Diary: March 2021

MONDAY 1 Here follows a short pompous essay…

When news that the actor Johnny Briggs had died, age 85, I penned a short piece of verse to commemorate his departure and worked it up into a scrapbook illustration.

In the process I stumbled on a word thing I have grandly titled the half alliteration. Or more pretentiously the demilliteration, which is best said with a French accent.

This word combo takes the hard sound at the centre of the two-syllable word KNICKER and pairs it with the hard sounding first letter of the one-syllable word KING.

The added beauty in the case of Johnny Briggs/Mike Baldwin is that the word KNICKER begins with a K that sounds like an N. The gratification of the K sound does not arrive until you have travelled half the length of the word. Neat, eh?

πŸ“Œ The arrival of new variants of the coronavirus was always likely to be the biggest challenge going forward. So it is also likely that the Pandemic will in future be managed by each nation at a local level but what form that takes and its severity will be factored by what is happening globally. We must learn to become both inward and outward looking. Nations will be forced to co-operate with other nations.

πŸ“Œ Attempted the first of what will hopefully be a montage series in which a single newspaper or magazine is cut up and remade as a single page. I ruined this one by trying to finish it with PVA, which dries clear.

πŸ“Œ It is hard not to see Baroness Sayeeda Warsi‘s hilarious debut as a stand-up comedian as part of a cunning plot to ultimately become leader of the Conservative Party.

πŸ“Œ It’s nice to learn that an afternoon nap is good for you. Nice also to learn my daily snoozing habit was shared by Albert Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci.

πŸ“Œ It’s official, then… Labour is no longer the party of the workers.

Read the full story here…

TUESDAY 2 The food website Recipeasly has taken a kicking for cutting the biographical and anecdotal text bloggers include in their recipes. This type of editing was once routine in newspaper and magazine offices. Physical space on a printed page restricted the number of words that could appear. Brutal decisions, often made very quickly, determined what readers saw and what they didn’t. But publishing on the web removes that restriction, and editing online text is a different skill entirely.

πŸ“Œ Boris wants to set up a fundraising charity to cover the cost of redecorating his flat.

πŸ“Œ Scientists have spotted glow-in-the-dark sharks in New Zealand. They “backlight” themselves to illuminate the ocean floor as they search for food.

πŸ“Œ CNN reports on whole towns in Mexico refusing to be vaccinated. The implications are complex and far-reaching, mainly for the world outside of such settlements.

πŸ“Œ It is being reported that Trump got vaccinated in secret while he was still stoking the anti-vaccination argument.

πŸ“Œ Some of the people who live nearby are quite embarrassing when they open the minds on the local online noticeboard.

πŸ“Œ The India stitchwork tote bag is finished. Lakshmi said it is out of proportion. I wasn’t surprised given my poor drawing skills, but it was a very enjoyable “trip” to a fascinating country.

India in stitches…

WEDNESDAY 3 Our TV diet is now quite balanced. A year after the advent of Pandemia, we have binged and sampled everything we missed and all the those progammes that simply passed us by for reasons unknown.

We have just caught up with the detective series Unforgotten, starring Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar. The stories all have a similar shape (murder + fixed number of suspects + deep human interest) and Walker’s descent into breathy overemotion is as irritating as ever. But Sanjeev Bhaskar is solid and very convincing as a mildly troubled 40something family man.

We also finished Series 2 of Big Little Lies, the Netflix Original featuring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon as two out of 5 “wealthy” Californian mothers who “accidentally” conspire to kill an abusive husband.

The series is based on a book by Liane Moriarty. The end of Series 1 is where the book ends, my wife tells me. Series 2 was a confected continuation between Moriarty and screenwriter David E Kelley and heralds the arrival of Meryl Streep as the dead man’s mother who is bent on proving Kidman’s character Celeste (the corpse’s wife) to be lush, slut and all-round Bad Mom. And maybe even the killer of her precious son/sadist.

Now, like the rest of the world we await Series 3. A new series of Unforgotten has just started and the psychological thriller Man in Room 301 is ready to be viewed on BBC4. We still haven’t seen any episodes of the hit US series The Sopranos, or The Wire. And Buffy The Vampire Slayer is still pending. But for now we feel the past year has been used imaginatively to equip us with all the necessary TV smalltalk you need in modern times.

