TUESDAY 1 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 2 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.
📌 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..
THURSDAY 3 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.
📌 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 4 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.
SATURDAY 5 The athletes at the Beijing Winter Olympics say it’s like being in Squid Game.
📌 Boris’s head might be half way to the chopping block, but Andy Becket imagines the Tories will still find a way to stay in power.
Nowadays it’s widely expected that our leaders will be out of their depth, as well as entirely out for themselves. That’s one reason why Starmer’s offer of more competence and integrity has yet to properly resonate. Not enough voters can envisage such a government.
📌 The gardens around Winchester Cathedral are just coming to the end of a festival of light. It was odd to see the blue background and the yellow stars of the EU flag on display among the sponsors’ logos.
📌 As we sat after supper listening to a Talking Heads album, Jill remarked that pretty soon large retail spaces will become high-functioning click-and-collect distribution centres. Order 3 pairs of the same trousers in different sizes online, turn up at the distribution shop, try them on and leave behind the ones that don’t fit.
SUNDAY 6 A passage in Nick Cohen’s column in the Observer suggests a Line of Duty-style TV drama in which a team of dynamic cops nail the crims who screw billions from the UK taxpayer.
“A serious policy response [to the mass fraud inside government] would mean providing the funding to Companies House so it can weed out and prosecute the beneficial owners of the thousands of criminal enterprises it currently covers with a patina of respectability. It would include cleaning up the City, clamping down on corruption in UK-controlled tax havens and stopping the libel courts being used as weapons in asymmetrical warfare by hostile foreign powers.”
📌 It is now a daily task to remember the films and TV series we watched during lockdown. What was that one about the single-mother Hollywood actress, whose crazy mother was Celia Imrie?
📌 Liz tells me that I’ve been playing the wrong Wordle. The one I’ve been toiling at is an app that looks like this…
But Liz says the real one, the “Wardle Wordle”, is only available at a website called powerlanguage.co.uk. The odd thing about this version is that it is browser-dependent. In other words, if you play Wardle Wordle in Safari and solve the puzzle in 4, you can then open the same puzzle in Chrome, insert the solution in line 1 and share your miracle triumph on Twitter. Liz says this is against the spirit of the game and only people with no sporting scruples would do that.
📌 Russian troops gather ominously at the border with Ukraine and the western democracies still can’t make up their minds what to do, writes Timothy Garton Ash in a concise essay that even dares to imagine a post-Putin democratic Russia in alliance and at peace with all of Europe and Eurasia.
📌 Winchester skyline tonight…
MONDAY 7 Went to bed last night a bit dejected, woke up this morning full of beans. Wardle Wordle, however, took SIX attempts.
📌 Spotted Rupert Graves wheeling his bike along Old Street, which sounds like a euphemism for something.
TUESDAY 8 Boris’s moment has finally arrived. He has the chance today to show his party and the electorate exactly what kind of politician he is. Last week in Parliament he linked his political opponent Keir Starmer to a peadophile (Jimmy Savile). His accusations were inflammatory lies, and he knew it. Many of his colleagues urged him not to make them and some of them resigned once he did. Yesterday an angry mob surrounded Starmer on the street, hurling insults and threats. If Boris does not now publicly condemn the mob and apologise to Starmer, he will be placing himself so far outside of the British political establishment that there is no way back in. Perhaps, like Donald Trump, that is his intention.
📌 I did a double take the other day when the governor of the Bank of England was reported telling workers no to ask for a pay rise right now because the economy is in the toilet (my words). As if Britain’s political and ruling classes (like himself) had nothing to do with it! That must have got Polly Toynbee’s goat, too, judging by her column in today’s Guardian.
📌 RIP Bamber Gascoigne, 87.
📌 In one of her lovely memoir blog posts, Lakshmi in India tells of attending a relative’s wedding and the tradition of Muhurta the officiating priest uses to determine the best time for the happy couple to get spliced. In this case it was 8.30am.
📌 Finally managed to come up with a Valentine’s image for art class I can actually live with…
📌 My wife got an email saying there was a bag of money at Dallas Fort Worth Airport with her name on it. It was dumped by an African diplomat fleeing detection. The “baggage handler” thought a 70/30 split was fair.
📌 Thames Water reconnected the interrupted supply, but the cold water upstairs is brown.
WEDNESDAY 9 Got a message from Liz to say today’s Wardle Wordle was an American spelling, which meant I got it in 1. Genius, I think they call it.
Wordle 235 1/6
📌 In art class I tried lino-cutting for the first time. It is something I could quite easily get addicted to but never improve at.
📌 Harshita sent a picture of her Mum contributing to our Stitch & Bitch project remotely. At the real one Vera told us with a flourish that she has been summoned for her 4th Covid jab.
THURSDAY 10 London Mayor Sadiq Khan is piling pressure on Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick to prove she still holds the trust of the people. The only way she can do that is to nail Boris for his lockdown partying. The Guardian has helpfully provided an essay on her failings as Britain’s top cop.
