Diary: Week 2

January 10-16

SUNDAY 10 In Poetry Extra on the BBC Sounds app I learned of the existence of a “Celtic Rainforest” in the middle of Wales and that people from Barbados are called Bajans.

📌 Sadly, there are more stories like this than we’ll ever hear about.

From The Mirror

📌 I’ve been struggling to find a compact alliterative description of Donald Trump’s presidency. Andrew Rawnsley comes to the rescue with “capo of chaos”, but like most liberal commentators he fails to make plain that 74 million US citizens voted for a quite aggressive form of autocracy.

📌 Rose’s dad seems happy with the service.

📌 Crawley beat Leeds in the FA Cup, and deserved to.

📌 “Ah, the proverbial smoking nun!” was a memorable line in Death In Paradise.

MONDAY 11 The Mirror announces that pubs are set to close for 5 months under Boris’s new clampdown on the R rate. I didn’t even know they were still open.

📌 A juicy-sounding shark story in The Conversation turned out to be quite dull.

Full story here

📌 The so-called world-beating test and trace system turns out to be not a system at all but a playground for bored ex call-centre workers.

📌 The New Statesman says the government is blaming the public not following regulations for the soaring Covid rates when the real blame lies elsewhere – on the high street with click & collect in full swing and businesses not making the necessary work-from-home adjustments. It also points out that regulation enforcement is impossible for a police force that is tiny relative to the population size.

📌 Armed insurrection in every US state? The revolution WILL be televised.

Full story here

📌 Some people still think it’s weird that I bought my wife 48 bags of Hula Hoops for Christmas.

TUESDAY 12 We dance daily to the theme tune to Death In Paradise.

📌 Crocs are selling like hotcakes.

📌 Trump’s legacy of labelling facts as lies lives on. The Prime Minister went for a bike ride 7 miles from his home in Downing Street when he’s instructed all other citizens to exercise “locally”. The BBC reported this, but added without question that the PM’s office said he’d done nothing wrong.

📌 Harry Styles has gone from One Direction to Radio 2 in a very short space of time.

📌 At the Guardian online coffee/chat we learned that Philippa once ate a bag of crisps with a spoon.

📌 The new order of orange thread arrived so I finished the Dubuffet tote bag.

Based on Self Portrait II, 1966

WEDNESDAY 13 Photographs of the pitiful food supplies sent to children on free school meals might have embarrassed a government that knew what embarrassment was.

Bon apetit

But this one doesn’t. Paul Waugh in the HuffPost makes a bold attempt to nail institutional neglect as the cause of food poverty, but keeping schoolchildren hungry now seems to be a political mission.

📌 The boiler has stopped working again, so I will be hibernating in a big overcoat today.

📌 For a radio show, I need to pick 4 Bruce Springsteen songs that will convert sceptics. At the moment, two of them are love songs and one is about 9/11. Psychoanalyse that.

📌 It’s great to see the BBC giving some serious push to its superb Bitesize service. Any adult interested in following the school curriculum will have already marvelled at its brilliance. Now it is rolling out Lockdown Learning modules on TV, the service can finally be seen for the triumph it is.

THURSDAY 14 Trump has been awarded his second impeachment, so the prospect of him getting his tiny hands back on the nuclear button is remote. Republicans are ditching him in vast numbers, not so much because they find his politics tasteless but because the party’s megadonors have turned off the cash tap.

📌 Some workers are so compromised that they either risk their safety or fall into poverty.

From the HuffPost

📌 The boiler is working again. It seems the council has finally completed an external repair to a water-pressure valve. Every time it faulted, our boiler went into emergency shutdown and wouldn’t ignite. Only a £50 call-out to a heating engineer could restart it. Our gain is the heating engineer’s loss.

📌 Bitcoin has always sounded like a dubious proposition, none more so than when in the hands of greedy people.

Read the full story here

FRIDAY 15 It’s now like the only point of digging in under lockdown is to wait for the government to make so many repeated mistakes that it finally learns how to govern. We could be here some time.

📌 The Headway Home Studio session was a collage workshop with Mitchel from Accumulate, in which we randomly cut and ripped stuff up and randomly stuck it down. I chose also to randomly scribble words using a Japanese watercolour brush pen. It was all quite absorbing.

Collage, a first attempt

📌 There’s a wave of opinion surfacing that says the government is about to start smashing up the workers’ rights employers were required to adopt under EU law. The big question seems to be how hard the EU will hit back with tariffs and incessant complaints. Little mention is given to how hard British workers might be persuaded to hit back against a government already well-rehearsed in making swift u-turns.

📌 There’s a touch of Hogarth and Cold War Steve about the work of US artist Jim Shaw. His Master Mason scene depicts Trump as Lord Donald of Smugness…

Detail from Master Mason

… in a sprawling image that will hopefully chill the bones of future generations.

📌 Somewhere in Germany all the men called Fritz are being lined up for the vaccine. I guess in Britain it’s all the Cecils.

Read the full story

📌 The radio show in which I picked four Bruce Springsteen songs that would win over even the most hardened sceptic went well. Except we just did the talking and the host said they’d put the songs in later. The four songs were 1. Wild Billy’s Circus Story, 2. Thunder Road, 3. When You’re Alone and 4. The Rising.

📌 The new stitchwork tote project is a vain attempt to use up a lot of old remnants of thread. Is that a metaphor for something?

Using up the leftovers

SATURDAY 16 One blogger I follow said his day went from bad to worse when he got in the queue at the Post Office and was stood “behind someone with a rudimentary grasp of parcels”.

📌 Hearing La Vida Loca first thing in the morning really does help.

📌 Marge knocked off a bootleg of a fabulous jazz album she borrowed from the library, proper Bugsy Malone stuff.

📌 In the process of trying to find a tin of tomato soup for lunch, I uncovered a huge stockpile of contingency foodstuffs in a corner of our spare “bedroom”, which I have already renamed The Pantry.

📌 Twitter is riddled with hidden storylines for budding fiction writers. Such as: “Hi hon, it seems like a hundred years since lunch in Norwich.”

Read all of my Diaries.

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