says that every day she deposits him in a pub on the Cally Road at 1.15pm and collects him at 3.30pm. In that period he manages to strike cash deals with hawkers for multiple packs of steaks, blocks of Cathedral cheddar cheese and other sundry items, which last week included a monstrous round wall clock for £10. P– collects him round the side of the pub in her car and Pain gets some strong fellas to load that day’s bargain buys into the boot. 

P– is especially worried about Pain’s proud-but-stubborn refusal to use the wheelchair she has hired for the two-week cruise at £76. I could be wrong, but I thought at one point she looked quite tearful telling us all this.
I had a benign mole removed from my back. The doctor at the Lawson Practice in Hackney went on and on about politics. First it was the assumption that anyone referred to them from the Neaman GP surgery in the City was “posh”, then he moved on to Diane Abbott and private schools by way of Tony Blair, then finally to Boris Johnson, who ranked very low in his estimation, much to Jane’s approval.

Tuesday 3 September 2019, London

Here is the paradox that is doing my head in. Later tonight, when up to 20 odd Tories are stripped of the Tory whip, Boris Johnson’s minority in parliament will go from minus 2 to minus a lot. He will have no control of parliament. And yet his attempt tomorrow to hold a general election on 14 October may flop. None of this makes any sense. Chaos. Madness.

Journalist Robert Peston on Twitter

Thursday 5 September 2019, London
I am no fan of the EU, but I’m very keen on my country being part of a peaceful, cooperative and democratic Europe.
A– told me at the bus stop that her son F–, 9, is in Great Ormond Street Hospital following the removal of a tumour from his cerebellum. She says he is alert and asking for Pepsi.
Then, just past Stafford on a train to Liverpool:
What if Boris Johnson is not a Conservative after all but a revolutionary, bent on destroying politics in the way we’ve come to understand it? Over the past 24 hours we have seen tribal opposites such as Philip Hammond and Hillary Benn clawing at common ground. Tories, Labour and Lib Dems uniting behind a mutually shared goal. This is a more ‘European’ way of doing politics, a talent I’d always believed British politicians lacked. Was the wrecking ball Johnson’s plan all along? I doubt it. Maybe it’s just the birth of a new kind of tribalism. Luciana Berger has just joined the Lib Dems.

Friday 6 September 2019, Liverpool
Media commentators have started to speculate openly about the mental health of both US president Donald Trump and UK prime minister Boris Johnson.

This week, finally, a Commons majority has behaved with some sense of public responsibility in bringing temporary order to the no-deal chaos. This has involved offering Johnson what amounts to a compromise. If he really wants Brexit on 31 October, he can have it, and a general election to boot; but he must negotiate a swift Brexit deal in return, or face a delay. This is high-risk. Much will depend on Johnson playing ball.

Simon Jenkins, the Guardian

Monday 9 September 2019, Liverpool
Photos from our weekend.

Many shot in Tate Liverpool, including the Jean Dubuffet, right, second up. Others include the urinals in the Philharmonic pub, an image of the actor Anthony Quinn in Zorba’s restaurant and scenes from the Baltic Triangle, including me with Jürgen Norbert Klopp.

Jürg and me in the Triangle
At the Tate

Tuesday 10 September 2019, London
Well, that was two hours of my life I won’t get back. Hearty congratulations to anyone who managed to stay awake till the end of ‘The Souvenir‘. 

By the time Tilda Swinton announced that her daughter’s destructive boyf had been found dead “in the toilets of the Wallace Collection”, I was ready to dance with joy. The girlfriend was described in the film by Richard Ayoade as a “trainee Rotarian”, the boyf was an evil posh heroin addict (played by TV PI Cormoron Strike), so they were both easy to dislike.

Wednesday 11 September 2019, London
There is a good editorial in the Morning Star today titled ‘Our Rulers Are Divided’.

Thursday 12 September 2019, Hackney

L-R: Billy, Tony, Rose, at Submit to Love studio

A young illustrator from one of the nearby arches popped into the studio today while I was trying a kind of monoprinting method using foil slathered in crayon to transfer the sketch to page. I learned from Michelle that her name was Rose and that her dad once designed a Beatles album sleeve. I innocently asked which album and she said Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. My jaw hit the floor. She was Peter Blake’s daughter and she told us she had just finished illustrating a book about Andy Warhol. She fetched some of her other books for us to keep, including ones about David Hockney and her father. I asked her if he still wore sneakers and she told me no, he prefers to dress in all black these days and lives in Chiswick. I remarked that he was a cantankerous old sod and she agreed. I showed her this entry from my 2015 diary when, on a visit to Mallorca I spotted a picture that reminded me of Peter Blake’s work…

…and she told me that a spoof version of the Peter Blake self portrait had recently appeared called ‘Self Portrait (With Badgers)’ –  images of tiny badgers replacing the badges.

