SATURDAY In Liverpool Homebaked, the locally-run cafe cooperative that started in the old Mitchell’s bakery on Oakfield Road has taken over the cafe space at St George’s Hall. It’s a remarkable enterprise success story built on the popularity of “Shankly Pies” and a determined new localism.
📌 The Tortoise has some hot revelations about Boris and Carrie during the March 2020 lockdown. They were travelling freely between their various residences, despite Boris’s personal instruction to the nation to stay indoors.
📌 Marina Hyde detects a moment of realisation among Boris’s colleagues.
📌 The Conservative Party is no longer in any way conservative, writes Jonathan Freeland. It is a party of vandals, happy to sneer its contempt for the monarchy, the Union and the citizens of Britain.
Its instincts now are those of Viktor Orbán, funnelling public money and jobs to ideological allies, ready to burn down even the most valued institutions that stand in its way.
📌 Brenda Spencer, perpetrator of the 1979 Grover Cleveland Elementary School shooting and inspiration for the Boomtown Rats hit I Don’t Like Mondays, is eligible for parole in September.
📌 After a snoozy start, Nightmare Alley sprang into full-on Noir when femme fatale psychologist Cate Blanchett stood up to challenge Bradley Cooper’s confidence trickster. From then on it resembled a glorious masterpiece of the genre, Chinatown inevitably lurking in the background.
📌 On the way home from the cinema I bumped into neighbour Anthony, who told me he fell out of bed last night while dreaming that his house was on fire.
SUNDAY Conservative MPs are queuing up to tell the police about the strongarm tactics Boris’s whippers have been using to make sure they back the PM. On Radio 5 Live it was reported that many of these MPs are from the younger 2019 intake and are self-made business people who are not used to being pushed around. Maybe some of them are seasoned bullies themselves. Maybe even a bit like Boris himself. This is the ugly face of Johnson’s revolutionary transformation of the Conservative Party – levelling up the bullies.
📌 The background on Sam’s Peacock is so distracting you hardly notice the detail in the plumage.
📌 Jane Northcote did one of her fab watercolour sketches of 84 Charterhouse Street.
📌 It really is quite exciting to see if Boris can escape a grisly end to his premiership. It has all the characteristics of a master illusionist spectacle waiting to happen, as if David Blaine were submerged in a plexiglass water tank suspended by a crane outside the Houses of Parliament. Will he surface and draw breath once again, or will he drown in a frantic attempt to kick his way out of the box?
MONDAY An expert at Cardiff University has added to Susie Dent’s study of the “orphaned negatives” in the English language with a hitlist of “Five life-affirming words we should bring back into use”. It is a ridiculously eccentric collection that includes the word mesology, which the author says is the science of achieving happiness, and another one that describes group crying. Maybe some words are so redundant that they are better left to rest in peace.
📌 Breaking through the fog of conflicting information about what’s going on in Ukraine is difficult. The Morning Star version is embarrassingly pro-Russia, the BBC’s is shamefully jingoistic, casting Russia as the country we should all throw rotten eggs at. I never thought I’d be waiting for Simon Jenkins to ride in with a saddlebag full of clarity, but here he comes with his table-thumping demands for common sense. About time, too.
📌 Sometimes Quora can be uplifting. Finding anyone to say nice things about Britain is hard work these days.
📌 Sam’s portraits always carry a real honesty, even the ones she has done of herself. Her gozzy eye and her hooked nose are imperfections she wears happily on her sleeve. The same truthfulness is here in her portrait of The Queen.
TUESDAY Wordle is taking up far too much of my time.
📌 I’m trying to imagine how I’d feel about the death of a friend overseas had it not happened in the times of Covid. Maybe we’d have been able to say goodbye in a better way.
📌 The guy from Toynbee Hall crammed an awful lot into the three-hour Evaluation training session.
📌 The Metropolitan Police are looking into Boris’s birthday bash.
WEDNESDAY As much as I admire Polly Toynbee’s steadfast determination to bang the social-justice drum – and I admire even more the way she coolly slips rigorous factual reporting into her columns – I do wish she would sometimes just lose the plot and get properly angry. In a recent one about social housing she mentions the value of a stable home almost as a side issue, its beauty suffocated by the urgent need to point out that George Osborne and David Cameron shafted the British taxpayer to the tune of £29 billion.
📌 Marina Hyde reveals that five months after interior designer Lulu Lytle claims to have been working on Boris and Carrie’s home makeover, Boris is grumbling about finding the money for Lulu to get started on the job.
📌 Just like the Prime Minister, Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick should have resigned a long time ago, for crimes against policing. But if she can now nail Boris for eating too much cake, she’ll probably get to keep her job.
📌 Michael Portillo is back on the trains, with a comb-over.
📌 In the second week of art class based on Chinese New Year I made some digital collages from the physical collages I made last week using a selection of couplet papers.
📌 Dawn told us her mates call her Dawn The Prawn. I told her Jamie Oliver’s prawn+pea risotto is yummy.
THURSDAY Listening to Alexei Sayle’s Imaginary Sandwich Bar always takes me back to my childhood as a street urchin in Liverpool. When Alexei returned every so often from art college to visit his mother (“Comrade Molly” as we knew her) in Valley Road, Anfield, we would delight in some cruel name-calling, tormenting this horribly hunched, tortured figure in a duffle coat with jeers of “Oi, Rasputin!”
📌 I had a dream/nightmare that Boris somehow survived his current debasement and was able to go into the next election with a message saying “We’ve walked through the storm, with our heads held high. Now give us the tools and we’ll finish the job.”
📌 At the Headway Burns Night supper club we enjoyed a nice bottle of Croatian pink fizz.
FRIDAY The Guardian has a profile of the gung-ho militarist Tory MP Tom Tugendhat which manages to come across as a dire warning. He enjoys dancing to Whitney Houston with Michael Gove, and is currently plotting to unseat Boris as PM and snatch the job for himself.