Diary… ‘Gill is roaming London with a constipated puffin’


Augmented Reality offers crumbs of comfort…


Digest: May 17-23


Sunday, London Gill got me into the Acute Art  augmented reality (AR) app. She’s been roaming around London placing a constipated puffin in various locations. It twitches, squats, starts to have a much-needed crap then thinks better of it and pulls out of the manoeuvre. I fiddled with the app and accidentally got a big-eared cartoon character dancing around our living room under the Northern Lights.

Addictive AR…

πŸ“Œ Just as I was starting to believe the country was in the grip of a new kind of authoritarian rule, Andrew Rawnsley claims the PM’s power is dissolving as the list of government screw-ups grows by the day.

πŸ“Œ Beth’s sister Becky posted the picture she did at the Barbican Zoom print workshop last Friday, with an explanation about what it is and how it relates to her studies.

Becky’s bust…

πŸ“Œ My wife has been watching a dubious TV programme on the sly. I caught her glued to a spectacle called ‘1000lb Sisters’, which records the ups and downs of two grossly overweight American women. The show’s title is derived from the fact that one of the sisters weighs 600lb (270kg) and the other 400lb (180kg). The banality of their conversations is not very different to anyone else’s banality. Their fatness is what gives them their edge. My wife’s quote is: “Behind every overweight person is an assistant. They’re too fat to go to the shops, so someone does it for them. It’s a form of abuse.”

πŸ“Œ In ‘Spooks’ Matthew Macfadyean is suffering the consequences of telling his girlfriend he is a spy. “I’m not Matthew, I’m Tom” was how he put it. She pissed off pronto with her daughter Maisie (who seemed OK with Matthew being Tom) and slammed the door in Tom’s face.

Monday, London The Labour party senses a weakness in the government and is turning up the dial. Leader Keir Starmer has exposed the PM as a blustering arsehole, and now Ed Miliband has picked up the soul of the Green New Deal pioneered previously by Rebecca Long Bailey and rebranded it as an Atlee style post-Covid initiative to create jobs and revive the economy.

πŸ“Œ On a walk around the Barbican. The light shining through the narrow fort slits seemed symbolic. 

Barbican fortress…

πŸ“Œ A Sketch from one of Beth’s Instagram pictures. I liked the shape. 

Razzers 2.0…

I called it ‘Razz Girls 2’ after the original ‘Razz Girls’ I did a few years ago.

Original Razz Girls…

πŸ“Œ Pete posted a picture on Facebook of a sign at his local tennis court. Rule number 3 is: “Avoid handling your opponent’s balls”.

Tuesday, London Got a message from Fiona. She is punting a study to adapt Bridges methods for post-Covid patients. She asked if I’d edit a 200-word lay summary. I said yes.

πŸ“Œ Hilda’s hair is thickening.

Eyebrows next…

πŸ“Œ I had intended to unearth some old pictures and write blog posts about them. I was going to start with this composite I did after listening to the IWM ‘Voices of the First World War’ series.

Every soldier’s dying wish…

The picture imagined the eternal sleep of a dead WW1 soldier and his everlasting erotic fantasy of Lautrec’s ‘Woman Putting On Her Stocking’. I flipped the Lautrec image and used a lot of smudge to try and make the whole field look dreamy. The luxuriance of the poppies in the child’s painting gives it a vast ocean-like feel.

πŸ“Œ I spotted that some of my summer clothes were “missing”. My wife said she could vaguely remember a suitcase labelled “Billy’s Summer Archive”. She was right, sort of. There were two of them in the storage shed.

The missing wardrobe

πŸ“Œ A huge question mark still hangs over pretty much everything. We had a conversation about living in London. I wondered whether the virus crisis would spawn a genuine widespread love of the Slow Movement and its emphasis on a gentler way of life. My wife thought not. We agreed that big cities are points of intensity and density, and that their congestion is organic. Their economies also hang on them being packed and a bit claustrophobic. But we also agreed that when the thing that makes London attractive for us is gone (the culture, the access to travel points, mainly), being located here is not vital.

Wednesday, London I can’t be the only one who had the passing thought that at some point our prime minister calculated how many virus deaths could be parlayed into a national sacrifice. It is a cynical view, but one shared by others, as seen in a TV clip that came under the #WhereIsJohnson trending hashtag on Twitter.

πŸ“Œ Some things simply don’t change, virus or no virus. The woman with the frizzy hair and ridiculous pink shoes is standing in front of the estate office, clutching a document and talking into a mobile phone. 

πŸ“Œ We did a short still-life art session on Zoom while an ITV crew filmed from Michelle’s place. Then one of them, Katie, interviewed me about the lockdown and how I was coping. This is my go at the vase, bottle and fish with a hat on that Michelle found among her arty possessions.

