One year ago: Week 28, 2020

6-12 July…

MONDAY The Poke has some very funny items, but sometimes they lack obvious detail, like WHERE? I really want this hilarious scene to be in Britain.

See the video…

📌 Luke’s adventures with his rebuilt 1970s RV in America sound dramatic. Last night in Florida he parked his stuttering vehicle in a Taco Bell car park and got ready for bed. Taco Bell staff then told him to sod off so he ended up in a nearby Walmart car park, nursing a dicky fuel filter, a beer and creeping disillusion.

📌 I’m not too pessimistic about post-pandemic Britain because I think British people are secretly quite good at making things up as we go along.

📌 We watched Oxford United beat Portsmouth in the League 1 playoffs to reach the final at Wembley against Wycombe. Oxford had cardboard cutouts in the stands. We wondered whether they were pictures of real supporters, like my wife’s sister Sue and her mate Pat. Portsmouth’s shirt sponsor is Portsmouth University.

📌 Luke is still stranded in Walmart car park, Tallahassee, Florida, under attack from mosquitos.

TUESDAY We’ve started a mega clear-out and reorganisation project to maximise the use of our minimum space. My wife has found someone on the web who might buy some of her old style magazines.

📌 There’s a nasty argument raging on Twitter about funding for the arts to help them recover from the pandemic. Someone stupidly remarked that theatres are for middle-class people and of no interest to the working classes. This prompted a vigorous response from tweeters saying pantomime is attended mainly by the working classes and its revenue is key to keeping the whole theatre business alive.

📌 Jan’s grandson has made 14 zines in the past week. This after my efforts last week in promoting their virtues and those of the Wellcome Zine Club.

📌 My head is quite fuzzy again today. I could be sickening for something, or I might just need some fresh air.

📌 Another drawing from Sam arrived today. It is a completed version of the portrait of Connie we all did at the Home Studio session last week.

WEDNESDAY There are two noisy magpies in the tree outside, poking their beaks at one another with an occasional flutter of the wings. I think some kind of ornithological hanky-panky is in progress.

📌 Stuart resurfaced after five days’ absence, asking if I remember Haysi Fantayzee and Yip Yip Coyote.

📌 As soon as I had posted a short rant about the Gaming Generation, pointing out their many faults, I came across a long article in the Guardian by Luke Harding describing how the identity of the Skripal poisoners was uncovered by a Gamer who went on to launch the investigative Bellingcat site. I said in my rant that talented Gamers make good criminals. They make good Spooks, too.

THURSDAY Government opponents are struggling to poke holes in chancellor Rishi Sunak’s mini-budget. The offer of £10 vouchers to eat out rather than at home, and scrapping the furlough scheme but bribing employers to keep jobs, are just two of Rishi’s stunts that have come in for a kicking. Part of the difficulty for his opponents is that in the same circumstances they probably would have done something very similar.

📌 A teenage footballer on the lawn outside was doing keepie-uppies. First he used a full-size ball, then switched to a tennis ball. He kicks equally well with both feet.

📌 Staff from the Barbican came to the Headway Home Studio Zoom session today, plus the curator of the next Curve exhibition, of Toyin Ojih Odutola’s images.

By Toyin Ojih Odutola…

We all worked from one of Toyin’s story drawings, of a woman at a table in a café. As I did it I imagined a scene in which the woman was receiving bad news from her daughter.

📌 We won the Brighton Zoom quiz by half a point. A group of giraffes is called a Tower.

📌 Chris K has a Facebook friend with the surname Fulleylove.

FRIDAY Richard Herring has broken out into a light sweat on Twitter with someone claiming that stand-up comedy will bounce back stronger than ever once the Pandemic has passed.

📌 An article in the Guardian depicts a government determined to suck all the power of local democracy from areas and regions. The piece argues that the Tory party has bizarrely become the party of the uber-centralised state.

📌 Black Lives Matter is doing a great job at flushing out racism. This obviously isn’t much fun for those such as the Brent MP who has been forced to close her constituency office after violent attacks and death threats, but it does expose racism in all its naked ugliness and leaves it with fewer places to hide.

📌 On a walk around old Hoxton, Shoreditch and the Regent’s Canal it is hard not to notice the vast amount of land and property once in public ownership now exclusively private, with little or no public access.

📌 Sam’s versions of botanical drawings are fabulous.

📌 Stuart has reconnected (he tripped over and broke a hip) with a helpful dictionary definition of a Scally, which unusually referenced a head girl from a school in Birkenhead.

SATURDAY The conclusion of Schitt’s Creek left a hole in our lives. It was our evening mealtime companion. We groped around for a replacement using the obvious search term “if you liked Schitt’s Creek…” and one of the possibilities was Arrested Development. We’d tried it before, on the recommendation of Sue, but gave up. So we’ve started again, and the spark has become a flame.

📌 Marina Hyde has nailed it again with a piece about Chris Grayling and his ability to “fail upwards”. She concocts a scene in which Grayling walks unscathed from a Chernobyl-type disaster of his own creation, “a sort of Terminator of shitness”, only to get another job to screw up.

📌 I’ve never really noticed a nice bit of the Thames Path on the north side of the river at Millennium Bridge. There are lots of seats and it’s a good spot for afternoon sun.

Millennium Bridge, from north bank…

📌 Some shops, bars and restaurants are obviously opening just to show they are open.

📌 The overlaid soundtrack on Cardinal is so loud you don’t hear all of the dialogue. Is this a new technique?

SUNDAY One of my new blog followers runs a flash-fiction website. Today its prompt was for a horror story about someone who couldn’t remember who they were. I wrote this one in the bath.

📌 The newspapers are asking what will happen when Boris realises his chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is greasing a comfortable path to his job. Will he turn nasty, or will he make sure Rishi screws up before he needs to?

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

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