Diary: 15-21 September


TUESDAY 15 The bill to break the Brexit treaty with the EU passed by 77 votes, but even the Telegraph was not entirely convinced that this is the end of the matter.

# We went out for a stroll in the Barbican with Marge and Derek. I was shocked at the difficulty wheelchair users face having to worm their way around hidden lifts and makeshift ramps.

# Joined the Guardian online coffee and heard a lot about Covid testing fiascos and schools not knowing what the re-opening protocols were until the very last minute, if at all. I sent two online education ideas to Margaret and Jan (News Wall and My Life in a Headline).

# On reading my diary for 8-14 September, one blogger wrote to say she hoped my wife was OK.

# I selected two pictures to discuss at Alice’s art appreciation Zoom tomorrow. I went for women looking at the viewer – Mona Lisa and Afghan Girl. Both controversial in their own ways. I used Raphael’s Mona Lisa to practise Photoshop Express.

# The Prime Minister seems to think the main purpose of his job is to destroy his own party, not to build national prosperity. Maybe he believes the two go hand in hand.

# Dug out a story about weeds to make a News Wall out of.

WEDNESDAY 16 When home secretary Priti Patel spoke, an illustration featuring grass came to mind. Today, the commentators are wading in on her promise to dob in her neighbours if they break the government’s spurious ‘Rule of Six’. Does that promise extend to those who sit next to her in Cabinet?

# A fascinating new brain illustration has appeared on Twitter. Inevitably it has sparked an online debate about North versus South, as depicted on the map. What I find most fascinating about brain illustrations (including mine) are whether the viewpoint is on the left or the right side of the brain. Mine are nearly always a view of my injured left side. This new illustration is a righter.

# I wonder if it is common when witnessing an accident to fleetingly think it was your fault, for just being there.

# I sent a picture of what I think might be a wart to the doctor. You can hardly see it now. It no longer itches and I feel like a fraud bringing it to his attention.

# In re-hooking up with Adobe Lightroom I found an old yoga illustration.

# The so-called ‘Twiggy’ stitchwork project has been lying crumpled up in the corner for weeks. Now it is pressed and hung away from sight.

THURSDAY 17 We watch so many crime and detective series on TV that it’s inevitable I have picked up some new skills. When I saw this picture, my first deduction was that the pickler is a nurse.

# An email from Diego tells me that gangs of nasty Bolsonaroistas are torching the Amazon rainforest and killing villagers. He wants my signature to stop it.

# A mysterious blogger in the Far East uses the term Green Thumb to describe having a way with plants.

# From the Morning Star.

# String writes powerfully about how society has been taken over by the “earn-spend mantra”, which relies on people being rammed together into ever smaller spaces. Tackling the virus requires enforced separation, which destroys the economic model. No equilibrium equals collapse.

# Today’s Open Studio session was all about surrealism. The 5-minute warm-up was random word promp: an Elephant in a Wide-brimmed hat riding a Horse.

Then we got a Six-eyed woman in a Patterned skirt holding a Bird.

# On page 183 (Kindle) of George Orwell’s Coming Up For Air, the chapter closes with the sentence “This was the idea which, in a dim sort of way, had begun to form itself in my mind the day I got my new false teeth.”

FRIDAY 18 The search for the screw-in legs we took off the cocktail bar ended in the discovery of everything but. A bag of retro electrical fittings and a bag of walking-stick ferrules didn’t quite amount to Mission Accomplished.

# Whitecross Street is buzzing again, like a stage set from EastEnders. It still feels let thee the last gasp of Summer on borrowed time.

# Steph says the unions are still in talks about talks at the Guardian.

# Sent Laura a bunch of workshop pictures for the ABI Week project and agreed to do a monoprint workshop with the Barbican for a homeless charity.

# Finally got the telephone banking thingy sorted and made a couple of transactions.

SATURDAY 19 Not sure if this happened today or yesterday, but “during the hours of darkness” I was snatched from the comfort of Classic FM in the foetal position by my wife midway into a panic attack. In her agitation she repeatedly repeated something about her eyes. My bet is that later I will be asked to dismantle the bathroom sink in search of a stray contact lens.

# Dominic Raab’s bodyguard has been sacked for leaving his loaded gun on a plane. Then it came out that David Cameron’s bodyguard also did it, leaving the weapon in the sick-bag pocket.

# Sierra Leone have introduced equal pay for women footballers.

# Floor 17 of Shakespeare Tower, Barbican, offers some stunning views of London. And it is served by 3 lifts.

# In an article in the LRB, Wynford Hicks tells of a relationship he had with Boris Johnson’s mum, Charlotte, set in the fevered world of the posh postwar British protest movement. That “restless night on the stony beach at Dieppe” stands out as a quote.

# A blogger I follow came up with a nice turn of phrase to describe a kingfisher she spotted at lunchtime. She was “mesmerised by its closeness and compact perfection”.

# In Line of Duty the OCG seem to have an awful lot of money. As soon as one of their black Range Rovers gets shot to bits, another shiny replacement is in place no sweat.

SUNDAY 20 Last night I dreamt I was back in my boyhood bedroom in Liverpool when a bossy young fashion stylist arrived and ordered me out so it could be used as a dressing room for one of their models. I told the stylist to effoff. She objected in the most arrogant way, whereupon I told her that this was MY bedroom. It was where I went to invent things that would change the world, to write bad poetry and to work out ways to spy on my sister’s courtship activities. One of these, I told the snotty young stylist, was to slowly lower a microphone I’d invented out of my bedroom window, down to a position just above where my sister and her boyfriend were doing courtship things on the doorstep. It worked a treat, blackmailing evidence was obtained and cash duly extorted from target sibling. The snotty stylist was not impressed with this declaration of human rights and told me again to get out so that her deathly thin model could get ready for the photographer. I told her to effoff again and sprayed antiperspirant in her face. She effed off and I woke from my dream feeling victorious.

# Our TV access to the football has conked out. My wife spent the afternoon reinstalling software but it appears the problem is bigger than we imagined.

# Finally finished the People Where I Live illustration.

# My wife still hasn’t given up the Sunday-night ritual of tuning into a TV programme featuring the day-to-day lives of spectacularly overweight Americans. I accidentally learned tonight that the big fold on unsightly surplus flesh that hangs from the midriff is called an “apron”.

# “Locktober” is looming.

# Stuart says he once had an Australian flatmate/lodger who came to London because she had a yearning to visit Cockney, believing it to be a place.

MONDAY 21 One or two areas of stress are starting to lift. The council has admitted it was their shoddy work that led to our flood; the footie TV connection is working again. All this raises the spirits. Fingers crossed that a new Lockdown doesn’t start before our wedding anniversary on Wednesday. We’d planned to go to a Grayson Perry exhibition, then out for a meal.

# I’ve decided that my daily News Wall illustrations will come from The Conversation. Today’s is a story about Poland having “LGBT-Free” zones.

# I was forbidden from using half a courgette for my lunch.

# Chrissie Hynde’s melodic elongation of the first o in Hong Kong is a very American thing.

# My wife found a fish called Basa in Sainsbury’s. I’d never heard of it and discovered that it’s a southeast Asian catfish.

# There’s a story running around saying that the PM sneaked off to a friend’s castle in Italy to have his son Wilf baptised.

Read last week’s Diary.

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