One year ago: Week 30, 2020


July 20-26…

MONDAY There’s a protest outside offices on Bunhill Row opposite the Wetherspoons. BA recently announced it was to retire its entire fleet of 747 Jumbo Jets.

📌 As I’d agreed last week, I sent a shot to James Brown of an article I wrote for NME decades ago. I drew the picture, too.

📌 My wife is refusing to help me. Her birthday is in the first week of August and she says she cannot give me any ideas for a gift. I will feel like a total failure and a bad husband if I don’t come up with a solution soon, even though she insists she wants nothing. I sent her two links for possible gifts. One was for a vintage Biba scarf, the other was an online art appreciation course with CityLit. So far, she has made no reply.

TUESDAY I didn’t write much here yesterday because I was feeling queasy. I went for a morning walk up to the canal basin, but that didn’t help. In fact, later, while we were down in the basement storage room sorting stuff, I was forced to quickly locate a plastic bag and throw up. The sick bag contained a disgusting cocktail of half-digested cold garlic bread and a banana.

📌 There is an article in the latest issue of Positive News pointing to post-Covid bright spots, one of which is the Wellbeing And Future Generations bill currently before parliament. It’s the work of Caroline Lucas.

📌 My wife swears there are pigeons nesting somewhere on our roof. She bases this on the sqwalking we hear from our bedroom first thing in the morning.

📌 I got an official letter saying our lovely financial adviser Katie has moved on to “a different opportunity”. This was distressing because it was Katie rather than the firm she worked for that inspired us with confidence and assurance about our money matters.  So I decided to find Katie, but by the time I did (she’s on Instagram as @the_money_mum) my wife had already contacted her by text.

📌 Sam sent me her latest picture, a finished version of the Toyin Ojih Odutola image from a recent Open Studio session.

📌 I gave up on David Copperfield at 70%. I want to move onto the Bob Paisley biography I got off Carol. I’d read Copperfield before anyway. My wife said watch the film instead. I wasn’t sure there was one, then I found reference to an ancient one from 1935 starring Freddie Batholomew and WC Fields.

📌 Agreed with Stuart that the best Spanish translation of Headway is “El Método de la Cabeza”.

WEDNESDAY The wi-fi boosters arrived from Lithuania. This is great news. We’d almost given up on them ever appearing.

📌 Then came the TV adapter to use our old DVD player, and the discovery in the back of the cupboard of an old Sony Discman, which still works perfectly.

📌 My wife seems to have enrolled us into an unofficial mutual support programme among friends and neighbours. A Bangladeshi friend delivered a chickpea and tomato curry with onion rice, crafted by her mum. And a neighbour is paying us with fresh ground coffee for some old potting compost we have left over.

📌 The release of the report into how the Russian spies did some cyber-fiddling with the Brexit and Scottish Independence elections sounds like the episode from Series 7 of Spooks we watched last night. It finished with Harry putting a bullet into the Russian baddy.

📌 Kate posted Jordan Henderson’s full speech on the family WhatsApp group.

📌 Baggies promoted. Pete relieved.

📌 Judy Murray got kicked off Celebrity Masterchef. Her rice was undercooked and my wife said her sauce looked horrible.

THURSDAY When the Moon app accidentally popped open on my phone, I noticed that Apollo 11 appears to have landed in the Sea of Tranquility. Then I discovered that the Moon’s seas are not seas at all, they are basaltic plains.

📌 I missed the Home Studio session today with the intention of taking a longish walk. But I lay in the bath too long, an activity prolonged further by a speaker-phone call with someone called Jack about knocking £10 a month off our broadband bill. So the walk was replaced with some reading for an Artwork Archive blog post I have in the pipeline. More of Mrs Islam’s curry for lunch weighed me further to the spot.

