Diary: December 2020

TUESDAY 1 In a dream I got the chance to ask Joanne if anyone had ever called her J K Galbraith.

πŸ“Œ From HuffPost…

From Tuesday, rough sleeping will become grounds for refusal or cancellation of permission to be in the UK.


πŸ“Œ It looks like the main opposition to the sitting government is not from Her Majesty’s Opposition but from pissed off Tories deep inside the Party.

πŸ“Œ Even though it is now December, I have been told categorically that the tree cannot go up yet.

πŸ“Œ Sophia has knocked Olivia off the top of the babyname charts.

πŸ“Œ I’ve done that stupid accidental purchase of the doll’s house version of the thing you really wanted. I believed I ordered a small bench clamp, and what arrived today looks like it fell out of a child’s First Steps in DIY Kit, aged 7-11.

Oops! It’s tiny

πŸ“Œ The Radio 5Live first-half commentary made it sound like Liverpool were under the cosh.

WEDNESDAY 2 Dreams are elusive, or more often in my case simply forgotten. If they wake me up, I write them down.

In this one, I bumped into a former colleague who now has a TOP JOB in a prestigious organisation. She stuttered the confidence that she had been offered another top job, TOP JOB 2, in a rival organisation and was in a dilemma as to which way to go.

Maybe because I had just been listening to the Sue Perkins radio show Dilemma, I unhesitatingly advised her to make me happy and take TOP JOB 2.

πŸ“Œ A No-Deal Brexit is just as likely to come from the dead hand of fate.

From the Guardian

Michael Gove is the sort of metropolitan wanker who this morning decreed that two scotch eggs, β€œwith pickle on the side” and a side salad, is β€œa pub starter”

Marina Hyde, the Guardian, who is the sort of person who believes that Wetherspoons pubs have car parks

πŸ“Œ Britain Best At Being The Worst stories will not magically disappear once Brexit is done.

πŸ“Œ There’s an article in Edge of Humanity magazine. titled “Tracing The Consciousness Of My Hair”.

πŸ“Œ Someone on the radio says that the vaccine has arrived so quickly because the world’s scientists were left unencumbered by the profit motive to get on with the business of doing the science. All the business espionage and dirty deals behind closed doors were swept aside and testing took place in parallel to development of the vaccine.

All this reminded me of when I worked with the international scientific community back in the late 1970s at Bidston Observatory on the Wirral. Scientists from every corner of the world huddled together studying vector plots I had produced of tidal variations. The eggheads were spectacularly cooperative and dedicated, and great fun in the pub after work. So I can well believe today’s corny good-news vaccine story.

πŸ“Œ I can’t find much to disagree with in this report that agricultural subsidies are to be diverted from big corporate farmers to land management and conservation projects instead.

πŸ“Œ Just found an unnoticed picture attachment Alex sent me last week of Nova posing with the stitchwork tote bag I made of her.

Nova and tote bag

πŸ“Œ On TV’s House of Games, one contestant renamed Michelangelo’s The Creation Of Adam “The Man With The Pointy Finger”.

THURSDAY 3 A man on the radio told us where Mae West got all her best one-liners from (“It’s not the men in my life, it’s the life in my men”)…

Mae West (born Mary Jane West; August 17, 1893-November 22, 1980) was an American actress, singer, playwright, screenwriter, comedian, and sex symbol whose entertainment career spanned seven decades. She was known for her lighthearted, bawdy double entendres and breezy sexual independence, and often used a husky voice.


…She stole them from joke books, wrote them down then transformed these often rather pathetic words into sharp, witty expressions merely by her characterised performance of them.

πŸ“Œ Nicked a quote from Derrick and tried to make a moody scene.

πŸ“Œ The digital tooling up of the nhs is long overdue, but there are so many conflicting motives that negotiating it will be a long walk through an ethicalminefield.

Read the full story

πŸ“Œ I had a good feeling about the journalist Deborah when she interviewed me about the studio for the Evening Standard. You never can tell. She didn’t make any big mistakes and caught the vibe quite well. Could have done without the picture of my scraggy neck.

πŸ“Œ Australia got quite irritating yesterday with a succession of knotted stitches, but today it has redeemed itself.

