April 2-8, 2022…
SATURDAY 2 Instagram is the new tool for investigators in search of Russian oligarchs to sanction, says Vice, adding that their scrupulously protected anonymity is most often blown by the attention-seeking, selfie-snapping influencers they invite onto their luxury yachts for cocktails and caviar.
📌 Good analysis by Paul Waugh in the i of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s bogus Household Support Fund and a sneaky change to the T&Cs in his Spring Statement that leaves both vulnerable old people and families with children with less than they had before.
📌 Away from all the good/evil/democracy/autocracy name-calling gameplay of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the real geopolitics is being done in India, where criticism of Russia is muted mainly because it sees the US and its European allies as blatant hypocrites.
📌 Had I not seen it in a headline, I would have guessed that the word “bong” had passed into history.
SUNDAY 3 Great piece by Ed Vulliamy on the similarities between Bosnia 30 years ago and Ukraine today. I remember his reporting at the time, and that of Maggie O’Kane. The Massacre of Srebrenica and the spectre of Ratko Mladic stick in the memory. His name became a byword for evil. It’s hard not to detect in Vulliamy’s piece the suspicion that some form of Putin appeasement is just around the corner. It’s a notion touched on in another article, by Simon Tisdall.
Maybe this is how the war ends. Not with a bang or a shabby deal but with a slow collapse. Who will last longer: Putin the deluded, paranoid war criminal, or the motley crew of unreliable western politicians who oppose him?
MONDAY 4 At the Mexican restaurant in Finsbury Park last night to celebrate Sue’s birthday the number of different tequilas on the menu was greater than the number of fajitas. At the end of the evening one of the jovial waiters brought out some cake for Sue and plonked a ridiculously large Mexican hat on her head. She paused for a moment, bowed her head and held her nose as if in some kind of secret prayer, then smiled gamely for the inevitable chorus of Happy Birthday.
📌 Science is the latest casualty of war. Western nations have stopped working with Russia, which is a big bummer for international Space research. A UK drilling machine scheduled to visit Mars to drill a hole can now no longer carry out its important mission.
📌A message arrived from Lisa saying the recording of our panel discussion at the Cromwell Place exhibition last weekend is now online. I can’t bring myself to listen/watch it. The fleeting glimpses I saw revealed me to be fiddling and twitching far too much. I must remember next time to sit still and keep facial movement to a minimum.
📌 I’m starting to wonder where Sam gets the ideas for her pictures. Recent ones have just seemed so, er, weird.
📌 With all the so-called impartial coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war deeply suspect, it is still the Socialist Worker that seems to offer the most consistent anti-war perspective.
TUESDAY 5 There’s a lot of comment in the media on whether Vladimir Putin might be prosecuted for war crimes. The short answer is no. Technically it would be a waste of time. Also technically, the US, Russia and Ukraine are not signed up to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which makes a mockery of the idea that peace is possible. The UN is similarly knotted in dispute and non-compliance of rules and conventions. All of this merely points to political failure on a mass scale.
📌 I’ve changed my mind about the Barbican’s Postwar Modern exhibition. I initially said there wasn’t enough photography for my taste. But on reflection there is plenty of great realist photography but not much styled photography, which is very much to my taste. Maybe I didn’t see some of it at the first viewing because there were too many artworld liggers and assorted poseurs blocking my view.
WEDNESDAY 6 A friend who has worked on the TV series Gogglebox tells us that one of the show’s production rules states that if any of the cast stops being “normal” (ie, have an ordinary job, domestic life, etc) they become outcasts. In other words, if they decide to cash in on the celebrity the show inevitably grants them, they no longer qualify to appear. The prime example is Scarlett Moffatt, who after appearing on Gogglebox became a ubiquitous TV personality but consequently no longer appears on Gogglebox.
📌 Canvas craft aprons are tough work for needle and thread, so the simpler the design the better.
THURSDAY 7 Stuart messaged offering a 1978 Datsun Cherry in snot green for £150. An hour later it had gone up to £175. An hour after that it was a 1982 red Ford Escort Ghia, same price.
📌 At supper during a debate about the future of Channel 4, my cousin Kate said she wouldn’t miss much if the channel were sold off to an overseas buyer. I disagreed at the time but later checked the current content screening on Channel 4 and was forced to agree that it is mostly rubbish.
📌 My cousin Kate also believes that the media focus on Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s wife having non-domicile tax status in the UK is a plot by Boris to discredit his chief threat for the leadership of the Conservative party.
FRIDAY 8 Blimey! I always had it that the expression and the idea of “survival of the fittest” was the work of Charles Darwin. Not quite, says popular-science comedian Helen Keen in her radio show Big Problems. Yes, the phrase originated in Darwin’s evolutionary theory of natural selection, but it was philosopher Herbert Spencer who first coined it. And according to Keen, in a sketch about individualism and collectivism asking Who Cares? a more appropriate term to describe the thrust of Darin’s anthropology would be “survival of the nicest”.
📌 I had intended to start publishing this blog monthly, but my sister requested I continue weekly. And since the whole project started as my way of writing letters to her (she lives overseas), I will continue with the 7-day compendium of my thoughts and activities.
📌 Just realised that the Arts & Crafts category in this blog’s index does not link to my other blog, BillyArt, so I created a placemaker posting that links to the correct location.