Scrapbook: Week 29

July 17-23

SATURDAY Britain and Singapore have vastly different approaches to lifting Covid restrictions, reports CNN. The words that jump out in the story are that Britain’s “Freedom Day” path is a “big bang” while Singapore’s method is one of “containment and mitigation”.

📌 Every day a united Ireland seems to move an inch closer. And one thing is for sure, if and when it happens the Prime Minister will take no credit for his role.

📌 We had lunch with mother/daughter friends Naomi and Amanda and I witnessed for the first time Naomi’s charming compulsion to talk to strangers. Naomi is 90.

SUNDAY Everyone is turning off the NHS Covid app in case they get notified to self-isolate. Even the Prime Minister. Health Secretary Sajid Javid tested positive for Covid. The PM was “pinged” by the app but does not intend to self-isolate. He intends to make himself a “test case” for Freedom Day tomorrow.

📌 The first government U-turn of the day says that the PM will now self-isolate after all.

📌 It’s hard to work out which superpower Britain would be best siding with. At any other time in the past, the idea of Russia and the US cosying up to one another would be dismissed as a wild fantasy.

Read the full story here…

📌 RIP Tom O’Connor, a naturally funny man. We still tell one of his jokes… Boy: “Dad, there’s a man at the door with a bill.” Dad: “Don’t be silly, son, it must be a duck with a hat on.”

MONDAY The BBC radio programme Soul Music had the reflections of a woman who hated learning French at school and became a difficult pupil. Her teacher persisted, and one day played her Edith Piaf’s Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien. The difficult pupil was immediately hooked, and that was how she started to learn French. She went on to study French at university and eventually became a French teacher. The radio programme featured a version of Piaf singing the song in English, which was a treat.

📌 All of the above reminded me that my French nephew learned English by watching episodes of Father Ted on YouTube.

📌 Left-leaning national leaders who embrace dictatorship are facing a tough time at the hands of their freedom-loving citizens, writes Simon Tisdall.

📌 Collaboration among truth-telling organisations worldwide is growing, as the latest spyware hacking scandal shows.

📌 News that on “Freedom Day” Britain had run out of the DIY tests for Covid was quickly followed by…

From the Daily Mail…

📌 In his Imaginary Sandwich Bar on the radio, Alexei Sayle said that the middle classes resent members of the working classes who manage to sneek into the professional echelons of society.

TUESDAY A story in The Conversation about consciousness disturbed me because I realised I didn’t know what consciousness is, exactly. I thought I did, but that’s not quite good enough. Turns out I’m not alone. An article in LiveScience states: “Scientists and philosophers still can’t agree on a vague idea of what consciousness is, much less a strict definition. One reason for that is that the concept is used to mean slightly different things. Many experts agree, however, that conscious beings are aware of their surroundings, themselves and their own perception.” The story in The Conversation links consciousness to quantum physics (must look that up, too), so I guess the best we can say is that nobody knows.

📌 “Club The 18-30s” is just one of the best headlines ridiculing the PM’s latest step in dealing with the virus. He seems to favour a targeted compulsion for citizens to vaccinate (night clubs, travel) before returning to their former freedoms. Yet that is high risk, as Paul Waugh writes in HuffPostUK: “The only language the virus understands is a lockdown of one kind or another.”

📌 Boris’s big gamble with the unlocking of restrictions is more of a political calculation than a health one. The vaccine rollout has stalled and needs to be jump-started.

📌 I just got “pinged”… by the Daily Mail telling me that the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, has just flown into Space and back (4 minutes out, 3 minutes return) with a character called Wally Funk, 82.

📌 There’s a department at the Guardian called the “Turkey Incubator”.

📌 I got the legendary eye-roll from my wife when I attempted to put some cut flowers into a vase of water. I got a repeat performance when I put the wrong bread to warm in the oven.

WEDNESDAY Tried starting my weight-training session with the shoulder press, leaving the chest press to last. I hit my target comfortably.

📌 Testing the monoprint workshop we have next week with the Autograph gallery, I managed to make Eva, London, one of James Barnor’s most famous portraits, look both gentle and severe.

Eva, from an original portrait by James Barnor

📌 Liverpool has been kicked out of the World Heritage club because of overdevelopment.

📌 The NHS pay rise was shelved then awarded in one day. Omnishambles is word that hasn’t been used for a while.

📌 The Pegasus Project makes espionage sound a lot less glamorous than it used to be.

THURSDAY An article in The Guardian by a paramedic describes how to the ambulance service rather than the GP surgery has become the default first stage in primary care.

📌 UNESCO made a mistake in robbing Liverpool of its World Heritage status, says an article in The Conversation.

📌 If the Prime Minister happily breaks all the rules, is it any wonder his supporters feel entitled to do likewise?

📌 The pop-up vaccination centre on Hoxton Street had a lengthy queue.

📌 The twin strands of James Barnor’s photography are his depiction of young people in Ghana as the nation came to independence from British rule (late 1950s) and in London shortly afterwards as a smart young Ghanaian professional class adapted to making their home in Swinging Sixties Britain.

📌 Brexit is definitely not done in Northern Ireland.

FRIDAY An article in HuffpostUK suggests the nation could be entering a new era of worker-management disputes as businesses tell employees to get back to their desks, or whatever. Working from home for 18 months will have given many workers a glimpse of an autonomy they might be reluctant to surrender. Hybrid methods require skilled management.

📌 Home Secretary Priti Patel continues her attack on citizens of former British colonies like she’s on some crazed cleansing spree. Maybe she secretly thinks she can singlehandedly eradicate Britain’s colonial past.

Read the full story here…

Patel is not having a good week, which will be cheery news for many. She is under the cosh over border control as boat after boat of desperate migrants attempt to enter Britain. And the Police Federation has issued a stern vote of no confidence.

📌 “Double-vaccinated” is a mighty long way from “unvaccinated”.

From Full Fact…

📌 Quite sad to watch the slimmed-down Olympics opening ceremony, but reminded that short-sleeve blazers are a probably a fashion item that deserves to have been more successful.

📌 I’d be interested to hear Eric Clapton tell us what bio-security he would accept as suitable for him to knock off one of his dusty old riffs. No, that’s a lie. I don’t care.

📌 My wife suggested I try to wear my glasses when I trim my eyebrows (difficult). The right one has practically disappeared, she said.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

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