📌 The last time the air above Britain contained as much carbon as it does now, it was hot, yes, but also very rainy, says an article in the Conversation: “Its landscape resembled the warm and humid forests found in modern south-east China.”
📌 I reckon Boris enjoys a good whipping. According to the New Statesman he has been visiting unhappy Tory MPs asking them masochistically to insult and abuse him in the hope that they do so and enjoy it so much they forget to send that letter of no-confidence they have waiting in the kitchen drawer.
📌 In Brighton, Pip and Andy found a dead fox in their back garden. Apparently there are strict rules on the disposal of dead foxes. A lengthy discussion thread was inevitably spawned while the deceased rested inside a plastic bag inside a wheelie bin.
📌 The latest studio stitchwork is from a drawing by Cecil.
📌 My wife is disturbed by the screaming intensity of my dislike of one of the Junior Bake Off contestants. The 10-year-old child’s behaviour and attitude remind me too much of our prime minister.
FRIDAY 11 Today’s top headline is “Khan Gets Dick Out”.
📌 It’s fascinating to note that when Mayor Sadiq Khan announced on the radio yesterday that London’s trust in Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick was shot, neither the Home Secretary Priti Patel or the prime minister rushed to offer statements of support for the beleaguered cop. It is now Patel’s job to appoint Dick’s successor.
📌 Unless we all learn how to deal with our poo, the world is doomed, says an article in the Conversation.
SATURDAY 12 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 13 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 14 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 15 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 16 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 17 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 18 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.
SATURDAY 19 In the Geography round on Pointless Richard Osman told us that Donald Trump once accidentally renamed Namibia as Nambia and kept saying “Nambia” throughout a long speech.
📌 Brad Pitt is the victim of a revenge sue over a vineyard he bought with his former wife Angelina Jolie, who now obviously hates him so much she is prepared to wreck his plans for an early retirement in the south of France pretending to know about wine and modelling a new line in rustic floppy hats.
📌 The new project for our community Stitch & Bitch group is a Platinum Jubilee tote bag featuring a very cute corgi.
📌 Stuart in Brighton announced a status change on Facebook…
Sometimes, when I’m bored, I get wrapped up in my tutu and put a giant horn on my head and lather sparkles all over myself and slide around the kitchen floor pretending I’m a magical unicorn!
There then followed a string of earnest pledges from Stuart’s former school chums to join him in his eccentric pleasure-taking. One of them is actually mad enough to do it.
📌 My wife asked cautiously whether I agreed it was time for a new rug in our living room. When I replied yes without hesitation, adding that I always thought the existing rug looked like a dead dog, she seemed relieved.
SUNDAY 20 The space between not asleep and awake was filled by a radio production of John Berger’s autobiographical And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief As Photos, read compellingly by actors Simon McBurney and Harriet Walter. McBurney especially gave life to the poetry of Berger’s writing, something I’d not properly appreciated before.
📌 The so-called “listicle” is a much derided journalistic form favoured by click-bait websites. But there’s a Waitrose version out there on display every week in the posh papers. Andrew Rawnsley pens an excellent example today in which his weekly essay on the state of British politics is a list on the multiple ways in which Britain has gone to pot.
The credibility and moral authority of the entire structure of public life is shuddering
MONDAY 21 Nick Clegg has been promoted to Mark Zuckerberg 2.0.
📌 The usefulness of hooking my glasses into the collar of my sweater was brought into question when they wriggled free and fell into the toilet.
TUESDAY 22 There’s a messy propaganda conflation happening in the media in which Nato, the EU and the UN have all been shoved together as the good guys, and all of Russia as the bad guys. Putin is obviously a bad guy, but both Nato and the EU have thrown their weight around internationally before now, so there is no small amount of hypocrisy in these accounts. Very helpfully an article the Morning Star today offers a reminder of the founding principles of the UN after WW2 and does not hesitate in naming Nato as the organisation it believes has done most to undermine those values.
It is no longer feasible or possible to harbour any lingering belief that Nato is anything other than a tool of US hard power, deployed not to protect and defend, but to destroy and dominate.
WEDNESDAY 23 The Conversation has the most convincing analysis of the Russia/Ukraine situation. Read in conjunction with a viewing of the BBC iPlayer documentary Putin, Russia And The West creates what just about passes for a fair estimate of the current crisis amid all the shouty warmongering.
Meanwhile, the Socialist Worker sides with the Morning Star in fingering the West as antagonist-in -chief.
📌 Art class today was the first of a two-week celebration of International Women’s Day. I didn’t dare raise the issue of gender fluidity but instead kidnapped some Bridget Riley Op-Art and created an image of three drunk women staggering down The Tunnel That Never Ends.
📌 Sam sent her latest picture and it’s a hat that looks very like the one my cousin Kate wore at her wedding.