πŸ“Œ Dolly Parton invented some new words for her hit song Jolene while she waited for her Moderna vaccine.

πŸ“Œ While western countries have been bitching over who gets what vaccine and which one is better than the other, China, India Russia and others have been using their stocks of vaccine to gain power and soft influence around the world in what’s being called Vaccine Diplomacy..

πŸ“Œ Rishi Sunak has been so busy polishing his public image and modelling the middle-class male look that he forgot to put something in today’s Budget.

πŸ“Œ I’m starting to believe that even hardened Conservatives have failed to notice that their Party has been taken over by Labour.

THURSDAY 4 Sam sent her drawing of the giraffe we studied at last week’s Home Studio session on points of view. I was pleased to notice she made something of its massive ballooned belly.

Giraffe, by Sam Jevon…

πŸ“Œ At a Zoom meeting yesterday, when someone temporarily switched off their video feed, someone else swiftly wrote in the Chat, “She’s gone for a dump”.

πŸ“Œ Franklin, a very grumpy cuttlefish, delights in squirting sea water at passing academics.

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ Our postman Eric tells me that his hone town Bishop Auckland has the most successful amateur football team in the world, known locally as the Two Blues. He also told me to call my wife a Smoggy, in reference to her family’s home town Middlesbrough.

πŸ“Œ My favourite ever shop, Wyvern Bindery,  makes books for the Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts films.

Wyvern Bindery window display...

πŸ“Œ This could be the start of something big…

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ The Pandemic has triggered a UK online gambling orgy. The bookies are laughing all the way to the bank.

FRIDAY 5 It turns out that even frogs have learned how to zone out.

πŸ“Œ The Women’s Equality  Party is cranking up the volume of its campaign supporting unpaid carers.

πŸ“Œ The bicycle basket that’s been turned into a bin in Pitfield Street still hasn’t been emptied. It probably doesn’t qualify as a council regulation collection point.

πŸ“Œ A very sweet film on Netflix, The Dig, starring Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes and the archaeology of Sutton Hoo, surprisingly brought forth the controversial subject of historic acts of class discrimination.

πŸ“Œ My cousin tells me that my love of stitchwork is shared by the actor George Clooneyi and that he is the leader of a new tribe of reconstructed men known as The Sew Bros.

SATURDAY 6 The Conversation has a movie-waiting-to-happen story about a rumpled Victorian bomb-disposal expert who’d stroll up, casually defuse the deadly device then have a nice cup of tea while he picked his horses for the 2.30 at Towcester.

πŸ“Œ The very definition of nepotism… The head of a big Irish hospital decided it was a good idea to vaccinate his kids before the 40 ward students in the queue.

πŸ“Œ I’m getting quite good at repurposing last night’s chip-shop chips. Add chopped bacon and curry sauce for a delicious baked omelette-type thing.

πŸ“Œ Gory stories are always that much better when they sound implausible.

Read the full story here…

SUNDAY 7 The TV psycho-drama Behind Her Eyes, starring Bono’s daughter Eve Hewson, ended in one of the most baffling twists I’ve ever seen (SPOILER ALERT), with the murderer and the murderee being one in the same person. And it seems we weren’t alone in being baffled. Marie Claire helpfully published an entire article explaining what happened, though the phenomenon of Astral Projection is still way over my head.

πŸ“Œ One blogger I follow lives in Hampshire’s New Forest and often posts pictures of the beautiful wild horses that roam there. Today the horses were joined by the slim figure of a woman in pink practising her qigong moves.

πŸ“Œ The song Murder Most Foul on the Bob Dylan album Rough And Rowdy Ways made a fool of me…

What I heard…
What he sang…

πŸ“Œ On her podcast Breakdown, the actor Mayim Bialik interviewed Big Bang Theory co-creator Bill Prady, whose character resemblance to the show’s chief oddball Sheldon Copper is unreal.

MONDAY 8 The continued bitching between the UK and the EU makes it look more and more like Northern Ireland is being abandoned as a lost cause. That might not be the intention, but it’s not hard to imagine a united Ireland by accident as becoming the only possible outcome.

πŸ“Œ Getting pictures from Sam every week has really helped keep me sane during lockdown. Having someone else’s life to think about is a great tonic.

Cheetah And Baby, by Sam Jevon…

And her picture of Dolly has been made into a Women’s Aid T-shirt.

