Scrapbook: Week 51, 2021

December 18-24…

SATURDAY Is Boris destined to follow in the footsteps of Margaret Thatcher and get knifed in the back by his Conservative colleagues? Yes, says an article in the Conversation, unless he can pull off another spectacular survival stunt.

πŸ“Œ Cross-modal Plasticity is what makes Rose a winner.

πŸ“Œ Even though we own our own home, we don’t, apparently. The laws of the leasehold are rigged against the leaseholder, say experts, and in such a way as to effectively make them tenants.

πŸ“Œ It was a mistake for Labour to not properly contend the recent North Shropshire byelection, says the Socialist Worker. The so-called “progressive alliance” that enabled the Liberal Democrats to win the byelection is not progressive at all, the article says.

The Lib Dems offer nothing to working-class people. They are ruthlessly pro-business, anti-union and pro-privatisation. They were in coalition with the Tories to ram through austerity from 2010-15. Labour should never offer them favours.

πŸ“Œ Only a photographic genius could make our bedroom curtains look this good.

Bedroom curtains…

πŸ“Œ My wife won’t allow a bread bin in our kitchen because, she says, there’s not enough space. Sam’s offering might force a change of mind.

Bread bin, by Sam Jevon

πŸ“Œ The Strictly Come Dancing final this year is such a celebration of Otherness. John and Johannes are are same-sex couple testing traditional dancing roles with panache. Rose is deaf and dancing by counting and watching the body language of her talented teacher-partner Giovanni. Togetherness in Otherness, that’s a catchphrase.

SUNDAY Amanda’s six-week-old freezer from Argos broke down. Defrosted chicken livers and their blood had dribbled all over the white interior and she was forced to chuck Β£150-worth of food she had stored for Christmas. A farm-shop delivery of meat will arrive on Wednesday and Argos haven’t yet said when they will send an engineer.

πŸ“Œ At page 420 (of 636) in the Donna Leon Brunetti saga Unto Us A Son Is Given, a dead body finally appears in a hotel room overlooking the Grand Canal. Now the story begins…

MONDAY A picture from May this year has been published showing the prime minister in a garden with his wife, work colleagues and wine. His office says it was a business meeting. Others say it looks like a group of privileged people freely enjoying themselves while the rest of the population was living under severe lockdown restrictions.

As is common nowadays, the story has trumped reality and nothing the PM says will change the narrative that he sees rules as something that don’t apply to him. The political artist Cold War Steve saw the scene as an open goal.

πŸ“Œ The image somehow manages to define a moment in time. Soon afterwards much would change, but the details of this scene capture something very historical, in the same way Thomas Hoepker’s Twin Towers photo did.

πŸ“Œ I’ve converted Sean’s throwaway drawing of two 1920s women at a cafΓ© table into a kind of tapestry thing. He drew the table at the wrong angle, so I decided to keep it that way.

πŸ“Œ The rumour mill says Boris gave Lord Frost’s vacated Brexit Minister job to Liz Truss because he knows she will fail and thus make him look better than worst. Nothing of course to do with Truss being touted as the next leader of the Conservative Party.

TUESDAY The scientists are feeling empowered after Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty’s open contradiction of Boris, our funtime prime minister. They are all screaming messages of doom if the PM doesn’t act quickly to stop the hospitals from caving in, full of unvaccinated Covid patients.

πŸ“Œ We owe an awful lot to Baron Justus von Liebig, apparently. His other great contribution to modern life is stock cubes.

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ The new member of my wife’s yoga class farted twice during the first session.

WEDNESDAY A respected Covid expert was on the TV complaining that the government is slow to acknowledge and to inform the public that the symptoms of the Omicron variant, (runny nose, headache, tiredness), are very like those of the common cold. They also said the recovery time is similar (two days). Imagine a future in which if you caught a cold you’d stay at home for two days and only return to mixing with other people when a doctor says it’s OK to do so. This could – or maybe should – be the case anyway, which makes Labour’s current argument about sick pay a good one. The trouble is that support for a better policy on sick pay in the past was always cast in the public mind as a defence of workshy malingerers. So it’s not just the policy on sick pay that needs to adapt to the challenges of living with Covid, the messaging needs to change, too.

πŸ“Œ Beware what information you share with those family-tree websites. You might be outing yourself as a cold-blooded child killer who managed to give plod the slip for 25 years.

πŸ“Œ Pfizer might be the jab du jour – the one that has been widely punted as being most effective – but the Oxford AZ vaccine is making a nimble advance into new territory.

πŸ“Œ The photograph of Boris’s backyard “business meeting” has become a subject of study. Was the cheese Brie or Cheddar? What was his family doing at an after-work drinking session? The Guardian, who first published the snapshot, are understandably reluctant to let the story drop.

Set against the mother who buried her 14-year-old boy at a tiny graveside funeral, with no wake, there is something viscerally repulsive about cabinet ministers characterising this cheese-and-wine garden social as perfectly understandable given that Downing Street staff work in β€œgruelling conditions”.

Marina Hyde, the Guardian

πŸ“Œ In the same story Marina Hyde once again offers up a new word (for me): retcon, which means “revise (an aspect of a fictional work) retrospectively, typically by introducing a piece of new information that imposes a different interpretation on previously described events.”

πŸ“Œ “Cakeism has evolved into a creed for the denial of all the choices that make governing difficult,” writes Raphael Behr, in an article explaining how Boris’s onetime jovial boosterism burst its banks and started to smell like a mixed metaphor consumed by tortured alliteration.

THURSDAY There’s a trend on Twitter, led by Rev Richard Coles, damning the ridiculous cheese concoctions that have appeared en masse in British supermarkets this Christmas.

More cheese, vicar?

πŸ“Œ Martin Kettle argues that there’s not much Boris can do to save his job. The road has run out and the British public are about to arrive at the decision that the country needs a new government.

πŸ“Œ Stephen Bush in the New Statesman points to the real motive behind the government’s game-play on Covid. And it’s not to stop citizens dying, it is to stop the NHS from collapsing. It could instead, he argues, enlarge the role of the NHS in public health. Then, coupled with a healthy vaccination programme, treating those affected by new Covid variants would be as straightforward as dealing with flu.

FRIDAY Boris just told everyone to get their booster vaccine because that’s what Jesus would have done. No kidding, straight face. It’s Christmas, the birth of Jesus, etc, get jabbed now, peace on Earth, happy holiday…

πŸ“Œ I’m trying to think of a surefire way to persuade my wife to watch all the back episodes of Vienna Blood.

πŸ“Œ Rachael recommended an article by Alexei Sayle. It’s a Marxist denunciation of Strictly Come Dancing, and hard to disagree with. It would be nice, though, if one day Alexei Sayle could learn to stop casting anyone who doesn’t take politics as seriously as he does as a sinner.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

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