SUNDAY Not surprisingly, Will Hutton is waving the flag for Joe Biden’s raft of reforms in the US. Big Government has never seemed so popular. If the plan works and is sustainable, it would naturally realign the US with the EU. What role Britain?
📌 The conflict in British football between club and country came to light in the report of Liverpool’s return to form against Arsenal. It coincided with a note from one blogger I follow pointing me to the football fun fact that Britain won the “first” World Cup in 1909.
📌 One of the big psychological twisters I never got round to tackling was the weird relationship women have with their hair.
📌 Paula said she cried at the end of TV’s Unforgotten. And one commentator in the Observer considered referring the “devastating end” to Ofcom.
MONDAY As is likely to be the case in the coming weeks, I woke in the very early hours from a dream based on Line of Duty. In it I devised a whole political philosophy that hinged on the establishment of an AC-12 equivalent in every department of public life. In Education, in Transport, in Health, etc, the AC-12 unit would root out and punish the bent workers, thus ensuring a fair society to flourish and flaunt its beauty to the world.
📌 Chapter 4 of Ed McBain’s Long Time No See, in precis (see Saturday, Week 13)… Sophie Harris, the mother of the first slit-throat victim Jimmy, stands to get a $25,000 insurance payout. She also recently accepted a marriage proposal from a badass local boxing trainer. Detectives interview him but he seems clean.
📌 The premature flowering of cherry blossoms in Japan is a clear sign of impending climate-change doom, reports CNN. In a muddled metaphor, one expert called it the “tip of the iceberg”.
📌 Another gem from Frank on the Nextdoor Barbican online noticeboard.
📌 I’m Thinking of Ending Things is one of the weirdest films I’ve ever seen. A masters degree in surrealism might help, but probably not much.
TUESDAY The mood of uncertainty is growing. As 12 April approaches and Boris’s Covid exit plan begins in earnest, the businesses that will be permitted to open are not sure if they can still function in the ways they used to. Friends are wondering whether they will still be able to ‘perform’ in social situations. They are not alone. But even if they struggle, experts predict that with time social skills have the capacity to bounce back.
📌 Sam sent me two new drawings, one of a skeletal upper body she titled ‘Skull’ and a magical one of Sydney Harbour Bridge, which I have stupidly lost in a phone storage folder somewhere.
📌 A powerful Netflix documentary, Seaspiracy, has made us consider a plant-based diet, despite the usual vested-interest accusations of “misleading misinformation”. It said important things about the state of the oceans and the industrial-scale, unregulated willful trashing of nature.
📌 Another Cuban stamp monoprint finished.
📌 The next stitchwork is underway – African rivers on a T-shirt.
WEDNESDAY Chapter 5 of Ed McBain’s Long Time No See in precis… Isabel Harris held hands with her married boss in a secluded corner of a cocktail lounge, claimed a fellow employee, who also described Isabel’s appearance and behaviour at work as “flirtatious”.
📌 Physically resembling a politician really has no upside.
📌 Any expectation that the unions had finally found their 21st Century mojo in issues such as equal pay and regulation in the gig economy are too easily smothered by damning stories about bullying and misogyny. These are not accusations made by enemies, they are stories from within.
📌 Stephen Bush in the New Statesman argues that until all official parties (government, scientists, etc) can speak with a single voice, doubts about the Astra Zeneca vaccine will persists. Factually, the dangers of side effects are minute compared with the protective benefits, but so long as scare stories sow uncertainty, any exit strategy is precarious.
📌 I had a fabulous video consultation with my renal specialist this morning. Yesterday my wife had an equally fabulous video consultation with a physiotherapist about her tennis elbow. But two positive experiences of digital doctoring do not make a robust treatment system, as the Hackney Citizen reports.
📌 At last Labour looks like it wants a fight. Not sure it can win the battle over vaccine passports. That’s an idea that will be defeated at the implementation stage.
