Diary: June 2021

TUESDAY 1 Power sharing in business might be another way to turn the tide on Labour’s flagging popularity.

Read all about it…

πŸ“Œ A charming CNN story about the quest to identify a mysterious man found dead on an Australian beach in 1948 includes a beautiful nugget on how a university professor took on the role of detective – and found love on the way… “After a single dinner dominated by talk of death and DNA, the pair decided to marry.”

πŸ“Œ In a move to de-stigmatise coronavirus strains (India, Kent, etc), the World Health Organisation (WHO) will henceforth use the Greek alphabet (Alpha, Beta, Delta, etc) to name the various variants.

πŸ“Œ As a fan of health data sharing, I’m glad my medical history is out there for all doctors and researchers to access. What will drive me to stop sharing is if NHS Digital doesn’t speak up soon to say that access to my data willΒ  be strictly controlled.

πŸ“Œ The online clay workshop (Pinch Pot Portraits inspired by the work of Jean Dubuffet) went very well. All the members (from Accumulate and the Barbican) were far more creative than I was. I finished too early and made a clay flower just to give the Zoom box for “Billy’s Hands” something to show.

The home studio set-up
Are you looking at me? I have one ear bigger than the other…
A flower by any other name…

WEDNESDAY 2 The Socialist Worker believes the revolutionary flame still burns across the nation. The pandemic experience has, against all natural urges, seen the Tories reach deep into the powers of state support: “They shut down most businesses and subsidised wages, when for decades Tory andΒ LabourΒ governments wanted to interfere as little as possible with profits and pay.” And with the Black Lives Matter, Kill The Bill and Palestine Solidarity movements, a strain of resistance is coming together in the public mind. Resistance is becoming a key word. Maybe a state of permanent agitation is a good thing for any society, although it does have uncomfortable echoes of the Israel/Palestine experience.

πŸ“Œ The Conversation tells us there’s a pet-stress crisis looming. Dogs got so cozy with their owners over the past 12 months that they will be traumatised when they abandon them to return to work.

πŸ“Œ The police custom of reporting “felicitous negation” is a fascinating insight into the subtlety of the evidence rigging in the Hillsborough trial.

πŸ“Œ I went off-piste in Quora, ignored what they wanted to feed me and found a laugh…

πŸ“Œ There’s a photo doing the rounds that almost humanises Keir Starmer. It’s a posed shot from his college days in Leeds. He was a New Romantic wannabe with a preposterous quiff and a studied gaze.

πŸ“Œ Accumulate kindly posted a thank you message for the Pinchpot Portraits workshop.

THURSDAY 3 The political changes in Israel look as shaky as ever. But there’s still some hope that tyranny is on its last legs in what used to be called The Holy Land.

πŸ“Œ The building site outside our front door is in the final construction phase with the erection of a 14-storey residential tower block. The adjacent school is finished and being fitted out for September opening.

πŸ“Œ One of the people at the Pinchpot Portraits workshop I did on Tuesday said they were boycotting Amazon because of their tax-avoidance stunts. I wondered then if tax had at last become a “cut-through” subject for the general public. Today’s story about Microsoft makes me think tax has at least made it to the agenda on “fairness”, whatever that is. Maybe the growing number of workers outside of the PAYE system has something to do with it.

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ For reasons I’ll never be able to explain, I did not click on the Conversation story about “geometrically baffling quasicrystals”.

πŸ“Œ At the Headway Art CafΓ© today, Emily said she likes drawing on bananas with a ballpoint pen.

FRIDAY 4 Phoning the doctor’s surgery at 8am precisely is now the only way to get your medical needs on the agenda.

πŸ“Œ The next stitchwork tote bag was not very satisfying. It is too clever for its own good. The title is… ‘Location: Arsenal FC (aka The Gunners or You Fakkin Gooners)’.

πŸ“Œ The Pfizer jab is OK for 12-15 year-olds, say the experts.

πŸ“Œ A friend told a suspicious story about the death of another friend, whose brand new laptop and an expensive underwater camera went missing in a hurried house clearance.

