Diary… 12-18-April



‘The first 15 minutes of Zooming with people over 50 is just a lot of geriatric pissing about on how to get the sound to work and the picture the right way up’


Sunday 12, London At a Zoom coffee ‘n’ chat session yesterday, Amanda said there had been a surge in online sales for tops. This, she said, is because lots of people are “above-waist dressing” for video meetings on apps such as Zoom, Messenger, WhatsApp, Houseparty and Hangouts. And just to prove the point, Shirley stood up in her little onscreen box to reveal her stripy pyjama bottoms.

πŸ“Œ One of our friends in Brighton, a nurse, has been battling on the frontline of the Covid catastrophe. The stress was growing by the day and the fear of passing on the virus was torture, so he took the option of unpaid leave until his June retirement date. It was an agonising decision, but you could sense the relief after he announced it in a long message on Facebook. 

πŸ“Œ I boiled up the left-over carcass and made chicken noodle soup. It should last me about 3 days. I will try the “Dutch Oven” technique of breadmaking tomorrow.

πŸ“Œ Isolation monostitch project 2, another T-shirt, this time featuring Hilda Ogden.

πŸ“Œ I’ve been trying to remember the names of the sons in ‘Friday Night Dinner’. I think one of them might be Adam, but all I can really be sure of is that one is “pussface” and the other “pissface”.

Monday 13, London There’s a story in the Hackney Citizen saying that Hackney is blessed with a vast number of different tree species. A writer, aptly named Paul Wood, has dubbed the borough “London’s Urban Arboretum”.

πŸ“Œ Our friend Gill wanders around London taking fab pictures and posting them on Instagram (@gillmee). One recent group featured numbers, and this is the one I liked most.

 πŸ“Œ Just read an article in Guardian Weekly called ‘What Comes Next’. I like the non-inclusion of a question mark, which makes it a headline with a difference, more of a statement. It talks about how crises shape history and some of the bizarre things that end up passing for normal. It contains the passage: “In such moments, whatever is broken in society gets revealed for just how broken it is, often in the form of haunting little images or stories. In recent weeks, the news has furnished us with countless examples… Prisoners in New York state are getting paid less than a dollar per hour to bottle hand sanitiser that they themselves are not allowed to use (because it contains alcohol), in a prison where they are not given free soap, but must buy it in an on-site shop.”

πŸ“Œ Neighbour Bev is organising a banner protest to coincide with the return to work on the Colpai building site tomorrow. Sue is putting pressure on the council to back down and stop it. I objected to building workers feeling pressured by the contractor ISG to return to non-essential work.

πŸ“Œ Someone on Quora asks “How will life change in Britain after the coronavirus pandemic?” The top answer states 12 ways. “In no particular order:

  • Grandparents will be treasured more.
  • Divorce rate will rocket.
  • Nine months on we will see a baby boom.
  • People will keep larger stocks of essentials.
  • Larger reserve capacity for ICU beds and ventilators.
  • More funding for the NHS.
  • Far tighter pandemic rules.
  • Greater uptake of flu vaccines and vaccines in general.
  • Less strain on NHS as many health-compromised patients will have died.
  • Tax increases, maybe even ring-fenced for the NHS.
  • Fewer foreign holidays, especially cruises.
  • Endless crappy books, films and documentaries about the virus and its effects.”

Tuesday 14, London The Morning Star is apopleptic because a report has been uncovered that details Labour Party staff casually saying horrible things about Jeremy Corbyn behind his back – some of it jesty, some of it in bad taste.

πŸ“Œ There’s a rumour on Twitter that new Labour leader Keir Starmer is The Secret Barrister.

πŸ“Œ All Saints’ Shaznay Lewis appeared on the Zoe Ball radio show and said she wrote the lyrics to ‘Pure Shores’ while on a plane to America, where the hit song was to be recorded. But she left the lyrics on the plane, so was forced to “remember” them.

Wednesday 15, London One of the weirdest things about this Lockdown is that I have started to think of my brain injury as a growing child… my child. It is now more than 7 years old and is starting to find its personality. I’m looking forward to watching this young life unfold.

πŸ“Œ There’s a story in the Guardian about how the road from emergency to recovery from Coronavirus could dovetail into a global emergency mindset on climate change. The article states that since the Lockdown in China, air pollution has tanked and the result is that an extra 1,400 children under 5 are still alive, children who would have died had the polluting continued unchecked. The number for adults over 70 is more than 50,000. Later in the piece a writer, Rebecca Solnit, is quoted as stating, about the precariousness of crises such as Covid and Climate, “We don’t even have a language for this emotion [of the newfound solidarity among citizens] in which the wonderful comes wrapped in the terrible”.

