SUNDAY 17 Someone on the TV described Debbie McGee as a Glob, meaning Good Looking Old Bird, apparently. I asked my wife if I was a Good Looking Old Bloke.
📌 We used our daily exercise allowance to visit some of the local pieces by the anonymous French street artist Invader , who steals into various urban locations worldwide in the dead of night to deposit his Space Invader-inspried tile mosaics in non-obvious settings.
📌 The boiler conked out again, but healed itself later, just in time for the Liverpool vs Man Utd kick-off (0-0).
📌 My kind of humour.
MONDAY 18 Finally finished the first Cormoran Strike book, The Cuckoo’s Calling. What should have been a short read turned into long agonising one. I like JK Rowling’s crisp sentences, but as a piece of crime fiction this was deeply unsatisfying. Strike conducts too many long interviews in which you know clues are buried but aren’t compelling enough to keep your attention.
📌 I wonder if Boris will suck up to Joe by having a fight with Vlad.
📌 Stuart’s latest message began, “Dear Sinner” and was signed “Father Arthur Trollope”. The message came with a photograph, an interior shot of Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral taken by Stuart’s dad.
The picture was only possible, Stuart claims, because he was forced to hang precariously holding a piece of lighting equipment. Dickensian use of child labour, if you ask me.
📌 The latest stitchwork tote bag is finished, ready to be filled with carrots and onions.
The story behind this one is roughly this…
When we were kids, there was an imaginary place called the “Four Nations” – England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales. That was where we were from. We knew there was some argument about Ireland, but in our heads Ireland was just that big island to the left of Liverpool.
We were children. Scotland was the Loch Ness Monster. Wales was JPR Williams, a rugby player who stitched his own injured face back together. England was all green and owned by wealthy southerners.
We probably knew that the Four Nations was not a real place, but it was nice to know it was there.
📌 My appearance on Canal Side Discs talking nonsense about Bruce Springsteen turned out far more embarrassing than I thought it would.
📌 Did a sketch of Michelle for her 20 years at Headway tribute.
TUESDAY 19 There’s some kind of media commotion in progress about young muscular men from the Midlands singing sea shanties on social media.
📌 There’s a lot of reports on the success of the vaccination programme, yet Britain has the world’s highest Covid death rate and the health service is close to breaking. The situation is very fragile, but the government is still dusting down its “back to normal” soundbites and punting false hope.
📌 At the Guardian online coffee/chat Angela, who has just joined Instagram, discovered that she was being followed by Damian Lewis. She removed him. In jest, her daughter speculated that maybe Lewis had her mum mixed up with Angelina Jolie.
📌 Using the stitchwork as a way of sketching is fun. It’s really quite folk arty.
WEDNESDAY 20 Our local pharmacies are not rushing to join the great vaccination roll-out, so many of our most vulnerable neighbours are being sent far and wide, to places with long queues and no toilets.
📌 In his final hours as President, Trump has pardoned more criminals.
📌 At the foot of paragraph 3 in a Morning Star editorial, the subject of a new WHO report finally surfaces: “The most significant feature of the whole global Covid-19 pandemic has been the widely varying response of different countries and the dramatically divergent health outcomes.”
📌 Brian the boiler man can’t detect where water is leaking from our heating system, which is worrying.
📌 The online chat with the Barbican curators about the upcoming Jean Dubuffet/Art Brut exhibition went off without controversy.
I said I thought their alignment of the term Brut with champagne was a bit overimaginative. In Spanish and Italian Bruto means ugly or gross. Ken said to him Brut meant a distinctive 1970s aftershave in a green bottle. We agreed that L’art Merde would have been a good title, too. Or Art D’Incontinent.
📌 Lady Gaga’s National Anthem was a belter. No armed attacks on the inauguration ceremony as Biden embraced his inner poet and promised to write the next great chapter in American history, blah.
📌 Brian found a leaky bit of pipework in the boiler cupboard and will return tomorrow with a new part.
THURSDAY 21 One of the bloggers I follow noted: “It’s so long since I’ve used the bread maker that I had forgotten there was a setting for crustiness.” This made me envious, as I struggle to get our busted oven up to 200C. Loaf crustiness is a distant memory.
📌 Strange times indeed when a London council is looking at ways to buy back council properties sold under the right-to-buy scheme.
📌 Joe Biden’s middle name us Robinette.
📌 Sam sent her drawing of Alex Playing the Uke with Dog & Snake. She reported a mishap with a red Sharpie that she was somehow able to deal with.
📌 In a Zoom quiz with 5 competing teams, the losers scored half a point less than four joint winners.
FRIDAY 22 Full Fact has a stinging correction for Conservative MP Dr Liam Fox, who publicly claimed we didn’t have any data on the numbers of people whose deaths were directly attributable to Covid-19. Worse, Full Fact claims the information was staring Fox in the face all the time.
📌 Fresh, interesting Covid stories are rare, so it’s great that The Conversation has a “Covid-19 Editor” who steers us through the minefields of conflicting information with lots of academic analysis and a weekly vaccine roundup. The Conversation also reports this week that accidental half doses of the Oxford vaccine could have unearthed a game-changing hidden property.
📌 Paul Waugh in Huffpost UK reckons that while Priti Patel is dishing out hefty fines for pandemic partygoers, she should slap one on her boss Boris for handing out the invites.
📌 You sense the sheer delight when the Morning Star gets to publish one of its “Covid Cronies” reports…
📌 At the Headway Home Studio we made drawings of Romeo, a Royal Academy model who has beautiful eyes and a talent for standing still.
📌 Fintan O’Toole once again writes a stunning long-read. Donald Trump has left America in a spin of confusion. Is it still a democracy, or did Trump twist it into a despotic freak show in which the strongman rules with an iron fist. 74 million voted for that, so Joe Biden needs some big ideas to take those voters with him on the search for the American soul.
📌 Battery technology is pushing up sales of electric cars. A new battery just developed offers 200 miles on a 5-minute charge.
📌 One of the contestants in Junior Bake Off used salt instead of sugar in her churros recipe. My wife duly reminded me of the time in the Bystander café in Brighton when I flavoured my chips with sugar rather than salt.
📌 The US Republicans are on manoeuvres. They seem to sense the need for a new beginning.
SATURDAY 23 Slowly but surely, the government is being pressured into picking up the policies of its opponents.
📌 CNN reports that Bernie Sanders has got a new job as a fashion icon.