December 2021, as it happened…


WEDNESDAY 1 Happy to report that the parcel delivery by DPD arrived bang on time.

📌 Had a weird fleeting moment when I thought Starmer might just be onto something with his advances towards the red Tories who can’t stomach Boris.

📌 When Sam goes surreal she really gives it the full welly.

Frog & Tea Cup, by Sam Jevon…

📌 Drinks reception at the Barbican scheduled for Monday has been cancelled.

📌 In the USA there’s a day for everything and today it was Old Brown Shoe Day. This was therefore our task in today’s art class. I chose an old Blundstone boot combined with a sketched map of our road-trip route in Australia, 1997.

THURSDAY 2 The Guardian has a good analysis of Keir Starmer’s reshuffled shadow cabinet but warns that squeezing key left figures such as Angela Rayner and Ed Miliband from the main picture will prove to be a vote loser at the next election. Coincidentally, or maybe not, the party’s chief funder, the Unite union, has announced a slash in its donation to Labour saying the party no longer offers political “value for money”.

📌 There’s a spooky déjà vu vibe in the bitterly cold world outside. The government is telling us to keep calm and party on. The scientists are saying go easy on the snogging under the mistletoe. Germany is clamping down on the unvaccinated.

FRIDAY 3 German buskers are switching from rock to classical because the pay is better.

📌 Those who predicted Britain would bounce back from the Pandemic have been proved right…

📌 The Tortoise reports that broccoli pickers in Lincolnshire are still earning £30+ an hour despite competition from an AI broccoli-picking robot called RoboVeg.

📌 To the Spoons in Croydon for lunch with Sue and Margaret. Margaret gave Sue a knitted tree bauble made especially for a Palace fan. Chicken with stuffing burger for me.

Exif_JPEG_420

📌 The new mandatory face-covering rule is being widely abused. I guess the Prime Minister is secretly pleased about that.

📌 Spotted a smart trailer, which doubles as a mobile bar, parked outside our local pub. It’s shape is reminiscent of a Morris Minor crossed with a Volkswagen Beetle.

SATURDAY 4 A man in Italy tried to dodge getting vaccinated by wearing a fake arm. The militant anti-vaxxer needed the jab to get a health pass.

📌 The RSC’s Comedy of Errors at the Barbican last night was not exactly a barrel of laughs. It got a five-star review in the Guardian, so maybe I’m missing something. There were some funny touches and some momentary sparks of cheesy farce, but for the most part I did not feel my sides splitting. There was one very funny moment with a bottle of hand gel, but it was just very deliberately slapstick rather than inventive. There were also a couple of neat sound tricks, but tricks is the key word. The standout performance was from deaf actor William Grint, who plays a gangsterish 2nd Merchant. His burly minder signed all of his “words” in a masterly integration of complex needs into the performance.

At the end of the performance the cast dedicated that night’s show to Antony Sher, legend of the Royal Shakespeare Company, who died the day before, aged 72.

📌 Got a message from Laura inviting me to an “unveiling” in Bloomsbury of the studio work we did for Bonnier Books in creating our own versions of some of their iconic book covers. She said Emily Jenkins, who wrote We Were Liars (the book cover I worked on) was very impressed with my stitchwork and watercolour on linen reproduction.

📌 Paul Waugh’s report on Keir Starmer’s shadow-cabinet reshuffle quotes some of his closest colleagues unable to say what the Labour leader stands for. “Keir’s basically like David Cameron. He wants to be Prime Minister first, and what he will do if he gets there comes second,” said one.

📌 Black humour dept. In Winchester Robin and Sarah report that hospital doctors treating old people suffering from dehydration refer to them as being “crispy”.

SUNDAY 5 The Omicron variant really is in a different ballpark from all the previous coronavirus mutations. It is as if it has designed itself with the sole purpose of foxing the virology experts. The idea that virus infection was a nuisance that will at some point in the near future slacken its grip on our lives and ultimately fade away now seems ridiculous.

