Monday 23 March, London In the book I’m reading, ‘David Copperfield’, David’s aunt, Betsey Trotwood, has just deposited her nephew into the guardianship of Mr Wickfield and His “house keeper” Agnes. Now she is about to depart and return home to Mr Dick. She leaves a final piece of advice for David (aka, Trot), telling him, “Never be mean in anything; never be false; never be cruel. Avoid those three vices, Trot, and I can always be hopeful of you.”
📌 Later, towards the end of Chapter 15, David bumps into Uriah Heap and bids him goodnight by offering him his hand. “But oh, what a clammy hand his was! as ghostly to the touch as to the sight. I rubbed mine afterwards, to warm it, and to rub his off.”
📌 Andrew Rawnsley is as surprised as anyone to see a libertarian, small-state fanantic such as Boris Johnson steering Britain towards a mega-state, collectivist solution to the Covid-19 emergency.
📌 A depressing day, sombre, no energy, a feeling of total pointlessless. Any small sign of something positive would be nice. The people we know who work in the health service fear the worst is yet to come.
Tuesday 24 March, London Unbelievably, the mood is better today. Yesterday had a deathly feeling about it. At 8.30pm last night the Prime Minister made a televised address to the nation announcing a total lockdown and a fixed set of rules on movement. It amounts to a compulsory house arrest for all but those doing essential work. Today there is some debate about what is essential, much of it from businessmen arguing that their enterprise is “essential” to the economic wellbeing of the nation.
📌 Somehow today we have some sense of the gravity of the situation. We are finally on the same page as other European countries and can learn from their experience. This gives some immediate structure to what we do, and that is a relief. There is still a ridiculous level of confusion and contradiction from decision makers. One moment we hear that the health service is to stop treating over 65s and that the army is mobilising field hospitals. The next we get the message that if we all calm down, the health service and food chains will revive. The depressing stories are very depressing; the moments of cheer are rare.
📌 I did manage to distract myself by checking out what foodstuffs we currently have. In the back of one cupboard was a small jar of something called “Balsamic pearls”.
📌 Later I set up and shot some photos to add to the video Dave is editing of my wax monoprint tutorial for Barbican Creative Learning based on the ‘Masculinities’ exhibition that has now been suspended. That was fun.
📌 I also managed to finish editing my February diary. It had sat forgotten in “Drafts” for weeks, then I noticed it, stressed out a bit, then calmed down and decided that so long as it appears before the end of March, that was no disgrace. I will try to be more prompt with the March diary. They make an interesting contrast despite being tediously long. Still, long-reads seem to be in fashion these days. But only masochists are likely to get through these monthly missives, and only super-masochists the annual collection, which dates back to 2014.
📌 My wife gave me a haircut with the clippers we bought from Argos. Number 8 all over. Next time we might do it in the bath to prevent the mess. And maybe move to a number 7.
📌 The great work of the staff at Headway East London continues. Today, Zuber sent all members a quiz. The answers will appear tomorrow. Have a go…
- Into which sea does the River Nile flow into?
- Which sign of the zodiac is represented by the scales?
- In TV, what bar did Sam Malone run?
- The Nags Head was the pub in which classic British sitcom?
- Written by Neil Diamond, what was UB40’s first UK Number 1 hit?
- Phillips, London and ratchet are all varieties of what item?
- What is the name of the Dutch footballer who transferred from Arsenal to Manchester United in August 2012 for £23miliion?
- Which 1988 western film saw Emilio Estevez play Billy The Kid?
- Where in London is there a bronze statue of Charlie Chaplin?
- What was the name of the fantasy kingdom, found at a back of a wardrobe, and is inhabited by Mr Tumnus and Aslan?
- Which US TV show from the 70s and 80s featured Michael Langdon as Charles Ingalls living on a farm with his wife and 4 daughters?
- Which luxury department store had the first escalators installed in the UK in 1898?
- What colour is Pac-Man?
- What is the national emblem of Canada?
- What colour would you get if you mix the colour of the Circle Line and the Piccadilly Line on a London tube map?
- Who wrote the series novels, such as ‘Patriot Games’, featuring the title character Jack Ryan? Was it (a) Ian Fleming, (b) Tom Clancy or c) John Le Carre
- What is the Spanish word for fox and also the name of a famous masked swordsman?
- Who is Popeye’s nemesis/arch rival?
- Hepatitis affects which organ of the human body?
- Who wrote the ‘Famous Five’ series of children’s books?
📌 My temperature is 36.49.