Scrapbook: Week 50, 2021


December 11-17…

SATURDAY A woman who reports being savagely attacked  and laying on the ground in the rain for hours waiting for the emergency services to turn up finally gets some attention when her trauma goes viral on Twitter.

📌 Conservative MPs are quoted in the press saying they fear for their seats if Boris carries on in his chaotic way and the negative publicity continues to build.

Read the full story here…

Apart from “fear for my seat” sounding like a euphemism, those worried MPs reveal something about themselves that voters might want to consider. They are more interested in keeping their jobs than Britain being wrecked by a lunatic. More to the point, a lunatic they elected to be the leader of their party. Marina Hyde in the Guardian uses another type of comparison…

To the Conservatives and media outriders somehow only now discovering this about their guy, I think we have to say: you ordered this. Now eat it.

📌 I just told my wife that today I will clean the cooker. As soon as the words finished coming out of my mouth I was trying to think of an excuse not to.

📌 We saw the new cinematic re-heat of West Side Story last night, and this afternoon the 1948 original of Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock is on the TV. Nostalgia for films is no new discovery, but during Brighton Rock I got a wave of nostalgia for pubs. There used to be a lame joke about Brighton pubs. It said that it has 365, so in a leap year you’d be forced to go into one twice.

📌 Another week of Strictly Come Dancing and another week of pretending I know what a good rumba looks like.

SUNDAY Strong essay by Nick Cohen in the Observer saying the term “neoliberal” is nowhere near abusive enough for our present government. But the linguistic argument is just a frame around which he hangs a history lesson on modern trends in Conservative thinking.

📌 Will Hutton has really become quite annoying in his dogged promotion of some notional “progressive alliance” to topple the government. Today he urges all voters to support the Lib Dem candidate in Thursday’s byelection in North Shropshire. His sanctimonious insistence is irritating beyond description.

To recap: in the 2019 General Election, from an electorate of 83,258, the Conservatives won 35,444 votes. Labour got 12,495 and the Lib Dems 5,643.

Hutton obviously believes the Lib Dems have somehow performed a miraculous leapfrog in the last two years, in which case he has a good argument in urging voters to back them. If his belief is a fantasy, voting Lib Dem in North Shropshire on Thursday could amount to a vote for the Conservatives.

📌 Sam sent an update of her cat picture from last week, which makes me like them even more now. They practically deserve to exist.

📌 Covid is now no longer a threat to human life but to an underfunded health service.

MONDAY Behavioural scientists have concluded that for all the Covid rule-breaking shenanigans Boris and his ministers might get up to, most of the British population will stick to the Plan B rules about mask-wearing, hand washing, work from home, etc, provided they are “clearly communicated” and “sufficiently rationalised”.

📌 Went to late-lunch at a friend’s yesterday and one of the guests told of the trauma they suffered on discovering they were “illegitimate”. Hadn’t heard that word used in a very long time.

📌 Rose thankfully got through to the final of Strictly Come Dancing. She described her dance partner Giovanni as a brilliant “team-mate”.

📌 Prints of the Bonnier Books iconic covers we did in the studio are out and on sale. Hope we get more of this kind of work.

TUESDAY The trend from meat to plant diets has been happening by stealth in our house for some time.

Read the full story here…

📌 Polly Toynbee on Boris’s predicament: “Voters knowingly elected a liar, but they rarely forgive chaotic incompetence.”

WEDNESDAY Raheem Sterling is nominated for BBC Sports Personality of the Year, but Marcus Rashford is not.

📌 Keir Starmer has a grip on the prime minister at the moment and can tighten it by continually urging him to protect the NHS by legislating for more restrictions around the Omicron variant, restrictions that Labour will support but backbench Conservative MPs will reject.

📌 The famous WWI Christmas Day footie match truce photo is actually a picture of a kickabout from Greece, taken a year earlier, says an article in the Conversation.

📌 At art class I finished the four A4 pictures of Chris, which are meant to resemble a giant photo-booth strip of passport mugshots. Then we ate cake.

Chris in giant mugshots stunt…

Plus a few more in the same style, including Zinedine Zidane butting Marco Materazi in the 2006 World Cup Final and Jonny Wilkinson scoring the drop-goal winner in the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup against Australia.

📌 The so-called “recycling centre” where we live is an underground space that could be a treasure-trove for any would-be upcyclist. Instead it is a dumping ground where the occasional dead body can be found.

THURSDAY A Covid Doom Loop is how Larry Elliott describes Britain’s predicament and the government paralysis that goes with it. He likens Boris’s over-reliance on the magic of the vaccines to the Maginot Line, “the system of supposedly impregnable defences constructed by the French in the 1920s but which were easily circumvented by the Germans in the spring of 1940.” Only by seeing and treating Covid as a global concern can nations find a way to live through it. But that journey requires vision, and Britain is in short supply of that resource at the moment.

📌 The nutters in the Tory party might have won the battle with Brexit but not the war on Covid, argues Martin Kettle in an unsettling portrait of the libertarian players who are pulling Boris’s chain.

📌 The two deco women in the café just said those curtains need some remedial attention.

Two deco women stitchwork on linen…

📌 John Crace reckons no-one is listening to Boris because they know he is a serial liar. They are listening instead to Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical officer, who has now said it’s time to take a cold hard look at your diary for the coming weeks and cancel a few appointments. This is the same Chris Whitty who last year stood shoulder to on-message shoulder with the PM. Maybe he is the only person in power who has learned anything in the past 12 months.

📌 The Queen has cancelled a Christmas lunch with her family.

FRIDAY The government’s fortunes are sinking fast. It’s handling of Covid is in a shambles. Home-use lateral-flow tests are in short supply and lockdown conditions have returned by stealth, the economy has stalled, inflation is at 6% and the Liberal Democrats have pulled off a miracle from third place in the North Shropshire byelection.

📌 Olympic rower Alex Gregory told a sweet story on Tweet of the Day about an injured house sparrow he found, nursed back to health (it liked scrambled egg), and named Sparky. Sparky recovered fully enough to return to its place in a tree but still came whenever Alex called “Sparky”. Then one day he called for Sparky and Sparky was gone, never to return. Alex seemed both happy that Sparky had left him to live its life independently but sad that his friendship with the bird was over.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

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