July 31-August 6
SATURDAY Some of the most unlikely people have stood up to sing the praises of ZZ Top, whose bass player Dusty Hill has just died. Andy Medhurst wrote: “Few other acts were so skilful, witty and focused in inhabiting the landscape of their own embodiment.” Then Chris Roberts joined in with a distant memory from
a muddy field that bordered on fond.
📌 The TV reality show Love Island is a hub of metaphorical invention, says a boffin in The Conversation. Every week, sex talk breaks new boundaries, euphemisms get lost in the throes of ecstacy, and terms such as “doing bits” get used openly between the randy contestants in their quest towards “the full shebang”.
📌 The big secret from Sandra’s birthday picnic was that very few of the people who put their hands inside the bag of Pop Chips knew what Gill knew.
SUNDAY Team GB won a gold medal in the BMX event. BMX stands for Bicycle Moto Cross. The Team GB gold was won by 25-year-old Charlotte Worthington, who dusted herself down after an early fall to pull off a “360 backflip”, pushing her much-fancied US opponent Hannah Roberts into the silver-medal spot. Worthington was born in Manchester and was until 2017 a chef in a Mexican restaurant. She now lives somewhere in Northamptonshire near a place called “Adrenaline Alley”.
📌 The vaccine uptake is so low among young people that supplies nearing their use-by date risk being binned. Or they could be donated to countries in need… So the government has launched its “Kebabs4Jabs” campaign, offering cut-price junk food to the under 20s if they agree to a dose of vaccine.
📌 Bridgend is once again looking like Wales’s very own epicentre of death. A few years ago it was the base camp of a young person’s suicide cult.
MONDAY As we unearthed a small crop of new potatoes at the allotments yesterday we noticed among an orgy of worms a smattering of white spots. My wife turned detective and revealed later that we had been infested by snails’ eggs.
📌 When the squatty old man in the gym with the implausibly bowed legs sat on the balance ball, I imagined I’d be forced to make an intervention. Five minutes later, he was fiddling with the controls on the treadmill and was very soon off on an invigorating stroll. In Crocs!
📌 Something important happened while I was deep in stroke recovery in 2013. Lou Reed died, and I never knew until today.
📌 The latest stitchwork bag is finished. The provinces of Catalunya – Girona, Barcelona, Tarragona and Lleida – are named after their principal cities.
TUESDAY Developing some new hand printing methods is starting to get quite exciting. Combining the wax monoprinting with the mini receipt printer looks like it might work in a collage for Project Cuba.
📌 The government is pushing on in its quest to force workers back to their workplaces. The “ping” frequency has been turned down on the app that notifies citizens who’ve been in contact with someone testing positive for Covid-19. And ministers have been urging businesses to re-open as normal. But some are reluctant. The state has effectively paid for mass apprenticeships in home working, and the overhead costs of running fixed workplaces in offices and other premises is starting to look expensive. Businesses that have learned to live with a diasporic workforce are tempted to shed the rents and rates that go with the permanent workspace. This could turn out to be the biggest pushback to the government’s plans, writes Stephen Bush in the New Statesman.
📌 Charlie, one of the “volunteers” in our local community centre, does a very good standing equivalent of someone lounging on a sunbed.
WEDNESDAY Had an online chat yesterday with Neil Perry. He’s working on an oral history of the British music press from the mid-late 1980s. Inevitably, in the early hours of this morning, memories came flooding back, which I sent to Neil pronto. One of the clean ones was: “The sales figures [for Sounds] were sagging, so the publisher, Eric Fuller, went on a fetish for market research and focus groups. The outcome was often sobering. At one, an idle group of teenagers brutally skimmed our lovingly-crafted “product” and decided that a typical Sounds reader was named ‘Mick’ and that Mick was a long-haired oily incel in a dirty denim jacket.”
📌 Our 13-year-old Olympic skateboarder won the bronze medal.
📌 Only with great determination will anyone get to the end of this comprehensive listing of the various fighting factions and bitching groups inside the Labour Party that guarantee it a miserable electoral future.
📌 At the Barbican Lakeside Party, Jean won the “guess the weight of the cake” competition.
THURSDAY My wife reckons she is probably the only woman in the world whose husband’s idea of a birthday gift is to stitch the Pop Art Hula Hoops logo into a cotton bag and fill it with small bags of Hula Hoops.
📌 The Paula Rego exhibition at Tate Britain is brilliant, and her layered, textured pastels especially so. But you can’t help walking away with the impression that Paula Rego has lived a very serious, joyless life.
📌 Joan Bakewell was dining at another table in the same place we had my wife’s birthday lunch.
📌 The penalty corner in hockey doesn’t seem particularly advantageous.
📌 It’s nice when Belgium win things (Olympic hockey gold). Very reassuring.
📌 Someone on the TV talking about koalas used the word “toilet” as a verb, as in: “they toilet an awful lot”.
📌 The birthday evening at the theatre (“depression-era escapism fit for post-Covid times”) was a sheer delight, and I really don’t like musicals.
FRIDAY The word narcissist is now in common use to describe over-confident self-centred people. But the concept of the vulnerable narcissist – neurotic, insecure but still selfish – is a new one on me. Like many articles in The Conversation, this one is brilliant on analysis, but stops short of saying that vulnerable narcissists are a probably the ones we should keep an eye on.
📌 In the New Statesman Stephen Bush points out that the closure of British coal mines is a fact of life. It happened, and it has, as the PM controversially stated, put Britain in a better place to tackle the climate emergency. But the government is yet to prove it is up to the job, despite this advantage.
📌 It was agony to watch the German showjumper Annika Schleu falling apart as her horse simply looked like it had forgotten how to jump a fence.
📌 The Olympic medals table looks very different when the numbers are sorted to reflect the number of medals per head of population. San Marino is top, India is bottom, Kazakhstan is bang in the middle.