Check out #iamroseblake

Monday 16 September 2019, London
There is an editorial in the Guardian about a law in California limiting the worker-exploitation ambitions of gig-economy firms such as Uber and Air B&B. This is a line that stuck out for me.

“When economists think about technology, they don’t just ask what it makes possible but what will be profitable to do with it.”

Wednesday 18 September 2019, London
One of the great delights of turning 60 is that you instantly get a piece of mail that contains your Bowel Cancer Screening Kit. It contains a small applicator stick you are meant to plunge into one of your fecal stools, rotate until the stick is sufficiently coated in your poo, then seal safely in a plastic test tube. Pop it in the post and the jobbie is done.
See 27 September for the result.

Thursday 19 September 2019, Tottenham Hale
Firoza wasn’t well today, so I got conscripted to present the Radio Headway East London show. I dragged Chris along, so it wasn’t so stressful.

Friday 21 September 2019, London
We made a three-bean salad at the interactive Cretan Supper Club (£20) at St Luke’s. The starter was a tooth-shattering rock-hard corn bread with pulped tomato and Feta on top. Plus Greek tea and prosecco. Host Maria is from Heraklion and adds a splash of balsamic to her tzatziki. She told us that Hania bus station – which I described as the best place in the world –  had been smartened up but had not lost its soul.

Greek goodies

Saturday 21 September 2019, London
To the Southbank to see The Great Escape, with live orchestra. It’s a treat at the Festival Hall for our wedding anniversary.

The film conked out about two-thirds of the way in. Just as “tunnel king” Danny (Charles Bronson) was having a panic attack when faced with the possibility of being set free.

Monday 23 September 2019, London
To the William Blake exhibition at Tate Britain for our anniversary. Jane did not like the fact that everything was so tiny; we both found it a bit creepy-religious and superstitious. I thought the images were obsessive. And he did have ridiculously titchy handwriting.

Wednesday 25 September 2019, London
It has reached the point where my first greeting of anyone I meet includes the question, “Has Boris pulled any stunts today?” Is this how most people want to see their country’s Prime Minister? A master stunt-puller, but at least he is OUR stunt-puller?

Thursday 26 September 2019, London
To another NFT Live event at the Barbican for ‘One Man, Two Guvnors‘. James Corden might be a tosser to some, but he is a good comedy actor. Still not sure about how the cameras are used in these theatre projects. I preferred the earlier shows where the cameras were static and no filmy panning and zooming was used. It made it like you had three seats in different parts of the theatre which you could teleport into at will.

Friday 27 September 2019, London
This arrived this morning. Hard to know why I decided to include the piece of rotten fruit in the shot. It was only the skin, so I peeled it off, chopped the fruit, added some blueberries and crème fraîche…and breakfast was served.

To the Barbican to see an NFT Live screening of a new performance of the original Fleabag play, which spawned the very successful TV series

Jane didn’t like it that much, wondering how she would have viewed it had she not seen the TV adaptation. I liked it, but then I like watching actors act. I hadn’t realised that the author, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, was also the actor who plays the Fleabag character. Fleabag is also an interesting character, a kind of mutant Xennial who can see love in others but not in herself. Waller-Bridge is a good storyteller and mixes the comedy, tragedy, pathos and one-liners with skill. Perhaps she is the best advert there is for actors writing their own parts. She can also pull some funny faces. One of our friends is not that impressed. He calls her “Phoebe Gymkhana-Roedean”, which is also funny.

Saturday, 28 September 2019, London
There is a lot of media talk this morning about the establishment of an interim caretaker government to try to extend the Brexit deadline and hold a general election. But who will lead it? Convention says that it should be the Leader of the Opposition, but Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn is not a unity figure, he is a divisive one. The question is whether he will accept anyone else. It will be a test of his politics to see what he does next. 

Would he, for example, agree to a Conservative doing the job? Two key characters who have also been vocal recently are former Prime Minister John Major and the disaffected Tory minister Amber Rudd, until recently a Boris Johnson Cabinet member. Are either of these two seasoned politicians preferable to Corbyn than Boris Johnson and a crash out of the EU? And do they both already know the answer to that question?
After a stroll around the Old Street end of Shoreditch and a visit to the Autograph APB gallery in Rivington Place, we took a seat and a glass of wine in Aviary. This is a hotel rooftop bar and restaurant in Finsbury Square. There was a private party in progress featuring guests who all looked like they were in an audition for the reality TV show ‘The Only Way Is Essex‘. Jane came up with two memorable remarks. She said, “It would be good if there was a fight”, and in another reference, “that dress is going to look awful when she throws up down it.”

Monday 30 September 2019, London
We came third in the Artillery Arms pub quiz last night. There were three teams and the quiz theme was Money.

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