Diary: Week 1

January 3-9

SUNDAY We are about to start the second series of Succession, which is said to be based on the shenanigans of media megalomaniac Rupert Murdoch and his family. We’ve given up on TV series in the past when not a single character was likeable in any way (eg, Spiral). And all the characters in Succession are thoroughly dislikeable. We decided they must be charmingly horrible, or else we are simply being dragged along by the gripping Succession storylines, which hinge on the chronic dysfunctionality of stupidly rich people.

πŸ“Œ BBC Radio 4 Extra has been doing good memoir recently. The latest is Eddie Izzard reading his/her own, which is called Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens. Izzard has always been a fascinating figure, more so now that she/he has transitioned from garish drag comedian to complex actor/performer/ campaigner.

πŸ“Œ A London Inheritance is often a slog to read, but like exercise, very rewarding once you’ve done it.

πŸ“Œ Greta Thunberg will probably always exist in my mind as a swotty kid. New headlights for her bike would be the perfect birthday gift, she says.

Read Greta’s coming-of-age message

πŸ“Œ In his end-of year Diary extract in the London Review of Books Alan Bennett writes about arthritis robbing him of his mobility: “Gone are the days when I could jump on my bike and pop down to the shops, so static semi-isolation is scarcely a hardship or even a disruption of my routine.”

This something some of us at Headway have spoken about, how the isolation we all experienced after our brain injuries tutored us in dealing with the isolation of the Covid lockdowns.

πŸ“Œ Great news that two actors we know have recently had good paid work. Lisa (Hammond) has been Anna in a new outing of The Rubbish World of Dave Spud, a children’s animation I never knew existed. And Lisa’s partner in the comedy act Bunny (No Idea, Still No Idea, Old Street/New Street) Rachael (Spence) was a young mother, Karla, in a heart-ripping episode of Casualty made as a kind of tribute to frontline nhs workers.

πŸ“Œ Momentarily distracted from Succession, we discovered The Stranger on Netflix, the TV detective drama that has more twists than the road from Sorrento to Amalfi via Positano.

MONDAY There’s a creeping sense of unease out there. Rule-breaking and lawlessness stories abound. Head teachers face the agonising decision whether to open their schools. The PM says it’s safe. The Oxford vaccine starts its roll-out but few expect to get it for several months yet.

πŸ“Œ Wishing people “Happy New Year” seems presumptive, so I’m using the greeting a friend offered recently: “Happy New Something”.

πŸ“Œ Bev’s donated a black tote bag onto which I shall stitch Jean Dubuffet.

Jean Dubuffet self portrait through the image processor

πŸ“Œ Chris gave us all something to think about after Boris announced Lockdown 3.0 at 8pm.

The Sainsbury website crashed and Tesco delivery slots disappeared in minutes.

πŸ“Œ The Guardian has a story about Trump possibly planning to scarper to Scotland the day before Biden is inaugurated, then The Economist ran with this headline…

TUESDAY The Morning Star argues that parents forced to both work from home and home-school their children should be furloughed.

πŸ“Œ Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced Β£4.6bn in grants to help firms furlough staff.

πŸ“Œ The London stitchwork tote bag is finished and bagged. The City of London is done in gold thread.

πŸ“Œ Routines are starting up again, but obviously not all of them. Margaret thinks our workshop with the school in Northern Ireland next week will be cancelled if they go into full lockdown. Other projects sit in the β€œwait and see” area. With new variants of the virus popping up daily, vaccination is no longer the silver bullet it promised to be. The dream solution would be a rapid move to a system of Universal Basic Income (UBI) teamed with rigorous testing and scaling up support for the nhs. All three are a bad smell to this government.

πŸ“Œ Sam sent me her portrait of Cleopatra. I told her she looks quite sexy, in a Margot Leadbetter kind of way.

Cleopatra Leadbetter, by Sam Jevon

πŸ“Œ I’m sure a lot of people share the sentiments…

And Marina Hyde came up with some characteristically skewering lines about Boris’s decision-making skills.

WEDNESDAY The Economist has a story stating, “Mainland Europe stands out as a global vaccine straggler”, which I tried to illustrate using bendy type to signify the rollercoaster effect. “Gift of the Jab” is wasted as a mere slug line.

πŸ“Œ Inside the Β£4.6bn pot of cash Chancellor Rishi Sunak pulled out of the hat yesterday was money for local councils to spend on discretionary business support. This is a happy deviation from previous Tory orthodoxy.