Buy one here…

πŸ“Œ The Banksy image β€˜Game Changer’, which depicts a child opting for a superhero nurse over Batman and Spiderman in the box of dolls, is expected to raise Β£3m at auction for β€œNHS charities”. I do hope that charitable status means no grubby government minister can get their hands on the cash and give it to their mates in the form of spurious contracts.

Click image for source

TUESDAY 9 It’s probably a dark omen, but last night I had a dream that at a gala dinner I was asked out of the blue to give a speech in tribute to Paul Elliott.

I was forced to improvise in a most embarrassing way, recalling his love of Arsenal FC and his distinction of being the cleanest looking heavy-metal writer in the world.

I spoke of his implausible youth and his natural ease with the written word. I mentioned that he “had a job in a garden centre”, which I attempted to spin into a joke about euphemisms.

I thanked him, did a quick hip-hip-hooray and staggered back to my seat. It worked. I got away with it, which just about sums up MY life.

πŸ“Œ From what I can see in Derrick’s photographs, the New Forest must have some special protected zoological status. Because not only do wild horses roam free there but big horny bulls too. With the biggest horns you’ve ever seen, like there should be a Spanish bullfighter attached, a pained look on his contorted face. The cutest one was called Blackie.

πŸ“Œ You can always rely on the Morning Star to speak its mind…

Click image for source

And the New Statesman…

Click image for source

πŸ“Œ Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty (aka, Dr Death) has grabbed the moment to assert his authority over a patently dim government.

πŸ“Œ Zoe Williams has long since stopped being a yappy irritant and now has a fantastic way of telling it like it is…

Click image for source

πŸ“Œ Does chuckling with glee when algorithms get it wrong make you a bad person? There is also the weird possibility that those fingered by the QCovid algorithm as β€œobese” respond with, “Me? Yes, that sounds about right.”

πŸ“Œ The new stitchwork project is a purple tote bag with stitching in red, green and pink based on a SatNav map of Didcot in Oxfordshire.

Didcot in stitches

πŸ“Œ The news value of this story in The Mirror is marginal, but the “human interest” is immense. It recalls that unforgettable scene in John Irving’s ‘The World According To Garp’.

Click image for source…

WEDNESDAY 10 Someone on Quora wants to know why the British use the term “loo” for a toilet rather than “bathroom”. The answer is characteristically snotty.

“In Britain we don’t use prudish euphemisms for the function of the rooms. Toilet is were we go to urinate or defecate. Terms like bathroom are misleading, unless it is a room with a bath in it.”

That still begs the question as to what a “loo” is. At least we know it’s not a prudish euphemism.

πŸ“Œ There’s a minor controversy kicking off in the world of statistics. The UK Census has traditionally been a snapshot of Britain’s population on one day, March 21, every 10 years.

For this year’s Census, however, it seems the singular March 21 date has been scrapped in favour of a casual online participation, which makes the census more of an audit rather than an accurate snapshot.

πŸ“Œ The Morning Star has a story claiming that angelic Rishi Sunak persuaded Boris to keep Britain open and let people die rather than go into Lockdown 2, as the scientists were urging him to.

πŸ“Œ We never saw Star Wars, and we haven’t seen H&M on the Oprah show. But on it rolls…

πŸ“Œ Today’s deliveries brought a new kitchen sink. Chaos begins on 22 March.

πŸ“Œ A long article in the London Review of Books reveals Patricia Highsmith to have been catastrophically destructive and exceptionally bitter.

THURSDAY 11 “The discovery of human remains” is an expression that never fails to send a shiver. And later in The Mirror the grim reality arrived.

πŸ“Œ A Morning Star columnist speculates on whether Joe Biden’s Presidency has run out of gas already, before it even reached the freeway: “Will Biden follow Obama, Clinton, and Carter β€” 20 of the last 46 years of presidential administrations β€” down the rat hole of unfulfilled promises?”

It’s a message that chimes with others guessing when the great reform promised will actually start. It concludes: “Trump is gone, but Trumpism will return if we fail to overcome the inertia of a lifetime of Democratic Party betrayal of meaningful reform.

πŸ“Œ Someone asked Jim’ll Paint It to do Prince fighting Prince Harry with the Queen fighting Queen in the background.

