SATURDAY Read in the news that Merope’s daughter Martha had died after contracting sepsis. I searched in vain for the photo I took of the tiny hand prints Martha deposited on our window when she was a toddler.
📌 At Paula’s in Sutton her son Séan, 11, offered me a sneaky Kit-Kat while we watched a Blue Planet sharks programme on TV.
📌 The meters on electric taxi cabs don’t stop when the vehicle is stood still, as we discovered on a tortured journey home from Victoria station.
SUNDAY Speculation on what happens after Boris has returned. Paul Waugh in the i sings the praises of defence secretary Ben “full tonto” Wallace for his leadership skills and tips him for the top job once the Tories have worked out how to eject Boris.
📌 Clothes and accessories with lots of decorative detail are a gift for Sam’s gozzy eye.
MONDAY A question on Quora asked what would happen if Russia decided to launch a nuclear attack on the US. The answer was very detailed on the modern scattergun approach to nuclear devastation and full of qualifying edits, but it scarily included photographs of the nuclear missiles currently in use by the superpowers. One of the clarifying edits in the article said that all of the above assumes the weapons are being used by a “rational actor“, which sounds like the title of an existential novel.
📌 The latest stitchwork project is finished. It’s a radiation-green drawstring sack showing Shakespeare Tower in the Barbican. It’s simple but effective. The tower rises powerfully from the pitched roofs and chimney stacks of what was there before The Blitz and the architecture that came after it.
TUESDAY I joined a small team from Headway yesterday at a meeting with the Barbican’s Community Partnerships people for a midterm evaluation of our working relationship and the projects and activities we have completed so far. During one of the breakout sessions Andrew from the curatorial team gave us an insight into the process of putting on a big exhibition. The upcoming Alice Neel exhibition, for example, is a touring exhibition and will arrive at the Barbican from the Pompidou Centre in Paris. The curatorial team will then “stage” the Neel works along with others they have sourced. In this way the exhibition is less the personal vision of a curator than a production by the department of an institution, and the curator in this case – Eleanor, who we worked with on the Jean Dubuffet exhibition – acts as a director. Andrew told us that the opportunity to exhibit this particular collection of Neel’s work was one Eleanor did not want to miss.
📌 The remake of the Ipcress File on TV is good on class politics, but like the original very mannered in both look and plot. I’m not even sure I’ve connected up all the clues properly and probably watch it with a dim look on my face.
📌 Building on its serial rucks with the EU, the UK will soon become one of those embarrassing states that ignores the growing list of international crimes, fines and misdemeanors it has next to its name.
WEDNESDAY Got my wife to send a sick note to my art class today. Sore throat and headache, which was true, though an underlying cause might have been today’s class subject – “observational drawing” – which for me is the art equivalent of quadratic equations.
📌 The Socialist Worker reports that Russian anti-war socialists Rozalia Jamalova and Daria Sharkova have been released after appearing in court and fined 10,000 roubles each.
Police seized them along with other protesters at an anti-war rally in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday for shouting slogans against the invasion of Ukraine.Read the full story here…
📌 It might not be long before Northern Ireland is mischievously described as the UK’s very own “Little Donbas”, not simply because of it being a disputed territory but because in the May elections Sinn Fein could become the majority party, which won’t go down well with the ultras on the right wing of the ruling Conservative Party. Casting Boris as Putin would be a gross distortion, I suppose, but not for some of the more passionate unionists in Norther Ireland, as a Diary piece in the London Review of Books illustrates.
📌 The discovery of Shackleton’s HMS Endurance off the coast of Antarctica is exciting news, made more exciting by the name of the expedition’s director of exploration being Mensun Bound.
📌 A nation’s people run for their lives only to find Britain’s door firmly shut and securely locked. The shame of it!
At the time it was reported that Poland had taken 800,000 refugees, the UK had accepted a mere 50. Which, to put things into perspective, is half the number of people you’d invite to a Downing Street bring-your-own-bottle party in the middle of a lockdown.Marina Hyde, the Guardian
📌 Dictators underestimate the strength of democracies, writes Raphael Behr. In the case of Vladimir Putin I think he has at least underestimated the resilience of Ukrainians and the grim future young Russians face should he not get a grip of his madness pronto.
The Russia that speaks a language of rational engagement with the west is heading into exile.
📌 If Vladimir Putin needs cheering up he need only read the New Statesman, which uses the fiasco of the Polish fighter jets to illustrate how clueless, callous and divided the west is regarding the war in Ukraine.
THURSDAY The sound of pessimism seeps out of every supposedly balanced news report in the “fresh” talks between Russia and Ukraine. The pretense that Vladimir Putin is in any way interested in peace with the west is a sham. He is a warrior and he hungers for war. And according to a professor at Essex University, he’s not the only one. War, and especially the war in Ukraine, is a payday jackpot for the defence industries of both Russia and America, who have quietly been counting the billions in weapons sales as the bodies have continued to pile up, he writes in the Conversation.
📌 In the Conversation there’s a very cool analysis of how wars start and end. And in the case of Russia vs Ukraine, the end is still a long way off.
📌 There’s an economic price to pay for taking the moral high ground, writes Larry Elliott. Be careful what you wish for when calling for Britain to be purged of the dirty money that has maintained our national living standards for decades.
📌 At Headway the garment technologists from the Royal College of Art were back in action with lightweight sweaters that massage and energise disabled upper limbs. In the last session we trialled some switches to power up the garment. In this session we got to test the full treatment. We all agreed that the experience was quite sexy. My notes describe the “sensuous soporific vibration” of the techno-sweater, which looks like it came from Uniqlo.
📌 To the Barbican to see Ali & Ava, a warm love story that forever looks like it might tip into tragedy. Another great example of how in Britain class is a greater force for unity than race or religion.
FRIDAY Full Fact reports government ministers including Jacob Rees-Mogg claiming that Britain has sanctioned Russia more than any other country, including the US. The claim included graphs and numbers said to come from the Foreign Office that the experts at Full Fact have not only not been able to verify but have not even been able to locate.
📌 In the Guardian, Andy Becket has a neat short essay on Britain’s role as an economic “butler” to the obscenely rich. In it he references something called the Wimbledon Effect, which is code for being a great host but poor at the activity being hosted. The connection being that Britain is great at tennis tournaments but rubbish at tennis, and good at laundering dirty money but bad at wealth creation.
📌 The Surrealism exhibition at Tate Modern takes you to surrealistic destinations you never even knew existed, peopled by artists you’d never heard of.
📌 Neil in Norway reports that his local newspaper has a “handy feature” on how to locate your nearest bomb shelter. He adds that pharmacies in Norway have sold out of the iodine tablets used to treat radiation sickness.