SATURDAY The writing is so obviously on the wall for Boris that it’s hard to believe he still has the desire to cling on. Yesterday Rishi Sunak openly and convincingly set out his Bounce Back Britain campaign and, with Cressida Dick removed by Labour’s Sadiq Khan, Conservative leadership hopeful Priti Patel can now step forward and do likewise for the law-and-order agenda. Expect canny outsiders such as Penny Mordaunt to start popping up soon.
📌 I embrace armchair class warfare with relish while watching Junior Bake Off, but the Overheard In Waitrose site takes contempt to a new level, as illustrated recently by a pair of Birkenstocks from Cambridge: “My son is two and a half, and loves nothing more than a pear-and-mascarpone pitta; grownups can add a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg. The pitta should be crunchy for contrasting texture.” Love that semi-colon. It has such metaphorical allure.
📌 Cressida Dick’s final big move as Britain’s top cop is to send a questionnaire to Boris about the numerous parties he held during lockdown.
📌 Luke reports from Texas on his first sighting of a robot food delivery service. Will this drive the tribes of Deliveroo cyclists to unite and unionise?
📌 The Barbican’s “Alternative Valentine” film was Neil Jordan’s brilliant Interview With The Vampire. I don’t think many of the younger cinema-goers will mark it down as the gothic horror classic it has become. Helen McCrory was cast as “2nd Whore”, Tom Cruise is quintessentially rubbish, Brad Pitt and Antonio Banderas excellent and a very young Kirsten Dunst amazing.
SUNDAY We watched The Masked Singer final on catch-up. Panda came third and when decapitated was revealed to be an Irish boyband singer who I’d never heard of. He nevertheless sang his heart out and said hiding behind the mask had given him the confidence to let himself go, which I took as code that he was about to leave the boyband and embark on a solo career.
In second place was Mushroom, aka Charlotte Church, who rather gave the game away by singing a piece of opera, which led the judges to conclude very quickly that Mushroom was Charlotte Church. I couldn’t decide whether Church’s appearance on the show was an attempt to transition into a new career in popular entertainment or a reminder to skeptics that she is still an impressive opera singer.
The winner was Panda, who turned out to be Natalie Imbruglia. “She’s had a lot of work done,” my wife remarked. Robobunny was also in the Final, but I wasn’t paying attention so I don’t know who she/he/they was/were.
📌 Because I never read the printed information plates that sit alongside paintings in exhibitions, it was often hard to work out what I was looking at during Francis Bacon: Man & Beast at the Royal Academy. Odd as it might seem, I enjoyed the backgrounds a lot.
MONDAY The Guardian has a learned short essay on the brilliance of film music. It’s pegged on John Williams turning 90, but other composers get a mention too.
📌 I’ve become a fan of the reader’s comments that appear at the end of football match reports. Liverpool beat Burnley 1-0 yesterday.
📌 My Valentine card makes a nice collage companion to the Cold War Steve jigsaw we have on the go.
TUESDAY In the wake of Cressida Dick’s resignation, two black police officers have spoken out on racism inside the Metropolitan Police. This comes 29 years after the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the substandard police investigation that followed. The Macpherson Report (1999) identified institutional racism in the Met and a drive to recruit more black and Asian police officers was started. It now looks like the officers recruited simply became new targets for the army of racists inside the force and that any hope of reform in the Met died on the street with Stephen Lawrence in 1993.
📌 The question on Quora was: “While searching through my teenage son’s room, I found a piece of paper with the words “error,” “sox,” and “lancet” written on it and nothing else. What could this mean? The top-voted answer is sarcastic: “Your son is secretly learning Latin. The ERROR, SOX, LANCET rule is one of the main rules used in Latin for determining if a word is masculine, feminine or neuter. I would be very worried. Usually kids start by learning Latin, because “all the cool kids do so” then they fall into harder stuff. In a few months he will study ancient Greek. Then he will start to translate the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Another Quora reader asks why military snipers aren’t sent to win medals at the Olympics.
📌 Anti-vaxx social media influencers are on the hunt for unjabbed mothers, says an article in the Conversation.