By Jim’ll Paint It…

FRIDAY 12 In one of her daily Slice if Life blog posts, Lakshmi referenced a short quotation… “For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it. β€”Jacques-Yves Cousteau”

… and when I read it in my head I changed the word “protect” to “dominate”. Only now, after a century of trying to dominate nature, man has discovered the need to protect it.

πŸ“Œ Have I discovered drawing as a neurotic itch, a fevered scratching that can only ever end in a ragged mutant human figure?

πŸ“Œ If a bandwagon accusing government ministers of handing billions in taxpayers money to their rich friends is passing, I will jump on it. But Full Fact argues that recent accusations about the government’s useless and wasteful Test & Trace scheme miss a point or two.

πŸ“Œ And on the subject of governments squandering taxpayers’ money…

Read the full story…

πŸ“Œ As a “jumper” I was happy to read that my actions were ethically sound, as pompous and smug as it sounds to say so.

πŸ“Œ A soft awakening on BBC4 led me to the shame of forgetting all about the work of Pete Frame.

SATURDAY 13 The Queen probably thought she’d put a lid on the Harry/Meghan fiasco.

πŸ“Œ Had totally forgotten how achingly funny Dylan Moran is.

SUNDAY 14 Ridley Scott’s Arctic exploration drama The Terror starts off dark, bleak and very slowly, but by Episode 3 the ice is melting and the fires are blazing, so to speak. There is a gay romance going bad, a nasty rivalry between two pigheaded ship’s captains, rats hanging on a clothes line, a tribal hex floating in the air and a hungry giant bear on the loose.

πŸ“Œ Glad to see the vast amounts of taxpayers’ money wasted exposed at last. Not sure the taxpayers will be able to drag themselves from the euphoria of the vaccine and the prospect of the pubs opening to notice.

πŸ“Œ My wife is very dedicated to finding new ways of doing things.

πŸ“Œ The promise I made myself NEVER to do anything techno/computer related with my wife has slipped into redundancy. Today I relented once again and agreed to help her make an iMovie of the communal singing project she masterminded over Christmas. It turned into a barking match from which I was forced to escape to the kitchen to β€œmake a beetroot salad” and pacify with Radio 2.

MONDAY 15 Firoza did a brilliant interview on Radio Headway East London with Natasha about being a new mum with a brain injury. No great revelations, but a very warm feeling.

πŸ“Œ The new stitchwork tote bag project is a chance to revisit my hometown Liverpool. This one has gone ‘wrong’ already, but I keep telling myself that only I can see the wrong, so it doesn’t count.

πŸ“Œ Sharing a musical taste with the BBC Radio 2 presenter Steve Wright would once have been considered embarrassing. But now I am that shameful person. We both like the theme music to the Netflix series Big Little Lies.

πŸ“Œ New jobs are opening up in the police force for people who have a talent for face and voice recognition. Some of them can do both, and these specialists are awarded the title “Super-Recogniser”.

πŸ“Œ The funny thing is that even though I have my e-reader app of choice on all my electronic devices, when I want to read a book I reach for a really ancient companion.

Old friend, Amazon Kindle (2007)...

πŸ“Œ Stephen Bush in the New Statesman points out that the successful policing of a vigil for Sarah Everard took place in Nottingham, and that in Scotland, Rangers supporters were not pinned to the ground and kicked for celebrating their team’s triumph in the Premiership.

πŸ“Œ Liverpool had the rare experience of winning a game.

TUESDAY 16 You can always rely on the Morning Star to say the unsayable

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ The attempt to restore the cute retro mini tripod goes on. New part arriving from the internet tomorrow.

Retro cool…

πŸ“Œ A lengthy Zoom meeting with Chris, Cristina and Laura about co-production had its lighter moments, the best being when Chris suggested we never use the word “co-production”. I felt like I was in a Harry Potter book.

WEDNESDAY 17 The government has decided to invent a new game for young people. It’s called Spot The Cop, and it would make a superb reality TV freak show.

πŸ“Œ We are staggering with the shipmates of The Terror towards a suitably gothic end.

πŸ“Œ Checking for nose hair before a Zoom seems reasonable, the compulsion to brush your teeth seems weird.

πŸ“Œ In my video interview about writing headlines I used the “underpants” metaphor: write one that might be plain and dull but is NOT wrong. If time permits, tart it up later with some alliteration, rhyme, pun, etc.

πŸ“Œ It will be interesting to see if the government now opens fire on its former commander.

