Diary: Week 19


8-14 May

SATURDAY At 04.16 two separate scraps of conversations popped into my head.

The first was with Sarah at Headway, who told me her son ridiculed the cozy Parka she picked up on Freecycle. It turned out to be an exclusive brand item worth Β£900 and favoured by street-based drug dealers.

The second recollection was of a Zoom meeting in which one member told of the rigorous monitoring she endured while in quarantine after an overseas visit – persistent/insistent telephone calls mostly.

Another member of the group, who was still in quarantine after visiting her parents in Barcelona, said she’d had no contact from the Quarantine Cops.

πŸ“Œ The media coverage of Keir Starmer’s shortcomings is starting to rival that of HRH Phil.

πŸ“Œ Interesting to see some success for Labour. From all accounts, they do things differently in Wales, where Starmer et al are very much a side show.

πŸ“Œ When you’ve cut your finger and it’s dripping blood, the last thing you need is a wrestling match with idiotic packaging.

πŸ“Œ The new art blog has amassed 3 followers.

πŸ“Œ Starmer is promising root-and-branch reform. He should start by trusting others to do the talking (Angela Rayner, Jess Phillips) and pledge to introduce proportional representation.

πŸ“Œ Scapegoating always looks cowardly…

πŸ“Œ No one believed me when I dressed up as the Prophet of Doom last week…

SUNDAY Someone called Mike Baillie sent a ranty email with a petition to sign next to a picture of a forlorn-looking cow.

Gruesome factory farms are pumping animals full of powerful antibiotics, creating vicious new superbugs that could kill 10 million people a year by 2050. But if we push McDonald’s to slash antibiotics, its sheer size could shift the global industry to more sustainable farming – and help stop the superbugs. McDonald’s is deciding right now… so let’s push them to stop the next pandemic and help millions of desperate animals.

πŸ“Œ We’ve just hooked up with a streaming service called Dice and last night sat down with pizza and wine for a Dylan Moran gig from Melbourne before the pandemic struck.

Moran’s work is so poetic and deeply funny that it is hard to reconcile it with the drawn, rambling hobo character with an out-of-control beard who introduced the show.

Every time I see him perform I inch closer to seeing him as an acquired literary figure rather than a mass-market big-venue comedian.

πŸ“Œ We joined the Zoominar for Chris’s Dundee exhibition. He said having his first solo exhibition during Covid was like losing your virginity but not being there.

πŸ“Œ When I mentioned to my wife that the imminent completion of our home refurbishment will usher in a week of new bickering as we argue over which bit of furniture goes where, she remarked that New Bickering sounds like a town in West Sussex.

MONDAY Keir Starmer has gone all kick-ass in the hope that it makes him look like a contender for PM. It has made him look weaker instead and his efforts could actually end up boosting the power of those he intended to neutralise. Angela Rayner is to be the new Michael Gove.

πŸ“Œ The Morning Star reports a massive leap in support for the Communist Party in the local elections.

πŸ“Œ Mooching around Clerkenwell I was glad to see that the old Ingersoll building has not been sacrificed to modernity. For some reason, I always thought Ingersoll was a Swiss company. Turns out it is 19th-century American. Wiki says the company was started by a 21-year-old who wanted to create the “dollar watch”.

Watch, this space…

πŸ“Œ The Clerkenwell Mooch also confirmed that the outdoor gym equipment in Spa Fields was as good as Alain had told me last week.

Spa Fields, Clerkenwell…

πŸ“Œ A big article in the London Review of Books by Ferdinand Mount and entitled Ruthless and Truthless digs deep into political liars, their skills and the philosophical roots of dishonesty. Much of the article links directly and indirectly to Boris Johnson. One passage that stood out for me was…

For Nietzsche, lying isn’t a desperate expedient, but one of the ways the Great Man demonstrates his indifference to conventional morality, and hence his superiority. Mendacity is a sign of greatness…

πŸ“Œ There’s a lot of speculation whether the United Kingdom can stay united when its Prime Minister seems bent on cultivating so much disunity. He is not a consensus politician, so the presence of the SNP in Scotland, Labour in Wales and England’s big cities, and a noisy gang of “red Tories” in his own party, is unlikely to make him change his ways. He let his true character slip with his “let the bodies pile high, the shops are staying open” remark, so the only way forward for Labour is to PROVE they can unite a Disunited Kingdom. There’s a majority for that.

TUESDAY A man in Wiltshire put himself up for election as Police & Crime Commissioner, but failed to tell anyone of his drink-driving conviction.

