Diary… We didn’t know who the celebrities were in ‘Celebrity Come Dine With Me’

‘Dawn had servants and a glass floor in her living room’

Digest: 24-30 May

Sunday, London We had to launch a forensic investigation to work out who the celebrities were on ‘Celebrity Come Dine With Me’. There were two women, Dawn and Charlotte, with an age difference of about 25 years but a very similar relationship with the plastic surgeon. There was a man with a neat beard who the voiceover described as a professional Instagrammer. There was another beardy fella, an actor from ‘The Office’. And there was that gormless character Ashley from ‘Coronation Street’. My wife managed to discover that Charlotte was from ‘Geordie Shore’ and that Dawn was from ‘Real Housewives of Cheshire’. She had Asian servants and a glass floor through which you could peer into the snooker room in the basement.

📌 The “Save Dom” message put out by the government last night is getting ripped to shreds.

📌 I don’t think Boris is a wartime consiglieri. Andrew Rawnsley writes in the Observer: “Public confidence in the government’s handling of the epidemic is badly corroded when key figures behave as if the rules apply to everyone but themselves. When trust, so absolutely essential to the handling of this crisis, is abused and diminished, the public loses faith in the calibre and integrity of decision-makers.”

📌 Shirley’s prep for a family Eid looked like a lot of work.

She says it will be the first time all the family from across the globe will have been together. The irony of that is almost too beautiful.

📌 The Alfie stitchwork project is coming along nicely. The tongue will be tricky.

Alfie begins a new life on an old T-shirt…

📌 The Prime Minister has made a speech in defence of his deviant aide Dominic Cummings. Twitter is on fire with indignation, and not just from the chatterati – mothers who could not visit their dying children; people who buried their parents “remotely”.

Monday 25, London In backing his closest advisor the PM has boxed himself in. He said in his speech that it was “natural” to act on “instinct”. If the public applies that to themselves, the consequences will rest solely with Boris. Maybe this is exactly what Cummings wanted.

📌 A community worker from Newham was on the radio saying that old residents believe that the government is trying to “bump them off”. Get rid of the old and needy, that is the message they are getting.

📌 I think Stuart has a minor obsession with Wanda Ventham.

World of Wanda…

📌 The changes in society that many predict will arrive in the wake of the pandemic will be suffocated at birth, argues Nesrine Malik in the Guardian.

📌 Was it a deliberate intention to make the Barbican a cryptic puzzle? It is certainly a masterpiece of intrigue and discovery. A curiosity greets you at every turn. I leave always wanting to return.

Tuesday, London

The comedy continues…

📌 My calendar is so empty I don’t check it very often. Then I get the idea that I have something scheduled at some time or other and look at it.

📌 Dominic Cummings has now been accused of arriving back in London from his Coronatrip to Durham and promptly doctoring his blog to make out he prophesied the pandemic all along.

📌 There are no Lockdown rules, or even Lockdown etiquette. It’s a free-for-all out there, so I have a great excuse to stay in and watch the Cummings-Johnson anarchy unfold.

📌 Don’t mess with something that’s finished is a golden rule that always seems to slip my mind. So at the instigation of my wife, I finished ‘Alfie’ and bagged him in polythene.

Alfie done…

📌 At the Open Studio session last week, we did life-drawing and Alex styled a brilliant shot of herself in a hat, with some plants and her dog. My version looked like this…

Alex by me…

…but Sam’s version just appeared and it is awesome…

Alex by Sam…

📌 I hear that “bubbles” are the new way out of the virus crisis.

Wednesday, London I sent this Newsbiscuit story to Stuart and Chris.

Then I read another story saying we should all be ashamed of ourselves for laughing at Dominic Cummings, regardless of what an arsehole he is. Bullying is bullying, it said, and I had some sympathy with the argument.

📌 I also sent photographs of my complete stitchwork collection to Michelle and Laura. I have a dodgy old hanging rail in the shed downstairs that will complete the presentation.

The first three stitch works…

📌 Posted this snip from last week’s diary on Instagram.

📌 ‘Eggheads’ was fascinating because the Eggheads were deaf, some of them totally, and requiring signers to assist.

📌 There was a climbing enthusiast practising his moves on the knobbly wall of Basterfield rotunda.

📌 The ‘Telegraph’ reports that the Queen has given Boris Johnson permission to exercise in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. He’s also been using Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s gaff. He’s scared of being attacked if he shows his face in public.

📌 The ‘Morning Star’ reports a 100,000 surge in union membership.

Thursday, London We recently signed up to get a weekly fruit & veg Oddbox, and they delivered it overnight and left it outside the front door. This morning, we opened it, marvelled at the size of the cabbage and jointly declared the experience to be just like Christmas.

📌 Gill posted this picture on Instagram with a question asking when hairdressers are likely to open.

📌 This is a newly-minted bit of textwork I posted on Facebook one year ago.

📌 We did Frida Kahlo in the Open Studio Zoomer and got a chance to snoop around her house online with Alex. In the drawing session, I managed to make Frida look like a beaky Queen Victoria on the front of a ship.

📌 Newsnight presenter Emily Maitliss did not deliver the programme last night. She was pulled from the chair because she was deemed to have breached BBC impartiality rules in her introduction to the Dominic Cummings story. Social media went berserk and she thanked well-wishers for their support. The whole vibe of this event feels like she was told in advance to say what she wants, but would get a public ticking off.

📌 At the end of the Brighton Zoom quiz, Jaq exclaimed from her sunny garden, “Shit, there’s a fly in my chardonnay”.

Friday, London Full Fact reports that, contrary to stories circulating, Dominic Cummings’ sister is not in charge of the much-vaunted new track-and-trace app.

📌 It’s the beauty of people going about their ordinary lives that I miss most.

📌 Eli has been posting a brilliant series of pictures showing the ice-cream war that is unfolding on her doorstep. It’s soap-opera addictive.


📌 Just spotted this picture of Henri and Margaux in Brussels.

When kissing with your eyes open is all you can do…

📌 Our new washing machine plays a ridiculous plinky-plonk tune when it’s finished.

📌 The other day I suggested to Michelle that Sam should do some more styled shots, or even classic poses. I suggested one, and look what just arrived…

Sam’s Mazz…

📌 During the family Zoom, I became fascinated by the picture on the wall behind my sister. It was a ‘Yoann’, and on close inspection it is even better than it appears in a Zoom box.

A ‘Yoann’…

And my cousin Helen told us about a man named Bernard Castle who is being confused with Barnard Castle.

📌 It was revealed on HIGNFY that doing a “Barney Castle” is an old English expression for telling lies.

Saturday, London The theme for this week’s Covid Coffee & Chat was red. Gill’s wig won the show.

Better red than dead…

📌 Stuart still has a bee in his bonnet about the Lotus Eaters and a line from their big hit, ‘The First Picture of You’, that reports “seeing the flowers scream their joy”. Stuart is also convinced by my theory that Copperfield and Steerforth were gay lovers.

♦️ Read last week’s diary.

Read my May 2020 Diary.

Includes… A growing irritation with ‘Normal People’, bread that looks better than it tastes, and the Cummings-Johnson anarchy plan

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