📌 The Prime Minister is in Scotland trying to convince the Scots that they should stick with him and stay part of the union. This is because opinion polls show a big drift towards a support for independence. Needless to say, the Wee Ginger Dug has an opinion on the visit: “He’s like one of those lecherous auld drunks at a party who thinks that the reason you are not succumbing to his dubious charms is because he’s not pawing at you enough.”

📌 Then someone on Quora added to the debate: “I don’t understand the fervour with which nationalists deny reality. I’m amazed they manage to get out of bed in the morning without convincing themselves the floor doesn’t exist and is an illusion created by Evil English people.”

📌 Lockdown Catchup. Series 7 of Spooks has become predictably predictable. Every episode ends with a chase and/or an attempt to defuse a terrorist bomb. Some of these dramatic devices are laughable. In Episode 4, the spooks stopped the bomb from exploding by zapping it in a microwave oven for 20 seconds on full power. You wanted it to go PING! at the end, but it didn’t.

FRIDAY I’m starting a new diary strand called Only in the Barbican, satirically noting the ridiculous and pretentious behaviour of the people who live there. Most of the entries will come from a local online noticeboard.

📌 Face coverings are mandatory in shops from today. This is a good move, but it’s still hard not to think we are in the Summer school holidays of this crisis and soon the weather will change.

📌 The Daily Mirror has been told off by Full Fact for overestimating the amount of unpaid hours health service workers do.

📌 My wife returned from Marks & Spencer to say that 80% of customers not wearing face coverings were men. Most of the shoppers had complied with the new rule.

📌 I did an online photography workshop with the Barbican based on the Masculinities exhibition. We had to picture something that signified masculinity to us. I chose some tools from the bottom drawer in the kitchen.

SATURDAY Marina Hyde in The Guardian has got another column out of Brexit. If we press ahead with no deal on the back of a pandemic, viewers all over the world will be tuning in to our national soap opera every week, just to see what crazy shit we’ll do to ourselves next.”

📌 That phrase “upstairs stuff” sounds like a euphemism.

📌 I’ve started following the blog of a young Polish woman as she sets off on a round-the-world trip on a motorbike, starting in Glasgow. She’s got as far south as Peterborough and there’s smoke coming out from under the seat of the bike.

📌 I read a blog post from a photographer who was going through some dusty old boxes and found a collection of Graham Greene novels, which were, he says… just for amusement, escapism, beautifully written and laced with humour and pathos, they were never read to inspire, at no point did I put one down and think I really must dash off to the Colonies.” He then goes on to tell a story from the past about “being followed” in Damascus and how it has left him with a lifelong paranoia.

📌 At the Breakfast Club Zoom, we each told 3 things about ourselves, one of which was a lie. No one guessed that I once went camping with 9 lesbians.

📌 Only in the Barbican… or in this case the Golden Lane Estate.

See the video: Drunken Duck Staggers Hone.

SUNDAY My wife tells me I’m about two weeks late on this story, but it has only just come to my attention. The saga of two celebrities making a show of their hate for one another didn’t interest me until the word “Poo” plopped into the headline.

📌 Liverpool beat Newcastle 3-1. The brilliant simplicity of their football hangs on the letter P: possession, position, passing, patience, persistence. The 5Ps.

📌 We went round to Anne’s for an “end of term” drink. She’s off to Ireland on Tuesday. She told us the hilarious story of her pedalling urgently to the pet undertaker in Islington with a dead and rigid Lulu in her pannier, shrouded in a white quilted pillowcase. She’s convinced Lulu died because of her diet of cheese and chocolate.

📌 Anne told us there were a lot of young sex workers with wheelie bags lurking in the City. And that employers with home workers are devising more and more sophisticated ways to spy on them.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

8 thoughts on “One year ago: Week 30, 2020

  1. Your August sounds like my October. Every year Julia refuses to help with selecting a suitable wedding anniversary celebration, a birthday present and a Christmas present (I am at least able to cram all the angst into one quarter). Is it, I ask, genetic, or are they taught this by their mothers?

    Liked by 1 person

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