📌 Liz is off to a flying start for Christmas.

MONDAY 6 The couriers made no attempt to disguise the arrival of this Christmas gift for my wife.

A mystery no longer…

TUESDAY 7 A story in the Guardian implies that London police has a policy of talking rape victims into dropping their complaints.

📌 Simon Jenkins detects yet another knee-jerk government lurch towards authoritarianism in its new “war on drugs”.

📌 My cousin Kate got her special birthday gift, a memory painting I did about the legendary 1977 Liverpool v St Etienne game at Anfield, at which she fainted but recovered to hear the final whistle. Her description features in the painting.

Liverpool vs St Etienne, 1977…

📌 Progress on the stitchwork version of Sean’s discarded sketch is slow but enjoyable. It has become a new image in the process. The two gazing 1920s women at the café table have become my eccentric friends.

📌 World events are once again the plaything of Russia and the US. Whichever way things shake down in the standoff in Ukraine, the world will be a more dangerous place.

WEDNESDAY 8 A leaked video shows senior members of the government joking about having a Christmas party last year when the rest of the UK population was cowering under the laws of lockdown and likely to face arrest if found to be in breach. It can’t now be long before the Prime Minister faces a police investigation and conviction.

📌 It was never quite top of my list of curiosities, but wondering how medieval knights in full armour coped with basic mobility was always a question waiting for an answer. And it seems the answer, as described in Design History, was IT DEPENDS. The fit of the armour was crucial, and if your armourer got your chest measurements wrong, or failed to leave enough wriggle room under your arms, you were almost certainly headed for an early grave.

📌 Cats are annoying, sly creatures, totally selfish and often smelly. It would be hard for me to start liking them, except…

Cat, by Sam Jevon…

📌 We didn’t need a new router after all. Just a hard reset. Fingers crossed it works for the TV, too. Still have several episodes of Succession to catch up on.

📌 The Australians at Muma (Monash University Museum of Art) all love my travel essay. Charlotte even said it was “poetic”.

📌 In the latest media storm about a party at No10 the PM claims never happened, Martin Kettle detects a genuine turning point in Boris’s fortunes. The joke is over, he says, and the public has tired of his act.

THURSDAY 9 At art class yesterday I did a picture of Chris in the style of Julian Opie. Chris told me today that on the A13 in Dagenham there is a roundabout known locally as Madonna’s Bra.

Chris in the style of Julian Opie…

📌 The Guardian has a piece that outlines a coherent way forward to living with Covid. It finishes by adding that a safer future is certainly possible, but only if citizens can trust the messaging of their leaders.

📌 HuffpostUK has a neat summary of the Prime Minister’s unfortunate predicament.

📌 Bit disappointed with Donna Leon’s Unto Us A Son Is Given. Still no crime at Chapter 9 of 28. Hurry up, Brunetti, find a body, willya.

FRIDAY 10 The prime minister’s difficulties refuse to slip away quietly as more and more Covid-clandestine parties are uncovered. The Tortoise says Conservative MPs are nearing rebellion in the form of a vote of no confidence in the PM.

Already reluctant to vote through new rules on ideological or economic grounds, they are less willing to be used – over and over again – to mop up government messes.

📌 Spoke too soon about the router. It’s on the blink again and I’m reduced to using my phone and its meagre data plan for all online activities.

📌 Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story has great sets and great dance sequences, but the two leads, Tony and Maria, were played by non-actors, which was disappointing. The only character who could act was Riff.

SATURDAY 11 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 12 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 13 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 14 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 15 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 16 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 17 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.

SATURDAY 18 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.

📌 Cross-modal Plasticity is what makes Rose a winner.

📌 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.

📌 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.

📌 Only a photographic genius could make our bedroom curtains look this good.

Bedroom curtains…

📌 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

📌 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 19 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 £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.

📌 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 20 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.

📌 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.