Full story here…

THURSDAY 18 The Mirror is reporting a “vaccine chaos”, but on another page tells me my second Pfizer dose is safe as houses. The government looks to be grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory as negative vaccine stories pile higher and higher

πŸ“Œ At Headway we trialled a “Portrait Pinch Pot” workshop with clay for the Barbican.

Two versions of me…

… and trialled also an idea for a collaboration with a studio in Cuba around illustrating commemorative stamps.

The large central image is upside down. Apologies to Chris Miller…

πŸ“Œ We watched, riveted, as Michelle stopped talking about the discomfort of the brace she’s had fitted to correct a twisted tooth, to turn Steph into a skullcap model in preparation for a hat-making workshop with the Whitechapel Gallery.

Steph’s skullcap hat template in progress…

πŸ“Œ If Catherine Street is anything to go by, the role of webinar coordinator must be one of the dullest jobs ever invented.

FRIDAY 19 I was reminding myself how powerful Adrian Mole’s diary was in places when the radio programme ended and the announcer told me I’d been listening to Chris Packham reading from his memoir, Fingers In The Sparkle Jar.

πŸ“Œ If Theresa May ever gets a mention in future books of quotations it could be for her withering statement to a nurse that “there is no magic money tree”.

The rest of the current UK parliament (until 2024) is likely to have that sign hanging round its neck, according to Larry Elliott in the Guardian. Deep austerity lies in wait for Post-Pandenic Britain, he says, as shown in the fine print of Rishi Sunak’s latest budget.

πŸ“Œ Looks like Priti Patel is determined to make our voting system even more rigged than it already is.

πŸ“Œ Monoprinting old Cuban commemorative postage stamps using wood-restorer’s wax really is a lot of fun.

πŸ“Œ Totally envious of the seaweed-print note-card collection my wife got as a belated birthday surprise.

Seaweed note-cards…

πŸ“Œ Headway Home Studio was a bit weird because the still-life image we tackled was a picture of my desk.

New, improved work space…

SATURDAY 20 Peter James’s crime writing always scored very low in my ranking, and the TV incarnation of his Brighton-located detective Roy Grace is little better, despite the expertise of John Simm in the lead role. The twin crime-story crimes of a duff idea (stag party in Brighton, yawn) plus the archetypal (cue cliche) “troubled” male detective struggling to pose as “complex” are its first-hurdle failures.

πŸ“Œ Patrick Kielty did a good stand-up show on the radio about Ireland after Brexit. The best joke was the one about Boris building a tunnel to connect an independent Scotland with a united Ireland.

πŸ“Œ Meanwhile back in England, Home Secretary Priti Patel (aka, “The Pritster”) wants to turn both Gibraltar and the Isle of Man into Rikers-Island-style processing centres for asylum seekers.

πŸ“Œ Marina Hyde sometimes nails it in just one line.

πŸ“Œ The Mirror’s one-year-on look back on the first days of the pandemic makes for a grim reminder.

πŸ“Œ If only you could see yourself as others do…

πŸ“Œ The New Statesman has a long thoughtful piece on how post-Brexit Britain can preserve the union and thrive by creating a new “socially inclusive innovation economy” in which all citizens ultimately end up becoming “technologically equipped artisans” of one sort or another.

πŸ“Œ Sam sent a picture of what she describes as a “steamrollered rhino”.

Rhino, by Sam Jevon

SUNDAY 21 We did our duty and filed our Census today. I wonder how many other people did, and whether in future information researchers will reject 2021 as being “not adequate” in terms of data quality.

πŸ“Œ Diversity is finally knocking on the door of Buckingham Palace.

πŸ“Œ Headway is about to launch a new Printfest and has trawled the archives for past triumphs. They’ve included a picture of me at an exhibition showing off my prints of Hilda Ogden and Bet Lynch. They were part of a series that also included Ena Sharples, Elsie Tanner and Vera Duckworth.

πŸ“Œ Harshita, who made a brilliant contribution to make recent My Own Mona Lisa monoprinting workshop, was inspired to seek out other variations of Leonardo’s famous portrait.

Mona Lisa made of money…
Mona Lisa, made by Harshita…

MONDAY 22 At 1.30am someone was reading an Ishiguro book about clones. It was so disturbing I couldn’t get back to sleep.