FRIDAY 4 Edge of Humanity has a spooky photo essay of Irish sectarian balaclava masks. It demonstrates a form of contact printing in which an iPad screen with picture is laid directly onto old-style photographic paper.

πŸ“Œ Prince Harry was mistaken for a Christmas Tree salesman while out shopping with Meghan.

πŸ“Œ Stuart surrendered a game of Wishbone Ash via sms when I gave him Heaven 17. Wishbone Ash is a word game in which you name a band from the last letter of the band given by the previous player (eg, Wishbone Ash > Happy Mondays > Supertramp, etc).

πŸ“Œ There is some debate on my side of the family as to whether it’s still too early to put up your Christmas tree.

Nice view of the flood-damaged parquet

πŸ“Œ Neil reports that Norway’s biggest problem has been solved by an announcement from the British Embassy where the truly desperate can buy mince pies. And Twiglets and Colman’s mustard and Branston Pickle. Phew!

πŸ“Œ My wife just told me not to use the aubergine emoji because it means penis. πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†

πŸ“Œ A love of tabloid headlines is a hard habit to abandon.

From the Evening Standard

SATURDAY 5 Marina Hyde says that Gavin Williamson was trying to crack a joke with his Captain Mainwaring speech in which he said Britain is great and all other countries suck.

πŸ“Œ Our boiler has conked out so I was forced to wash in cold water. It reminded me of our road trip in Australia back in 1997 when I was still young and intrepid enough to step out of the campervan at daybreak and tip a bucket of water over my head.

πŸ“Œ My wife tells me there’s a pub in Brighton that sells a guest ale called “Substantial Meal”.

πŸ“Œ Michael Gove could make his big revenge move on Boris with Brexit. He’s been waiting for this, like Christmas.

SUNDAY 6 The idea that the EU should separate its Economic function from its Socio-cultural function (its “Values”) is a tantalising one. Brexit highlights the difficulty in pulling it off, even if the inclination to make it happen ever existed. Instead, it will probably stutter along as it is, pretending to be a genuine union of nations.

πŸ“Œ The gender fluidity arguments were always headed to the courts. Twitter doesn’t seem like the right place to deal with it.

Read the full story here

πŸ“Œ Finally completed Friday’s Home Studio project, which was a study of the ’12 Dozen’ ceramic eggcups Alex and Dave made a few years ago. One was a cup that held 7 eggs.

My version of the Brady-Briggs 7-Up egg cup

πŸ“Œ Chopping onions: the volume of blood was quite impressive.

MONDAY 7 The Conversation has a big new series about the world’s oceans (now commonly referred to as a singular global Ocean), our relationship with and our understanding of them.

The world’s oceans take up more than 90% of the excess heat that comes from burning fossil fuels and a third of the additional COβ‚‚ they create. They produce most of our oxygen, help shape the winds that influence our weather, and provide food and income for millions 

Read the full story

πŸ“Œ The old Bennite ultra-left preference for a divorce from the EU has resurfaced with a call from union boss Len McCluskey for Labour to back any deal Boris puts in front of them.

πŸ“Œ It’s Youth Climate Action Day.

πŸ“Œ I only learned last night what an upside-down smiley emoji meant, thanks to a website specialising in Emojiology. I think I shall be making good use of this new discovery, along with this useful story in It’s Nice That.

πŸ“Œ Once you’re on London’s extensive civic consultation merry-go-round it’s hard to get off. Focus groups, round tables, online surveys and talking shops proliferate. In healthier times you’d get a free lunch if you bothered to turn up. Today we had a Zoom group chat with Travelwatch London, a statutary consumer group that attempts to join up the thinking between user and service provider. Healthwatch London runs in the same way. We talked about our Covid public transport experiences and made a wishlist for the future. The top two desirables were for cyclists to stop using the pavements and for bus drivers to better manage the health guidelines regarding face coverings and passenger numbers.

TUESDAY 8 Stuart pointed to a macho Trump-like character called Brian Rose, who will stand in the London Mayoral elections next year. A fishing expedition on Instagram uncovers some family shots from a holiday in Turkey. In one his wife Mariana is pictured on a sunbed reading a real book called Approaches To Psychology.

πŸ“Œ As my head hit the pillow last night I could sense this story’s appearance this morning.