📌 The title of Sam’s latest is ‘Man With Teapot On Head’. I told her surrealism suits her.
THURSDAY The moral panic around the AstraZeneca vaccine will not disappear quickly and will probably slow the national rollout, but reassurance came from a small voice on the radio this morning uttering the compound word “pharmaco-vigilance”. This is what’s done in the pharmaceutical industry that equates with the software updates and tweaks we get all the time from technology companies. In this way, he said, all the Covid vaccines will be supplemented from time to time with modifying boosters.
📌 I bet Catalan Cristina sets the Headway group Zoom meetings for 10am because she is in Barcelona, and it’s 11am there. Her distance-working timekeeping tripped up earlier this week when we were meant to talk with some artists in Cuba. She got the time zones wrong and we didn’t meet them until an hour after we were meant to.
📌 At a Headway steering group we discussed the logistics of putting on an outdoor Summer cabaret and my ancient idea of forming a karaoke band playing badly made cardboard instruments resurfaced. About 2 years ago I made myself a cardboard 1954 Gibson Les Paul for this very purpose.
📌 It looks like teaching has lost its vocational allure. It could be false memory, but my school teachers at least gave the impression that they were wedded to a cause.
📌 Which for some reason brought back the memory of our History teacher, Mr Shufflebotham, who we playfully referred to as “Spade Arse”.
📌 The John and the Paul in this story might have gone on to greater things…
📌 Chapter 6 of Ed McBain’s Long Time No See in precis… With reluctance, Isabel Harris’s married boss confirmed under interrogation that they were having an affair and were together in a hotel room when Isabel’s husband Jimmy was killed.
FRIDAY Doctors routinely assume women are cry babies when in pain, new gender-bias research shows.
📌 Nicola Sturgeon is treating Alex Salmond’s new Alba party as a storm-in-a-teacup sideshow and ploughing on with the Greens to put a new Independence referendum on the May elections agenda.
📌 Headway Home Studio welcomed Chairman of the Board Glen as our subject. At school he was a big fan of punk rock, so we pictured him in a mohican wig with chains and safety pins. I made a punk postcard.
📌 The travel industry isn’t happy with the government’s “traffic light” system (red, amber, green) of “safe” countries and the strict regulations holidaymakers will need to observe and pay for. Tests and quarantine could hypothetically add thousands to the family holiday bill.
📌 The idea that the state should keep its nose out of people’s business no longer holds the power it once did, writes Larry Elliott.
SATURDAY Every avenue of public discourse has been taken over by the death of HRH Prince Philip. My wife is furious. She doesn’t believe there is that much to say about a man who walked behind the Queen and made offensive racist remarks in public.
She is properly annoyed, rantingly annoyed that the TV and radio schedules have been occupied by the subject.
She cannot be pacified. She says she intends to offer the BBC a piece of her mind. When I utter what I believe to be a benign remark about it being sad for the family and all that, it is swatted away with rage. When I tell her she is in danger of sounding like a mad person she hits back with logic and reason.
📌 In dealing with the boredom of the pandemic restrictions, our friend Gill walks the streets of London taking photographs with her phone. She has a special interest in street art and in modernist and brutalist architecture. As she photographed one fascinating building recently, a security guard appeared and asked her to stop. As he escorted her away, he told her in a whisper that she would not make a very good spy. The building she had been innocently picturing is occupied by the UK security service MI5.
📌 An article in the Guardian Weekly magazine about former UK Prime Minister David Cameron states that his post-prime-ministerial career did not yield the financial rewards he expected and that he envies some of his contemporaries. It led me to wonder whether some people simply have no concept of “enough”. Cameron is wealthy beyond most people’s imagination, but he clearly measures himself not with “most people” but with the super rich.
📌 The Kerelan fishing community is pioneering a neat environmental initiative by sifting the rubbish caught along with the fish in trawlers’ nets, mashing it up and using it to build roads.