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

📌 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 21 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.

📌 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…

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

WEDNESDAY 22 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.

📌 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.

📌 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.

📌 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 “gruelling conditions”.

Marina Hyde, the Guardian

📌 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.”

📌 “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 23 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?

📌 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.

📌 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 24 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…

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

SATURDAY 25 John Lanchester has an essay in the London Review of Books (LRB) on Covid. In it he illustrates the incompetence of the UK government’s handling of the pandemic by pointing to an example of good practice. Infectious disease on a global scale was an urgent issue ignored by the UK government for many years prior to the outbreak of coronavirus. But…

“In 2003, having learned from the experience of Sars, Wimbledon began paying around £1.5 million a year to insure against the cost of a pandemic. As a result, when Covid hit, the club trousered cheques totalling £174 million to cover the cost of the cancelled 2020 tournament. That is what competent governance looks like. What would the UK response have looked like if the All England Club had been in charge? What would the Wimbledon Number – the death toll assuming competent government – have been?”

John Lanchester, LRB

📌 Our neighbour’s two children, Maya and Nina, delivered our Christmas card last night and it contained this gem…

Tinsel, by Maya and Nina…

📌 A social history of London’s pubs, plus tickets to see The Unthanks in Liverpool. There was no room in the shot for the Japanese kitchen knife.

📌 Got an emergency message from a neighbour, a social worker, requesting a put-up bed for a carer faced with flood damage. We were happy to donate the one we had in the shed.

📌 Boris is stuffed. The lunatic fringe of the Conservative Party have told him to ignore the scientists and let Covid run free.

SUNDAY 26 RIP Desmond Tutu, 90.

📌 Nick Cohen attempts to describe the chaos that now sits at the heart of government in terms of the gradual disintegration of Conservative Party thinking.

They have dissolved into an extremist rabble that is contorted by magical thinking, heresy hunts, fits of temper and doctrinal spasms.

Nick Cohen, the Observer

📌 While watching the dopey detective in the Christmas Special of Death in Paradise my wife reminded me about the time, early in our courtship, when I was the victim of a drive-by egging while walking home from the pub in Surrey Docks, south London. The black leather biker jacket I was wearing, sold to me for £35 by an American music journalist who claimed it once belonged to a Ramone, was crusty with dried yolk for weeks afterwards.

MONDAY 27 In its report about the man with a crossbow arrested on Christmas Day at Windsor Castle, the Guardian refers to a previous attempt on The Queen’s life, by a half-witted cabbie: “The Uber driver tried to use his satnav to get there, but managed to go to a pub called Windsor Castle instead.”

📌 I caught the tail-end of a story saying Joan Smith was in trouble again on social media for pointing out the difference between sex and gender. She doesn’t want gender-spectrum directives to be so permissive as to allow rapists to walk into the Ladies toilet. My investigations revealed that globally there is still too much confusion as to what is male/female, masculine/feminine. I was secretly hoping in my endeavours to discover a little-known dissertation by a Sussex University student applying the gender-fluidity arguments to French and Spanish (Amigo, Amiga, Amige?), but only got as far as what the UK’s Office for National Statistics has to say on the matter.

📌 “Ta-ta Tutu” was my wife’s suggested headline for the Desmond Tutu obituary.

📌 Kempt, ruly, wieldy, ept and gruntled sound like a comedy prog-rock band from the 1970s. But they are, according to etymologist Susie Dent, the “orphaned negatives” of unkempt, unruly, disgruntled, etc. They sit alongside a batch of words Dent is determined to bring back to life. And her collection even includes words from overseas. My favourite is the Italian word sprezzatura: “a careless, thrown together nonchalance or indifference to life’s curveballs.” Might make that a mission for 2022.

TUESDAY 28 A united Ireland in my lifetime is a fascinating prospect. In younger years it was always such a remote possibility that I never even dared to think too seriously about it. If Mary Lou McDonald really is “Ireland’s Tony Blair”, then maybe it’s time to start.