πŸ“Œ It’s still a very weird experience to hear the Morning Star talk like a member of the Conservative Party.

πŸ“Œ Prepping the new year wax monoprinting workshop gave me the opportunity to study the masterpiece (again).

Can you tell what it is yet?

WEDNESDAY 9 A journalist in Brussels described Boris as “noisy”, but added that he was an “interesting personage”.

πŸ“Œ I’m doing five minutes on Friday for a Zoom class with the Guardian Education Centre. I need to think of five dos and don’ts in writing headlines. I might slim it to three.

πŸ“Œ The picture caption on this story was “Is this a needle which I see before me?”

From the Morning Star

πŸ“Œ Joined a Headway Zoom meeting with the Barbican about our potential upcoming collaboration around the Jean Dubuffet/Art Brut exhibition they are readying to open in February. There was a lot of sometimes fevered talk about Dubuffet’s collaboration with the Nazis during the second world war (he sold them wine). One member of the group believed the Barbican have glossed over this. I suggested that our studio’s involvement should be a pop-up art movement called The Collaborators, in which we question, through art and conversation, what it means to be “a collaborator”. This should, I added, involve taking over the bar.

πŸ“Œ Just as Boris was out looking for some nice flowers to give to Ursula this evening, something happened to make him squirm.

Full story here

πŸ“Œ Boris and Ursula dined on scallops and turbot while discussing fishing rights.

THURSDAY 10 My wife is mildly amused that I looked up Tina Daheley on the the internet not to see what she looked like but to check how to spell her surname.

πŸ“Œ Michelle videoed me and Chris deep in discussion about what Outsider Art is and the Barbican’s Dubuffet show.

πŸ“Œ The first Christmas dinner of 2020.

The gravy was curry sauce. The pudding was peach trifle.

FRIDAY 11 There’s a whacky theatre company that is taking over empty offices and staging a murder mystery, which they Zoom to the office’s staff at home in their slippers.

πŸ“Œ Did an online tutorial with a group of Y9 pupils in Cornwall on headline writing. Make the verb work was my message. It was hard to tell if they were listening.

πŸ“Œ Babs Windsor has died and the tributes are flooding in, so we gave Paul’s portrait some display space in her honour.

Barbara Windsor by Paul Wright

πŸ“Œ At the Headway Home Studio we were tasked with finishing an unfinished portrait by Gustav Klimt. I got quite carried away in a memory of Auntie Gertie, who was all fur coat and lipstick.

Auntie Gertie

πŸ“Œ Some GP surgeries are opting out of the Covid vaccination programme because they don’t have the staff to do it.

πŸ“Œ The Coronavirus crisis has become all consuming. It even seems to exist in stories that have nothing to do with it. Nothing can be seen or recalled outside of its prism.

Tap image for the full story

SATURDAY 12 It’s hard not to conclude that new TV subscription streaming channels will “splurge” into view next year. I hope The BBC and Channel 4 can maintain the high quality of their work in the face of this competition.

From The Economist

πŸ“Œ The team always outperforms the individual is one of those sayings that cries out to be challenged. Probably because it sounds so glib more than it being false. A HuffPost story about the teamwork behind the Oxford vaccine illustrates the truth of it.

πŸ“Œ Andy Beckett nails an ironic point about Brexit: that the power to make your own rules will take over after December 31, but the governing party will then also be forced to start doing it, and that is not in the ‘freedom’ DNA of the British Conservative Party.

πŸ“Œ British politicians could never succeed in the EU because they believe that politics is exciting and you need to have a talent for the extraordinary. They could never hack it in the dull EU world of negotiating policy sentence by sentence because it is not glamorous enough. They see themselves as stars and stars don’t do boring stuff.

SUNDAY 13 In a rare moment of schadenfreude, the prospect of watching MPs on the government side dealing with the post-Brexit shitstorm was quite tempting.

πŸ“Œ One of his posh mates has told Boris that he is not a Conservative but an “English Nationalist”. Given the PM’s desire to be loved by everyone, that must have hurt.

πŸ“Œ There’s a cracking piece in It’s Nice That about rejected EU flag designs. Many of them were done by regular citizens using felt-tip pens and wax crayons.

Welcome to the E-You

πŸ“Œ My wife’s sister’s choir has released their Christmas single.

