Diary: 22-24 September


TUESDAY 22 A Simon Jenkins article in the Guardian argues that we need to learn to live with the virus rather than on the hope that it will go away soon. The massive changes that will come with that change can only start with an acceptance that the old world is gone.

# There’s an argument kicking off in Shoreditch that could become a national trend. Residents complain about businesses taking over public spaces to hawk their wares. There’s a delicate civic balance to be struck in this issue, but what is probably more important is the will to strike it. Conflict is the more likely outcome.

# In preparing a News wall on epidemiology, I learned the difference between epidemic and endemic, which I probably knew but had forgotten.

# Sienna Rodgers writes to say a new survey shows that a clear majority of Britons want an extension to the furlough scheme, guaranteed jobs for under 25s and help with housing costs for the poorest people. These are all Labour policies, she says, and yet the survey also shows that Britons prefer to have the Tories in charge.

# The Conversation has a story saying plug-in hybrid cars are not as green as we all thought they were. The makers have been measuring emissions in their own special way, so it turns out that the prevention of environmental Armageddon will have to wait a little longer.

# A free narrowboat trip from Islington Boat Club came in. It was one of the first post-Pandemic activities for the St Luke’s Men’s Shed. We started at the City Road Basin HQ and headed west for Camden. One narrowboat is allowed 4 passengers. That was Me, Emerson, Dave and Graham. The captain was a pot-bellied jovialist in a battered Panama hat. Welcome to Islington.

We’d made this trip before but it was still a pleasure. The scenery moves from affluent urban to bucolic unwashed as trees, wildlife, graffiti and the foot soldiers of the trusty canal path all rub along. At one point I was convinced our boat was being followed by a semi-submerged orange plastic traffic cone. Emerson told us that his job as a steward at Arsenal FC is almost certainly finished. Dave had a big plaster on his head that I lacked the courage to ask about. The Islington tunnel was as long and dark as ever, but not as fumey from longboat emissions. We passed through two locks then did a three-point turn to put us on our return from Kentish Town to City Road. Mothers with buggies jostled with militant cyclists. Idle students lolled on the grassy verges at St Pancras. We were in the heart of London, but somewhere else too, in space and in time.

# Our new TV fix is Better Things, a parent/children, work/life issue-based comedy, a sort of one-woman vehicle for an actress called Pamela Adlon.

WEDNESDAY 23 Isobel (and Cat) have pushed the boat out on their Coronavirus back-garden chip supper bubble gatherings. They’ve moved their custom from Best Kebab to the more upmarket Shishlique.

# Boris’s blame-game lecture last night sparked some interest on Twitter.

# In prepping a fundraising Brain Quiz for Headway East London, I discovered a part of the brain called the Circle of Willis.

# Our Anniversary was once again a special one. It was raining, as it was this time last year when we were in Brussels. First we went to the Victoria Miro gallery for a small exhibition of work by Grayson Perry, inspired by his recent exploration of America.

Then for a meal in Islington Green, the end of which came with a complimentary pair of lemon macaroons on a plate spelling the word Anniversary with an extra y on the end, in chocolate.

# Victoria Rose has written a long essay about the value and validity of the gap year. It is topical because anyone planning a gap year might now be forced to think harder. I’m surprised the gap year has not been repackaged and sold as a career springboard ‘experience’ rather than an extended holiday.

THURSDAY 24 Sam obviously got a taste for surrealism at last week’s Open Studio session. Look as closely as you can…

Then came a new version of Percy The Platypus.

# Harry Evans, 92, RIP. It was the readability of the Times under his brief editorship in the early 1980s that made me want to do it. I’d sit every day in the Picton Library marvelling at what simple words put together in the right way could do.

# Magnum Photos has a great collection of photographers’ stills from Hollywood movie sets. They’re currently showcasing the work of photojournalist Dennis Stock’s work on the 1956 film High Society with some telling images of Grace Kelly.

# The Headway Open Studio today was in life-drawing. I especially enjoyed the timed quick-draws, as bad as the results turned out. The process is more interesting than the slow stuff, which I find hard to fully immerse myself in. I used Procreate on the iPad.

# Don’t you just love a good juxtaposition… courtesy of Sainsbury’s.

Have a beer with your instant lash lift…

# Doh! I’ve just realised that George Bowling’s false teeth are a metaphor for old/new, decay/renewal. The more you read into his reminiscences the more complex the metaphor gets, especially with the imminence of war.

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