THURSDAY 24 On the radio in the middle of the night there was a drama about a young woman enslaved by loneliness. She sat awake at night watching the shopping channels on TV. She starts buying and buying, but never opens the door when the delivery guy arrives. He leaves her items outside her flat. Inside it are stacks of boxes of unopened TV shopping. Soon she is weaving her way through an internal construction of her own making, trying desperately to work out how to escape.
I got to a point in this story where the sadness of the character, Nikki, was so heavy I switched off the radio. A happy ending would have seemed gimmicky; a psychotiç downward spiral would be depressing.
📌 As if to add to the downer of this radio play, shortly afterwards a message popped up on my notifications saying Russia had launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Maybe Vladimir Putin and TV shopaholic Nikki have something in common. I wouldn’t be surprised. On page 1033 of his memoir Hitch 22, Christopher Hitchens notes that on the day he was born, 13 April 1949, the Russian foreign minister Andrei Gromyko “denounced the newly formed Nato alliance as a tool for aggression against the USSR”.
📌 I grew up as a child watching the Vietnam war on the TV. All I knew back then was that Ukraine was “Russia’s bread basket”. I feel quite ashamed that my generation couldn’t stop this happening.
📌 Wagging his finger at a few Russian banks and billionaires is not enough, Boris is told. Problem is there is too much Russian cash hidden in the City of London, says the Morning Star as it struggles to look for a solution.
Bellicose bullshit from all sides gets in the way of a rational resolution and Labour should be arguing for an alternative to our government’s grandstanding that might consolidate the stalled efforts of Germany and France to resolve the issue in Europe’s interest rather than that of US energy corporations.
📌 Simon Jenkins attempts to put a level head into the growing conflict in Ukraine, only to be shot at by readers calling him a pathetic apologist.
FRIDAY 25 It is widely reported that diplomacy with Russia is dead and Putin firmly entrenched as the dictator on the doorstep.
📌 To lunch in Croydon with Sue and her mum Margaret. Sue had a first-hand report from one of her online language students in Kyiv as the Russian army rolled in. She also showed us an ancient photo of her mum as a young woman at work measuring components for aircraft and missiles. The Duke who always turns up at Wimbledon (Kent?) is stood alongside her pretending to be fascinated by her measuring contraption.
📌 A detour through the Next Outlet in Croydon revealed waistcoats to be a thing. Trying to imagine a passing tribe of young swains cruising down George Street looking for fun.
SATURDAY 26 The war in Ukraine has thrown an uncomfortable light on Boris’s Brexit bluster, writes Paul Waugh. In defending Ukraine he is openly seen to be supporting the country that wants to join the institution he was so keen to get Britain out of – the European Union. He might also be finally waking up to the fact that political and economic alliance is preferable to isolation.
Slowly, it appears that No 10 is realising that the real “enemy” is not Brussels bureaucrats. It is the common enemy of the gangster state that is Putin’s Kremlin.
📌 Full Fact outs a number of sources, including the BBC, for using old footage of war planes, military manouvres and disasters to grease up reports from Ukraine. One of them was a warehouse explosion in China from 2015.
📌 Vlad is out of control, reckons the commentariat – so far out of control that nothing short of the re-establishment of a long-gone Russian empire will do…
📌 My wife is convinced that the continuity announcer on Absolute Radio 70s is Steven Toast. Whenever she mentions this I take it as a cue to do my brilliant impersonation of Clem Fandango.
📌 To Barbican Cinema 1 to see my wife’s cousin Michael in The Duke, a lovely film about class starring Jim Broadbent as a Newcastle working-class hero idealist campaigning for free TV licences for OAPs, and Helen Mirren as his long-suffering wife. Michael appears at the beginning for about 10 seconds as a reporter from the News Chronicle in a flat cap and a panatella cigar in his mouth. The film’s twist is a good one. It is signalled by a single line right at the start, but otherwise remains hidden until the end.
SUNDAY 27 The Guardian has a compelling historical drama dressed up as a portrait essay of Vladimir Putin and the Russia he has built in the image of Ivan The Terrible. If once there was hope that Russia and the West could somehow rub along, all that is gone. The real, crazy, obsessed, power-mad Putin is depicted in a way that recalls Al Pacino’s final descent in Scarface.
📌 The BBC has a fascinating profile of the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, whose previous job was as a comedy actor.
📌 I heard on the radio that Thrash Metal has been renamed Threttle.
📌 Liverpool won the Carabao Cup on penalties. Their Russian-backed opponents Chelsea were unlucky to lose.
MONDAY 28 It is starting to look like Russia’s real intention is to annexe all of Ukraine east of the Dnieper River. Kyiv will become the new Berlin.
📌 Graphic design is a place where art and invention dance with each other ecstatically. My cousin Kate posted a picture of her series of beer mats celebrating Liverpool FC footballers.