πŸ“Œ Law & Order is Labour’s weakest link, writes Stephen Bush in the New Statesman, which makes their response to the new Police Bill tricky.

πŸ“Œ A new series of Line of Duty and a whole new vocabulary of acronyms to get to grips with. A CHIS is a Covert Human Intelligence Source. We intend to bet on how many times this is used by cast members in the next episode.

TUESDAY 23 Labour leader Keir Starmer has failed to make an immediate reforming impact on either his Party or in the public mind. The appetite for more challenging and radical politics is still out there, so this headline in the Morning Star is no big surprise.

Read the full story…

πŸ“Œ Test and trace staff with government cowboy contractors Serco and G4S are paid pittance wages with no sick pay.

πŸ“Œ Not sure which way round it is, but Nicola Sturgeon is either guilty or not guilty of breaking the “ministerial code” and/or guilty/not guilty of “misleading” the Scottish Parliament. Alex Salmond, her predecessor, is all wrapped up in it somewhere, too.

πŸ“Œ To demonstrate its understanding that Spring has sprung, the BBC is chattering about hedgehogs. Today I learned that they are lactose intolerant.

πŸ“Œ Business people most often give me the creeps, but Calypso is a different kind of business person.

I first made contact with her when my wife and I decided we no longer needed material gifts from one another and would prefer experiences instead.

That’s where Calypso comes in. She runs The Indytute, a business that hooks up customers to unusual activities and experiences.

If you want to do something a bit different, Calypso will point you at it – not zip-wires or psychotropic drugs but weird crafts and canoeing up a canal, taco and tequila in a box, screen printing, that sort of thing.

Her business obviously faced challenge after challenge during the pandemic, but Calypso didn’t surrender, kept calm, carried on and, despite breaking her jaw in a biking accident, delivered her bespoke bijou surprises to a virus depressed nation.

Now she has written to all her customers with a synopsis of the last year. And it reads like some sort of prophecy, as if super-extraordinary difficulties in life are just, like, part of the deal from now on.

πŸ“Œ Is this the modern foraging? My daily “exercise” is now a long walk in search of the day’s evening meal, plus a few other “essentials”.

πŸ“Œ The reverse side of stitchwork projects are very often more attractive than the “finished” side.

The other side of Merseyside…

WEDNESDAY 24 If things carry on like this, I’ll soon be writing about the weather.

πŸ“Œ Boris was caught saying the UK vaccine success was all down to “capitalism and greed”. It’s like he read the article that identifies the genius of the clown as what makes him tick.

πŸ“Œ Prince Harry has got a job in the US. His title is Chief Impact Officer (CIO).

πŸ“Œ The Merseyside stitchwork tote bag is finished. I stupidly bagged it up before photographing properly. The stray red dot on the right-hand side is where I was born, Anfield.

Red dot = Anfield…

πŸ“Œ Boris has taken over Liverpool in a council coup.

πŸ“Œ A masked woman at the bus stop drew me to one side and said she didn’t know that the door into the building behind us was a door. The handle obviously wasn’t a clue she picked up on.

πŸ“Œ This nasty state of affairs is, sadly, what the British people voted for.

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ Several times recently I have heard people using asap as if it’s a real word, pronouncing it “aye-sapp” in a non-ironic way.

THURSDAY 25 Our movements and activities are restricted for the next month not because of pandemic regulations but by home refurbishment work that  means a fine layer of dust settles on everything, including your throat.

Kitchen work in progress…
This is our life for the next month…

πŸ“Œ Britain could soon be joining Australia and California in being inflicted with wildfires, say experts.

πŸ“Œ “Pro Vaxx Low Tax” is the new Boris soundbite.

FRIDAY 26 The vote in Parliament to extend the Coronavirus restrictions for another six months gave Paul Waugh in Huffpost UK the opportunity to pen one of his excellent synopses summing up where the nation stands.

And ironically it looks a lot like some kind of reinvented Victorian Britain. The Ruling Class is all powerful. Poverty and inequality are out of control. Any real will to solve the nation’s problems have long since been shamefully abandoned.

πŸ“Œ A tree root in Hoxton looked strangely like a small eruption of volcanic lava.

Tree root in Hoxton…

πŸ“Œ The Headway Home Studio featured Calvin doing magic tricks followed by the group picturing him as a stage magician.

