One year ago: Week 27, 2020

June 29-July 5

MONDAY Xenophobic stereotyping is behind the under-reporting of Covid successes in central European countries such as Slovakia, Croatia and the Czech Republic. So says an article in The Conversation.

📌 A contrasting couple from Twitter.

Later, Mark Steel was inundated with tweets from people pointing out that “cock-blocking” was in fact an ancient term.

📌 The Prime Minister has said that parents who don’t send their children back to school in September will be fined. He has also performed another shameless raid on Labour Party policies with the announcement of a huge social infrastructural programme to get post-Covid Britain back on its feet, among which is a mass refurbish and investment in schools. Expect some New Model Army of low-wage apprentice slavies in your neighbourhood soon.

📌 Stuart is back in action with news that the Sinner before the Gates of Heaven in the Meat Loaf song was a sadistic groupie called “Lumpen Linda”.

TUESDAY Someone posted a message on Twitter saying that when the government declares a count of PPE equipment it has supplied to NHS staff, every single item counts as 1. The example quoted states that “200 pieces” of PPE is a box of gloves.

📌 Another Twitter correspondent writes to tell the world that the collective noun for a group of ladybirds is a “loveliness”, and helpfully includes a picture of loveliness on top of a wooden post.

📌 For my exercise walk I hit the canal basin at Angel Islington and noticed two women of a certain age – possibly fans of Virginia Woolf – slipping in for a swim. Another woman, on the west side of the basin, was happily immersed in both a swim and a canal-side chat with a passer-by. All in a light drizzle.

📌 The stitchwork projects are a new path to line drawing, especially when you look at the reverse side.

📌 He can cook, he can sing, he can paint and he tells good jokes. Four reasons to hate Pip.

📌 Leicester has been put on extended Lockdown. My wife says it’s because they all ran out too soon to buy crisps.

📌 In Schitt’s Creek Alexis and Ted agreed to go their separate ways over Twyla’s 4-Cheese lasagne and a nice bottle of Chianti.

WEDNESDAY My favourite oak shelving unit (below) has been banished to the storage shed in favour of a slimmer model.

📌 There is an editorial in the Guardian that illustrates how events such as a pandemic can derail ideologically driven governments and force them into compromises that challenge the Party orthodoxy. The case of our current Conservative government and the role of the State is one such example.

📌 At a Headway Steering Group group Zoom Yoki made a great statement about what she gets from being able to share her experience.

📌 Sam sent some more pictures, one of the still life we did in Open Studio last week and one of her Van Gogh framed on the wall.

📌 Just when you suspected a drought in diary material…

THURSDAY Lockdown Catch-up. Spooks started with good character stories (Matthew McFadyean, Keeley Hawes), then it drifted into All Plot No Character. Now (series 5) is all fights and chases. The Harry/Ruth romantic mismatch is a weak diversion.

📌 British reports are nudging towards a description of China trying to turn Hong Kong into a prison island. 

📌 There’s a story in The Conversation that suggests Britain might be on a post-Soviet path to hidden unemployment, whereby furloughed workers are put on unpaid leave or no/low pay, but not technically rendered unemployed.

📌 In the Headway Open Studio Zoom session, I managed to turn Connie into a gothic hag.

FRIDAY My wife really does have a problem seeing things my way. I de-messed our store rooms and she promptly re-messed them in the most space-inefficient way possible. I stormed off, refusing to attempt any further co-operation and sat brooding in a dark corner with a flask of cold tea and the new Bob Dylan album.

📌 We finished Schitt’s Creek and there was a great moment when Alexis walked David down the aisle in a brilliant role reversal, because Alexis had thoughtfully decided to wear a white wedding dress.

 📌 I wrote a short piece for Michelle about the Open Studio Zoom sessions during Lockdown. The new studio website will be launched soon, so I also supplied some quotes on what I’ve been busy doing at home…

Stitchwork eyeball…

📌 The pubs are allowed to open at 6am tomorrow. Can’t wait to see who goes for that. Meanwhile, other news came in that…

📌 In Spooks, Adam had the much anticipated coitus with his son’s nanny.

📌 Snooping around items in the WordPress Reader, I found a letter written by Nick Cave in which he uses the word “liminal”.

SATURDAY One of our friends failed to turn up at the Zoom quiz on Thursday. Today we got this…

📌 At the Breakfast Club Zoom, the storytelling theme was Sport. I spoke about the 2012 London Olympics, especially the Paralympics because it took place just before my stroke. And afterwards I was myself disabled, so the memory becomes a landmark with a difference. I described the blind triple-jumper crashing into the judges and knocking them off their seats. Jane recalled watching the 2005 Istanbul Champions League final on TV with Paula (Irish, Man Utd), and we learned from Shirley that the corporate world has its own Olympics and that JP Morgan are the best.

📌 Locally, the Lockdown liftoff is a gentle reawakening. The Two Brewers had a lone drinker sitting outside, but the sense of release is real. I still want to kill cyclists who use the pavements when the roads are empty. One did it in Beech Street Tunnel, which is still closed to all but zero-emissions traffic and has a dedicated cycle lane, which the two-wheel tosser decided to ignore.

📌 We binged on all 6 episodes of Staged, a Zoom-initiated TV Lockdown project starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant. Great, tight drama with lots of conflict/resolution (obvious and subtle) and some surprising guest appearances from straight actors doing brilliant comedy. Dame Judi Dench said fuck; Samuel L Jackson and Adrian Lester both sent themselves up hilariously.

SUNDAY Our communal lawn is routinely colonised these days by a bunch YWPs (Young White Professionals). I’ve started to define them as the elite performers from a “gaming generation”.

📌 Shirley sent us a link to a Zoom presentation from the How To Academy. It was about community and “sacred capital” from a woman called Zita Cobb. It focused on an island off Newfoundland called Fogo and it referenced EF Schumacher, which made me want to re-read Small Is Beautiful.

📌 Donald Trump has become a portrait of insanity. He hysterically defines anyone he doesn’t agree with as a raving commie.

📌 Liverpool beat Aston Villa 2-0 in one of the most boring games in years. If fanless football takes off and the beautiful game loses its stadium identity and becomes a TV sport totally, more of this tedium is likely.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

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