Michelle’s arty possessions…

πŸ“Œ This news is no big surprise.

πŸ“Œ My wife reckons the contestants on ‘Pointless’ have twigged to the persistent inclusion of a question about the ever-changing Periodic Table of Elements. They swot up. 

πŸ“Œ We finally watched the Gogglebox clip of the PM’s speech last week when he switched to the much-ridiculed “stay alert” message.

πŸ“Œ Got a message from Angelina to say she saw me on the ITV news. She didn’t notice the Magnum PI shirt I was wearing. She said she was proud of me.

Thursday, London My wife bought a David Shrigley face mask for Β£35. He’s made them to raise money for museums and galleries to buy art. There’s a lot of concern as to how cultural enterprises and their workers will survive with their income cut off. Actors are screwed. Lots of galleries and music venues are doing stuff online, but no one knows  how long it will be before audienced performances can restart.

πŸ“Œ Kevin Maguire has been consistent in his skewering of the government over its viral failures, and relishes the opportunity to shove the knife in a bit further.

πŸ“Œ Stories about people flocking to the seaside and crowding the beaches have become the media’s sanctimonious standby. I rarely take part in blaming the messenger and often resist, so this picture of Paul’s from Brighton is here because it’s a good bit of photo-journalism.

Just saying…

πŸ“Œ Hilda Ogden is starting to look really scary.

Nightmare on Coronation Street…

πŸ“Œ Did a Headway Open Studio Zoom session on life drawing, which I never expected to enjoy but did. First we did a 3-minute sketch of Alex, a hat and a fan.

Alex in 3 minutes…

Then it got complicated. Alex in a photo shoot, still featuring hat and fan but now with the addition of plants, colours, a chair and a rescue dog called Nova.

At home with Alex and Nova…

πŸ“Œ Sarah hosted a Thursday Members Zoom meeting. It was Yoki’s birthday and Suzanne was chuffed because everyone’s name was written on the screen, so she never forgot who we were. Until Chris and I started a game of name tennis. When he “renamed” himself Donald Duck, I replied with Donald Trump. Suzanne was suffering from “no Scrabble” withdrawal symptoms. Michelle said she’d spoken to Tony Brooks and that he missed everyone, “especially the women”.

πŸ“Œ We won the Brighton Zoom quiz. I got synovial fluid right.

Friday, London The government have done a u-turn on charging immigrant health workers to use the nhs. John Crace has a pretty good summary of this fiasco in the Guardian.

πŸ“Œ Michelle’s Community Creative Challenge today is all about birds, so I wrote this…

Lockdown Love Lives

There’s a lone magpie on the grass outside.

Jane says that’s a sign.

That something tragic’s happened.

There’s a lone boy blackbird stood on the roof opposite.

Singing his heart out.

I hope he gets a girlfriend soon.

πŸ“Œ Then she sent me these images from the Barbican workshop thing.

Masculinities’ unmasked…

Then another one turned up.

I love this use of the method...

πŸ“Œ At the family Zoom, H&S told us about their day trip to Seacombe. They went into Morrison’s for a Meal Deal and witnessed an incident of Coronarage when one man brushed past another, made too much physical contact and was given a “keep your distance” reminder in return. There followed a nasty exchange of words and what H&S described as “distance glaring”.

πŸ“Œ My cousins believe Boris will jack it in soon. Kate says he looks bored and knackered. I believe he is a coward, not up to 4 years of unglamorous, no-fun seriousness.

Saturday, London My sister asked on WhatsApp whether “Domiic Twatface” was doomed. My answer was: “The narrative (‘different rules for different folks’) has overtaken the facts, so if he doesn’t go, the saloon doors to Wild West UK are officially open.” Kevin Maguire said it better.

πŸ“Œ Shirley sent us a link to a blog she wrote for a carers’ network about caring during Ramadan. It told me a lot I never knew about Muslim culture, and about her own family life.

πŸ“Œ Steve was out in the ball-games area playing with Joe and Sam. Joe was kicking a ball, Sam and Steve were trying to play badminton. The wind was up, so they were struggling. When the shuttlecock went up over the fence, a passing man tried to chuck it back to them, but it kept blowing back at him. 

πŸ“Œ Stuart has resurfaced via email. We lost contact because I used up the 100 monthly text-messages my phone contract allows. Nudging him on to email instead was not easy, but he twigged eventually and the streamofconfabulation resumed with a story about how he once had a job as a bingo caller in a home for deaf geriatrics on the Isle of Wight.

♦️ Read last week’s diary.

♦️ Read my April diary.

2 thoughts on “Diary… ‘Gill is roaming London with a constipated puffin’

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