SATURDAY The Mail is saying that evacuation flights from Afghanistan will end next week. Maybe Afghanistan is the reset-to-zero button on Britain’s foreign policy.
📌 August in Britain is known as the Silly Season because all the waged newsgatherers have gone on holiday and everyone else just tells jokes.
📌 In the opening pages of We Are Liars, by E. Lockhart, the narrator tells of the day she was ‘shot’ in the chest by her father, who then did a runner: “My heart spasmed among the peonies like a trout.”
📌 Mo Salah had a lovely left-foot goal disallowed by VAR.
SUNDAY Government plans to capture and sell NHS data have been suspended after a mass online resistance campaign.
📌 Tony Blair is on dangerous ground preaching foreign policy, but it does look like Biden has stumbled in his rush to get America out of Afghanistan before the 20th Anniversary of 9/11.
📌 A withering analysis of the US surrendering its role in defence of liberal democracy and Britain’s global impotence, by Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer. “Mr Biden has sown doubt about the bankability of US security guarantees to other allies and undercut his hopes of co-ordinating the democracies to take a united stand against the autocracies.”
📌 Even though I’d much rather sit in a corner gawping at old episodes of Taskmaster, my wife insists that my birthday should include something novel and outward-looking. Today it’s horse racing at Brighton. The course is known as the Favourite’s Graveyard.
📌 The beer ran out before the second race started.
MONDAY Prisoners on day-release forced to work in abattoirs sounds like the pitch for a new situation comedy.
📌 Liberty and Jake won Love Island, but they don’t actually appear to be in love. My wife renamed them Libertake.
📌 Our friend Sue is teaching English to a Polish guy who lives in Walsall.
TUESDAY Twitter announced that Millie and Liam won Love Island. So where does that put Liberty and Jake? I really don’t know what’s going on. Milliam is a better name than Libertake, though
📌 An article in The Conversation says that the West needs to accept defeat in Afghanistan and look at ways to urgently re-engage with the new Pakistan/Taliban regime.
📌 Good Zoom meeting with the Art et al steering group. Me, Jen, Stacey, Sophie, Lisa and Sim in Australia. We churned over a few ideas for exhibitions and workshops for the British Council’s upcoming UK/AU season early next year. It all looks very exciting, so I’ll soon need to swap my Cuba hat for an Ozzie one.
📌 The Women’s Equality Party sent a message that sounds disturbing…
WEDNESDAY The Morning Star says Tony Blair should be held accountable for his co-conspirator role in the latest calamity to befall Afghanistan.
📌 The totem pole we had planned to make as a community craft project with the British Museum is now likely to be three totem pillars instead.
📌 Gold thread is really quite hard to work with. This project demands clean type stitchwork, which I’m struggling with.
THURSDAY The Labour Party’s relationship with the unions just got a whole lot more precarious. The new leader of the Unite union is A, a woman called Sharon, and B, determined to focus the union’s activities on the workplace rather than in the various bitching salons of the Labour Party.
📌 The Conversation tells us what it is that turns ordinary boring people into spies. The acronym to remember is MICE (Money, Ideology, Compromise, Ego). These are the weak spots that espionage head-hunters look for.
📌 HuffPostUK has a classic silly-season item about the pathetic excuses government officials use for being bad at their jobs. The PM’s once-supreme advisor Dominic Cummings claimed he drove his car to a nearby tourist attraction to “test” his eyesite, and Foreign Office chief Dominic Raab claimed recently that he was not sunbathing while the Taliban seized Kabul because his local beach in Crete was “closed”.
📌 Speculation has started on how long it will take the PM to prioritise lorry drivers in the Kabul airlift.
📌 In the Headway art studio, Project Cuba has been replaced by Project Book Front, in which a number of us will be making our own replicas of a wealthy publisher’s “iconic books”. The one I’m tackling is We Were Liars, by E Lockhart.
FRIDAY As soon as I read the quote, “This is not a war on golf” about proposals to use London’s golf courses in more imaginative ways (inc housing), two things sprang to mind. First was the headline “Golf War Syndrome”. Then came the image of the huddled masses of GWS sufferers in their gaudy golfing clobber advancing the nimby argument for the sport that ruins a good walk (apologies to Mark Twain).
📌 The Guardian argues that there is room for optimism in the election of Sharon Graham as leader of the Unite union. This finally could be the new face and the way forward for a union movement focused on agitation and real collective bargaining rather that in knee-jerk strikes and nasty confrontation.
📌 As the mad rush for the exit from Afghanistan reaches its climax, government ministers are reduced to depicting The Taliban as the cuddly moderates they can “negotiate” with. The new incarnation of Islamic State, IS-K, is the enemy now.
📌 Not for much longer will the PM be able to blame Britain’s empty supermarket shelves on the Pandemic, writes The Guardian. Brexit is a major cause, and the principal owner of that cause is Boris Johnson.
📌 Project Museum, a St Luke’s Men’s Shed craft partnership with the British Museum, is shaping up. The original idea for a community totem pole has been scaled back to three totem pillars on a table. I like its ancient monolith vibe.
📌 A lovely programme on the radio about Jonathan Miller (made by his son William) posed the question of what happens to our memories when we die. Or more pertinently, what happens when dementia takes over and slowly they dissolve.
📌 To the Barbican to see a photo exhibition about the endangered Brazilian Yanomami community. I found it more anthropological and photo-technical than artistic. It had facts but no stories, and lacked affection. My wife noticed that none of the Amerindian men had grey hair or suffered baldness. Later inquiry confirmed that this hair thing is the subject of intense study.