Diary… 5-11 April


Isolation means tackling difficult questions

‘Were Copperfield and Steerforth gay lovers?’

Sunday 5 April, London My sister asked what “furlough” means. I said “laid off”.

✒️ The Mona Lisa monostitch T-shirt project is progressing. I’ve ordered some multicoloured thread for her dress. 

Rich Italian woman stitched up by multicoloured thread

The top thread firm appears to be Gutermann. They have some great colours. Maybe “Gutermann threads” can go on my Christmas list.

Rich Italian woman stitched up on camera…

✒️ Shirley posted this on WhatsApp.

Monday 6 April, London The question I’m asking myself is: were Copperfield and Steerforth gay lovers? We have two friends in Brighton, Pip and Andy, who are a pair of what I will call Facebook “Performance Poofs”. Andy is an academic who has written a lot about gay issues and I can almost predict his answer to my question: “Of course they were a pair of raving bum-boys. He [Steerforth] calls him [Copperfield] Daisy, for fuck’s sake”. Andy is not a lone academic in this theory. A quick web search uncovers, from 10 years ago, a study by a Leicester University researcher, Polly Furneaux, entitled ‘Queer Dickens: Erotics, Families, Masculinities’, in which a number of Charlie’s fictitious characters are outed, fingered, whatever.

✒️ Someone on Radio 2 did a big “shout-out” (what does a “shout-in” sound like?) to thank the various people who have continued to work throughout the Lockdown. Including prison screws.

✒️ While toiling at the Mona Lisa monostitch, my left hand went into spasm and I accidentally stabbed the needle into my left leg. I pulled it out and thought nothing of it, but later felt a twinge and checked.

✒️ Belatedly, I got the April photo of the building site outside our front door, which has been belatedly halted.

Building site silenced by Coronavirus…

✒️ The Prime Minister has been moved into Intensive Care at St Thomas’ hospital.

Tuesday 7 April, London Reports emphasise that the Prime Minister is not on a ventilator.

✒️ My wife told me what it was like when I was in ICU after my stroke. Every patient has a dedicated nurse whose job is to study all the monitors constantly. If they go to the toilet, someone else takes over. She said it was simply amazing to witness such an intensity of care.

✒️ This question appeared in my Quora feed: ‘My wedding ring fell in my neighbour’s Koi pond and one of the fish ate it. I have no idea which fish ate it, how can we figure out which fish? We’d really rather not have to cut more fish open than necessary.’

The top answer said that the task was impossible since Koi do not have stomachs.

✒️ I just discovered from a LabourList daily email that new leader Keir Starmer has appointed Rebecca Long Bailey to Education. Ed Miliband returns in RLB’s former job on the Green New Deal.

✒️ At 8pm nobody on our estate “clapped for Boris”.

✒️ On GBBO Kelly Brook’s lemon and apricot sandwich biscuit looked like a cheese roll. Paul Hollywood loved it.

✒️ Lots of people on Twitter seem to think Paul Hollywood wants to fornicate with Kelly Brook.

Wednesday 8 April, London Isolation project 1 is finished. My wife wants to wash it, but I think it will probably fall apart.

Rich Italian woman needs a wash…

My sister wants me to do Jürgen Klopp next. It will probably be Hilda Ogden.

✒️ Inspired by last night’s pink moon, I figured I might take up moon watching, so I got the recommended app to help me get to grips with this new hobby. Alas, the opening page looks like this…

Fly me to the Moon…

I do like the word “gibbous”, though.

✒️ It has been decided that we need some carrots, so I will step out of the apartment tomorrow. This is what I will look like…

✒️ Then Shirley posted this on WhatsApp…

Thursday 9 April, London Got a message from Cristina at Headway to say the Barbican have green-lighted the video… with a few additions. I can do those as audio, so no need to talk straight to the camera, which gives me the creeps.

✒️ I enjoy Neil Perry’s postings from Norway, where he has lived ever since, hundreds of years ago, he was asked to make a documentary about Jaz Coleman. This one is from today.

The black hand of Norway’s kamikaze pensioner brigade…

✒️ The Quora feed threw up this: “Can my husband’s mistress sue me for sending a letter to her neighbors letting them know the homewrecker that she is?”

There were a lot of conflicting responses, but the lengthiest was from a divorce lawyer, who bored me to death before reaching no answer beyond, “ask yourself, Who you want to be?”

Friday 10 April, London An Opinion article in the Guardian about governments ignoring the warnings of science concludes: “If Covid-19 eventually imbues human beings with some humility, it’s possible that we will, after all, be receptive to the lessons of this lethal pandemic. Or perhaps we will sink back into our culture of complacent exceptionalism and await the next plague that will surely arrive…”

✒️ Mark Steel adds a slightly different slant to the debate.

✒️ We had a Zoom birthday drink for Steve, and later my wife did one with her old college friends while I sorted the edge pieces of a new jigsaw.

✒️ Earlier, Kate posted on WhatsApp that she’d been rummaging through a box of her mum’s old stuff. She found this in Auntie Jackie’s purse…

Saturday 11 April, London The Morning Star reports that Lisa Nandy is moaning about Dominic Raab. She is outraged that Raab has not appointed someone to do his day-job (Foreign Secretary) while he is busy being Boris. This leaves the repatriation of British nationals stranded overseas in suspension. 

✒️ An email from Matt at The Conversation tells me that ‘The Plague’, by Albert Camus, is flying off bookshop shelves “as millions of Lockdown Bookworms drive a surge in pandemic fiction”. 

✒️ Martin Freeman was on the radio, once again confirming my view that actors are our best truth-tellers.

✒️ There was a mouse in the trap when I came downstairs this morning. I put it in an old Sainsbury’s bag and left it outside the front door. Later, when I went out to buy Easter Eggs, the rodent was in a partial escape manoeuvre from the bag. I quickly gathered it up and dumped it down the garbage chute. Easter Eggs were 3 for £8 at Tesco. 

✒️ In an article about the arrogance and ignorance of Boris Johnson’s Churchillian English “exceptionalism”, Fintan O’Toole concludes: “Covid-19, as Johnson himself discovered in the most awful way, doesn’t make exceptions. The threat is universal. And the shield against it – the NHS – is cosmopolitan and global. There are 200 different nationalities represented in its ranks by 150,000 doctors, nurses and ancillary staff. One consolation in this disaster is the realisation that Britain is exceptionally lucky to have them.”

✒️ Thanks to a tip-off on Twitter from Chris Addison, we watched our favourite ever film this afternoon, Bill Forsyth’s ‘Local Hero’. 

And therefore I was reminded of a review I once wrote, shortly after my stroke, for the Guardian.

⚫ Read my March Diary

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