πŸ“Œ Shirley went for the nice-guys-don’t-win option and Ranvir got eliminated.

πŸ“Œ Belatedly read Michael Heseltine’s big swipe at the incompetence of his Tory party inheritors.

MONDAY 14 The pessimism around a crashout Brexit is starting to weigh heavily.

πŸ“Œ This is sad…

πŸ“Œ Boris and Ursula have agreed to go the extra 1.6km. And UK councils are taking Covid matters into their own hands and closing schools.

πŸ“Œ Sam sent her version of last week’s Home Studio project, an unfinished portrait by Gustav Klimt.

Unfinished Klimt, by Sam Jevon

TUESDAY 15 Did I just hear a reverse ferret knocking on Gavin Williamson’s door? Or will Greenwich Council cave in and force pupils back to school for the last three days of term? Some UK schools are showing attendance figures as low as 37% in areas hardest hit by Covid.

πŸ“Œ My wife has organised a community singalong for this weekend, so there’s now a mad frenzy in progress to ensure it is Tier 3 compliant. London is spiking.

πŸ“Œ Started to acclimatise myself to a new Total Lockdown by sitting outside in the freezing cold with a hot drink, watching the roof repairers at work on the block of flats opposite.

πŸ“Œ A Christmas gift I bought for my wife while drunk arrived by delivery. And an email arrived saying another one was on its way.

πŸ“Œ Dominic Cummings is still on the payroll.

The government seems to be running a complicated algorithm where the worse you are at your job, the more money you get. Hence Dominic Cummings’s 40% pay rise.

John Crace, the Guardian

WEDNESDAY 16 People in Public Health England say they are being cut out of the Β£12bn national mass vaccination programme. A “venture capitalist” called Kate has been put in charge, answering directly to the PM.

πŸ“Œ I never knew that the US President had the authority to order executions.

Read the full story

πŸ“Œ Got some great feedback from the Y9 class in Cornwall who did the Guardian’s reinvented front-page workshop yesterday. The session sounded really exciting, which is how it should be.

πŸ“Œ The reverse side of any stitchwork project can sometimes be more interesting than the clean, finished side. This is the Australia tote bag nearing completion. I flipped the image to put Tasmania in its rightful place.

Australia from down under

πŸ“Œ While Boris was making his Christmas Lite speech, Esther Rantzen was on the radio saying let’s cancel it for this year and instead have a big blow-out when the vaccine has kicked in and the weather’s warmer.

THURSDAY 17 A story in the Morning Star is a cold reminder of what’s going on beneath the surface of seasonal good cheer and stoic resilience.

Read the full story

πŸ“Œ The HuffPost describes Boris’s Condom Christmas speech as “Yuletide Fog”.

πŸ“Œ The ugliest orchid in the world has been found at Heathrow Airport.

πŸ“Œ I’ve fallen into the regrettable habit of checking the news every half hour to see if the virus restrictions have changed. What I’ve learned as a byproduct of doing so is that the Tier system is generally thought to be hopeless.

πŸ“Œ Alice has been doing a YouTube Christmas carol/song advent calendar. Each day someone does a video introducing their chosen song. Today she fights with her son Hector over Kermit, who is presumably the signifier of who is entitled to speak. https://videopress.com/v/lJB1ANXG?autoPlay=true&loop=true&preloadContent=metadata

FRIDAY 18 The good news is that our local gym has re-opened, Covid compliant, and they were dishing out free passes. It was a delight to get back on the rowing machine with Spotify Easy 80s thrumming through the headphones.

πŸ“Œ The bad news is that I got an email from Tash saying she will be leaving Headway in January. She will be sorely missed by many members and we all now wonder what kind of organisation it will become under new management.

πŸ“Œ Emily got in touch with an enthusiastic response to the online Dubuffet workshop I pitched to her. Fingers crossed we get something worked out for when the Barbican exhibition starts in February.

πŸ“Œ Another online workshop idea popped into my head straight after the message from Emily. The gist is to do action paintings to a Spotify playlist.

πŸ“Œ Australia is finished, pressed and bagged.

Australia tote bag
Ready for dispatch

The mappy stitchwork projects are a great way to travel in your head. In this case, lots of memories from our big trip to Australia in 1997 emerged, like that time at that camping spot just outside Coober Pedy when my wife tried to eat porridge through the fly net that was covering her face.