πŸ“Œ Sam sent her version of one of those Picasso paintings featuring a lute or a mandolin…

A Picasso, by Sam Jevon…

πŸ“Œ On the mooch around Clerkenwell I found a studio that makes architectural models. There’s something weirdly fascinating about miniaturisation.

Architectural models in Clerkenwell…

πŸ“Œ The last days of the restrictions were being utilised by a film crew at the Barbican.

πŸ“Œ And it’s the last day of our home refurbishment. Tomorrow we will prepare to receive back our old furniture and stuff, wondering all the time where we shall put everything. Much of it will stay in boxes, I suspect.

πŸ“Œ The chapter on Definition in my Writing Prose study book starts by saying it’s important in choosing your method of definition to decide whether it’s the THING you’re trying to define or the WORD that signifies the thing. The example is “apple”: pomme, apfel, mela, manzana, “the round fruit of a tree of the rose family, which typically has thin green or red skin and crisp flesh”, or the thing that looks a bit like a pomegranate but isn’t one.

πŸ“Œ A Scottish blogger I follow has developed the habit of a) repeatedly declaring her vegan status, and b) posting the details of her TV dinners (with photos) on Twitter, food that looks to me like veganised junk food. Good job she’s funny.

πŸ“Œ Israel has gone into another one of its killing frenzies in Gaza.

πŸ“Œ You must have guessed it would come to this…

Read the full story here…

WEDNESDAY The Queen’s Speech has been filleted for what’s in it. One friend complained that her 90-year-old mother β€œwon’t be able to vote unless she pays Β£75.50 to renew her passport”. But Paul Waugh at Huffpost UK looks at the speech’s omissions and asks what all the missing details add up to.

πŸ“Œ St Luke’s has lined up an exciting project with the British Museum, in which we go in, snoop around, handle objects then workshop some ideas into a finished group artwork. Quite fancy the idea of remaking the Rosetta Stone with rubbish from a skip.

πŸ“Œ My Diary for this week last year notes that the Prime Minister has just announced that the lockdown will be eased from next Monday.

πŸ“Œ My wife sat down to show me some fabric samples. I looked interested and offered an opinion, hoping for a clue. But nothing could remind me what on earth this fabric was for.

πŸ“Œ Keir Starmer as Labour’s answer to Iain Duncan Smith. Can’t decide who should be most offended by that.

πŸ“Œ With Radovan KaradΕΎiΔ‡ about to arrive on those shores for a stay at HMP, Brexit Britain’s is open for business – as a storage facility for genocidal killers.

THURSDAY Northern Ireland still has the potential to become a very dangerous place…

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ Paul Waugh in HuffPost UK senses Labour coming off the ropes in a speech by the new Shadow Chancellor.

πŸ“Œ There’s an intriguing story knocking around about Boris being chased for an unpaid debt. As soon as Downing Street pushes out the “nothing to see here” response, you start to think there probably is.

πŸ“Œ Jacob Rees-Mogg has defended government plans to require photographic identification to vote by comparing it with a ban on MPs wearing hats and overcoats to prevent evil impersonators voting in the House.

FRIDAY The home refurb is finished, the furniture is back in place, the TV works and we have a table at which to eat our meals. Liverpool beat Manchester United at Old Trafford. Bliss.

πŸ“Œ Stephen Mangan has a radio show in which he takes virtual Confession with invited comedians, an act that seems to encourage him to make his own confessions. Today he told the story of “a man” who was at a Catholic christening and when asked by the priest to renounce the Devil “and all his works”, replied meekly “I do.” Whereupon his 5-year-old daughter in the congregation stood up and shouted, “Liar!” The comedian Suzi Ruffell talked about walking around under a permanent “shame shadow” and the two of them agreed that all comedians can’t take a joke because they are the ones who are in charge of laughter and any attempt to disrupt that dictatorship is wrong.

πŸ“Œ Whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation, mobs surrounding police vehicles is a worrying trend.

πŸ“Œ The latest Stitchwork project is Westlands, my cousin Helen’s neighbourhood in Staffordshire.

πŸ“Œ Someone on our local online forum is looking for “100-150” units of “fluffy pitta bread”.

πŸ“Œ It seems wrong to press LIKE on a posting that brings sad or difficult news. You want to show acknowledgement, empathy, sometimes sympathy, but trying to do it online always feels inadequate.

πŸ“Œ Nice to see Chris using the Picasso stitchwork tote bag based on his drawing.

Picasso, by Chris, via Billy

πŸ“Œ I think our local takeaway might be trying too hard.

πŸ“Œ My wife rolled her eyeballs when I said I intended to build a wall out of the mountain of books we have in storage.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

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