📌 Managed to shake ourselves into action and visit the Isamu Noguchi exhibition at the Barbican, which resembles a glorified Habitat window display. I never knew that after Pearl Harbor there was an anti-Japanese “round up the usual suspects” law passed in the US.

Read the Guardian review here…

WEDNESDAY 29 It’s always nice to hear Yanis Varoufakis shoving a radical new argument into an empty space, even if the economic theory gets a bit heavy sometimes. In the Morning Star, he argues for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) paid for by the “techno-feudalist” social media giants. And I admit that I like the idea that every time I knock off a Twitter post, pennies drop into our national UBI fund.

📌 Raheem Sterling is guest editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. His father was murdered when he was 2.

📌 We scheduled to visit an outdoor light show in the heart of the City at 4pm, then discovered it finished on December 22. We went to Marks & Spencer food hall instead.

THURSDAY 30 Jeremy Corbyn is optimistic that the kindness and compassion citizens have shown each other in a time of crisis can be harnessed to forge a better future. In the same breath he is damning of the world leaders who fall short of the mark and manages to tout the kind of socialist internationalism modern Britain has never quite had the stomach for.

📌 Some Welsh and Scottish people are planning to cross the border into England on New Year’s Eve to make the most of Boris’s light-touch Covid rules. The leaders of their own countries have been more stringent in the regulations on partying over the New Year period.

📌 The start of a new system of storing and categorising our old junk is underway. One of the categories is “Need a Bigger House”.

📌 Weird thought of the day is that Boris has gone easy on the festive restrictions because he wants all those who have chosen not to get vaccinated to get Covid. It’s his punishment for those who don’t do as he says.

FRIDAY 31 Someone on Quora asks, “Why does Boris Johnson always look like he just rolled out of bed?” The top answer, written by Ian, who self-identifies as a “polymath”, starts by saying that Boris is playing an elaborate game. Boris is an intellectual colossus, Ian says, who went to Eton on a scholarship – a King’s Scholarship, no less – and only truly exceptional people do that. Ian then reveals how truly brilliant people like Boris (and by implication himself) devise cunning ways to conceal their brilliance from the little people, and the scruffy toff just back from a spiffing night out farting in the faces of homeless people is what Boris has perfected as his main character in the play called Life. Ian then throws a few Latin phrases into his analysis and finishes by congratulating Boris for having done one over on “all the pseuds” who think politics is something to be serious about.

📌 Also on Quora, a desperate person writes: “I accidentally swallowed a button battery. What should I do?” Pedro in Miami, replies: “Call 800–498–8666 immediately. This is the National Battery Ingestion Hotline.”

📌 Psychologists have finally identified “Blah”, which must count as one of the year’s top breakthroughs.

📌 Putting Sam’s Legs into stitch started with the left foot. This is going to be a marathon.

Best foot forward…

📌 At the Royal Academy for the Late Constable exhibition, we exited past a copy of Leonardo’s Last Supper, and you can’t help noticing the crisp folds in the tablecloth and the generic feet beneath.

📌 At Fortnum & Mason’s café I was reminded of my wine teacher’s tip that the sign of a good champagne is small, rapidly ascending bubbles.

At Fortnum & Mason, 31.12.21

📌 The service in Côte tonight was unusually good (it’s normally rubbish), but the silver lining faded when we arrived home to discover that one of the Golden Girls had died, aged 99.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

2 thoughts on “December 2021, as it happened…

  1. Sam’s frog and tea cup is very good. I wonder what that day means 🤔 . Here too cases are increasing and weekend curfew has been imposed. We wonder at the point of it! Tinsel by Maya and Nina is beautiful. Yesterday was my husband’s birthday, our grandchildren drew pictures and showed it to us when we talked to them. Everything they do is beautiful 😊. Thank you for a very interesting post.

    Liked by 1 person

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