Diary: 1-7 September


TUESDAY 1 There was a minister on the radio saying that from today workers will be ushered gently back to their workplaces. Then someone else came on saying they should be forced back because people working from home have “become lazy“.

# Just found an illustration I did at the weekend after reading a political article.

# I think Tax might be the next big protest moment.

From the Morning Star…

# The fig looks a bit sorry for itself. Now watered.

And I think I’ve killed the fuchsia.

# To Margaret’s birthday lunch in East Croydon. Train from Farringdon, then taxi to Coombe Lodge Harvester.

Calamari and Scampi, then into the massive garden where someone thought it was a good idea to torture a wasp.

WEDNESDAY 2 The Hackney Citizen reports on a crisis with “off-rolling” in schools.

# Walked to Headway along Hoxton Street. It was nice to see the market coming to life and the Monster Supplies Shop still in business.

It was nice also to see some old faces at Headway and the Timber Wharf centre readying to reopen.

I did an interview for a promo film and posed in the studio for a load of stills. It dragged on a bit but was no real sweat. I quite enjoyed being ‘directed’ to ‘stare thoughtfully’ at the canal. Thomas’s boat was a useful distraction.

In the studio I found some old paintings and gave one to the photographer. The buses are starting to fill up, and some passengers do not wear face coverings. The drivers have no authority so the only option is to get off.

Hen girls in ever-changing outfits…

# We met Jaq & Lynne in Covent Garden and had a disappointing meal at The Ivy. Then onto the Piazza for more drinks, outside, in the rain.

THURSDAY 3 Amanda is moaning on Twitter that the helicopters over the Barbican are causing so much rattle she’s scared her fillings might drop out.

# Larry Elliott in the Guardian ponders Britain’s economic future by taking a sober look back at the past…

‘A potted modern economic history of Britain goes like this. The country industrialises in the 18th century and becomes top dog in the decades after the Napoleonic wars. It’s already suffering from relative decline by the second half of the 19th century. It never really addresses problems of 20th-century industrial decay, because of smug complacency fostered by victories in two world wars. It has a touching belief in quick fixes to address poor skills, weak investment, rotten management, low levels of innovation and a short-termist financial system.’

# At Tate Modern to meet Jaq and Lynne – there to see the Warhol exhibition – I noticed for the first time how much I like artworks that use shadow. Not in the painting of shadow but by creating a piece that casts a shadow, with textiles for example.

FRIDAY 4 We have persisted with the entire box set of Spooks on the BBC iPlayer, despite its chronic descent into bad acting and the worst spy clichés of all time. We are now at Series 9, and in the latest episode China is cast as the Evil Empire with a mission to claim world domination by cornering the market in desalination technology. When their attempt to kidnap a key scientist is foiled by our intrepid Spooks, they threaten to detonate a Big Bomb in Borough Market, London. The possibility of body parts and blood being sploshed all over the London Bridge area is real, so one of the younger Spooks steals a motorbike (with helmet), hastens to the location of the bomb, crawls under the parked van in which it is housed and defuses it with the raw flame from a Zippo cigarette lighter. Phew!

# I missed the Headway Open Studio Zoom session this week, so Alex sent me this week’s study, based on an image currently showing in the Barbican exhibition by Toyin Ojih Odutola. This was my effort…

# Spooks took another turn down the dead-end-street of implausibility in the one about the Arab-Israeli conflict (Series 9). My wife got quite agitated about its ridiculousness and went to potter in the kitchen.

# On page 140 (Kindle) of George Orwell’s Coming Up For Air, the main character, George Bowling, announces, “Well, Hilda and I were married, and right from the start it was a flop.” George also uses the verb “glooming” to describe Hilda’s attitude towards money and the bills, etc.

SATURDAY 5 An e-shot from the London Mayor’s office (department of Culture) has news of a brilliant new project in Barking called A House for Artists, which offers homes to 12 artists and their families at below market rates, in return for delivering a year-round programme for the local community. This is what the Golden Lane Estate should be.

# My wife thinks Dermot O’Leary’s latest Mystery Voice is Sandra Oh.

# I’m still reeling from the humiliation of suggesting (prompted by a message from Netflix) a film to watch we’d already seen. It was called Room, and yes, it was very good.

# Marina Hyde’s column contains another epic line skewering of the government: “I don’t mean to teach these geniuses how to suck eggs, but it does feel likely that at some point a lot of Britons will get pissed off at being continually told they’re not doing any work…”

# Stuart sent an account of his fall that included the rhyming of the words “just desserts” with “hurts”. I replied that yesterday we couldn’t have our usual Friday Night Angel Delight because we’d run out of milk waiting for the Sainsbury’s delivery.

# String is prattling on about porridge again. He’s starting to sound quite pompous about it.

# Another blogger said he was going to write about things slipping through the cracks, but ran over his 250-word limit before he got started. As usual he was complaining about the performance of the WordPress editor.

# Food sites are spamming my blog.

# We had a very snappy afternoon trying to switch broadband channels and getting the tellybox to talk to it. While all the bickering reached snarling point, Blackpool went two up against Liverpool. Final score: Liverpool 5-2 Blackpool.

SUNDAY 6 I got told off for buying an old overpriced rubbery cauliflower from the street stall instead of stepping into a Covid-infested supermarket.

# Our neighbour Dave came round with his theodolite to take a few measurements.

# The Wee Ginger Dug reports that Ruth Davidson is pissed off by people calling her “Baroness Davidson”. The Dug says she had a real pop at someone from the BBC about it.

# Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer, observes: “This is a government characterised even by its own supporters as one for whom a successful period is getting through a day without performing more than one U-turn.”

# Someone called Hugh wants me to sign his petition on Change.Org to force the government to build more hedgehog highways.

MONDAY 7 Stuart says Pam’s Dad once got shipwrecked in the Pacific and only survived by eating bananas for a week.

# Blog quotes like this one are worth preseving: “For a little light relief, I transported Jackie’s clippings to the compost bin and bagged up some of the woody material”. I instantly named it Carry On Clipping.

# In the series penultimate of Strike, Cormoran and Robin conveniently became single. Robin had a tricky moment with her gawpy fella after finding his floozy’s diamond earring on the rug next to the bed.

# I got told off again, for shaving too loudly. Shortly after my stroke, a friend recommended a whizzy Braun electric shaver you could use in the shower. It sits in its charging station on my bedside table, waiting to be lifted and carried to the bathroom. But sometimes I shave in bed. That’s when my wife complained it was too loud, during the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show.

# String has done a brilliant ranty blogpost about the state of Britain and its great new achievement – a record for creating the world’s biggest Wotsit at 10.66m.

# Brexit is back on the agenda. Boris is trying to punt a change to the Withdrawl Agreement signed in January that will unhinge Northern Ireland totally from the EU. The radio is replaying the interview in which he said the Deal was “oven ready”. All it needed was to go in the microwave. Jeremy Vine, the presenter, said if you put a ready meal in the microwave, you’ll probably start a fire.

# More young people are getting Covid, so health minister Hancock has issued a plea for them to act sensibly and show common sense. Good luck with that, Matt.

# In wondering why Spooks got so rubbish after Series 3, it crossed my mind that maybe MI5 complained to the BBC that it was too close to reality and a risk to national security. So the Beeb crapped it up to fool our enemies into thinking we really do defuse bombs with 850watt microwave ovens from Argos and fake Zippo lighters off that shifty-looking man at the market.

# Alex sent me an inverted version of my Toyin image (see above). I think it’s fab, so I’ll work on that some more.

More of my Diaries.

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