April 9-15, 2022
SATURDAY 9 Marina Hyde unpicks the fine stitchwork that holds Project Sunak together and boggles at how such a supposedly oven-ready prime ministerial candidate can make so many public-relations blunders, such as putting petrol in someone else’s a car and struggling to put a price on a loaf of bread. But one of the reader’s comments at the end of Hyde’s column has a darker view of the Chancellor’s current predicament in relation to his wife’s tax status and it’s unfolding controversy.
It’s a bit worrying that the wife of the Chancellor has so little faith in his ability to run the economy that she’s not planning on stopping here.
📌 My wife says that Will Smith getting a ban from attending the Oscars was like her getting a ban from entering Buckingham Palace.
📌 Raphael Behr says Vladimir Putin’s belief that the puny liberal democracies will cave in to Russia’s manly strength is a delusion and that democracy is in fact much sturdier than the desperate brand of tyranny Putin has chosen to impose on the Russian people.
Russian politics is degenerating from a thuggish authoritarian system that occasionally mimicked democratic process into something more martial, monolithic, totalitarian.
📌 David Lean’s film of Great Expectations was on the TV this afternoon, an already great story made even greater by being well told. It’s economy would have impressed Dickens, though in his vanity he might not have noticed how Lean disguised some of his more irritating diversions in over-ornamented background music.
SUNDAY 10 Simon Tisdall joins the chorus of jeering at the impotence of the United Nations (UN) in finding a solution to stop the violence in Ukraine. The article helpfully reflects on the history and the founding principles of the UN, but argues that it is in desperate need of reform in times when one nation shows no hesitation whatsoever in turning aggressive against another.
📌 The most interesting portrait of Vladimir Putin I’ve read so far comes from Gideon Rachman, who notes that all of the overtures and concessions to liberal democracy Putin has made over the years disguised a deep hatred and a determination to do damage to western incursions into territory he saw as historically owned and controlled by Russia.
📌 Nice bit of ridicule in Andrew Rawnsley’s column about Rishi Sunak. You can’t help but get the idea that Boris really doesn’t like being the poor scrimping neighbour to his stinking-rich Chancellor.
📌 Will Hutton believes Emmanuel Macron has a chance to become the knight in white satin for a European Enlightenment cause threatened all around by tyrants and bigots.
📌 We were talking about a media story in which a woman was admitted to hospital with chronic stomach cramps because she wouldn’t fart in front of her boyfriend. She held in her wind for two years and suffered the consequences. My wife then told a tale from many years ago when she lodged in a house in Manchester. Her landlady, Auntie Nelly, had a daughter, 18, who refused to eat in front of her boyfriend.
MONDAY 11 The Socialist Worker‘s verdict on the first round of the French Presidential elections is that Marine le Pen has only been able to cast herself a the champion of the ordinary person because Emmanuel Macron has made his bed in the parlours of the rich.
📌 In TV’s Silent Winess, the forensic scientists mistook death by bee sting for a cunning murder.
TUESDAY 12 Simon Jenkins warns that the rise of populism means the end of democracy. It is dispiriting to witness the seeping triumph of the individual over the team.
📌 One of the cross-trainers in my gym is so infrequently used that it has started to rust.
📌 The digital curation, Australian Memoir, I did for Art et al. has been launched. It works best on a tablet, I think.
WEDNESDAY 13 in TV’s Silent Witness last night there was a suspect dubbed “Frank The Wank” by the investigating police officer. Frank declined to father children with his wife but happily supplied his high-octane sperm to the hordes of local women desperate for motherhood but unsuccessful in finding it by more conventional methods. He kept test tubes of his super-juice shelved neatly in a shed on his allotment. Frank was eventually beaten to near-death by a man in a hoodie with a baseball bat.
📌 The WordPress app on my Motorola phone is playing up, so I have started a long correspondence with WordPress in America. In trying to investigate the problem they asked me to type some words into a draft posting so they could put it under their techie microscope and hopefully solve the problem. I just re-read the words I typed…
Slowtype test file… On the first day, the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. On the second day, the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog again. On the third day the quick brown fox got his leg over with the lazy dog. Then the quick brown fox and the lazy dog did it again and again until the quick brown fox got really tired and the lazy dog wasn’t really interested anymore. So they gave up, put on the TV and watched The Big Bang Theory for the umpteenth time. It was the one where Sheldon tries to teach Penny about physics. He perched on the arm of the sofa and proclaimed, theatrically, “It was a warm Summer’s evening in Ancient Greece”…
📌 In a stinging editorial, the Guardian makes the point that no time during the worst days of the Covid health crisis did doctors and nurses grant themselves permission to unwind over bottles of wine and cheesy nibbles. At the end of the article one reader chose to use the “comment” forum to quote the Prime Minister responding to questions around his own conduct.
📌 On arriving in Liverpool the first thought that came to mind was that it‘s no city for old men. The city centre is rammed with people talking a language I understand but in a foreign tongue.
THURSDAY 14 Liverpool fielded a weakened side against Benfica at Anfield last night, presumably believing a 3-1 first-leg advantage was enough to shield them. It didn’t work out that way and they scraped through to a Champions League semi-final game against Villarreal with a 3-3 draw.
📌 Visited Becky Waite and her team at the Blue Room at the Bluecoat, one of Liverpool’s oldest building and an arts hub since the 18th Century. It was a magical visit and we walked away full of admiration and straight into a Suki Chan audio-visual exhibition in the main gallery. I even took some photographs of the Bluecoat garden for Stuart, who used to eat his sandwiches there when he worked in the passport office on (I think) Water Street. Or was it Old Hall Street?
FRIDAY 15 We couldn’t have jelly worms for breakfast this morning because we ate them all last night while watching Taskmaster.
📌 Sam sent her Easter picture of Christ the Redeemer.