April 30 – May 6, 2022
SATURDAY 30 We lost count of the number of times Ursula dies in the TV adaptation of Life After Life. Every time the shower of fluff descended we knew one of her lives was over and a new one about to start. It was a brilliantly imaginative way to tell a life story, the starting premise being to inject the question “What if?” into moments of your personal history and follow the story to its end.
📌 My wife’s new medication for foot cramps comes with advice that side effects might include: “abdominal pain, diarrhoea, disturbed vision (blurred vision, changes in colour perception or field of vision, total blindness), headache, feeling or being sick, ringing in the ears or impaired hearing, rashes, loss of consciousness, fits, shock due to heart problems, irregular heartbeats, death.”
SUNDAY 1 While he has been sucking up hard on the ultra right wing of his party, Boris hasn’t noticed that soppy blue-stocking Conservatives have lost faith and can no longer be taken for granted, writes Nick Cohen.
📌 Celebrities and world figures are starting to arrive in Ukraine, presumably in an attempt to show the some defiance to Putin. Putin doesn’t give a toss. He continued his bombing raids on Kyiv while UN Secretary-General António Guterres was there. And I don’t think he will change tactics now that Nancy Pelosi and Angelina Jolie have flown in. It begs the question as to whose presence in Ukraine might get Putin to stop his reign of terror.
📌 Gentleman Jack‘s love life is spiralling out of control.
MONDAY 2 Food banks don’t want potatoes from donors because many of the people who use food banks can’t afford to cook them. Soon we will be reading stories about urban gatherings, where hungry people sit around makeshift campfires on wastelands boiling spuds for starving infants.
📌 A story in the London Review of Books adds pasta and rice to the above and expands the analysis to illustrate that UK food and fuel poverty is reaching a point where people are unable even to cover the cost of breathing – that the mere functioning of the human body has a unit price per person.
TUESDAY 3 Leaked news from America says that the US Supreme Court is about to kill the universal right to abortion. The United States of America has for some time had a problem with being united and this is further evidence that it is a nation in crisis. A new form of state tribalism has evolved and is testing the big idea of unity under one flag that has survived for so long.
📌 Strangely, the news from America had me running the lyrics of the Graham Parker song You Can’t Be Too Strong through my head…
It must have felt strange to find me inside you
I hadn’t intended to stay
If you want to keep it right, put it to sleep at night
Squeeze it until it could say, You Can’t Be Too Strong…
📌 Talking of nations in crisis, the Conversation has a worrying analysis of how the UK government is slowly removing the right to vote from anyone it doesn’t like the look of.
📌 My wife has a special skill. In Wordle, she goes from no letters in her first word straight to the correct answer by Word 3.
WEDNESDAY 4 Russia has become the Millwall of world affairs. A report on the radio last night revealed that the accusations of neo-nazism thrown at Ukraine and the EU are widely believed in Russia.
📌 At a User Group meeting at St Luke’s yesterday we talked about the difficulties children are facing in trying to re-socialise after the lockdown restrictions of the pandemic. Safe places for them to meet, play and recalibrate from the dislocation has become an issue.
📌 A story in the Morning Star that repeats the line that Nato carries a lot of the blame for the war in Ukraine also repeatedly inserts a soft “none of this excuses Putin’s barbarism” excuse throughout.
📌 In art class we finished the two-week session on mark-making and portraiture. I did a portrait of my wife in 8 layers: seven mark-making layers and a final painted layer.
THURSDAY 5 At Headway Brad said that Falafel Wrap (our lunch, £3.50) sounds like a disease.
📌 With Eleanor and other members of the Barbican curatorial team we watched a documentary about the American artist Alice Neel. It has a semi-submerged theme centring on parenting and parenthood. I asked the curators if they thought Neel’s portraits were surrogate children and commented on what an unloving mother she was to her actual children.
📌 Positive News reports a rise in kindness.
📌 When Sam’s drawing of a watering can impersonating a multicoloured fish arrived, I asked her from which orifice the water came out.
FRIDAY 6 At a meeting with three of our councillors last night, one of them, Natasha, suggested residents be shown The London Plan. I liked the idea that a relic council such as ours should be better integrated into a London-wide strategy but I said a Harry Potter version of The London Plan might be more easily digested. Harry Potter And The London Plan, a bestseller by JK Rowling. You read it here first.
📌 The big question this morning is whether nervous Conservatives will now turn on Boris. It’s probably time for any mystery replacements to step forward, but that is unlikely. It’s also time for the secret anti-Conservative alliance to start singing from the same hymn sheet: climate, the economy, the nhs, proportional representation.
During recent public appearances, Boris Johnson has looked like a novelty Boris Johnson candle left next to a radiator.Marina Hyde, the Guardian
📌 There’s a lone magpie out on the lawn. It looks young, so maybe it is not mourning the death of a partner.
📌 Twice on one bus journey the driver ejected people whose payment method failed.
📌 To the Royal Academy for the Whistler’s Woman In White exhibition, a small but perfectly formed collection that offers endless fascination and curiosity. It features works by other artists, including a riveting trio of reproductions by Gustave Courbet of his beautiful Irish Woman with (big surprise, this) red hair.
📌 The BBC has a story about Vladimir Putin’s secret girlfriend, who may shortly face sanctions.