πŸ“Œ Booze and fags have been the big supermarket sales success during the dark days of Covid.

πŸ“Œ One year ago we’d just arrived in Tenerife for a 3-week holiday. It’s when this blog really started. At the airport waiting for our flight I did a sketch of Taylor Swift after seeing her performance on Strictly Come Dancing 2019.

Taylor at the piano on Strictly

πŸ“Œ We got to the end of Ozark and marvelled at its brilliance. Not that we enjoy watching top British actors get their heads blown off, or anything. Series 3 explored the inner dynamics of the Langmore family. Ruth and Wyatt’s stories got firmed up and finished in a way that sets up Series 4 nicely.

SATURDAY 19 Boris has not announced a UK travel ban (yet) and we’ve just been recommended a new Scandi-noir to fill the gap left by finishing Ozark. It’s DNA on BBC4 and stars Charlotte Rampling as a “chilly French cop”.

πŸ“Œ Sometimes the realisation strikes in a flash that what you look like isn’t what you are.

From Twitter

πŸ“Œ It probably breaks all the etiquette rules of blogging, but I stole an image from another blogger because I think it would actually make a good exercise in self-portraiture.

πŸ“Œ Nicole, the musical director of the community singalong my wife has been organising for tomorrow just got in touch to say her Covid test came back negative. This is a major source of happiness because we have been engaged in a vicious circle of stress-induced bickering for the past four days.

πŸ“Œ Got a “pint-a-goal” bet with Sue on the Palace vs Liverpool game.

πŸ“Œ I won 7 pints.

πŸ“Œ My six votes were split evenly between Bill and Maisie.

πŸ“Œ Rosie won the family Zoom Christmas quiz. She knew an awful lot about The Gruffalo. My best moment was naming Clare Balding as the originator of Mo Farah’s Mobot.

πŸ“Œ It’s the “found in suitcase” that makes this headline.

Read the full story

πŸ“Œ From midnight we are effectively under house arrest.

From The Mirror

SUNDAY 20 The radio phone-ins are full of unhappy people bewildered that three days before the PM introduced us to his “crocodile tiers” he was saying the 5-day reprieve for Christmas was an immovable feast. People feel punished by his obvious weakness of leadership (β€œpublic fury over last-gasp change of mind”). The media is happy to report their discontent.

πŸ“Œ A story about Covid sniffer dogs sounds like something out of satire.

From the Guardian

πŸ“Œ My wife has already tucked into the 48 bags of Hula Hoops I’d bought her for Christmas. She blames Tier 4.

πŸ“Œ My wife’s community singalong went off well. I Zoomed it to Sue and (with Baileys coffee in hand) watched people around the estate dancing on their balconies and singing Lean On Me.

πŸ“Œ Christmas needs jokes. And so do those under Tier 4 house arrest.

MONDAY 21 When disability sucked me away from the workplace it took a while to adjust to being a lone rider. I missed being part of the small team, its structure, its fellowship and the politics of its connectivity to the Bigger Thing. What I didn’t miss was the stifling egotism and raw self-centredness of many of my coworkers. Leaving that behind has been a big plus. I wonder if The Virus has performed that healthy separation for others?

πŸ“Œ We have decided that Christmas in Winchester is no longer possible, even if we could slip past the road blocks and the plainclothes detectives glancing furtively up and down railway platforms.

From HuffPost

πŸ“Œ Resigned to our fate, we opted for a Christmas movie we’d never seen. We picked (without irony) Home Alone and it was very stupid, in a cartoony way.

πŸ“Œ That desperate survivalist mentality has crept back in. I want to know what foods Britain can actually grow.

πŸ“Œ The new stitchwork project is an Oxford United tote bag for my wife’s sister.

πŸ“Œ Proving that it is possible to be an EU member and control your borders.

From the HuffPost

TUESDAY 22 Stories about government fiddling need to become a national spectator sport if we want to avoid a future of corruption and nepotism.

πŸ“Œ We agreed that from now on a new mutant Coronavirus strain is likely to be born each year, so naming them in the fashion of US hurricanes would be fun. We could all plan for the new virus “Ceason”, stocking up on toilet rolls and bread flour. Netflix could schedule a new series of The Crown. We could name the virus Brian.

