Diary: Week 20

15-21 May…

SATURDAY A 24-year-old Italian woman visiting her uncle in the UK got slammed into a detention centre.

πŸ“Œ Having rerouted the mass of spaghetti wiring (phone, router, TV, Firestick, digibox, CD player) neatly inside a cupboard, I am now required to undo all of that and let the spaghetti drool all of over the floor.

πŸ“Œ The retrospective FA Cup preview on TV threw up the nowadays rare sight of the balding footballer, plus the equally rare sight of team staff smoking on the sidelines.

πŸ“Œ Engelbert Humperdinck used to play cards with Gary Lineker’s dad.

πŸ“Œ Still not quite sure whether it’s the India variant or the Indian variant we need to be scared about.

πŸ“Œ Paul Weller genteely live-streaming from the Barbican was joined by Boy George and Celeste, each for one song only and both looking uncomfortably like they’d walked into the wrong place. Boy George ended up dad dancing with a fixed grin.

πŸ“Œ West Ham drew 1-1 with Brighton, so if Leicester beat Chelsea again on Tuesday the door is still open for Liverpool to make the top four.

SUNDAY The messages from change.org always begin with the same words…

This petition is taking off , and we think you might be interested in adding your name. Sign now to help:

Beneath today’s is a picture of an unhappy-looking squinty-eyed elephant and the petition’s title…

Stop the slaughter of 287 elephants in Botswana

Trophy hunting has been given the green light in Botswana and someone called Lloyd Power thinks it should be stopped. I signed, but only because I honestly couldn’t imagine anyone NOT wanting to stop the slaughter of 287 elephants. Even the trophy hunters would probably rather be doing something else.

πŸ“Œ CNN has some good stories today. There’s a chilling prΓ©cis on Boris’s war on culture, and a transatlantic report that is worth watching…

πŸ“Œ When this turned up on Facebook I was reminded of a play we once saw in Brighton written by Brendan Beehan’s brother Brian, about the last hours of Tony Hancock’s life.

πŸ“Œ I wonder if all homes look like this…

πŸ“Œ My wife fixed our TV streaming service so we were able to watch football. Whereupon my wife claimed that footballers feigning injury have “a new way of lying down”.

πŸ“Œ Liverpool’s goalkeeper Alisson Becker scored the winning goal from a corner in the dying seconds of the game.

Read all about it here…

MONDAY It’s such a shame that “median” has not yet transplanted the deeply unreliable “average” when reporting statistics.

πŸ“Œ Facebook has started switching automatically to the annoying “watch” section. Must find a way to turn that off.

πŸ“Œ The immediate Unlockdown starting this week includes two exhibitions and a conference. Today: Jean Dubuffet at the Barbican, Thursday: neuro rehab conference presentation for ABI solutions, then next week to see Rodin at the Tate. And I already submitted my “blank page” idea for the Headway Futures working group…

Five years’ time… The area currently occupied by St Leonard’s hospital, stretching west from its dusty frontage on Kingsland Road all the way down Nuttall Street to Hoxton Street is now named on Google Maps as “Hoxton-Headway”, a semi-autonomous neuro-rehabilitation village in the heart of London. The woman on the bus chirps, “The next stop is Hoxton-Headway“.

Hoxton-Headway is a centre of excellence in the understanding of all things neuro, where brain-injury survivors, neurology experts and all associated practitioners live together in a culturally open community. And it has become a surprise prototype for how future “micro-societies” can thrive.

The formation of small-group settlements surged in the immediate aftermath of the Great Disruption brought on by the 2020-21 coronavirus pandemic, but none has been as successful as Hoxton-Headway, where the word rehab has been remade. 

Gone is the association with the “treatment” of addiction. “Rehab” is now a new way of living together, in which each “member” – be they a car-crash survivor with massive frontal lobe damage, or a top brain surgeon – has equal rights and opportunities, and each is supported by their fellow members to flourish as an individual in a curiously diverse collective. 

The member-mantra of Hoxton-Headway has a utopian ring to it, like someone transplanted a Truman Show version of Queen Square (National Hospital of Neurology & Neurosurgery) into Brick Lane. So we sent our intrepid reporter to spend a week testing the highs and lows of life in NeuroLand.

πŸ“Œ Only in Little England would a croquet match be the best way to solve a pronunciation dispute.

TUESDAY None of Britain’s political parties has the BIG PLAN the nation needs to stem a crushing decline in living standards, says Larry Elliott.

πŸ“Œ On BBC Radio 2 Clare Runacres says “This is Clare Runacres” as if she is announcing the untimely death of Clare Runacres.

