SATURDAY I typed into Google: “Is Emma Raducanu posh?” There was no definitive answer. Some of the more interesting facts are that she was born in Canada to a Chinese mother and a Romanian father and was described on a French website as Posh Spice with a tennis racquet. Then a telling line popped up in the Independent: “She started off attending ballet classes, but her father decided sport was the way forward and had his daughter do horse riding, swimming, tap dancing, basketball, skiing, golf, go-karting and motocross, all alongside her tennis practice”. I’m not sure that fully answers the question.
📌 The Conversation says beavers are back and tells us what it means for our future.
📌 There’s a lot of morbid replays of 9/11 going on, so I’m going to the gym to listen to Bruce Springsteen’s album The Rising. The title track is the story of a New York fireman climbing the stairs of one of the burning Twin Towers to rescue trapped people. Quite a few of Springsteen’s songs have a religious feel (in this case, Ascension). One of my favourites is Lost In The Flood, from his debut album, Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ…
“Nuns run bald through Vatican halls, pregnant… Pleading Immaculate Conception…”
📌 The party conference season is imminent and at last Labour comes out fighting with some concrete ideas and an attack-dog attitude. Pity it doesn’t come from the party’s leader, Keir Starmer.
📌 The Whitecross Street two-day Party got off to a good start. St Luke’s had a stall at which children made animals from food.
SUNDAY The last few Donna Leon Brunetti stories I’ve read have been overloaded with travelogue nonsense. The one I’m on at the moment is at 20% in and there’s not even a sniff of a crime to solve.
📌 The US Open tennis final between Briton Emma Raducanu and Canada’s Leylah Fernandez was blissfully free of grunts. Raducanu, 18, won in straight sets and the whole nation erupted in celebration.
In the interview afterwards, she spoke about looking forward to many many more games against Fernandez in the future. In the background, Fernandez smiled through gritted teeth with a look on her face that said, “You bet, bitch.”
📌 I woke up early this morning replaying in my mind an incident yesterday in which I told a man at the local supermarket checkout to back off to a safe distance.
📌 In the Guardian Jonathan Freeland describes Boris’s politics as “ideological cross-dressing” and labels him a TINO (Tory In Name Only). Labour can only defeat him by repeatedly claiming that he’s doing the right thing (raising taxes for the NHS) but in the wrong way (taking it mainly from the young).
📌 Marina Hyde’s destruction of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, his tax avoidance pathology and his obsession with space travel and eternal life, must rank as a written-word landmark in happy slapping.
📌 The political future of Northern Ireland is locked in a desperate stalemate/standoff that ill serves its citizens, writes the Guardian. With elections due next year, it’s not hard to envisage the province ending up as some kind of Gibraltar lookalike without the sunshine.
MONDAY A new phase of Covid jerkaround looms just as most people seem to have given up on even the slimmest adherence to any type of biosecurity. Universal mask-wearing might at least act as a reminder that the Age of the Virus has not yet passed.
📌 Sam is back to monochrome, but with some nice shading.
📌 At the evening class in writing “creative non-fiction”, whatever that is, the teacher went pink with irritation when I deviated from the prompt in a five-minute writing exercise. I thought what I’d written was quite good. And it mentioned water, which was in the prompt. I understood the subject to be about sensual awareness of our environment, but I don’t think that’s what the teacher thought it was. It’s based on what one of the group members had said earlier:
“Carolyn nearly told us about the toilets in the village school of her girlhood. We imagined the sound of running water, the smell of disinfectant and a powerful reluctance to touch anything at all. Only one member of the class chose to imagine how taste came into the experience.”
TUESDAY HuffPostUK has a story about elite British universities being in the pay of arms dealers. I was shocked that I wasn’t shocked.
📌 Paul Waugh has left HuffpostUK to join the i. In his last column he cogently summarises where we are with the Covid virus and manages to include a sparkling depiction of Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty (aka, Doctor Death) as a freewheeling TV game-show host.
📌 Emily at the Guardian is going to a wedding at the weekend. She says all dressy dresses these days are shapeless sacks. She eventually plumped for one that looks like a man’s shirt.
WEDNESDAY The gym has become such a habit that if a 45-minute gap opens in the day, I’m straight in like a rat up a drainpipe.
📌 Boris is predicted to reshuffle today. The temptation to sit in front of the TV watching various ministers trundle in and out of No10 is huge.
📌 Next week’s writing class is all about the personal essay. I know as homework we will be asked to write a one. I have three contenders in mind. One is the day I was savaged by a dangerous dog. The second is when I screwed up on stage opposite a star actor in a production directed by Sir Peter Hall. The third is more of an idea than an experience. Its title is Catching Up, or somesuch, and it will explore the many and varied ways I am forever bringing myself “up to speed”. These will include all the TV we’ve caught up on during the lockdowns (still haven’t seen Peaky Blinders), discovering finally that Lou Reed was dead more than seven years after the event, and learning to walk again after a stroke.
THURSDAY Britain, the US and Australia are said to have formed a nuclear pact to oppose China’s ambition for world domination. The three nations, dubbed Aukus, will apparently share secrets about nuclear submarines. This sounds like a plausible bit of global strategy… until you watch the new TV drama Vigil (“brought to you by the people who made Line of Duty“), which depicts an investigation into the submarine shenanigans of British and US nuclear u-boats. No one on the planet (except maybe the Chinese) can work out who’s doing what to whom with these deadly vessels. The US is secretly snooping around British territorial waters, casually dragging unfortunate trawlermen to a watery grave. And the Russians are lurking in the background somewhere. On board the HMS Vigil, meanwhile, a psychologically troubled police officer (Suranne Jones) is trying to nail the killer of an onboard crew member and peace campaigner (Martin Compston from Line of Duty). Gripping stuff.
📌 The Conversation has a double-bill of headline stories. One is about pumping oxygen into the brain to stop Alzheimer’s getting a grip. The other is the problems teachers face in teaching English grammar, the main one being they never learned it themselves.
📌 We were trying to remember the words to Incy Wincy Spider, only to discover we never actually knew them and had for decades been teasing children with the wrong words.
📌 Is it Nicky Minaj’s cousin, or a friend of her cousin’s or the cousin of her friend who got the swollen testicles off of the Covid vaccine, allegedly?
📌 Freed for the time being from a stitchwork commission, the chance to drop back into the pleasures of monoprinting was welcome.
📌 The new toy is an avatar generator. I wanted it to work on still lives, but it insists on manipulating a human face.
FRIDAY Inflation is rising, we’re all doooomed, says the Conversation. But at least I think I’ve managed after several decades as an adult, to work out what inflation is: “the rate at which the value of a currency is falling and, consequently, the general level of prices for goods and services is rising.”
📌 Released from the studio commission for the time being, the plan to create a stitchwork based on where I live (The Golden Lane Estate, London EC1) has resumed with some gold thread left over from the commission.
📌 As a short person, it’s nice to know that I’m being levelled up.
📌 In Winchester, Alfred is still standing tall, and sometimes a bit scarily.