πŸ“Œ While watching Have I Got News For You, my wife said that people with facial enhancement look “tight and shiny”.

SATURDAY 5 We’d just decided to tackle Peaky Blinders, another TV series everyone else has seen but we never did. Then we had acoffee at Fix with Amanda and she went all fan-girl for Ewan McGregor in Halston on Netflix. So that was that.

πŸ“Œ Stuart revealed that at his posh-boy school he played a prehistoric game called Fives, in which your hand performs the role of a tennis racquet. Stuart says that to compound the poshness they wore smart white kid gloves from a shop in Liverpool called Watson Prickard.

SUNDAY 6 Stuart messaged late last night to say he used to do his own version of the Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks sketch on the way to school.

πŸ“Œ I am official Shed Monitor at our local community allotments. It is my job to keep things tidy and well maintained. Today, I attempted to bring some order to what had become a cauldron of chaos and cobwebs. My fellow growers are a careless lot. Tools go missing regularly and I’ve lost count of the number of messages I’ve had asking for the combination for the shed padlock, “I always forget,” they yelp pathetically.

πŸ“Œ You make your husband a cup of tea and he drops dead. Then you root through his possessions and discover he has another family, in another country. A daft idea turns out to be an agonising study of a woman on a journey through lies and deceit to find out who she really is. And who she wants to be.

MONDAY 7 There’s an article in the Guardian that says the “centre” of politics is not the harmless place you imagine it to be. It is where all that’s bad with the status quo, settles in comfort, no questions asked.

πŸ“Œ There’s something baffling out there call Bitcoin Mines, which are full of bitcoin miners who are draining the world’s supply of electricity. No one is sure what to do about it. More frighteningly, it brings to mind the image of former mineworkers union leader Arthur Scargill shouting, “We produce the best deep-mine bitcoin in the world.”

πŸ“Œ The new stitchwork is a no doubt doomed attempt at sketching with thread. Based on an archive image from the Autograph APB collection.

TUESDAY 8 The Socialist Worker reckons that the new G7 deal to stamp out global tax avoidance is a con. It argues that setting a “minimum” corporation tax rate at 15% when most countries already have it at over 20% will in effect make the minimum the maximum, as happened with the minimum wage in the UK. The Conversation suggests: “File most of this under β€˜tax advisers being quite accomplished at finding loopholes’.”

πŸ“Œ One of those “Doh, obvious!” moments of realisation has stuck with me since viewing the Rodin exhibition at Tate Modern recently. What I saw at the exhibition was more of a representation of those who selected the items on display, and their availability, than of Auguste Rodin himself. In other words, no exhibition or collection is actually ABOUT it’s subject, it is someone’s point of view on that subject.

πŸ“Œ Two recent articles put the PM in the hot seat over Ireland (again). One in the Guardian insists that visiting US President Joe Biden has the opportunity to force Boris into making serious political and economic decisions. The other, in the Morning Star, is headlined: “A united Ireland is the only way through Brexit’s blockages, bottlenecks and bureaucratic burdens”.

πŸ“Œ Such a relief to discover that hedgehogs and walruses are not to blame…

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ There’s a fascinating article in The Critic which draws an exact parallel between the political successes of Tony Blair and Boris Johnson. It quotes Johnson himself writing about Blair in the same words Johnson’s critics now use against him. He told his fellow Conservatives in a Telegraph article that they would only win power again when “enough people realise they have been swindled” [by Blair].

πŸ“Œ All the headlines say that French President Emmanuel Macron got a slap from an angry crowd member. Close inspection of the video footage shows that he actually dodged the blow, like a canny boxer might have.

WEDNESDAY 9 Taxation is starting to be seen as an equality issue, and not before time. And even in the US, where to be stinking rich has always carried some kind of strange blessing.

πŸ“Œ Reading my Diary from this time last year is like stepping into the past and the future at the same time. Will the appearance of Dominic Cummings in the news agenda soon become an early Summer annual event?

πŸ“Œ The Barbican has asked if I can now do the clay workshop as a real event. And Nat is keen to join in as resident “expert ceramicist”. This could be fun.