πŸ“Œ The poor children of Norwich have been let down again.

From The Mirror

πŸ“Œ A Dutch blogger I follow says she has a troll who claims she’s not Dutch. To prove her Dutchness she referenced something called hagelslag, which sealed it for me.

πŸ“Œ Just when you thought industrial action was in danger of becoming a thing of the past…

From the Morning Star

WEDNESDAY 23 The pictures and stories of the stranded cross-Channel truckers in Kent are an early warning of a rich-world humanitarian disaster that a crash-out Brexit might spawn. The drivers are being fed and watered by a Sikh food charity.

πŸ“Œ This wasn’t entirely a surprise. It is weird to imagine just how many of America’s pardoned criminals are still at large.

πŸ“Œ Turns out the number of vaccines the government has bought has been greatly exaggerated.

πŸ“Œ When we watched the TV documentary about the rise of Vladimir Putin, I was left baffled as to how much power one individual can crave. How much would be enough?

Read the full story here

πŸ“Œ Quora has been disappointing lately, but now I remember why I persist with it…

πŸ“Œ The Oxford United tote bag is finished. Too much rucking, something I need to work on. Working from inside the bag is awkward.

πŸ“Œ Chris cracked a joke on Facebook: “At the last moment, the EU tried to add a section to the Brexit agreement that said what would happen if one of the signatories were proved to be insane. But Boris said ‘You won’t fool me with this one – even I know that there is no such thing as a Sanity Clause’.”

THURSDAY 24 They’re saying that a Brexit trade and security deal has been done, and the best metaphor I can muster at the moment to describe our relationship with the EU is that we got out of the car, slammed the door, but didn’t notice that our coat tail was trapped.

πŸ“Œ Alex has been doing some fab prints using a pasta machine. I can’t wait to try it.

Alex’s pasta prints

πŸ“Œ The deal is done. That’s a relief. Crashing out of the EU would have plunged the country into dark days. The Prime Minister has probably used all his fuel, so the way his party chooses to bury him will be great sport for the next 12 months.

πŸ“Œ There’s an app that tracks Santa, like the one you get on Amazon to track your latest purchase.

FRIDAY 25 I thought it might help to listen to the Rolling Stones’ ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ and imagine Boris in the central role. It didn’t.

πŸ“Œ The Cally has become my Christmas Day song.

πŸ“Œ The oven went off while the Paul Hollywood Guinness bread was baking.

πŸ“Œ Cashmere sweaters really are a thing of beauty.

πŸ“Œ Alfie got a Donald Trump dog toy for Christmas. He’s ripped it to shreds already.

πŸ“Œ The Liverpool vs Middlesbrough matchday programme from 1988 was a nice surprise.

SATURDAY 26 We finished the second part of the TV drama ‘Mother Love’, in which Diana Rigg (RIP) plays an obsessive psycho poisoner. In the first part she was menacing, in the second she was hammy.

πŸ“Œ The plan to go for a walk was abandoned quickly when stories of the misery Storm Bella had inflicted on Bedfordshire started to filter through.

πŸ“Œ One blogger I follow spent five minutes trying unsuccessfully to delete a superfluous full stop from his latest posting. Then he realised it was a speck of dirt on his computer screen.

πŸ“Œ I’m starting to think it will take at least one more generation for the British people to get to grips with a realistic national identity.

From the Guardian

πŸ“Œ As someone who has tested positive for the Corona antibodies, I am very enthusiastic about the new injection that might provide immunity.

SUNDAY 27 An allergy to cat hair always set me against them. Cats were malevolent, scheming beasts who had it in for me. I once threw a glass of cheap red wine into the face of a cat that had been using my lawn as a toilet and dared to stare back at me when I tried to reason with it. Cats were my enemies and I despised them, until now. The change comes from TS Eliott’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, as read by Jeremy Irons, another of my pet hates.

πŸ“Œ News that financial services are not already included in the Brexit trade deal added a ghosty feel to a walk around Liverpool Street and Broadgate. Much of the largescale redevelopment of the area was predicated on what the City was before the Pandemic and the arrival of a new high-speed train link to feed it. It now looks desperately empty, and a future for the London money business beyond becoming a mutant “freeport” tax-dodging operation is hard to imagine.

