Diary: July 12-15

Sunday, London One of my new blog followers runs a flash-fiction workshop. Today, the prompt was for a horror story about someone who couldn’t remember who they were. I wrote this one in the bath.

📌 The newspapers are asking what will happen when Boris realises his chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is greasing a comfortable path to his job. Will he turn nasty, or will he make sure Rishi screws up before he needs to?

Monday, London Bumped into Debs in the allotments. She is a primary-school teacher, has complex health issues and has been on furlough. The allotments have been a life-saver for her, but if she doesn’t return to work now she will lose her job. She spoke about being economically forced into the role of risk-taker. She also said we need to remove the nets from our tomato plants and trim the plants from the bottom to get plenty of tomatoes at the top.

📌 Universities could be at the centre of the next big labour war. The business people are struggling to work out how to build a profitable model in the post-Covid world. Should teaching be in person or online? Where will the money come from and what kind of service can be delivered and at what price? It’s a minefield, but at the moment the teachers have some power in numbers. It is a very old-fashioned labour conflict with management.

📌 The outfall of this crisis is likely to last for decades, and not only in the shape of chronic lung problems and mental-health issues.

📌 As Wycombe scored against Oxford after 12 minutes in a crucial League 1 playoff game, my wife pointed out that the Wycombe shirt sponsor is Cherry Red Records.

📌 In an article about mapping the ocean floor, two of the key facts in the early section are that the “ocean economy” employs 31 million people full-time and that the income generated is $1.5tn a year.

📌 Memory. My first full-time job was as a computer operator at the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences. It was located in an observatory on the top of a hill.

Tuesday, London Yippeee! I won the Horror House flash-fiction contest. My prize was a picture of a kitchen knife.

📌 My wife says she is relieved that wearing masks is to be made mandatory. Others see it differently.

📌 My wife knows all the technical terms for the TV game show Tipping Point. A “Rider” is when two of the plastic discs sit on top of each other, thus halving the possibility of a successful tip.

📌 An article in the LRB enlarges on the role of the state in democracies over the past 100ish years and how even super-selfish capitalist nations sought to nurture the “social state”, that little bit of socialism that all societies need today in order to breathe properly. It’s relevant now because Trump and Johnson seem determined to abandon the idea for a more despotic approach. The bit about Germany is especially fascinating.

📌 I confused the TV weather forecaster’s name with the place name of the viewer’s photograph that popped up next to her (eg, Clee Hill, Shropshire). My wife rolled her eyeballs, but the moment had accidentally given birth to a game in which place names can be people’s names. Tomorrow I intend to see how many people’s names I can get from the London Underground map.

Wednesday, London There’s a lot of humorous chatter about the type of person who objects wearing a mask.

📌 In the Headway Steering Group meeting Dave and I hatched a promo idea for Three Billboards Outside Haggerston to punt the Headway East London brand.

📌 Today’s Creative Challenge from Michelle was all about Nature, so I retold an old story about me and Stuart gassing about music (again) and a picture of a tree.

📌 James Brown got in touch via Messenger about something I wrote in the NME nearly 40 years ago. We went over some old memories and he told me that Ron Rom is now a successful film director.

📌 Lockdown catchup. In Spooks, Adam and Roz are stuck in Turkey chasing the nuclear trigger nicked by Iranian spies in a daring airport heist.

Read my July 9-11 Diary.

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