πŸ“Œ “Progress was made on guide dogs”. I really don’t understand why that wasn’t the headline.

Read all about it here…

πŸ“Œ My wife accidentally tipped a bag of quinoa into a large jar containing couscous. We will shortly be handing out our bespoke quincous recipes.

πŸ“Œ It’s been a while since Sam sent over any of her drawings.

Air ambulance, by Sam Jevon…

THURSDAY 10 While recording a bit for a Headway podcast yesterday, we churned over the question “What is the first thing you ever made?” This was in the wider context of the question “Who is the artist and what do they do?” I spoke about working in his shed with my dad, making a photographic enlarger from an old oil drum and a broken bellows camera. I told also of making a crystal set straight from diodes, capacitors, etc, plus lots of solder. Jess said that her job involved making things happen and we all wondered whether that was “art”. It sounds like a spurious argument, but that’s what theatre and screen directors and production teams do. Maybe the studio nominations for the Turner Prize are not so surprising after all. In a silly moment we all agreed that “air is art”.

πŸ“Œ The TV series Time, is unremittingly grim in its depiction of prison life. And it reminded me of the warning we got when volunteering at Pentonville to not let the prisoners get inside your head. Tell them NOTHING about yourself, we were instructed. The actors in this drama did, however, get into my head, so much so that the distinctive smell of prison came back to me.

πŸ“Œ More and more people are getting on buses without face masks.

πŸ“Œ The buildings at Timber Wharf are being re-clad in line with the recommendations following the Grenfell Fire disaster. The old deadly cladding is little more than polystyrene blocks, painted to look like render.


πŸ“Œ Kat wasn’t initially keen to pose for the latest entry into the #katyasshoes portfolio, arguing that her feet were too unsightly. Undaunted, I persevered and got the shot.

πŸ“Œ The Barbican has been slammed for being institutionally racist – by its own staff. I’m not sure its customers are any more diverse. Whenever we attend an event there we play the absurdist game of Spot The Non-White Face.

πŸ“Œ Making prints using a pasta rolling machine and old Tetra pak cartons sounds like something off Blue Peter. You first etch your drawing on to the inside out of a juice carton…

Err, that’s as far as I got… A Tribute to Picasso in apple juice

πŸ“Œ Ken agreed to partner up for the clay workshops the Barbican has asked me to do. We are billing ourselves as the Morecambe & Wise of clay.

FRIDAY 11 Full Fact has a clear summary of the government plan to share NHS data. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to see this as the government opening the door to the snake-oil salesmen and that it won’t be long before citizens are offered a “cash windfall” if they agree to share their private medical data to an open market.

πŸ“Œ The campaign to change the word Empire to Excellence in the naming of the honours awarded to citizens by the Queen (OBE, CBE, MBE, etc) reminds me of my own lonely campaign to have the word Service in the NHS changed to System.

πŸ“Œ John Crace sometimes falls over trying to get to the point, but today’s report of Matt Hancock’s failure to deliver his homework to the select committees is a masterclass in sketch-writing. The punchline is a suggested question, “What Door Matt Did To Dom”…

πŸ“Œ Sam’s latest picture (for an ‘Among The Flowers’ project) puts her reputation as the “Queen of Wonky” at risk. It’s not very wonky at all.

Flower, by Sam Jevon…

πŸ“Œ The new etching tool is like a dentist’s drill. Etching plastic is easy, but needs practice, so I’m sure there will be plenty of badly drawn everything prints in this scrapbook soon.

Etching onto plastic…

πŸ“Œ The DIY haircuts began over a year ago. The amount of hair yielded on each occasion has been decreasing steadily.

πŸ“Œ Anthony Hopkins deserves his Oscar for The Father. The film from the stage play suits his style. As if to prove the daft conclusion we came to on Wednesday that “air is art”, in lots of moments both he and co-star Olivia Coleman are featured in static shot, merely thinking the character they are playing.

SATURDAY 12 We’ve opted out of NHS Digital’s GP data-sharing plan. The attempt to rush it through without proper consultation is typical of how our government operates now. We are passionately in favour of medical data sharing, but not in this way. Polly Toynbee in the Guardian puts the case well.

