One year ago: Week 21 2020

May 18-24

Monday The Labour party senses a weakness in the government and is turning up the antagonism dial. Keir Starmer has exposed the PM as a blustering arsehole and now Ed Miliband has picked up the soul of the Green New Deal pioneered previously by Rebecca Long Bailey and rebranded it as an Atlee style post-Covid initiative to create jobs and revive the economy.

📌 A Sketch from one of Beth’s Instagram pictures. I liked the shape. 

I called it Razz Girls 2 after the original Razz Girls I did a few years ago.

📌 Pete posted a picture on Facebook of a sign at his local tennis court. Instruction number 3 is: “Avoid handling your opponent’s balls”.

Tuesday Got a message from Fiona. She is punting a study to adapt Bridges methods for post-Covid patients. She asked if I’d do a 200-word lay summary. I said yes.

📌 Hilda’s hair is thickening.

📌 I had intended to unearth some old pictures and write blog posts about them. I was going to start with this composite I did after listening to the Imperial War Museum’s Voices of the First World War series.

The picture imagined the eternal sleep of a dead WW1 soldier and his everlasting erotic fantasy of Toulouse Lautrec’s Woman Putting On Her Stocking. I flipped the image and used a lot of smudge to try and make it dreamy. The luxuriance of the poppies in the child’s painting gives it a vast ocean-like feel.

📌 I spotted that some of my summer clothes were “missing”. My wife said she could remember a suitcase labelled “Billy’s Summer Archive”. She was right, sort of. There were two of them in the basement storage room.

📌 A huge question mark still hangs over pretty much everything. We had a conversation about living in London. I wondered whether the virus crisis would spawn a genuine widespread love of the Slow Movement and its emphasis on life lived gently. My wife thought not. We agreed that big cities are points of intensity. Their congestion is organic. Their economies also rely on them being naturally packed and a bit claustrophobic. But we also agreed that if the thing that makes London attractive for us is gone (the culture, the access to travel points, mainly), then we really don’t need to be here.

Wednesday I can’t be the only one who’s had the passing thought that at some point our prime minister calculated how many virus deaths could be parlayed into some sort of national sacrifice. It is a cynical view, but one obviously shared by others, as evidenced from this TV clip that appeared under the #WhereIsJohnson trending hashtag.

📌 We did a short still-life session on Zoom while an ITV crew filmed from Michelle’s place. Then one of them, Katie, interviewed me about the lockdown and how I was coping. It will be good publicity for the studio and Headway – if it appears.

📌 This news is no big surprise.

📌 My wife reckons the contestants on Pointless have twigged to the persistent inclusion of a question about the ever-changing Periodic Table of Elements. They know to swot up.

📌 We finally watched the Gogglebox clip of the PM’s speech last week when he switched to the “stay alert” message that caused so much ridicule. It’s hilarious.

📌 Got a message from Angelina to say she saw me on the ITV news. She didn’t notice the Magnum PI shirt I was wearing.

Thursday My wife bought a David Shrigley face mask for £35. He is selling them to raise money for a fund for museums and galleries to buy art. There’s big concern at the moment as to how cultural enterprises and those who work in them will survive with their income cut off. Actors are screwed. Lots of galleries and music venues are doing stuff online, but no one knows how long it will be before audienced performances can restart.

📌 Kevin Maguire has been consistent in his skewering of the government over its viral failures, and relishes the opportunity to shove the knife in a bit further.

📌 Hilda Ogden is starting to look really scary.

📌 Sarah hosted a Thursday Members Zoom meeting. It was Yoki’s birthday and Suzanne was chuffed because everyone’s name was written on the screen, so she never forgot who we were. Until Chris and I started a game of name tennis. When he renamed himself Donald Duck, I replied with Donald Trump. Suzanne was suffering from “no Scrabble” withdrawal symptoms.

📌 We won the Brighton Zoom quiz. I got synovial fluid right.

Friday The government have done a u-turn on charging immigrant health workers to use the nhs. John Crace has a pretty good summary of this fiasco in the Guardian.

📌 Michelle’s Community Creative Challenge today is all about birds, so I wrote this…

Lockdown Love Lives
There’s a lone magpie on the grass outside.
Jane says that’s a sign.
That something tragic’s happened.
There’s a lone boy blackbird stood on the roof opposite.
Singing his heart out.
I hope he gets a girlfriend soon.

📌 At the family Zoom, H&S told us about their day trip to Seacombe. They went into Morrison’s for a Meal Deal and witnessed an incident of “Coronarage” when one man brushed past another, made too much physical contact and was given a “keep your distance” reminder in return. There followed a nasty exchange of words and what H&S described as “distance glaring”.

📌 My cousins believe Boris will jack it in soon. Kate says he looks bored and knackered.

Saturday My sister asked on WhatsApp whether “Dominic Twatface” was doomed. My answer was: “The narrative (‘different rules for different folks’) has overtaken the facts, so if he doesn’t go, the saloon doors to Wild West UK are officially open.”

📌 Stuart has resurfaced via email. We lost contact because I used up the 100 monthly text-messages my phone contract allows. Nudging him on to email instead was not easy, but he twigged eventually and the streamofconfabulation resumed with a story about how he once had a job as a bingo caller in a home for deaf geriatrics on the Isle of Wight.

Sunday The “Save Dom” message put out by the government last night is getting ripped to shreds.

📌 I don’t think Boris is a wartime consiglieri. Andrew Rawnsley writes in the Observer: “Public confidence in the government’s handling of the epidemic is badly corroded when key figures behave as if the rules apply to everyone but themselves. When trust, so absolutely essential to the handling of this crisis, is abused and diminished, the public loses faith in the calibre and integrity of decision-makers.”

📌 We had to initiate an investigation to work out who the celebrities were on Celebrity Come Dine With Me. There were two women, Dawn and Charlotte, with an age difference of about 25 years but a very similar relationship with plastic surgery, and a man with a neat beard who was described as a professional Instagrammer. There was another beardy fella, an actor from The Office, and that gormless character Ashley from Coronation Street. My wife managed to discover that Charlotte was from Geordie Shore and that Dawn was from Real Housewives of Cheshire. She had servants and a glass floor in her living room.

📌 The Alfie stitchwork project is coming along nicely.

📌 The Prime Minister has made a speech in defence of his deviant aide Cummings. Twitter is on fire with indignation, and not just from the chatterati – mothers who could not visit their dying children. People who buried their parents “remotely”.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

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