πŸ“Œ Alex says that the stitchwork tote bag I gave her featuring Nova has been framed.

She said it was too good for onions and courgettes. I said onions and courgettes are the inspiration behind all my stitched totes.

πŸ“Œ A story headlined “Naked fugitive found in crocodile-infested waters” is hard to resist. A bruised, cut and mud-covered Australian has been found up a tree, apparently trying to build himself a nest. His rescuers were suspicious: β€œWe thought he must have had a big night after New Year’s and got lost and done himself a mischief in the bush.”

πŸ“Œ A story in the New Statesman says Keir Starmer is toeing the Boris line too much and looks like he doesn’t know how to start a fight.

πŸ“Œ Anarchy in the USA.

The scenes are eerily reminiscent of those from Russia’s 1917 Revolution or the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000.

πŸ“Œ Bridgerton is Regency Mills & Boon, US style. And it’s addictive. I’ve got a silent bet that Lady Whistledown is that actor from Derry Girls.

THURSDAY There’s a lot of speculation about what Trump will pull off before Biden’s 20 January swearing-in.

πŸ“Œ A Trumpian on the radio said Antifa led the invasion.

πŸ“Œ At the Headway Art CafΓ© Sandra was sketching a portrait of her nephew, whose name is Gorgeous.

πŸ“Œ A meerkat arrived from Sam.

Meerkat, by Sam Jevon

πŸ“Œ Loads of parents have self-identified as “keyworkers” so they can send their kids to “shut” schools.

πŸ“Œ Lady Danbury is in Death in Paradise tonight. My wife reckons she’s the perp.

πŸ“Œ There is an ad on the TV in which a woman in a Zoom chat with friends refuses to remove the fake background because her kitchen looks like a tip.

FRIDAY An alternative view of the US insurrection has been missing, until now.

CNN became a regular source of US news during the November election and yesterday featured an angry commentator claiming Capitol police “opened the doors” to the rioters.

This was a refreshing break with the sanctimoniousness of the mainstream commentariat. And today a Morning Star editorial nails it in characteristic rad-lefty bluntspeak: “The capitalist class in any society in crisis can always call into being an army of the discontented and angry. And such a force is necessarily racist and incoherent, contradictory in its desires, riven with competing tendencies and, in the absence of a compelling ideology, condemned to life on the political fringe. Unless that is, the country can no longer be ruled in the old ways.”

πŸ“Œ Trump is grovelling around trying to keep his job.

Read the full story

πŸ“Œ In the Headway Home Studio we looked at Matisse, his use of colour, texture and everyday objects in still life. Then we tackled a picture of Alex cosplaying a ukulele to her dog Nova and a green plastic snake.

Alex in Matisse mode

For my effort I zoomed in on Alex herself, the pose, the shape of her chin and the studied look. I also tried to nail it in a few simple lines and colours.

πŸ“Œ Some people look really excited when I say I like classical music. Their faces change when I tell them I’m a fan of John Barry, Ennio Morricone and Hans Zimmer.

πŸ“Œ We finished Bridgerton and (Spoiler Alert) I was right about the identity of Lady Whistledown. I’m not sure all viewers will have twigged that Bridgerton is a comedy.

SATURDAY Michael Gove says Brexit troubles begin next week.

πŸ“Œ Some schools are full because everyone has technically been classified as a critical worker. Covid deaths are soaring.

πŸ“Œ One blogger reports that as the US falls apart and the UK swims in mud, Russia and China have found a new fondness for one another

πŸ“Œ Make Votes Matter is out with the begging bowl again. If I hadn’t just pledged a monthly donation to 38 Degrees they’d get my money.

πŸ“Œ The Jean Dubuffet tote bag for Bev is coming along nicely. It is on the back side of an old Barbican tote, which Bev donated to the project.

Jean Dubuffet tote

Read all of my Diaries.

8 thoughts on “Diary: Week 1

  1. Excellent roundu8p of the week. I was particularly struck with Alan Bennett’s struggles with arthritis. I hate to think what I’ll be like by the time I’m his age. Some other good snippets too – like the Covid and the homeschooling posters too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I normally dislike both books and films where none of the characters are likeable. However, we are hooked on Spiral. Despite its unrelieved tension and gory detail I think this series is lifted by the quality of acting which also displays the vulnerability of all the protagonists. The writers, of course, detest the whole legal system which I wouldn’t know anything about.

    Liked by 1 person

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