πŸ“Œ News that a commercial diver got swallowed and spat out by a whale triggers the  memory of  a whale-watching trip we did in the USA in 1998. We thought someone on deck had farted but were then told that’s what whale breath smells like. “They don’t brush their teeth,” the guide added jovially.

πŸ“Œ Football matches rarely turn into news events. But when when Denmark’s Christian Eriksen went down during the Euro game against Finland and didn’t move for a long time, something bad had obviously happened. In 1985 I turned on the TV to watch Liverpool play Juventus in the European Cup Final and the same sense of doom hit me. 

πŸ“Œ Tonight’s dessert looks like it’s waiting to appear in a horror film.

SUNDAY 13 Christian Eriksen, the Danish footballer who collapsed on the pitch yesterday during a Euro match against Finland is recovering in hospital.

πŸ“Œ Someone has designed a pair of sunglasses based on Frida Kahlo’s monobrow.

πŸ“Œ Last week’s Headway Home Studio project was to draw the pair of creepy mannequin puppets that hang in a corner of the studio. Sam sent her drawing…

… and I attempted to deepen the evil spirit by multiplying the mask of horror…

MONDAY 14 The devious dealings of our local council, the Corporation of London, knows no bounds. Local elections around Britain have restarted post-Covid, as have by-elections. Yet the CoL postpones its ward elections until March 2022, citing the pandemic as the reason.

πŸ“Œ Trades Unions are obviously not what they used to be. Their public image seems set hard in the past and any progressive reforms made in recent times have been overshadowed by the impression that their main purpose is to pull strings with the Labour Party. Perhaps a divorce is inevitable. The unions can’t move on until they separate from Labour. And centre-ground politics can’t move on until Labour splits with the unions.

πŸ“Œ A statement that the government’s furlough scheme, in which the state pays up to 80% of worker’s salaries, will not be extended beyond July 1, is bad news for many. Others will see it as a reality check. In a properly functioning market economy, the taxpayer should not be required to subsidise private enterprise.

πŸ“Œ There’s now some concern that the delay in delivering the vaccine second doses was an open door to the spread of the problematic Delta variant.

πŸ“Œ Maybe Boris’s light-touch dictatorship is what most people want nowadays?

πŸ“Œ Utopia is the theme I’m pimping in the studio at the moment, asking for key words on which we can hang conversations and artwork depicting a perfect world.

In a perfect world, everyone would drive a yellow Beetle…

πŸ“Œ The momentum to get tax on the fairness agenda is starting to get traction. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has launched an online TaxLab, which aims to cut through the obscurity.

πŸ“Œ A leading article in the Guardian identifies Boris Johnson as a serial burglar of Labour policies, especially those of former leader Ed Miliband.

πŸ“Œ The London Review of Books (LRB) has a piece pointing out that Labour did nowhere near as bad in the May elections as everyone presumes they did. But they did get a lot of their messaging disastrously wrong, and leader Keir Starmer has continued to blunder ever since.

πŸ“Œ Friends in Brighton complain that their back garden has become a fox toilet.

TUESDAY 15 The artist Jean Dubuffet sure had a thing about faces, and a bigger thing maybe about men in glasses.

From the Brutal Beauty exhibition

πŸ“Œ An article in HuffpostUK likens Covid-19 to Arnie Schwarzenegger, with each variant carrying the “I’ll be back” threat.

πŸ“Œ The theory that the pandemic started from a laboratory leak will not go away, which has made other pathogen labs around the world nervous. Only a quarter of them have good safety records.

πŸ“Œ Another classic line from Marina Hyde today nails the quacks and the conspiracists. Gillian McKeith gets special attention. “No matter how beaten you might think we are as a society, the only way we could be more completely spannered is if we started letting ourselves think that maybe the poo lady had a point.”

WEDNESDAY 16 The PM has been slammed for taking a plane (emission = 100kg CO2) rather than a train (14kg) from London to Cornwall for the recent G7 meeting of nations. He claimed he was flying the flag for “jet-zero” aviation fuel, which he said Britain is developing.

