Diary: 12-16 October

MONDAY 12 My wife is on her way to Homerton hospital for a dermo appointment. Fingers crossed the PM doesn’t get a sudden attack of the tyrannicals and leave her quarantined there for two weeks.

# Scientists have discovered the longest ancient human footpath, and have unearthed from it a dramatic human-interest story about a mother and child struggling for survival in a hostile area of New Mexico.


# Sophie Ellis-Bextor, best known for her hit record Murder on the Dancefloor, has a new one out called Crying at the Discotheque.

# The baby fig tree is looking healthy, but I’m not sure the oak will survive the Winter.

Oak looking jaded…

# The TV adaptation of Us finished last night, and although the ending was a bit corny, it was nice to see Tom Hollander reunited with the nice woman from the Uffizi. Or was it the Prado?

# There’s a cracking piece in It’s Nice That about caricature and satire, pinned on the return of Spitting Image.

Jürgen Klopp…

# Hackney Council have an £80 fine for drivers sat parked in idling vehicles.

# Some dickhead brigadier Labour Lord has said asylum-seekers arriving in Britain should be put in concentration camps.

# Donald Trump has started a “masks are for wimps” culture in the White House.

TUESDAY 13 We finished Giri/Haji last night. It ended in a gripping chase and shoot-out sequence, which was concluded, surprisingly, by a beautiful Japanese ensemble ballet dance on the roof of a London warehouse.

# An article in the Conversation by a boffin at Lancaster University says Boris’s 3-tier system will only work if the 3 tiers are very different and that regulation is independent and non-political.

# Simon Jenkins’s tenacity in stating clearly the powers of localism and heritage is one of the few bright lights in otherwise dark times.

# Shawn wrote a funny story about a fella being held up in a bank robbery who recognises the two masked robbers as former school classmates.

# We’ve managed to decipher the complexities of the 3-tier system (now dubbed “tiers of a clown”) and it looks as if our weekend in Winchester could be a goer.

WEDNESDAY 14 I never expected to still be alive this morning. My supper last night was a eclectic stew of four portions of leftovers from previous days. It comprised soy-sauce quinoa, plus vegetable curry, plus tinned tomato soup with chorizo and stale-bread croutons. To this I added two chopped pork sausages (cooked) and a squirt of chipotle sauce.

# Every morning we exchange a subtle touching of the arms that tells us two things. One is that we are both officially awake, and the other is an implied question: whose turn is it to make the coffee?

# Earworm Radio2 song of the moment is Space, by someone called Biffy Clyro.

# I made an illustration from a Marina Hyde quote in the Guardian at the weekend. It left me trying to remember which of King Lear’s three daughters refused to suck up to him. It was Cordelia.


# The Magnum Photos emails always point to a gem. Today it is a collection called Tar Beach from a book by the photographer Susan Meiselas.

1968 rooftop Confirmation party, Little Italy, Manhattan…

# Great news! The Wildlife Photographer of the Year show opens at the Natural History Museum on Friday.

THURSDAY 15 Our postie Eric hasn’t worn trousers for 15 years. Always in shorts, rain or shine, his leg tattoos on proud display. He does have one pair of dress trousers, for weddings, funerals and rare outings to restaurants with his wife, who refuses to be accompanied by a “silly-looking” man in shorts.

# In one of the passages at Quaker Court there is a fabulous display of Whitecross Street residents dressed in historical costume. They all apparently depict real people from a block of flats that was razed in the Blitz bombing of 1941.

# Dear Boris, have you seen the big sign outside the Spoons on Old Street?

# I’d not thought about it much recently, but I do remember at the time thinking the same as the Quora correspondent who asked…

# At Headway I demonstrated the wax monoprinting method to Stuart and a new volunteer. The Nik Kershaw image is by Stuart, the one that looks like Maggie Thatcher on a bad day is by me.

Wax monoprinting…

# I fumed in silence when a man with no mask sat right next to me on the bus and started shouting to someone on his phone about getting evicted. I fumed even more when a uniformed police officer got on and walked straight past him.

# In the first Cormoran Strike book, the author says a dead model’s “extreme beauty was on the very edge of absurdity”.

FRIDAY 16 The Lockdown Diaries art project we did with Madhumita has appeared on the Barbican Library website. The best one IMO is by Barbican resident Bella.

‘Crispbread Sofa With Cushions And Rug’

# Sam sent her finished picture from Brian’s recent Zoom Studio session on his collection of cacti and succulents.

Cacti and succulents, by Sam Jevon…

Then today Alex talked us through her fascination with weird chickens (think cartoon characters and bizarre fashion styles) and we all had a go at drawing some.

Weird chickens, by Billy Mann

# We were worried that my Covid Compromise situation yesterday would scupper our trip to Winchester. But our hosts were still happy to have us.

# Our new best-friend trading partner (aka, William Shatner) is not happy.

# In one of his late-night messages, Stuart mentioned Loch Lomond, to which I replied, “Me and my sister once went swimming in Loch Lomond. We joked about possibly standing on one of Donald Campbell’s eyeballs.” I think he actually blew up somewhere in the Lake District. Stuart replied to my message by saying he once had a morbid fascination with the TV film of Campbell’s death.

Read all of my Diaries.

14 thoughts on “Diary: 12-16 October

  1. If the photos could transport us back a further century I’d be able to see where my ancestors had their home and business on White Cross Street.


    1. Islington Council has a lot of good local history stuff about that area of “Old Finsbury”, as some of the residents still like to refer to themselves. The London Metropolitan Archives will have the pictures.


    2. Hi Isobel.
      121 Whitecross Street is now the Two Brewers pub, where Pre-Covid was where all the Barbican actors hung out. It has been a pub for a ling time. Before that it had a different number but was probably still attached to theatre in some way. The area was notorious for entertainment and hedonism of all kinds. Do you know what business your ancestors were in? There were a lot of enterprises around the brewing industry (stables, dray, blacksmiths, etc). There was also a lot of prostitution.


      1. That’s amazing Billy. Thank-you.I am sure when I looked some thirty years ago there was no trace of the actual building. I wonder if the street has been renumbered. My ancestors were coppersmiths. Oddly, my great aunt, and then my aunt were tenants of a pub called the Two Brewers for many years.


  2. I think the oak is meant to look jaded at this time of year. All it’s much older siblings in the countryside I’m in are anyway…
    We;ve got a randomly arrived one which has started growing on one of our ‘lawns’ (in inverted commas because it’s really just a ‘mostly grassy area’) so I’ve put a protective jacket around it–a top and tailed plastic bottle and a locating bamboo cane marker–so I don’t accidentally mow it. It looks much the same, older leaves starting to brown now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. From another fascinating diary I single out the amazing ice age footprints story. We have recorded Us, and while Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves are as watchable as ever, we have gone off the boil on it and not watched the last two episodes as yet. Would you recommend that we do?


    1. It is feelgood-slushy and a bit annoying, so if you’ve already lapsed, don’t bother and read the reviews if you just want to know what happens. Spoiler alert: they all live happy ever after. Quercus enjoyed the footprints story, too. The Conversation is written by academics, but some of them can be quite interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

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