📌 Ailbhe Rea in the New Statesman is not sure Putin will be that bothered about what Boris has to say about Russia’s “imminent” invasion of Ukraine. Like many in his own party, Putin sees Boris as a dead man walking. Anything he says or does from now can only damage the Conservative brand.
📌 On Kingsland Road, the point at which a collection of electrical cables enter a building looked like a laboratory experiment gone wrong.
WEDNESDAY My cousin Barbara in Italy did an online quiz thing that tells you what line of work you are most suited to. The answer was 99% Mafia Boss: “You don’t take no for an answer. You always get what you want. You are scary when mad”. I guess that means she is only 1% Little Red Riding Hood.
📌 The government’s upcoming Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has rightly come under the cosh in the light of recent upheavals in the Met. The Morning Star has a typically strident analysis. Then Sayeeda Warsi stepped up with an impassioned plea of resistance to any extension to the government’s citizen-stripping powers. Warsi for me is still the only Conservative who can match Boris for personality,
📌 Really enjoying one of the latest studio stitchwork projects. It is Chippy’s Connie As A Goth in gold thread on blue velvet.
📌 Marina Hyde in the Guardian properly nails the scandal of the subpostmasters prosecuted falsely by computer error, but only fleetingly addresses the issue that when it was happening most of the media classes were nowhere to be seen, including those at the Guardian.
📌 At Stitch & Bitch Vera gave us the full chapter on her burnt shoulder. She injured it by the over-enthusiastic use of a pain-reducing heat pad. As if sustaining a serious wound to an already painful area of the body weren’t enough, she now makes daily visits to the pharmacy to get her scabby right shoulder cleaned and re-dressed. In the past week she has spent more than £100 on this treatment, having been sold various unctions and cleansing potions that she claims are slowly doing the trick.
THURSDAY When Brexit got done, freedom of movement for EU nationals ended. For some. An item on the radio told of the government scam to sell visas to anyone with enough cash. For the privilege you will be termed an “investor”, which sounds a whole lot better than “economic migrant”.
📌 Quercus is researching a book on procrastination. His wife Julia thought he’d dozed off after too many Bakewell tarts. Quercus claimed he was on a fact-finding mission.
📌 HufPostUK reckons Boris’s lawyers have worked out a way for him to wriggle off the Partygate hook.
📌 Wednesday came and went and Russia did not invade Ukraine as was forecast. Pity the weather didn’t follow the same plan. Storm Dudley blew the lid off our outside drinks box.
📌 At Headway we stuffed ourselves with apple and plum cake for Cecil’s 83rd birthday.
📌 Dare to believe in a Britain without a Monarchy, urges Polly Toynbee. It really isn’t as frightening as you thought. In fact, it could be the making of us as a nation and the logical outcome of supposedly “taking back control”.
FRIDAY in Scotland fake pine martens are to stand sentry on the northward routes favoured by rampaging southern grey squirrels. This is meant to leave the endangered red squirrels free to roam and fornicate at leisure, thus restoring the depleted population levels.
📌 Over at Tech Crunch they are lamenting the passage of Wordle to the New York Times. Its eccentricities will be sorely missed along with its very old-tech-new-tech nameplate powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle.
📌 The Tortoise reports that contrary to popular belief, crypto-currencies are not an easy hiding place for online fraudsters and money-launderers, as evidenced by a recent case in the US in which two seasoned embezzlers were caught trying to wash $4.4bn.
The case is worth examining as an indication that even in the sophisticated pursuit of cybercrime, people matter.
📌 Storm Eunice has forced some of the nation’s top professionals to stay at home. The stand-in news presenter on BBC lunchtime TV news asked a fisherman in Ilfracombe whether his boat was “one of those rubber-ring things”, eager to learn whether such a vessel would be up to whatever Storm Eunice could throw at it. The fisherman did his very best to suppress a laugh of ridicule.
Meanwhile, Eunice has fuelled mass addiction to Big Jet TV, where you can watch jet pilots at Heathrow Airport wrestling with the storm to dramatic commentary from some guy in a van parked nearby.