SATURDAY Last week’s Diary had an item about whales suffering from bad breath. One correspondent responded with a link to a story about fish communicating with each other by farting. The biological theme was then compounded by a story in Vice.
📌 There wasn’t much doubt about who lost in the Chesham & Amersham by-election until the Morning Star got to write its version of the outcome.
📌 The electrician who appeared in our recent home refurb found some old wiring he asked to take home for his archive collection of electrical relics.
📌 It will be a surprise if the resolution to drawn one simple sketch a day with my left hand reaches the end of next week.
SUNDAY The FT has a chilling insight into the gangster politics of Putin’s Russia.
📌 Boris is struggling to referee the fight between the red wall and the blue wall.
📌 After a meal in the Bishop On The Bridge, which I managed to confuse with the Rising Sun, we ended our stay in Winchester with a 70s music quiz. Sadly for Bill, there were no questions about Creedence Clearwater Revival. He did, however have a neat Father’s Day card to play with.
MONDAY Zoe Ball is celebrating 25 years since Euro 96 and reflecting with David Baddiel on the England team’s great talent for disappointment.
📌 Researchers in the US have discovered that Republicans are more vaccine-hesitant than Democrats.
📌 Sam sent her Lilies picture with its warm alluring colours.
📌 It didn’t take long after the Chesham & Amersham by-election results for the eruption of guesses on how much damage a Liberal/Labour/Green alliance could inflict on the government. The Morning Star and the Socialist Worker dismiss the alliance idea as a sell-out of the working class to the business class. Others see this as too simplistic and argue that an alliance of centre-left parties is the only logical solution given that in the past three elections their combined vote share has been the winning total.
📌 Denmark went from zero to heroes against Russia in the Euros, which will have pleased every football fan on the planet. OK, maybe not Vladimir Putin. He probably wasn’t too happy about it.
TUESDAY At the Guardian coffee/chat Emily said she’s eager for her boyfriend to move in because he works for Transport for London (tfl) and his job entitles himself and one other person to free travel.
And Margaret said she felt old watching retro Top of the Pops shows from the 90s and the noughties on TV. I confessed to watching the ones from the 1970s.
📌 In Do I Make Myself Clear, Harold Evan quotes Ernest Hemingway’s observation on the ‘simplicity’ of writing: “All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
And in arguing the case for the active voice he imagines how the 1969 Moon landing might have been reported in the passive voice: “The Moon was landed on by Neil Armstrong today.”
📌 Got an email from the excitingly named Jo Aurora at Different Strokes to say my five stroke paintings, which I’d entered in a competition called Art of Recovery, came second. No money, but nice to know the paintings still have some life in them.
📌 We started watching a webinar called Curating Art or Curating Artists: The Question of an Artist’s Biography but felt straight away that we’d been dropped into the thick end of academia. The clue is in the word webinar, I guess.
WEDNESDAY News that the government is preparing to sell Channel 4 is a reminder of how far British culture has already been surrendered to the market. So much of what was previously owned and run by the state is now either in private ownership or is part of a subsidised operation such as a charity or social enterprise. The subscription has been a big driver. It succeeds by offering choice, which is an abstract concept in any case and hard to argue against. My own subscriptions are many: the Guardian, the Morning Star, the London Review of Books, Netflix, Natho (Canadian TV streaming service) the Hackney Citizen… the list is long. Whether this trend towards the optional purchase of what some might consider basic cultural needs is a debate that will go on long after I’m gone.
📌 Inspired by Sam’s lillies from Monday, I made a flower person in Procreate.
📌 In the Procreate drawing class on YouTube, the subject is EYES.
THURSDAY As she adjusted the weights on the shoulder press, Aiste said this machine can cause injury. This is because the shoulders get so little exercise in everyday life. They are naturally weak. She illustrated this by asking what routine actions require you to push your arms heavenward. I could name none. Go easy on the shoulder press, she said. Stop when you’ve had enough. I told her those words sounded like a universal philosophy of life.
📌 Got a message from UK Research & Innovation saying they were “paving the way for a future engineering biology programme”. When I looked up what “engineering biology” is, I concluded that it might better be called biology engineering.
📌 It might just be me, but I think Ronaldo and Jota hate each other.
📌 Anton is to replace Bruno on the Strictly panel.
📌 Cognitive Flexibility is replacing IQ as a measure of how brainy people are. A high CF person will find multiple ways into a problem to optimise the solution. High IQ people will determine the best solution and go for it, bish-bash-bosh.
📌 The daily left-handed drawing exercise is now on the subject of eyes. Pupil, iris, lid, lash and tear duct are the elements.
And in Procreate, the possibilities of the square eye emerged. Must try a parallelogram eye.
📌 The Guardian has a strong word on the proposed sale of Channel 4. Leave it as it is, its argument states. Don’t fix what ain’t bust. The Channel is a raging success. Give it the tools to finish the job.
FRIDAY We met Chris last night to go and see another of his “niche” films, The Reason I Jump. This one was a documentary about autism as experienced by a number of extreme cases worldwide but filtered through the narration of a young Japanese boy, who originally told his story in a book called The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism.
Told is probably not a good word to describe how people with severe autism struggle to communicate, and this is the film’s mission – to turn what looks like a negative into a positive by illustrating the richness of non-verbal communication. It is full of sound, touch and feel. If cinema could ever learn to do taste and smell, the set would be complete.
Towards the end of the film the narrator reflects that if the opportunity to become non-autistic were offered to him today he would decline because he believes his condition has awarded him something exceptional, something to be envied even by a blind and ignorant neurotypical world.
📌 Before we saw The Reason I Jump I talked to Chris about the author David Mitchell, who with his wife had translated the Japanese book into English. Chris said nothing but confessed later that he thought I was talking about the humourist David Mitchell, who appeared in the TV comedy Peep Show and captains a team on the TV panel show Would I Lie To You. It was a communication failure. Apt.
📌 Someone posted a graph on Twitter to illustrate how Britain has gone into reverse gear in tackling Covid.
📌 Now that Naomi’s birthday has been and gone, all the cake eaten etc, I can reveal the special poster we made and sent to her. It had originally appeared in a previous diary but my wife insisted I remove it in case Naomi, 90, is in the habit of browsing the deepest corners of the interweb looking for references to herself. I was so overeager to include it because I was very proud to discover the screening of the film Gold Dust Gertie on the day Naomi was born in 1931.
📌 Hancock’s Secret Snog is headline of the day. There’s been a rush to point out his flouting of social-distancing guidelines. No one seems that bothered that he cheated on his wife of 15 years, the “quietly dignified osteopath descended from a baron and a viscount”, as the Telegraph describes Martha Hancock. Paul Waugh in HuffPostUK punts another way of looking at it: “The idea of a minister who banned grandparents from hugging their grandchildren then hugging his mistress is beyond parody.”
📌 The studio’s Common Threads textiles and stitchwork exhibition finally opened at the Autograph gallery in Shoreditch. It looks great and Posy’s film supports the whole show brilliantly.