SATURDAY The Morning Star is still steaming about Boris’s stupid quip that Margaret Thatcher was an environmentalist champ for closing down Britain’s coal mines.
📌 Western democracies are still struggling to find a way to counter the gangster politics of people like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. The return of Trump now looks inevitable. He makes his opponents look weak, as does Johnson, and that’s their problem.
📌 Boris threatened to sack Rishi is the headline. This could turn out to be quite exciting, like those school playground fights in which everyone gathers in a circle around the combatants and goads them into inflicting serious damage on one another.
📌 You’re plunged so deeply into the internal worlds of the refugee asylum seekers in the film Limbo that the bare facts of their tortured arrival on a frighteningly bleak island somewhere off Scotland become secondary. It is the intensity of their separation from home that hits hardest. Every atom of the principal character Omar is charged with loss. He hasn’t played his treasured oud since leaving Syria and his broken family. The instrument becomes a symbol of his identity, and only when he can strum its strings once again can he truly have survived the journey.
SUNDAY A flurry of ideas for Project Cuba arrived at daybreak, from stitchwork on paper to printing on clay.
📌 Right on cue, and running deliberately alongside the Prime Minister’s recent resurrection of the Miners’ Strike, comes a Socialist Worker remembrance of Ronald Reagan’s annihilation of the US air traffic controllers.
📌 Keith sent a photo that tortures a bad pun so badly it becomes good.
📌 The time for talking has ended. The environment has overtaken the conversation and is raining ash on the citizens of Athens.
📌 A fabulous ruck has broken out at the Tate over its alleged pledge to exhibit the studio archive works of Francis Bacon. Among the pieces that remain hidden from the public eye is an awesome self-portrait.
MONDAY The Daily Mail reports that the Army is ready to pick up the slack in supermarket deliveries. Supply chains have been disrupted by a shortage of lorry drivers following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
📌 Mirror readers are bound to be impressed by the PM’s ability to spot an art masterpiece. One of the pieces he’s bought is described as “a set of four black-and-white photographs which show vegetation and their shadows on a grey concrete background.”
📌 The Tortoise is characteristically circumspect about the fires that are raging on the outskirts of Athens. The temptation to blame climate change would be to miss the whole story, it says. The tinderbox is primed worldwide. Climate change has just made ignition more likely.
📌 The legacy of Project Cuba is likely to be the film we make, so I am just ploughing on creating “content”.
📌 Sam recorded a song, Things That Make Me Happy, with Olli at Headway recently and has just finished a picture to go with it…
TUESDAY Desperate for some lightweight crime TV, we started watching Silent Witness right back from Series 1. Its clunky simplicity highlights how sophisticated and twisty TV crime writing has become.
📌 We’re also catching up on old episodes of Jon Richardson’s Ultimate Worrier and yesterday one of his chief worries from 2019 was that the world would face a pandemic/plague “any minute now”. His guest, comedian Rob Beckett, speculated that it might be useful in killing off a few surplus people.
📌 Another happy catch-up experience was a BBC Poetry Extra slot on Shakespeare’s famous Sonnet 18 (Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day). It was apparently written for a young boy and intriguingly dissects the national Catholic/Protestant schism of the Elizabethan era. Property law and menstruation also make guest appearances.
📌 School students long ago became part of the supply/demand meat-market function of the higher-education business. This is what the annual A-level results tell us most about society. In this context the so-called “grade inflation” debate says little about Education at all. The pre-pandemic exam system skewed the figures anyway, and maybe in the past stopped talented students getting the grades they deserved. Maybe a teacher-graded system is in fact fairer? There are other ways of seeing this year’s results, too…
📌 Spectated the Mindfulness class at St Luke’s. I only wrote that sentence to see if spectator worked as a verb.
📌 Met with the British Museum and got to handle some of their artefacts for a community art project with St Luke’s. They showed us some Ugandan durable fabric made by hand from tree bark. I can feel a modern totem pole coming on.
WEDNESDAY A good espionage story is so hard to resist. The spy’s code name is David S.
📌 Covid Profiteering Inc is back in business.
📌 Someone on the radio said you can’t snore in Space.
📌 Someone else on the radio said the average annual income for an actor in the UK is £25,000. The average UK salary is £31,000.
📌 Stayday in Southend on a St Luke’s trip. The pier train has reopened and the fishing folk are back. A detour to Leigh and Westcliff included a nice seafood lunch and a glass of champagne.
We trawled the charity shops and picked up a copy of Donna Leon’s debut Brunetti story, Death At La Fenice, for Betty. My wife won a bottle of Prosecco in the raffle on the way home on the coach, so a good day became a special one.
THURSDAY For many years in the future we will be measuring the effects of the pandemic (more about that here). Right now, the arguments around this year’s A-Level results offer a clue to what’s in store. The Socialist Worker sees the dispute over “grade inflation” as nothing less than the opening shots in a new class war.
📌 The upcoming COP26 international gathering in Glasgow will show which countries are truly serious about the climate emergency, writes Larry Elliott in the Guardian. Only by putting Climate Change on the same war footing as governments put the pandemic will a realistic way forward be found.
📌 Got two especially warm welcomes at my first post-restrictions, full-house Headway. One from Sandra SH and one from Stephen, who’d never given me so much as a smile in eight years.
FRIDAY On the BBC radio show Eggsistential Crisis, the comedian Kiri Pritchard-McLean said Millennials are so worried about passing on their mental-health problems to their children that they’ve stopped having children. “Pity our parents didn’t have the same idea,” she quipped.
📌 John Pilger’s book The Last Day, which tells the story of the farcical US departure from Vietnam in 1975 comes to mind as reports of the US and UK exit from Afghanistan have reached a steady flow.
📌 On a roll now with the hand-printing for Project Cuba. Determined to try one of an ancient Cuban ship next.
📌 I wonder if Edward Hopper is the film-makers’ favourite artist?
📌 Ethical hackers whose sole aim is to expose the fragility of online exchanges are called White Hats.
📌 The headline says that the Berlin spy, David S, “kept himself to himself“. Unlike all other spies, I suppose, who run round waving their arms shouting, “Here I am! Anyone want to know a secret?”
📌 I honestly don’t think news institutions set out deliberately to feed the nation with fear, but some of their cheapened methods and short cuts end up doing just that.
📌 Another London stitchwork bag is added to the swelling stock of standby gifts.
📌 Vaccination in the workplace is a subtle mixture of opportunity, convenience and coercion.