πŸ“Œ A dash of optimism can be quite effective, from the right source.

From Twitter

πŸ“Œ We finished the latest series of The Crown and decided that a cunning way to skip over Prince Charles in the succession might be a welcome development.

MONDAY 28 A radio documentary about David Bowie kept me wide awake in the early hours.

πŸ“Œ The Morning Star warns that Boris’s Brexit Deal means the fight for workers’ rights will need a reboot.

πŸ“Œ Never been to South America, which makes it a great place to explore in my latest stitchcraft project.

South America

πŸ“Œ Bugsy Malone is such a great daytime movie for Christmas.

πŸ“Œ There’s a mixed spray if opinion on whether the schools should reopen as scheduled next week. The risk to the containment of the virus spread is high, yet so long as schools act not just as learning institutions but as childminders, too, the question is not easily answered. If parents are to be economically productive as workers, they cannot be expected to care for and home school their children at the same time.

TUESDAY 29 Among our wedding gifts 32 years ago were two identical coffee grinders. For reasons I’ve never worked out, we kept both. The spare has now come in useful in my Lockdown breadmaking experiments. It helps make a small batch of flour from bran, oats and seeds, which is then added to main flour for added flavour. I might try onion seeds next.

πŸ“Œ A Quora correspondent writes that the slang term “rozzer” for a British police officer is a corrupted form of Robert (Peel). A bit like Jeremy Corbyn became “Jezza” and Paul Gasgoigne “Gazza”.

πŸ“Œ The South America tote bag is finished. The stitching resembles the contour lines on a map. I think I’ll work with that.

Contoured stitching

πŸ“Œ My wife got a notification via the nhs Covid19 app that she had been in contact with someone who has tested positive. The message arrived one week after the alleged contact and strangely instructed my wife to self-isolate for four days only.

WEDNESDAY 30 I wrote to Isobel saying TS Elliott had softened my hatred of cats. She replied suggesting two more poems, but they didn’t work for me.

πŸ“Œ I think Headway has quietly won one of the GSK Impact Awards. Back in March a crew turned up for a day and I gave a long socially distanced interview. I even suggested a corny shot from the canal bank of an overhead train heading for Haggerston station. I said it represented our “journey”, words that tasted cheesy the moment they came out of my mouth.

πŸ“Œ Headway are still pimping a blog I wrote for Michelle above the success of the Zoom Home Studio sessions, which I’m now very hungry for.

πŸ“Œ We are being offered the image of a convoy of refrigerator lorries similar to the ones used at Smithfield meat market patrolling the entire country with the Oxford vaccine. The sunlit uplands of “normality” shine from Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s eyes.

πŸ“Œ A year ago we were in Tenerife fretting about data roaming charges and reading on Twitter that Deliveroo had opened a “bacon sandwich ATM” in the City of London.

A sketch of Tenerife from one year ago

πŸ“Œ Finally caught up with the new TV version of Black Narcissus, which we found heavily laden with simmering subtext in the manner of Jane Campion’s The Piano.

THURSDAY 31 A doctor on the radio is angry at how the story of the virus is being shaped. It is depicted as moving with cunning and stealth, infecting at will with deadly consequences. The virus is not the culprit, the doctor says. It just does what viruses do. The blame for the chaos and the deaths lies with people. Those who flout the rules and guidance on wearing face coverings, washing hands, keeping your distance, etc… they are the culprits. He failed to add that there is no will from those in authority to enable the change of behaviour required to “beat” the virus. Those people the doctor blames just carry on in the only way they know how to, much like the virus.

πŸ“Œ Edge of Humanity magazine has a fabulous photo essay by Marina Shukurova subtitled “A Dying Village in Russia”.

πŸ“Œ The Economist has a story about some academics and a muso geek who have tuned into and recorded the “music” made by the aurora borealis.

πŸ“Œ The Morning Star is firm about our future outside the EU and the “deal” that underpins it.

The Guardian is characteristically more circumspect about the state we’re in.

πŸ“Œ It’s not always useful to look backwards, but a glance at THIS MONTH LAST YEAR gives pause for thought.

Read all of my Diaries.

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