SATURDAY The national shortage of lorry drivers predates Brexit, it says in the Socialist Worker. And the idea that the fall in the number of migrant workers from the EU has driven up wages is a myth. Most workers, the article says, have not had massive pay rises. It then goes on about what Karl Marx would have had to say…
‘Marx spoke of an “industrial reserve army” which plays a role in stepping up competition between workers and pressures them to accept lower pay.’
📌 On a walk down Brick Lane yesterday, one shop window displayed the sign “Please do not enter with symptoms of… Covid-19, Racism, Homophobia”.
📌 Tried a very quick monoprint of Lil (it’s his birthday), but didn’t like it. He looks like Buster Bloodvessel. Very frustrating when the initial print is weak. It makes everything that comes after it weak, too. I tried etching with a needle and bronze wax, but I forgot that wax is harder to print than hard pastel and nowhere near as good-looking as soft pastel.
📌 Agonisingly tedious journey to Putney for Lil’s birthday drink at The Boathouse. No one on busy trains wearing masks. Spotted a funny sign at Waterloo station…
📌 At Lil’s birthday drink in Putney his sister Tamara decided to name her boat in the Bahamas The Notorious Strumpet, inspired by the story of Priss Fotheringham.
📌 Any idea that the Taliban will go easy on women’s rights is starting to look shaky.
SUNDAY Another beautiful bit of crazy idealism from Will Hutton in the Observer, in which he imagines a voluntary national trust fund into which Baby Boomers shovel money to pay for Millennials’ gap years and flat whites. The Conversation pitches this story as a proposed peace deal between Boomers and Millennials.
📌 Most of the young people I know just want to know how to get the same deal I got from society when I was their age.
📌 The Labour Party is to make 81 of its staff voluntarily redundant. It had 99 applications but some of them were rejected as being “crucial” roles.
📌 The late-Summer crop from the allotment was disappointing.
MONDAY The footballer Marcus Rashford is more effective in opposing the government than Her Majesty’s Opposition is.
📌 Poetry Extra featured poets and others reading the news (NB, as reported by BBC Radio 4) in some amazingly inventive and idiosycratic ways. The Canadian journalist Lyse Ducet was a standout. I think I’m becoming a fan of Ian McMillan, though I’m not sure whether it’s his poetry I like as much as his accent. He describes his job as “words worker”, which I like.
📌 Our new tea-time TV table viewing is Back to Life on BBC3.
TUESDAY As cheery as it would be to see the Prime Minister shafted by his own tribe, the WHAT of the debate on health and social care funding is not in doubt (more money for hospitals and care homes). The HOW is, but the WHAT will always triumph in any argument.
📌 Another visit to the British Museum to get inspiration and instruction for our community totem pole.
One of the conservators was brave enough to say the British Museum is a collection of “colonial loot”. His name was Alex and he was an adhesives and clamping nerd. Then we got to check out the Benin Bronzes…
… all of which gave me the idea of turning part of our totem pole into Bart Simpson.
WEDNESDAY There is a universal chorus in the media saying Boris’s newly announced increase in National Insurance contributions to fund health and social care is a flimsy statement of ambition rather than a policy with a concrete plan. And in an effort to make clear what the new tax is for, a line will appear on the deductions side of your pay slip from next year stating “health and care levy”. But it won’t say which private equity firms your money will be handed to.
I like this idea of blatantly telling taxpayers exactly what their money is being spent on, if not who’s spending it. If everyone is shown weekly/monthly where every penny of taxation is spent, they might make different choices at the ballot box.
Mind you, they might also be tempted to make stupid decisions along the lines of “do we really need to pay for xxxxxx?” Insert your own words. Down that road lies the abolition of the PAYE scheme, which I’m sure would delight many of Boris’s swivel-eyed colleagues on the Conservative back benches.
📌 El Salvador made Bitcoin a legal currency. Then came the downside.
📌 Probably because I have discovered loads of poetry collections on Spotify, I wrote an email in verse today. I’m now trying to think of ways to start a verse-email without using the word Hi or Hello.
📌 My wife got very excited watching the tennis.
THURSDAY I can’t decide whether the preposterous twist at the end of We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart, is stupid or very clever.
📌 Dunce Education Secretary Gavin Williamson held a Zoom meeting with someone he thought was footballer/campaigner Marcus Rashford. Only later did he discover that he’d been talking to the rugby player Maro Itoje.
📌 Mixing gold with yellow is an adventure. The question is, do I have the courage to include lemon in the mix?
📌 Superb Thai food at Headway Eats by Jackie, which introduced me to a new word. Larb.
Then in Back To Life Miri found Billy’s dead wife’s sex toys.
FRIDAY Heard a Robert Frost poem that has the line “good fences make good neighbours”.
📌 Six Palestinian prisoners busted out of an Israeli jail by digging a tunnel with a rusty spoon.
📌 In Neither Nowt Nor Summat Ian McMillan said some girls he spotted in Hull wore skirts “shorter than the reign of Edward The Eighth”.
📌 My wife’s paint colour chart includes one called Teresa’s Green. I think it might be the colour of our bathroom.