Scrapbook: Week 27

July 3-9

SATURDAY The Socialist Worker tries to work out why the popularity of social democracy is in decline everywhere, and not just in the Labour Party. And guess what, it’s because social democratic parties of the left don’t suck up to union leaders any more.

πŸ“Œ The Morning Star warns of job cuts at the British Council. I hope that doesn’t put an end to the studio‘s artistic exchange with the Riera Studio in Cuba. We just won a British Council grant for a Mail Bonding pitch based on the art of postage stamps.

Cuban stamps featuring birds…

πŸ“Œ Most people will have welcomed the government’s furlough scheme as a necessary lifeline for ordinary citizens forced to stop working during the pandemic. Few would have welcomed it if they’d known they were being conned into a taxpayer subsidy of stratospheric executive salaries.

πŸ“Œ I always knew there was something deeply iffy about the idea to link Ireland and Scotland with bridge or tunnel. CNN has nailed it.

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ Teardrop Explodes’ album Kilimanjaro is not actually as good as I remember it back in the heady days of my youth.

πŸ“Œ The latest stitching project is another borough map of London, this time on a plain white chef’s apron. My wife noticed that the image, when rotated 90 degrees becomes an abstract human face, with Kingston being the nose and Croydon the mouth. The half of Richmond on the south bank of the Thames looks like an eye. And Camden gets the job of the ear.

The face of London…

πŸ“Œ England turned in a classy performance to beat Ukraine 4-0, only let down by the BBC, who failed to field a female commentator.

SUNDAY The match report in the Guardian for England’s quarter-final victory over Ukraine is the work of a lyrical romantic. It nevertheless captures the vibe perfectly.

πŸ“Œ Another week and another Labour “initiative” to get the party back into public favour. The push to “buy British” is an old idea, but this time round it does have the ring of the post-1945 Labour success story.

πŸ“Œ The chaos is starting its annual pattern of repetition. It looks like future governmental decisions will hinge on the ability of the NHS to deal with the Covid cases as and when they happen. Waves of infections will keep the service on permanent high alert. The leadership and resources of the NHS are the hot potato. A quick, reliable testing system still seems a long way off, and scientists say the easing of restrictions on 19 July is like building “variant factories”.

πŸ“Œ Bad cover versions of hits from the 1970s are proliferating. On the radio we heard fake renditions of both Fleetwood Mac and Peter Frampton songs in the space of 10 minutes, closely followed by Seals & Crofts’ Summer Breeze. Maybe we were listening to a special compilation of musical grotesqueries.

πŸ“Œ My wife was appalled to see a Just Eat delivery arrive at a nearby property at 9.30am.

πŸ“Œ Down in our community allotments, a neighbour helpfully told us what we were growing. The allotments featured recently in an online film for the Open Garden Squares project. Our small patch (Box 16) was so barren that somebody dressed it up for the cameras with spare plants. But no one told us what was planted. It now transpires that we have baby potatoes, carrots and curly kale.

πŸ“Œ The portrait from Sam looks like the kind of hobo you’d cross the road to avoid but fleetingly wonder what his name is.

Portrait, by Sam Jevon…

πŸ“Œ Sunday afternoon lightweight films: Anita & Me (charming Meera Syal biopic, which includes the word “bosting” a lot) and Yesterday, a silly love story by Richard Curtis in which the lights go out and when they come back on The Beatles have been erased from history.

MONDAY Someone on Quora wants to know if Queen Victoria was a nymphomaniac. The top-voted reply is a po-faced micro-essay explaining that Queen Victoria certainly enjoyed by sex, and “there is this cliche that Victorian women regarded sex as an unpleasant duty, but the fact that Victoria didn’t doesn’t mean she had a compulsive psychological disorder.

πŸ“Œ An article in My Health Gazette hilariously replays a compilation of  passive-aggressive notes left in fridges, on microwave ovens, in bathrooms and pretty much everywhere. One from the kitchen stated: “Dishes are like boyfriends. Your room-mate shouldn’t be doing yours”.

Get the message, Bob?

πŸ“Œ Boris intends to let it RIP on July 19, and there ain’t no-one gonna stop him. Which means I can no longer use a London bus safely.

πŸ“Œ Decided to swot up on Cuba, given the grant our studio just won to collaborate with Havana’s Riera Studio on a art mail-exchange project. I always had Cuba as the nation of cigars and socialism, so an essay in the London Review of Books was a refreshing addition to my two-dimensioned perspective.

πŸ“Œ Further in our quest to catch up with the TV everyone else talks about but we’ve never seen, next up is Inside No 9, which takes dark, psychological themes, often with a sinister twist, on a journey to hilarity and back.

TUESDAY The surprise of the century, and very hard to imagine right now, is that China might turn out to be the Bringer of world peace. Unknown to many in the West, China is exploring Space so fast and so intensively that if it wants to continue to do so from Planet Earth, it will need to collaborate with other nations. And it is reaching out right now.

πŸ“Œ Ellie leaves Guardian Archive at the end of the month. I’ve only ever known her digitally.

πŸ“Œ It’s great to be back in the gym (via our GP surgery’s Exercise on Referral scheme) after the stiffening effects of Lockdown.

πŸ“Œ Boris’s You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Masks message is not universally popular. But it is among Conservative backbenchers, which is what is important to the PM right now, says LabourList.

πŸ“Œ A population that has grown accustomed to being told what to do by the state must be a political gift.

πŸ“Œ We are supporting Spain. Italy are cheats.

WEDNESDAY Only on Twitter does a man of God turn into a gossipy snitch. Would Rev Coles have stopped a parishioner on the street to tell them this?

πŸ“Œ Javid, Johnson, Sunak & Gove sounds like a modern-day UK version of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. They are known to each other simply as The Quad.

πŸ“Œ The Pinchpot Portrait workshop for the Barbican was a laugh. Brian filled his pot with fruit and made a loaf and a wedge of cheese to go on the side.

πŸ“Œ Much sympathy to Prince William, who had no friends or family to watch the footie with. Not sure he knew the words to Sweet Caroline, either. The big question came from one of the TV commentators, who asked in disbelief: “Who was alive when England last won something?”

THURSDAY Someone in the crowd shone a laser into the eyes of Denmark’s goalkeeper last night as he faced an England penalty.

πŸ“Œ It’s now obvious to all but the sight-impaired that it’s the PM’s plan to smash the NHS to bits. There is no other explanation for letting the service deteriorate in such a dramatic way.

FRIDAY The Morning Star is nothing if not consistent.

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ The Headway Home Studio was all about surrealism, and more pointedly about Salvador DalΓ­. We learned that he was a foodie and threw lush parties heaped with exotic food, often styled in his trademark surrealist oddness. He loved food but hated spinach, apparently, and was quite scathing about it. Which is probably why in my effort at surrealism I put them together.

πŸ“Œ The exhibition at the Guild Hall Art Gallery celebrating the art and style of NoΓ«l Coward did exactly that. There were few hints at the origins of Coward’s undeniable talents. But there were a lot of dressing gowns, dinner suits, bad paintings and the constant nag of the opulence mega-celebrity invites. We never found out who did all the hoovering in all the lush living rooms.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

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