Diary: Week 7

February 14-20

SUNDAY 14 Joss Stone was revealed to be Sausage on TV’s The Masked Singer, which seemed to generate some excitement.

πŸ“Œ Series 2 of The Bay understandably left its best move to the end of the last episode – a crime of passion hidden in plain view.

πŸ“Œ The media is having a close look at the NHS reforms announced this week. In a good summary of where we’re at Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer concludes: “It is not self-evident that the best answer to the health service’s many challenges is more Matt Hancock.”

πŸ“Œ In the morning we did our first double act presenting a Zoom monoprinting workshop for Shirley’s carers group. It was a simple basic introduction with a group of seven, which is ideal for the kind of social workshop I feel comfortable hosting. In the afternoon we crawled under the heated blanket and watched News of the World on Netflix, a lovely and quietly compelling film about national identity starring Tom Hanks and an amazing young German actor, Helena Zengel.

πŸ“Œ Clearing out a cupboard in preparation for the arrival of building workers tomorrow unearthed an astonishing amount if ancient booze – which included an anonymous bottle of green liquid.

Hate to think what this is…

MONDAY 15 The building workers arrived late, but they did arrive. One was especially keen to chat about football.

πŸ“Œ An article in the Guardian Weekly magazine details the plight of the Russian anti-Putin campaigner Alexei Navalny. All the way through the piece Navalny and his supporters speak of their reformist project as being Russia’s destiny and that the death of the old corrupt state machine is inevitable. Maybe not right now, but not too far into the future. If this is genuinely the case, it raises the possibility that one day Russia will be at the heart of Northern European social democracy. This fascinating stretch of the imagination gets even more interesting when Britain’s role as a non-EU member of that collection of nations comes into view. Britain, and notably London, is home to some of Russia’s richest ex-pats/exiles.

πŸ“Œ The Daily Star appears to have remodelled itself into a satirical paper.

TUESDAY 16 The impact of the Covid-19 virus has fallen hardest on those societies anthropologists and sociologists define as “loose”, where a tolerance to rule-breaking exists. “Tight” societies, by contrast, are ones where obedience to social codes prevail. These societies have been most successful in tackling infection and death rates.

πŸ“Œ Imagine the Scottish independence movement 10 years ago. That’s where Wales is on the UK separation scale, says Simon Jenkins.

πŸ“Œ The whole flat has the solvent stink of the waterproofing plasticiser Ian the builder has just slapped on our balcony in preparation for a new set of tiles.

πŸ“Œ I just heard that…

πŸ“Œ Several of the spectators’ comments on Liverpool’s win over Leipzig in the Champions League pointed to the apparent weakness of English Premier League referees in comparison with referees from other parts of the world.

WEDNESDAY 17 It’s probably not the best idea to change your Funeral Music every week, but it’s very tempting. Today it is Memories (Someone We’ll Never Know), by erstwhile Indie legend Clint Mansell from the film Moon. There’s a moment when all goes quiet and you can actually hear the workings of your inner organs.

πŸ“Œ Just a thought…

πŸ“Œ Before car became king, city streets were not just thoroughfares but children’s playgrounds. The middle of Skerries Road was where we learned to be people.

πŸ“Œ In Blood Relatives Ed McBain uses the word “squinched” to describe someone’s eyes. I presumed it to be a compound of squint and pinch. But “squinched” actually means arched.

πŸ“Œ For this week’s Zoom quiz with friends in Brighton we will ask them to distinguish Ikea furniture names from those of cheese. For example, is Bitto something from Ikea, or is it a cheese!

πŸ“Œ Marina Hyde on a tangent from Meghan and Harry.

Read the full story here…

THURSDAY 18 Space exploration takes a fresh step in the dark today with an attempt to plonk another roving vehicle onto the surface of Mars. Someone on the radio, speculating about a manned visit to the Red Planet in the next 10 years, explained that the best approach for a successful mission would be to launch a spacecraft from the Moon because its zero gravity would require less fuel for a take-off.

πŸ“Œ When real words sound like the inventions of children on a sugar rush.

FRIDAY 19 Words ending in ANCE are becoming the keywords for the times we live in. Perseverance is the name of the spacecraft that has just landed successfully on Mars, and endurance is something we have all been required to show in dealing with the pandemic.

πŸ“Œ There’s a spivvy-looking character on TV’s A New Place In The Sun who’s built a crazy-golf course in an ant-infested corner of Spain.