πŸ“Œ There are a lot of virus infections in Bolton. Most of them are in people who declined to be vaccinated. Andrew Lloyd Webber is quoted as saying people who refuse to be vaccinated are like drink-drivers.

πŸ“Œ I always believed that the NHS would survive because it is run by citizens for citizens. Maybe I was wrong.

Read the full story…

πŸ“Œ Nomadland is such a beautiful film and a welcome addition to the growing collection of movies in which the US takes a long hard look at itself.

It has a documentary feel to it in places, which makes you question what kind of truth it is telling, but Frances McDormand settles that with a totally saturated personal performance other actors would struggle to get close to.

πŸ“Œ BBC Radio 4 Extra had a fascinating show about an area of Los Angeles known as Tehrangeles, where expat Iranians brandish their surprisingly strong dual-patriotism.

WEDNESDAY It’s always the sign of a good piece of art when it lives with you for a little while after you first saw it. I expect the film Nomadland to live with me for a while yet: the purity of its simple storylines, skin textures amid vast, mesmeric landscapes, close-ups, panoramas. And above all Frances as Fern, every pixel of her existence a portrayal of something very big about the state of the world.

πŸ“Œ My Diary from this week last year depicts a government swamped in confusion and erratic decision-making. And in Huffpost UK today, political expert Paul Waugh describes a situation not much changed in 12 months.

πŸ“Œ The shambolic holiday traffic-light system has got citizens very angry all over again. You get the impression once again that Boris is refusing to legislate simply because if he did, holiday insurance policies would be required to reimburse customers who bought vacations in good faith.

πŸ“Œ Inbreeding can have positive genetic effects, claim boffins in The Conversation

THURSDAY The smattering of school pupils protesting for Palestine reported in the Socialist Worker might fizzle out. But schoolchildren engaging in political activism is a trend that seems to be growing, perhaps aligned to the work of Greta Thunberg.

πŸ“Œ It’s starting to sound like some members of the Labour Party would welcome a defeat at the upcoming by-election in Batley & Spen, West Yorkshire. The leadership skills of Keir Starmer are in doubt. Manchester mayor Andy Burnham is seen as the kind of charismatic firebrand leader the party desperately needs.

πŸ“Œ It’s Nice That has a story about a bunch of art students who are none too happy that their courses have been moved online. And they chose the protest poster to express their discontent, which I then used to make my own statement.

Art is all in the mind…

πŸ“Œ Everywhere you go as the lockdown lifts expects you to log in using the government’s discredited coronavirus app. Otherwise you need to supply your name and contact details in case you need to be alerted. In an effort to be difficult, today I had a shot at making my own QR code. It’s hard to tell if it works until I try to use it.

Artwork: ‘Does This Bloody Thing Work, Yet? Probably Not’, by Billy Mann

πŸ“Œ Got a lot of nice compliments about the Cognivate neurorehab conference I did with Nora.

πŸ“Œ These are the kind of tweets I like to see.

FRIDAY We finished The Pact, a TV thriller billed as the Welsh Big Little Lies. It was certainly compelling and twisty, which is about all you can ask these days.

πŸ“Œ The Headway Home Studio today was a collage workshop inspired by the work of Eileen Agar.

The two keywords that sprang to mind were FLOW and HOLES. I think this was one of those occasions when thinking a bit harder might have helped.

I’m still learning digital collage, but it was nice to get the chance to practise on something totally unexpected. But it all felt quite clumsy, and that shows in my efforts. Fluidity was the aim.

πŸ“Œ The new word used by young people to describe marginally less young people perceived to be “trying too hard” is cheugy. Widely used by TikTokkers in a dismissive way, I’m told. FYI, it is pronounced chewgy.

πŸ“Œ Marina Hyde puts in a few timely remarks on the slaughter of the BBC. They weren’t alone 26 years ago in that shameful pursuit of Princess Diana… “Millions bought insatiably into Diana’s pain, and newspaper sales spiked for all the most obviously intrusive stories. The pall of blameless sanctimony that descended after her death was a stunning exercise in mass hypocrisy.”

πŸ“Œ Simon posted Mark’s obit. He taught me everything I know about horse racing.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

2 thoughts on “Diary: Week 20

  1. Brilliant as ever Billy. It would be lovely to see you both soon. Perhaps a cultural visit to London? Also why are the review stars at the top of the article when you haven’t read it ?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. No idea about those stars. It would be great to see you when you’re on a cultural mission. Jane has a Tate membership that admits 4 adults and under 18s free. And we live right next to the Barbican, so shout us whenever you’re in your way.


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