πŸ“Œ My breadmaking was a bit more successful today after Paula sent me her auntie Tricia’s secret recipe for Irish soda bread. Gorgeous.

Thursday 16, London Did an interview with James Drury at the Barbican about the video tutorial for the Creative Learning team, its purpose and background. No hard questions. I’m still flabbergasted they’ve stayed interested in the project.

πŸ“Œ Got a message saying Guardian Education Centre and Archive staff are to be furloughed from tomorrow until May 31. It wasn’t a huge surprise and possibly a knock-on from the announcement that the UK Lockdown will be extended by 3 weeks. 

πŸ“Œ Effected a temporary repair of the Danish chair… with string. I’m using it as my office chair at the moment, with the video camera standing at the  ready.

πŸ“Œ Michelle phoned and asked me to make more short video clips for Instagram. She especially wanted me to talk over the action. I like the idea and might rearrange the workspace to accommodate casual shooting.

πŸ“Œ Sue did a Zoom quiz for the Brighton mob. We came second, pipped by one point in the final round by Carol and Scott, aka the North Laine Massive.

Friday 17, London I reworked the workspace to accommodate Michelle’s request for short, Instagram-friendly video clips of me doing my art with voiceover.

New workstation setup…

πŸ“Œ We did a video chat with Graham, Dominique, Liz and Bill for Dom’s birthday. It is already a given that if you are Zooming or whatever with anyone over 50, the first 15 minutes will just be a lot of geriatric pissing about  on how to get the sound to work and the picture the right way up.

πŸ“Œ The burn I got from the oven shelf while baking Auntie Tricia’s “secret soda bread” two days ago has started to hurt and blister.

πŸ“Œ The Hilda Ogden monostitch is progressing. I agonised over the pattern of her housecoat, but finally settled on stripes. I’ve got a bad feeling about this already. It’s starting to look a bit too Bertie Wooster.

πŸ“Œ Did a video of the brain wax monoprint to test the new workstation arrangement. Too many colours, I think. My wife and I did some banter during the filming. She cracked a joke about Sarah Bellum. Some stupid TV show is playing in the background featuring Arthur Smith and an over-jolly woman at a refuse dump.

A brain of too many colours…

πŸ“Œ Did a family Zoom and all the others were quite mizz and desperate about the Lockdown, especially as it has now officially been extended for at least 3 more weeks. I felt a bit guilty. I think I went through the doom stuff right at the beginning. I’ve now arrived at a sort-of accommodation and worked out how to soldier on with hope in my heart, etc.

πŸ“Œ There have been incriminating videos on Twitter of a crowded Westminster Bridge, in which distancing guidelines are being flouted willy-nilly. Then this appeared…

Saturday 18, London Even though I get a notification every Friday when Marina Hyde’s column appears, I always wait until Saturday to read it. Today it includes the passage: “Supply prime minister Dominic Raab gives the 5pm press conference with the air of a man who strongly suspects there’s a chalk penis drawn on his back, but is just going to butch it out by facing forward till the bell goes.”

πŸ“Œ There was someone on the radio talking about Gramsci. They said he wasn’t surprised, as were others, when Italy embraced Fascism. Gramsci, they said, believed that Russia was “not ready” for a revolution in 1917 and ended up with Totalitarianism. He thought Italy was the country that was ready, and it ended up instead with Fascism.

πŸ“Œ My cousin Helen posted a message saying the footie magazine The Blizzard is now online, and has a Zoom-type quiz.

πŸ“Œ My bread-making burn wound felt uncomfortable last night, so we took the dressing off to have a look.

πŸ“Œ We did a Zoom with the Saturday coffee crew and I exhibited my latest stab at surrealism.

I think this could be better, but it is so bad it’s good, in a way. I think I look like a psycho killer from one of those edgy dystopian American films.

πŸ“Œ Our neighbour Anne, a 🎾 tennis fanatic, laid out her tribute on the lawn outside our flats.

πŸ“Œ In ‘Twin’, the Norwegian TV drama, Erik has discovered his ‘dead’ brother Adam’s gay past. Erik is desperate to rekindle his long-buried romance with Adam’s ‘struggling’ wife Ingrid. And Ingrid and Adam’s wayward daughter Karin is beginning to comprehend the real roots of her waywardness.

πŸ“Œ Read my March Scrapbook.

πŸ“Œ Read last week’s diary.

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