Scrapbook: Week 5, 2022


29 January-4 February…

SATURDAY There’s no way Chancellor Rishi Sunak can justify a rise in National Insurance when he presided over a sprawling fraud scheme that saw ghost and zombie companies handed billions of taxpayers money in dodgy covid loans, writes Simon Jenkins. The revelations came from a government minister, Lord Agnew, who stood up last week in the House, supposedly to speak in defence of government policy but instead resigned on the spot over the corruption of the loan-scheme that saved many businesses from collapse during the pandemic but also suffered from chronic undersight and mismanagement.

Agnew estimated that total fraud across the public sector now ran at £29bn a year, or about 5p on income tax. The bounce-back loan fraud is estimated to have cost a third of the annual revenue of the new national insurance levy of 1.25 per cent due in April.

📌 We are still not quite sure how Wordle deals with words that have the same letter twice – eg, chill, elite – but nevertheless got today’s word in 3, which is sadly still our best score.

📌 It’s common nowadays for us not to know who any of the celebrities are on celebrity TV shows.

SUNDAY It probably sounds ridiculous to say it, but might we not soon be headed down a road where public toilets are clearly marked with penises and vaginas. Very few people properly understand the difference between sex and gender; even fewer have any desire to swot up on the subject, and a minuscule proportion of those who do have bad intentions towards their fellow citizens. The legal implications of equality are vast, the sex/gender part of the issue is microscopic.

📌 Separation and Death are the big themes haunting Parallel Mothers, the latest cinematic conspiracy between Pedro Almodóvar and Penélope Cruz. The film places a maternity-ward mix-up and its devastatingly sad consequences alongside the forensic anthropology of a mass killing during the Spanish Civil War. The stories can justifiably be seen as cousins separated by time, but sometimes they feel like they were grafted on to one another to make a political point.

Read the Guardian review here…

MONDAY Boris is off to Hungary to sort out the Ukraine Problem, leaving behind him a number of U-turns (compulsory vaccination, national insurance) waiting to happen.

📌 The best word to start Wordle is SOARE, says a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Psychology and Language Sciences in the Conversation. Dopey me has been using MEDIA.

📌 After speculating that Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick might finally have found some dignity and decided to nail Boris, it is now widely agreed that she has in fact stayed loyal to the “greased piglet” and is looking to save his bacon.

📌 Essex-raised Gaby Hinsliff says her maligned county can be as proud to be the home of the vajazzle as it can about its role in fomenting the Peasants’ Revolt. It’s all about class.

📌 Stephen Bush in the New Statesman says the moment for Conservative MPs to get rid of Boris has passed. They dithered, he says, because the list of possible replacements is not an attractive one. Which means that Boz will stagger on for a while yet, a terminally wounded animal no one has the courage to put out of its misery. The trail of blood is getting longer.

TUESDAY It won’t be long before “went down with Covid” becomes a way of getting a week off work no questions asked. But it also won’t be long before employers catch on. In the absence of the traditional “sick note” or any certification from your GP, bosses will insist that “self-cert” workers claiming Covid infection provide evidence of a positive test result. Watch out for your employer’s HR spies tapping into the privately-owned testandtracedatabase.gov.uk to see if you logged the positive result you claim you have. A black market in fake-positive evidence will not be far behind that.

📌 The Mirror has uncovered something far more important than the Prime Minister refusing to resign because he’s a hopeless liar. He thought he’d cornered the market in guessing games as voters scratched their heads trying to work out Truth Or Fiction? when listening to him speak. But no, the Masked Singer is still the nation’s favourite…

WEDNESDAY In his Imaginary Sandwich Bar Alexei Sayle tells of the small village in the south of France populated entirely by ex-Hackney Council employees living it up on their generous final-salary pensions. It is, he says, the furthest point south of the UK where Radio 4 Longwave can still be heard.

📌 A reminder in the Morning Star that war is a business.

