June 7-13 Diary: London just ran out of compost


Camden Garden Centre’s nifty safe-distancing etiquette is little consolation


Digest: June 7-13


Sunday, London It was disappointing to find that my tomato seedlings have not, as anticipated, burst out of their cardboard pots and proliferated all over my planter in the allotments.

πŸ“Œ I did a Local Legend interview on Culture Mile radio with Hunt & Darton. My wife says I spent too much time interviewing them rather than them interviewing me.

πŸ“Œ At a Baggers Committee Zoom I learned about London’s compost shortage and that Camden Garden Centre has a nifty one-way safe-distancing etiquette. We agreed that this is an exceptional year and that poorly performing Baggers need not be reprimanded. Jacqueline said we should get stuck into making our own compost.

πŸ“Œ My wife’s new jigsaw puzzle is a very unconventional version of a Diego Rivera painting. The difficulty isn’t in the picture but in the weird shape of the pieces. It’s made by a firm is called Eurographics.

πŸ“Œ People dying alone and left to rot is a shameful reflection on the type of society we’ve built.

Monday, London There was a story on the radio about extreme DIY dentistry during the Lockdown. One of the methods for dealing with a painful cavity was to strip the red plastic from a Babybel cheese, dissolve it in spit to form a paste, and to plug the hole with that. Another told of people replacing crowns with superglue.

πŸ“Œ The top question on my Quora feed is from someone asking, “What is a cockwomble?” The top answer: “It’s an annoying twat who is patently wrong but will not shut up, even when you prove how wrong he is (it’s always a he).”

πŸ“Œ Historic England has published a fab online photo exhibition of life during Lockdown which captures beautifully the dislocation. Some were touching…

And some funny…

πŸ“Œ Back in the 1980s when I worked on the music press, one of the hot grebo bands was Pop Will Eat Itself, fronted by a character called Clint Mansell, who now writes exquisite film music.

πŸ“Œ This time last year I was working on the Etienne memory painting.

πŸ“Œ Stuart thinks I should write a biography of Felix Pappalardi, a US muso who played with both Mountain and Cream.

πŸ“Œ In ‘Schitt’s’, Moira wore a ridiculous Barbra Streisand wig to Ronnie’s “girls” party in the belief that they were all lesbians. And in ‘Spooks’, Zoe got convicted of manslaughter but was then able to do a runner to Chile. Danny cried.

Tuesday, London I wanted to know what the weather was like on the day I was born, and this is what I found…

πŸ“Œ The cocktail bar looks good cleaned up. We’re not sure we want to sell it now.

πŸ“Œ On the ‘TED Radio Hour’ there was a feature on alternative narratives of death. One of them was the “positive” return of the body to the environment. We heard from a woman who’d invented a mushroom burial suit because mushrooms are the magical thing that will cleanse the human body of its many toxins, decompose it quickly and “transform” it into a mulch that will feed and fertilise future life forms. The heaven-on-earth scenario is to see a tree or a rose bush growing out of your grave. The woman had therefore devised a netted burial shroud impregnated with mushroom spores. She hoped to progress to some more stylish designs in the near future.

πŸ“Œ At the Guardian Google coffee Meet, Angela said she liked Rishi Sunak, Philippa had been doing night shifts making up food parcels and Margaret showed us a ‘Cut-price Portrait‘ she did. Emma made an appearance, even though she will give birth any minute (or more likely Thursday). I secretly hoped it would happen right then, like a live-streaming event.

By Margaret…

πŸ“Œ The serial killing in ‘Cardinal’ is really quite gruesome. My wife thinks the grisliness of TV killings are diluted when viewed with subtitles. Some of the Scandi-noir murders are just as haunting, but slightly less so when the death rattle is in Swedish, Danish or Norwegian, written across the bottom of your TV screen.

Wednesday, London I just read Richard Herring’s diary entry on Bristol and the toppling of the Colston statue. It is a nice partner to that of the historian David Olusoga.

πŸ“Œ I think I might make Everton my second team.

πŸ“Œ Michelle asked those of us who appeared in Posy’s film, ‘Chaos/Quest’, to write some feedback. I thought it was a special film that captured the remote, lonely experience of brain injury.

πŸ“Œ Stuart wondered why Nik Kershaw chose to reference Arran in his song ‘The Riddle’ when other two-syllable locations (“Bootle or Scunthorpe”) would have done the job. I told him he was wrong.

πŸ“Œ The word throuple (three in a coupling) was used in ‘Schitt’s’.

Thursday, London Stitchwork can be frustrating on many levels, and one of them is trying to estimate whether you have enough thread to cover a given area. You end up devising possible solutions to running out.

Yellow panels could become a real possibility…

πŸ“Œ I think my wife secretly enjoys me stealing her quotes for my artwork.

From last week…

πŸ“Œ The Open Studio session included a visit from illustrator Katie Scott, who majors in subjects botanical, fantastical and zoological. She gave us a picture of a leopard and a lion to work from. I ignored the leopard and cut off the lion’s head.

πŸ“Œ We finished ‘Killing Eve’ and both declared it a disappointment. We lost enthusiasm when they gave a whole episode to probing Villanelle’s embarrassing family in Russia.

πŸ“Œ The virus is said to disproportionately affect BAMEs, but explanation and context are not given.

Friday, London Stuart sent a message about The Venerable Bede, implying he wasn’t such a good guy.

πŸ“Œ Michelle’s Creative Challenge was all about The Thinker, so I took a picture of Errol’s ceramic.

πŸ“Œ I also sent Michelle an idea for a mappy colouring book, ‘Around The World With Billy’, which plays to the ‘…With Billy’ branding the Barbican used for the monoprint video.

πŸ“Œ I hadn’t heard from Stuart in six hours, so I sent him an email:

Dear Rev Donaldson
Can I ask for your reminiscences of ice-cream? I was just chatting on Zoom with my sister and cousins, and we chanced upon our different strategies for finishing off an ice-cream cone. My wife contributed by saying she used to push the flake deep into the cone’s cavity, which I took to be a nod to the work of professor Freud. I would bite off the tip of the cone and suck out the ice-cream. I suspect that to be something deeply psychoanalytical, too. Have you any input on ice-cream (psychoanalysis not necessary)? FYI: We grew up with Mr Whippy (Freud again?)

Saturday, London We had a brief conversation about who is the funniest. I don’t think either of us is in any doubt.

πŸ“Œ At the Breakfast Club Zoom, we all played one minute of a favourite piece of music and said why it was important to us. I chose Scott McKenzie’s ‘San Francisco’ and my wife picked ‘Tiny Dancer’. 

The Breakfast Club…

πŸ“Œ I got distracted from the main task and made this to the sound of Ennio Morricone’s β€˜Chi Mai’

Painting with a conductor’s baton…

The main task was to post this illustration on Twitter and Instagram.

πŸ“Œ I’ve looked at it from both sides now, and the ‘Tres Amigas’ stitchwork project is growing on me. I might even get to like it soon.

From the back…
From the front…

πŸ“Œ I’m always pleased to read updates of Michael Rosen’s health progress.


Read my May 2020 Diary (8,000 words).

2 thoughts on “June 7-13 Diary: London just ran out of compost

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