August 28-September 3…
SATURDAY Paul Waugh writes in HuffPostUK, “As for the so-called ‘special relationship’ between the UK and US, the phrase feels even more of a polite fiction than usual.” This after news of dead Britons in the Kabul Airport bomb attack.
📌 The discovery of a new island off Greenland hints at the Earth’s past repeating itself. As oceans swell and land disappears, polar ice melts or is shifted by earth movements, and previously hidden land masses are exposed. Whether humans will still be around to colonise and exploit these new territories as they have in the past is another question.
📌 In the mad, desperate dash to get out of Afghanistan, British officials left behind secret and confidential documents. Some reports describe them as being strewn across the floor of the British Embassy.
📌 Our estate’s Summer Picnic was a joyous event but for the noisy helicopters flying overhead tracking the activities of Extinction Rebellion campaigners in Smithfield.
SUNDAY Rachel said yesterday that huge numbers of young people have become smokers. We wondered why that might be. Today The Guardian reports that e-cigarettes are being sold as yummy sweets and cute cartoon characters.
📌 Comparisons with Margaret Thatcher are potentially very damaging to the PM’s popularity among older voters.
📌 Andrew Rawnsley paints a portrait of a Prime Minister already reaching his “use-by” date. He describes Boris Johnson as a “cakeist” and the rest of his party as stern fiscal conservatives, the most prominent and popular among them being his Chancellor and next-door neighbour Rishi Sunak.
📌 Michael Gove spotted at a rave in Aberdeen. You couldn’t make it up. What is equally absurd is that The Mirror thought the most important aspect of the story was that he was wearing a suit. A straight M&S polyester thing, not a suit of armour or a chicken-crossed-with-a-rat suit.
📌 When it came to the vote in the Brexit election of 2016, my heart said OUT but my head said IN.
Europe and the EU were never equivalents for me, anyway. British politicians had no skill in the sneaky bureaucracy of the likes of France and Germany. The pretence that the institution was open and democratic was a sham. It was a kingdom of fiddles and bribes. Many of my objections are described today in a piece on CNN about EU disunity.
So I wasn’t that upset when a NO vote resulted. But I did believe that an open, democratic and prosperous future for Britain was only possible if Britain stayed in the Union, won the argument and shared power in a responsible manner. In that sense, leaving the EU was an act of self-interested cowardice for a number of canny politicians and their tribal followers.
📌 Mark Steel is on top form today in a piece supporting the PM’s view that people should prosper from their own efforts rather than with handouts from others.
“If there was a ‘magic money tree’, even if you picked six £50 notes a minute it would only amount to £18,000 an hour. For David Cameron, a magic money tree would involve a cut in wages.”
MONDAY Lou Grant, RIP. Another hero gone.
📌 I keep forgetting that normal things don’t happen on bank holidays.
📌 I’ve found some new gold thread that’s easier to work with. It slips slightly on linen, but it looks good. My favourite pastime now is sitting quietly, David Attenborough documentaries – or “wildlife porn” as my wife calls it – on the TV (muted with subtitles), stitching precisely to a pre-ordained pattern.
📌 A friend returned from a home visit to Ireland.
And her 11-year-old son spent an hour asking Alexa to play fart noises. Alexa was happy to oblige and fart noises, fart songs and fart jokes will now become part of my Amazon algorithm.
TUESDAY A nasty war of words has broken out between Britain and its “special relationship” partner (the US). It’s an obscene bickering match over which country is responsible for the deadly screw-ups in the evacuation of Kabul Airport.
📌 The separation of the Labour Party and the Trades Unions has been bubbling in the background ever since Keir Starmer became leader. If unions continue to look at disaffiliation from Labour, the Prosecco Party will soon need to think up a new name for itself.
📌 Recommended: lovely Edward Hopper slide-show.
📌 My best ideas always seem to arrive when I’m either in the bath or in the gym.
📌 RIP Geronimo, the bovine tubercular alpaca.
📌 Great simile in David Attenborough’s Blue Planet. When asked why he didn’t go faster, one of the underwater photographers said that “would be like riding a motorbike through a museum”.
📌 Sat down to read a Guardian editorial on quantum physics in the hope of better understanding what it’s all about. No such luck, but the article did reveal that recent studies have at last found a new way of interpreting Schrödinger’s Cat. Finally, someone’s decided to look at it from the cat’s point of view.
WEDNESDAY The Taliban is reported saying Britons stranded in Afghanistan will be allowed to leave, but it would be nice if they stayed. A government minister said they’re lying.
📌 It will be interesting to watch British government officials “negotiate” with the Taliban. If they use the methods they honed in talks with the EU, I don’t hold out much hope for a successful outcome.
📌 I made the mistake of watching the YouTube trailer for the film of the book, We Were Liars, that is the subject of my latest stitchwork project. It reminds me that we all see things differently. The trailer promotes a trivial teen suspense story, which I don’t recognise reading the book.
📌 At Margaret’s birthday lunch we discovered that Jan not only has double-jointed elbows, but double-jointed feet.
📌 Sue said her Italian language students were surprised that horse-racing is such a big deal in British culture. One of them said Frankie Dettori is barely heard of in Italy.
📌 For a few moments only, solar power overtook coal-fired power in Australia.
📌 Foreign secretary Dominic Raab used the term “optimism bias” to explain why British people have been abandoned in Afghanistan following the takeover by the Taliban. They didn’t expect the US to pull out so fast is the shorthand translation.
📌 The sunflowers look quite miserable…
THURSDAY A bullfighting festival in Spain was closed down after it emerged that two of the slain bulls had the names “Feminist” and “Nigerian”.
📌 At Headway, Brad asked me what I was reading. I said the Guardian. He said his dad read the Guardian but his “wanker” paper was the Sun. I said mine was the Mirror.
📌 Helsinki is thinking about turning itself into an “English-speaking” city.
📌 Great news! Project Totem Pole is back on. The three tree stumps at the centre of the community craft project between the British Museum and St Luke’s Men’s Shed, have been examined by Gary, and he reckons he can join them together to form a single unit. I offered my congratulations and expressed my trust, with my fingers crossed behind my back.
FRIDAY Gosh, how left-wing can the Conservative Party become before someone starts calling it Marxist? Correction: Conservative Government, circa 2021. Having already embraced public ownership and state subsidies, now they intend to raise taxes to pay for health and social care.
📌 It’s hard to describe how irritating it is to read the line “more than one in four Bulgarian and Romanian workers have left since the start of 2020” in relation to the scarcity of lorry drivers to deliver food to supermarkets. More than one in four can be two or three. If the writer actually wants to say “more than 25%”, what’s wrong with saying that? Two in four is 50%. And even if the real figure is 25%, that is 75% short of 100%. In other words, three quarters of Bulgarian and Romanian workers have not left the UK since 2020. Rant over.
📌 More numbers to crunch with the headline that only one of 125 security guards at the British Embassy in Afghanistan made a successful escape to Britain, claims the Guardian.
📌 Chris said that people from big families eat fast. Slow eating might see your chips stolen by a predatory sibling.