Read the full story here…

📌 In art class my monoprint went badly wrong, but I quite like the reverse side of the pastel plate showing a medieval couple getting frisky at the Tree of Love.

📌 Also in art class, Hazel gave us all a reimagined ang pow she made from Chinese newspapers as part of the Chinese New Year project..

Ang pow from Hazel…

THURSDAY Our Council’s idea of consultation involves stuffing a load of impenetrable info-graphics on to walls and into corners, with office furniture strategically placed to stop all passing Einsteins trying to understand what it is they claim to be consulting on. The method reached new heights yesterday when an abandoned fridge blocked access to vital information in 6pt type contained in coloured circles and cluttered bar charts.

📌 In the Mail Stephen Glover attempts to prove how bad today’s Conservatives are at being conservative with taxpayers’ money by telling us that when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979 and moved into Downing Street, she “was so annoyed at a decision to spend £19 of public funds on a new ironing board for her official flat that she decided to pay for it herself.” The article comes with a photo of Maggie in the kitchen ironing one of Denis’s shirts.

📌 Elsewhere in the totally non-satirical Mail we learn that Nicola Sturgeon is about to spend £300,000 “sawing off the bottom of school doors” in an attempt to stem the spread of Covid.

📌 Failed badly at Wordle. My desperate final answer was TOOLS.

📌 There’s really no way back for the government now: people left unattended in hospital corridors, rocketing food prices and fuel bills tipped to go Richter – these are the straws that will break the camel’s back.

📌 Sam’s totem pole is beautifully scary and full of voodoo.

Totem Pole, by Sam Jevon

📌 My wife has just spent hours in a Zoom meeting with friends debating whether trifle contains jelly or jam. Two separate versions of Collins dictionary are said to be in dispute with each other. Delia Smith = jam; Jamie Oliver = jelly.

📌 At Headway with Laura Salisbury we trialled a selection of switches destined to be deployed in the manufacture of smart clothes that assist in the neuro-rehabilitation of brain-injury survivors.

FRIDAY The beauty of reading the Morning Star is that not only will you witness regular beatings for a Conservative government but equal disdain for the Labour opposition, which it sees as nowhere near left-wing enough. Today it adds common sense to anger in an editorial arguing for energy nationalisation. Britain should generate its own energy and set its own fuel prices, it says.

📌 Trying to come up with a pattern to use at Stitch & Bitch for making tote bags we can sell at the Queen’s Jubilee parties in June. I’m not sure this one works, not even with a ginger corgi wearing a gold/silver crown sitting on the number 70 in red, white and blue.

📌 Some things I admire just because of their determination and resilience. The Ecologist is one of those things. I especially like the stories they run about rewilding. It’s a big idea with a lot of resonance. And it’s always fascinating to imagine Britain and the world before it was set upon by humans. Today I got a message about various upcoming discussions on rewilding, including one very tempting offer to join the conversation asking “How can Indigenous wisdom psychologically rewild us?”

📌 Screwed up on Wordle again by getting hooked on a sequence and totally forgetting the very first letter I typed in, which went orange. No consolation, not even the UK intelligentsia lining up to persuade the New York Times, which recently bought Wordle, that it’s best for business if they keep it free.

📌 When writing about writing David Sedaris once remarked that sometimes “the gist is all you need” from a story. This always comes to mind when I read the weekly Sense Maker from the Tortoise. Its potted summaries of longer articles are all I really need. They are well-written, concise and obviously designed to get me to subscribe to the Tortoise for the full amslysis. But why would I do that when the Sense Maker is my “gist”, and it’s free. This week’s has a brilliant digest on European security and Macron’s failure to drum up any interest in an EU army.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

3 thoughts on “Scrapbook: Week 5, 2022

  1. Wordle has become very popular 🙂 We are receiving messages about it. Rishi Sunak in a scam !! His wife’s parents are highly respected people here. Even we do not know the celebrities or film stars! Sam’s totem pole is beautiful. Please convey my best wishes to her. What was decided by your wife after the zoom meeting ? Regards 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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