πŸ“Œ When Western leaders talk about developing a “friendship” with China, they mean something entirely different to what Chinese leaders think of as friendship. One is a friendship based on equality (Plutarchic), the other is rooted in hierarchical subservience (Confucian).

πŸ“Œ In HuffpostUK Paul Waugh points to Boris’s vanity as the cause of the Delta variant upsurge the country is now grappling with. “…the 14-day delay in putting India on the ‘red list’ was a ‘fortnight of failure’ driven by Johnson’s desire to have a photo-op with Narendra Modi. It was not the India variant, nor the Delta variant, but ‘the Johnson variant’.”

πŸ“Œ You’d think we’d fallen into the poverty trap. Every time a nice relaxing bath seems like a comfy option, my wife barks, “Not on a Wednesday!” like pleasure is the last thing any sane person should seek in the middle of the week.

πŸ“Œ Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick is running out of friends. The latest revelations about deep corruption within the Force have the ring of finality about the them.

THURSDAY 17 In a sublime moment of football yesterday in the Wales vs Turkey game Gareth Bales received a short corner, spotted a slender gap just inside the touchline and went for it like a rat up a drainpipe. He barged past several players, pulled back and passed to a primed team-mate (Connor Roberts), who slotted the ball home. In that moment Bale’s intuition and his skill came together. It acted like a shot in the arm for his nearby colleagues, who must have felt a great surge of inspiration. Wales won 2-0.

πŸ“Œ Resilience has replaced sustainability as the new benchmark of a healthy condition. Cities such as Amsterdam and Brussels are refusing to “bounce back” to the over-tourism they suffered before the pandemic. Their new normal will be a “resilient” tourist industry that can withstand future trauma.

πŸ“Œ Wilting roses really are a thing of beauty…

Wilting roses…

FRIDAY 18 Agreed with Cristina to do a monoprinting workshop at Autograph next month. Hope I can use the archive image of the two boys playing at a photo shoot. I’ve already tried it as a monoprint and it is now my current stitchwork project.

Two boys play at a photo shoot…

πŸ“Œ Academics have built a database of 84 million tweets about coronavirus. They hail it as a 21st Century equivalent of Samuel Pepys’ 17th Century diaries of the Great Plague.

πŸ“Œ Social media kicked up a scare story about the Danish footballer who collapsed on the pitch.

Read all about it here…

πŸ“Œ Sam’s workrate just gets faster and faster. I miss not seeing her in the studio.

Swan With Cygnets, by Sam Jevon…

πŸ“Œ Best quote about the Chesham & Amersham by-election result is from Paul Waugh in HuffpostUK: “It’s a comforting fantasy to believe that a hipster coffee shop appearing in a Tory town somehow signals a revolution.”

SATURDAY 19 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.

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

Mischievous Boy 1…

SUNDAY 20 The FT has a chilling insight into the gangster politics of Putin’s Russia.

πŸ“Œ Boris is struggling to referee the fight between the red wall and the blue wall.

πŸ“Œ 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 21 Zoe Ball is celebrating 25 years since Euro 96 and reflecting with David Baddiel on the England team’s great talent for disappointment.

πŸ“Œ Researchers in the US have discovered that Republicans are more vaccine-hesitant than Democrats.

πŸ“Œ Sam sent her Lilies picture with its warm alluring colours.

Lilies, by Sam Jevon…

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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 22 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.”

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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 23 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.

πŸ“Œ Inspired by Sam’s lillies from Monday, I made a flower person in Procreate.

πŸ“Œ In the Procreate drawing class on YouTube, the subject is EYES.

The eyes have it…

THURSDAY 24 As she adjusted the weights on the shoulder press, Aoise 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ It might just be me, but I think Ronaldo and Jota hate each other.

πŸ“Œ Anton is to replace Bruno on the Strictly panel.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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 25 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.

Read the review…

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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ Someone posted a graph on Twitter to illustrate how Britain has gone into reverse gear in tackling Covid.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.”

πŸ“Œ 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.

