July 2-8, 2022
SATURDAY 2 We arrived home the other day to find my wife’s actor cousin Mike searching desperately for the annotated script he has been using to rehearse the play he will appear in next month. All the careful notes he has made are handwritten on the pages of this script. He’d been looking everywhere but couldn’t find it. It wasn’t in the bathroom or under the sofa. We concluded he must have left it at work, on the set of his upcoming play (he had, it later emerged), but I nevertheless couldn’t resist teasing him with the idea that one of his fellow cast members had stolen it in a fit of rivalry. Over dinner we moulded this dramatic twist into an episode of Midsomer Murders. The perp was an angry young anti-vax Covid denier.
📌 To the Barbican to see Nitram, a film about a disturbed gunman in Tasmania. Not a barrel of laughs. Some great performances in the dense drama based on a real-life case are weighed down by a tonne of psychology as an emotionally illiterate loner with extreme autism is tipped into murder. The film ends with an on-screen message about how the case prompted Australia to reform its gun laws, adding in the next sentence that nobody paid a blind bit of notice.
SUNDAY 3 We’ve just finished the BBC thriller Sherwood with one of those soft sighs that says glad to have made it to the end but sad it’s over. The conflict that came from the police quest to solve the twin murders at the heart of the story was ultimately overtaken by the conflict between past and present as the characters all struggled to come to terms with the wrench of history that pitted striking and non-striking Nottinghamshire mining families against one another in the 1980s. The acting was so good you could see it in each of their faces, the weight of long-gone events pulling their eyes into haunted, hangdog looks.
📌 Somebody wrote a comment on one of my scrapbook postings saying that lying is what politicians do. I didn’t reply, but wondered about the person who wrote it and how they became a cynic.
MONDAY 4 If Labour’s Keir Starmer would like his party and the rest of the nation to forget the Jeremy Corbyn years, he’s not doing a very good job. Today’s LabourList points to two of the policy announcements he will make today as remnants from the 2019 election manifesto that failed to put Labour back in power – a National Care Service and new factories making electric car batteries.
But there’s more… Seumas Milne, Jeremy Corbyn’s aide, used to tell NUJ members at the Guardian, where he was once the union rep, that to move forward in negotiations you must be realistic about the present and not locked in the past. Starmer today utters those words almost verbatim in describing his views on Brexit.
Let me be very clear: with Labour, Britain will not go back into the EU. We will not be joining the single market. We will not be joining a customs union.
Simon Jenkins, however, names Starmer’s plan as a “mouse” of a policy and that only by rejoining the single market from outside the EU can Britain’s economic fortunes improve.
📌 To the Barbican to see Headway members in performance doing spoken word, dance, drama and music. Mathan and Tirzah were brilliant, Jésus was Jésus and Cristina made a suitably glamorous appearance. All the character of Headway was on stage and all the members were true to themselves.
TUESDAY 5 Newspapers are old hat, as are websites and social media. Newsletters are the new thing, delivered regularly to your email inbox. The Guardian has dozens of them catering for every conceivable news diet. The most recent one I’ve signed up for is The Week In Patriarchy.
📌 The New Statesman congratulates the Labour Party in coming up with a 3-word slogan to sell itself to the sceptics. “Make Brexit Work” is straight out of Boris’s “Get Brexit Done” handbook. My wife wishes Brexit would just go away given the misery it has unleashed.
📌 Boris’s new way of wriggling off the hook is to say he “can’t remember”.
📌 We returned home from the cinema (Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis) to find that two of Boris’s cabinet have resigned. The film’s boring bio-montage at the beginning soon settles into a powerful narrative with sparkling performances. Special congratulations to the film’s prosthetics specialist.
WEDNESDAY 6 Boris is on his knees. The big question is whether he faces death by a thousand cuts – the first two critical lunges coming yesterday from Sunak & Javid – or whether he will rise again with a new trick up his sleeve. Expect both of those things to happen in tandem, in which case a farce unfolds that nobody knows how to finish. I’d like to think something really funny will happen, but this is a government in action, not an amateur theatre group.
📌 Meanwhile, the Labour Party opposition attack appears to be shaping up. Keir Starmer actually made a commanding statement yesterday, backed up by a few neat strokes of sneering derision from Angela Rayner. And this morning came a blisteringly sturdy assault, studs up, from shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves. If Boris really is the magician his supporters say he is, he needs to get in the box and summon up the spirit of Maradona.
📌 Vice has a list of the weirdest things you can buy on Amazon. They include roll-on pheromones, a chicken harness and “a massive, tortilla-inspired blanket”.
📌 The Saj just gave Boris a massive kicking in the House of Commons, the Tory press has turned on him and even members of the 1922 Committee are joining in. His nose might be bloodied but he’s not been knocked out yet. All eyes are now on Michael Gove.
📌 Outgoing Health Secretary Sajid Javid, urging Boris to go, told him there’s only so many times you can press the reset button before you realise the machine is bust.
📌 So many ministers have walked out on Boris that governing a country, whatever that now means, will soon be physically impossible. Newly sacked Michael Gove is waiting with his sharpened knife.
📌 To St Giles church at the centre of the Barbican to watch a polite mob of self-satisfied white nimby’s protest against the City Corporation’s proposal to demolish the Museum of London and replace it with ugly office towers that will obscure their views of St Paul’s Cathedral.
THURSDAY 7 What a gripper! I’m picturing Boris huddled in a darkened room in 10 Downing St like a mad King Lear character stewing in his own stubbornness. He knows that in a short while the men in white coats will replace the men in grey suits. In his final hours of supreme self belief he will be scripting and rehearsing his exit from the political stage. He will cast himself as the victim, bullied by circumstance and a confederacy of cowards into relinquishing his hard-won and rightful place in the hearts of the people who sucked up his lies solely because they wanted him to be Our King.
Millions of people voted for me only two years ago – and I’m going to fight this to the end. I can’t just pack that in.
📌 And then came news from a former lover…
📌 What will a post-Boris Conservative Party look like, asks Martin Kettle.
The Tory party’s dilemma is the country’s dilemma too. There is far more at stake in our politics right now than the future of one disreputable man’s incontinent ego.
09.33 About an hour ago Boris is reported to have agreed to go, but wants to stay on as “caretaker” until the Autumn. Any candidate to become new leader of the Conservative Party would be insane to accept that. More drama to follow…
📌 At Headway Sam said our lunch of cheesy beans, peas and gravy plus cubed roast potatoes was the worst we’ve ever had. I disagreed, referring to multiple occasions when Drab Pasta was the dish of the day.
📌 Poor Boris has fallen on hard times, it seems…
Johnson is used to having his housing, transport and a large part of his living costs covered by the taxpayer on top of his £155,376 salary as prime minister. Now, without even a car of his own to his name, the soon-to-be former prime minister is looking decidedly ill-equipped for life in the outside world.From the Guardian
📌 To Marge’s spectacular Barbican tower-block apartment for finger food and chat about theatre. She’s very inspired by Henry Moore, and it shows in her own artworks.
FRIDAY 8 Once again we face the prospect of the leadership of our government being determined by a very small, narrow group of people, namely the 200,000 members of the Conservative Party.
📌 The Conversation has a quiet and reflective article on how Boris’s political methods have twisted and distorted the principles of UK democracy into something monstrous.
📌 While listing the candidates lined up to replace Boris and offer a cool analysis of their prospects, the New Statesman manages to write a fan letter to Michael Gove, who has lost two previous leadership elections and is currently declining to stand in the next one.
📌 Uniqlo failed me, so my wife suggested I write to Jon Richardson to ask where he buys his cardigans.