πŸ“Œ The Economist has a picturesque report showing the power of passive aggression. The Myanmar military coup has been stunted by citizens clogging up roads with fake breakdowns.

πŸ“Œ Our neighbourhood is so cinematic that film crews regularly invade the streets with their cranes, cameras and mobile catering units. If you’re lucky, you might even rent out your property to a film crew for the purposes of having Brad Pitt or Iris Elba shoot some baddy in the head. Seemingly naked women have been spotted cavorting just outside our front doors, only later to be revealed as actors in not-too convincing fleshtone bodysuits. Very often, the film crews simply arrive, shoot and disappear quickly, but today the letterbox contained the masterplan showing in advance where all the movie paraphernalia will be.

Roadmap to the box office…

πŸ“Œ Harry and Meghan have told the Queen they don’t want to work for her anymore. Or maybe it was the other way round.

πŸ“Œ Weird experience watching someone light up a cigarette on Zoom.

πŸ“Œ The new radiators are bigger than the old ones. Hopefully hotter, too.

πŸ“Œ The actor Pamela Anderson did a Zoom interview with a TV show from her bed. I once nearly did one from a hot bathtub but was prevented at the last minute in the grounds that it was wholly inappropriate.

πŸ“Œ When Luke, who lives in Austin, Texas, first complained of a power outage I thought it was the latest in the long line of property mishaps for which he is famous. Now I learn that he is cooking his food in a domestic fireplace using firewood donated by friendly neighbours.

πŸ“Œ Our local nail bar has a fascinating exterior design feature depicting two gigantic spermatozoa and a death mask.

Nail bar humour?

πŸ“Œ A letter in the Guardian asks politely… Please can the Covid-19 variant B117 be referred to as the β€œJohnson variant” rather than the β€œKent” or β€œEnglish” variant, to clearly attribute it to those who provided the conditions for its development?
Marion Helme
Malvern, Worcestershire

SATURDAY 20 I think I’m getting quite good at self-portraits.

Found my oeuvre at last

πŸ“Œ My grammatical pedantry has pushed Stuart into a silly game of Punctuation Punning, in which he says things like after his brain injury he was in a comma for 3 weeks. He even tried to turn the word “gerund” into a medical condition, shortly after he’d recovered from a bad case of “subjunctivitus”, a rare affliction affecting mainly French people.

πŸ“Œ There’s an elephant in the room. A very small one, yes. But elephant’s have such beautiful eyes that it’s hard to avoid copping a sneaky glimpse.

The elephant’s name is Building Chaos, as we prepare for the arrival of a one-man team who will rip up and replace our living-room floor, then fit a new kitchen. When this happens (soon), we will migrate upstairs to the spare bedroom, which we intend to adapt into a living/eating/lounging area before the work begins.

The most fragile issue facing us right now is where to site the TV. Our viewing for the duration will be restricted to on-demand platforms such as Prime, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and All4. That’s no great sacrifice, but our puny WiFi signal will only reach one half of the soon-to-be adapted bedroom. The TV therefore needs to be positioned for maximum reception capability. 

This raises an interior design challenge. Bickering started some time ago when I suggested that since a full wine rack is already part of the furniture in that room, we might find space in our new lounge for a kettle and a microwave oven. The idea was rejected immediately and a stony silence on the matter has been par for the course ever since.

Today a tiny beam of light crept in when we agreed that Marks & Spencer ready meals would be our staple diet for however long it takes to emerge from the Building Chaos. Then we started scheduling TV programmes and films to fill the time. We will start by catching up with the rest of the world on Death in Paradise (we’re on Series 6), intermingled with Series 2 of Big Little Lies. Then, if time permits, we will introduce ourselves to the entire Buffy the Vampire Slayer collection, another small-screen phenomenon we’ve never seen.

I sense we’ve wandered on to common ground, where food and films pave the way to peace and reconciliation. It would be insane to let a kettle and a microwave oven make a mess of that.

πŸ“Œ The news that Harry Redknapp is to appear in EastEnders will no doubt put a smile on millions of British faces. The rest of us simply ponder on how the scriptwriters will work his love of jam roly-polys into a storyline.

Read last week’s Diary.

2 thoughts on “Diary: Week 7

  1. We thought The Bay was excellent. I can’t get excited about sticking probes into Mars when we can’t look after our own people. I remember when someone had to stand in the right place with a coat hanger for the best TV reception.

    Liked by 1 person

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