One year ago: Week 15, 2020

April 6-12

Monday The question is: were Copperfield and Steerforth gay lovers? I can almost predict our friend Andy’s answer. “Of course they were a pair of raving bum-boys. He [Steerforth] calls him [Copperfield] Daisy, for fuck’s sake” is how I will paraphrase it. A quick web search uncovers, from 10 years ago, a study by a Leicester University researcher, Polly Furneaux, entitled ‘Queer Dickens: Erotics, Families, Masculinities’, in which a number of Charlie’s characters are outed.

📌 Someone on Radio 2 did a “shout-out” (what does a shout-in sound like?) to thank the various people who have continued to work through the Lockdown. Among those thanked were prison screws.

📌 While toiling at the Mona Lisa monostitch my left hand went into spasm and I stabbed the needle into my leg. I thought nothing of it for a while, but later felt a twinge and checked.

📌 The Prime Minister has been moved into Intensive Care at St Thomas’ hospital.

Tuesday Reports emphasise that the Prime Minister is not on a ventilator.

📌 This popped up on Quora: ‘My wedding ring fell in my neighbour’s Koi pond and one of the fish ate it. I have no idea which fish ate it, how can we figure out which fish? We’d really rather not have to cut more fish open than necessary.’ The top answer said that the task was impossible since Koi do not have stomachs.

📌 At 8pm nobody on our estate “clapped for Boris”.

📌 On GBBO Kelly Brook’s lemon and apricot sandwich biscuit looked like a cheese roll. Paul Hollywood loved it.

📌 Lots of people on Twitter think Paul Hollywood wants to have coitus with Kelly Brook.

Wednesday Isolation project 1 is finished. My wife wants to wash it, but I think it will probably fall apart.

My sister wants me to do Jürgen Klopp next, but I’m toying with Hilda Ogden.

📌 Given the pink moon we saw last night I figured I might take up moon watching, so I got the recommended app to help me get to grips with this new hobby. Alas, the opening page of the app looks like this…

I do like the word “gibbous”, though.

Thursday Got a message from Cristina to say the Barbican have green-lighted the video with a few additions. I can do those as audio, so no need to talk straight to the camera, which always makes me dry up.

📌 Got the balcony ready for sitting outdoors and planted some tomato seeds.

📌 Started a new needlework project – another white T-shirt, featuring Hilda Ogden.

📌 The Quora feed threw up this: “Can my husband’s mistress sue me for sending a letter to her neighbours and letting them know the homewrecker that she is?” There were a lot of conflicting responses, but the lengthiest was from a divorce lawyer, who bored me to death before reaching no answer beyond, “ask yourself who you want to be”.

Friday An Opinion article in the Guardian about governments ignoring the warnings of science concludes: “If Covid-19 eventually imbues human beings with some humility, it’s possible that we will, after all, be receptive to the lessons of this lethal pandemic. Or perhaps we will sink back into our culture of complacent exceptionalism and await the next plague that will surely arrive. To go by recent history, that moment will come sooner than we think.”

📌 Mark Steel sees it from another angle.

📌 We had a Zoom birthday drink for Steve, and later my wife did one with her old college friends while I sorted the edge pieces of a new jigsaw.

📌 Earlier, Kate posted on WhatsApp that she’d been rummaging through a box of her mum’s old stuff. She found this in Auntie Jackie’s purse…

Saturday The Morning Star reports that Lisa Nandy is moaning about Dominic Raab, who has taken over from PM Boris Johnson while he continues his Covid recovery in St Thomas’ hospital. Nandy is outraged that Raab has not appointed someone to do his day-job (Foreign Secretary) while he is busy being Boris. This leaves the repatriation of British nationals stranded overseas in suspension.

📌 An email from Matt at The Conversation tells me that ‘The Plague’, by Albert Camus, is flying off shelves “as millions of lockdown bookworms drive a surge in pandemic fiction”. Lockdown bookworms. I like that.

📌 Martin Freeman was on the radio, once again confirming my view that actors are our best truth-tellers.

📌 There was a mouse in the trap when I came downstairs this morning. I put it in an old Sainsbury’s bag and left it outside the front door. Later, when I went out to buy Easter Eggs for tomorrow (“essential”), the rodent was in a partial escape manoeuvre from the plastic bag. I quickly gathered it up and dumped it down the garbage chute. Easter Eggs were 3 for £8 at Tesco. Later, I read this in Marina Hyde’s Guardian column“Tesco took £585m bailout tax relief, and promptly paid £635m dividends to its biggest investors, some of which are the richest institutions on Earth.”

📌 In an article about the arrogance and ignorance of Boris Johnson’s Churchillian English “exceptionalism”, Fintan O’Toole concludes: “Covid-19, as Johnson himself discovered in the most awful way, doesn’t make exceptions. The threat is universal. And the shield against it – the NHS – is cosmopolitan and global. There are 200 different nationalities represented in its ranks by 150,000 doctors, nurses and ancillary staff. One consolation in this disaster is the realisation that Britain is exceptionally lucky to have them.”

📌 Thanks to a tip-off on Twitter from Chris Addison, we watched our favourite ever film this afternoon, Bill Forsyth’s ‘Local Hero’. 

And therefore I was reminded of a review I once wrote for the Guardian, shortly after my stroke.

Sunday At a Zoom coffee ‘n’ chat session yesterday, Amanda said there had been a surge in online sales for tops. This, she said, is because lots of people are “dressing” for the social engagements they’re having via video on apps such as Zoom, Messenger, WhatsApp and Hangouts/Meet. Bottoms were irrelevant, and just to prove the point, Shirley stood up to reveal her stripy pyjama bottoms.

📌 One of our friends in Brighton, a nurse, has been battling on the frontline of the Covid catastrophe. The stress was growing by the day and the fear of passing on the virus was torture, so he took the option of unpaid leave until retirement, which was due in June. It was an agonising decision, but you could sense the relief after he announced it in a long message in Facebook.

 📌 I boiled up a chicken carcass and made chicken noodle soup. It should last me about 3 days. I will try the “Dutch Oven” technique of breadmaking tomorrow.

📌 I’ve been trying to remember the names of the sons in ‘Friday Night Dinner’. I think one of them might be Adam, but all I can really be sure of is that one is “pussface” and the other “pissface”.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

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