SATURDAY 26 An article in The Conversation says it’s bad to correct mispronunciations such as expresso for espresso. That won’t stop the pedants judging the linguistic delinquents, which is “probly” a bigger crime.

πŸ“Œ The knives are out, the court of public opinion is in session and Matt Hancock’s future hangs in the balance. Add cliche to taste.

An art app’s version of the fateful “clinch”…

πŸ“Œ The latest stitchwork project seems to be taking an age to complete. Two factors: the heavy canvas tote bag is much harder to get a needle through; the subject is truly absorbing. There are multiple new projects waiting for the hoop, but this one is worth spending time on.

From an archive image in Autograph APB’s The Missing Chapter: Black Chronicles collection…

πŸ“Œ Javid replaces Hancock. Can’t wait to see what Dominic Cummings lines up next. It was Dom who stuck the knife in The Saj when he was Chancellor.

SUNDAY 27 An elderly neighbour said she didn’t recognise me. I asked if in future she’d like me to remind her who I was. She said she’d rather I left her to remind herself.

πŸ“Œ My wife reckons Covid could have done society a big favour. Because all the public schools and elite universities have been shut down, our government in 15 years’ time will comprise normal people. The virus has robbed the posh people of the opportunity to form their superior societies and cocky cliques.

πŸ“Œ Portugal are very proficient cheats. Their dirty deeds on the pitch deserve greater punishment.

MONDAY 28 A piece in the Guardian about the new Health Secretary Sajid Javid makes a passing remark about what happens After Boris: “His return means there may now be three leading British Asian candidates – Javid, Rishi Sunak and Priti Patel – in the next contest to be Tory leader and possibly prime minister.”

πŸ“Œ The new stitchwork tote bag is finished. The image is from the archive of the Autograph APB gallery, where the studio currently has an exhibition.

πŸ“Œ At last, my artwork is so controversial that our council, the Corporation of London, has censored it, without explanation, for a window exhibition. I am now truly an enfant terrible.

The original artwork…
The displayed version…

OK, if an idea needs to be explained, it probably doesn’t work. To explain: the brief was to supply an image of a local character for a community art project called People Where I Live.

Ted Bolt is a local character, but I have never seen him. To me he exists solely as The Whinger on the community’s online discussion forum. Ted might not even be a real person, I speculated. He could be a phantom, an invention. For all I know, Ted Bolt could be, er, David Beckham. But whoever Ted is, he needs to relax. He really does get worked up about petty screwups by the authorities.

This was a the idea behind the image I originally created. I’m happy to accept that it’s a flaky concept, but censorship certainly doesn’t improve it. Sorry, Ted, whoever you are…

πŸ“Œ Another spectacular bit of colour work from Sam.

Platform Boots, by Sam Jevon…

πŸ“Œ My wife says she’s not surprised the Euro players have high fitness ratings. They’ve had plenty of time off work to do their keep-fit exercises. And, she says, they will not have been able to frequent night clubs and pole-dancing bars.

TUESDAY 29 My wife is supporting Switzerland. I’m for Denmark, but secretly want Belgium to win. That’s assuming England are out.

πŸ“Œ Chief Medical Officer Prof Whitty has been hassled on the street by “thugs”.

πŸ“Œ Chris says it was easier to buy a used car with his debit card than it was to buy a coffee in Barbican Kitchen.

πŸ“Œ If we all stopped talking about how bad the England team is at penalties they’d miraculously transform into superlative spot-kickers, says a report in The Conversation.

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ The ethics of a refusal to vaccinate are complex. The legal questions are a minefield awaiting clumsy footfall.

πŸ“Œ England won 2-0 against Germany. The taxi driver taking us back to Whitstable station was chuffed.

WEDNESDAY 30 Bryn’s podcast came through and he actually used the ridiculous quote in which I proclaim β€œair is art.”

πŸ“Œ The Accumulate “passing out” awards ceremony at the Barbican was full of heart-warming stories of wrecked lives turned around. And given the Barbican has just been outed as institutionally racist, it was pleasing to see a majority of non-white faces at an event.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

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