My version of Calvin doing a Tommy Cooper

SATURDAY 27 The instability of property refurbishment has spawned one of those makeshift camping-holiday kitchenette corners in our living room.

Kitchenette Korner…

πŸ“Œ The building site outside our front door has never exactly been popular with the locals, although one 3-year-old enjoys hours of fun looking at cranes.

Building-site humour (minus the apostrophe)…

πŸ“Œ Be sceptical of any chorus of criticism that comes from the mainstream media, argues the Morning Star, especially when backed by jingoistic political nutters such as Iain Duncan Smith and Dominic Raab.

πŸ“Œ The poor quality of bus services in places outside London is one subject all people who live in London tend to agree on. Manchester seems to have got the message.

SUNDAY 28 Belarus has been banned from the Eurovision Song Contest for being too political.

πŸ“Œ The Guardian’s Imaging Department is well stocked with graphic design talent. But too often these days their work goes uncredited. It’s as if simple, effective editorial design is not rated very highly next to the organisation’s more artistic illustrators.

Read the full story…

πŸ“Œ My wife is fed up with 5 Live presenters talking about Line of Duty having briefly muttered “spoiler alert”. Now she insists we watch it ‘live’. Tonight “The OCG” made a nostalgic return. Or was that in Keeping Faith?

πŸ“Œ Sam’s Arc de Triomphe is a return to the black-and-white micro detail in which she thrives.

Arc de Triomphe, by Sam Jevon

πŸ“Œ A splash-the-cash culture at the heart of government could normally be explained by desperation or incompetence. But this HuffPost UK story tells another story.

MONDAY 29 Today’s the day The Population has their picnic. Fingers crossed they steer clear of the New Obedience, which is sitting dangerously close to the edge of the cliff.

πŸ“Œ Jennifer has spoken. She was on the sofa with Boris while Marina was elsewhere.

πŸ“Œ My sister, who lives in Paris, has just been vaccinated. The pharmacist said to her, “I must warn you, it’s Astra Zeneca.”

πŸ“Œ It looks like Alex Salmond is trying to game the system but has failed to spot that his own unpopularity is the real decider.

TUESDAY 30 One blogger I follow, Stacey, reports her children inventing a game to play at home in which they staff a virus vaccination centre. One controls the queue and registration, the other delivers the jab and warns of possible side effects, etc.

πŸ“Œ A mistrust in public officials and their message is stopping some people from getting the jab. The actor Lenny Henry has written an open letter urging black Britons to get vaccinated. Then this arrived…

πŸ“Œ There are a lot of Barnard Castle jokes flying around. One woman on the radio says there’s a sign as you enter the town saying “Welcome to Barnard Castle, the best place in Britain to test your eyesight”.

πŸ“Œ Had an idea to adapt the wax monoprint workshop into a selfie version using a bluetooth receipt printer to create the master. I might recast it as a cloning exercise – Clone Printing, or something. It allows a conversation to happen about ego and the self, narcissism, etc. Could be fun.

πŸ“Œ I should be surprised by this story, but I’m not. Maybe my trust in public officials has finally caught up with everyone else’s.

WEDNESDAY 31 Testing the idea of writing each chapter of my current book as a plain 5ws paragraph. Chapter 1 of Long Time No See, by Ed McBain is… “War veteran turned blind beggar Jimmy Harris was last night found dead with a slit throat. He was two blocks from the home in Diamondback he shares with his blind wife Isabel. In his pocket was 12 dollars and 4 cents in quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. Alongside him lay his seeing-eye dog Stanley, unconscious and smelling of chloroform.

πŸ“Œ G Gordon Liddy, RIP, will forever rest in our minds with the Grassy Knoll, the Book Depository and Deep Throat.

πŸ“Œ There seems to be some confusion over when exactly Harry & Meghan got married. The Archbishop of Canterbury has been forced to intervene.

πŸ“Œ The Bag Of Chips Murder could have been a scene from a Coen Brothers movie.

πŸ“Œ Jab2 done. No side effects so far.

Read all of my Diaries.

7 thoughts on “Diary: March 2021

  1. Sorry, I seem to have lost track of things as I scrolled down. Am I still on the right thread to point out that Bishop Auckland won the World Cup twice and got to keep the trophy? They did better than England has ever done despite having Dennis Waterman for captain instead of Bobby Moore.

    Liked by 1 person

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