Scrapbook: August 2022

MONDAY 1 Leaving Basel came with some relief. The heat was an intense 32C, which is way out of my comfort zone. My feet had swollen so badly I was forced to remove the laces from my trainers and wear them instead like slippers.

There’s an ankle bone in there somewhere…

πŸ“Œ The image of England’s winning goalscorer Chloe Kelly celebrating topless is being touted as a feminist moment.

Chloe Kelly celebrates…

The HuffPost puts some context to Kelly’s audacious reveal as a nod to USA player Brandi Chastain, now 54, who likewise stripped off her shirt in the 1999 final of the Women’s World Cup.

πŸ“Œ The Tortoise has a superb number-crunching analysis by Paul Hayward on the England victory at Wembley in the Euro 22 Women’s competition, drawing a cool comparison with the men’s game. Hayward states (maybe sarcastically) at one point that football is not all about money and as I read those words I could hear in my ears a chorus of disagreement from a lot of people I know. One of the big standouts from Hayward’s analysis was the gender pay gap, which he did not name as such but referenced in the hard fact that some top male footballers get paid in a week what top female ones earn in a year.

TUESDAY 2 Wonder of Science has a fabulous piece of drone video showing the moment when magma becomes lava, ie when molten rock inside the earth (magma) erupts on to the surface to become lava.

πŸ“Œ It looks like the ban the FA slapped on women’s football in the early 20th Century was motivated as much by class as misogyny: crowd-pulling teams formed by factory women raised massive funds for working-class causes. The ban didn’t stop the slow rise of women’s football, so it will be fascinating to watch the FA try to control the formidable crop of newly crowned England players.

WEDNESDAY 3 Last night we finished the 8-part Netflix thriller Pieces of Her. Toni Collette, Bella Heathcote and Jessica Barden all shone as three (two?) women in a plotty murder story story in which we concluded that revenge scored a close win over justice. A clumsy attempt to make the contest more exciting in the final episode saw a neatly concealed twist and a corny stab at redemption (involving a piano) snuggle together uncomfortably on the same sofa.

πŸ“Œ The internet seems on the surface to be the perfect incubator for the co-operative. It is, and yet the crazed monopolies of the tech giants manage to keep it hidden from view. But as an article in the Conversation states, consumers are sickening of the modes and methods used by the giants to get their hands on our money and out data. New platforms such as Gener8 are emerging to put some power back in the hands of the consumer.

Read the full story here…

THURSDAY 4 Excellent summary by Simon Jenkins of the reasons Britain should back off from conflict and disputes between other countries (Russia/Ukraine, China/Taiwan), the main ones being that Britain is bad at intervention and has little to gain from it.

Never in my lifetime has the Ministry of Defence had to defend my country against a remotely plausible overseas threat, least of all from Russia or China. Instead, in the cause of β€œinterests and values” it has killed untold thousands of foreigners in my name.

Simon Jenkins, the Guardian

πŸ“Œ According to an article in Vice the Earth just recorded its shortest day since atomic clocks began. It span 1.59 milliseconds faster for reasons unknown, which won’t rob anyone of their beauty sleep but has led to intense speculation in the science community about shifting magnetic poles and something called the Chandler Wobble.

πŸ“Œ Vera told us that her daughters intend to buy her terrapins for her birthday. My wife thinks this is a dangerous gift for an 83-year-old woman.

πŸ“Œ The stitchwork botanicals series continues with the elm leaf. Quite relishing the prospect of a sycamore.

Stitchwork botanicals…

πŸ“Œ RIP Stephen. Your voice will echo in my head for a long time to come, mainly because it was so loud.

Stephen, by Tony Brooks…

πŸ“Œ We started watching The Newsreader on iPlayer. It is based in 1986 and reflects the gender politics of a TV newsroom at the time. But it also looks like it was made in 1986, which somehow adds spice to the plot and character twists, which are very contemporary.

FRIDAY 5 On our way to a pre-theatre restaurant meal last night my wife bumped into Simon Callow.

Comedy at the Barbican (again)

He later showed his versatility as an actor playing the dim millionaire Elisha Whitney in the return of the comedy musical we saw at the same time last year. It was hard not to compare the two versions, especially in the character of gangster Moonface Martin, played by Robert Lindsay in the original and by Denis Lawson this time. Last night’s show somehow lacked the sparkle and charm of last year’s. My wife thought the Reno Sweeney character “too brassy”.

πŸ“Œ It was disappointing to discover that the gift I’d ordered online for my wife’s birthday had not arrived by the time she started opening all her other gifts and cards. In small consolation I told her what the gift was. One hour later it arrived.

πŸ“Œ At my wife’s birthday lunch in a local Middle-Eastern restaurant she was forced to wear a stupid hat while everyone sang Happy Birthday.

SATURDAY 6 At my wife’s birthday lunch yesterday I sat next to a friend’s 12-year-old son and noticed a change in our relationship. This character who was once a child in pesky pursuit of his own needs and wants had become a young person, curious and interested in those around him, even if they occasionally bored him. And happy in himself to pass on his findings from his exploration of life so far. He told me useful things, like how many litres of blood can be drawn from a dead cow. He had become someone, aged 12, worth having a conversation with.

πŸ“Œ Striking Amazon workers at the company’s warehouse in Tilbury staged a sit-in at the works canteen. When canteen staff stopped serving them they ordered their food and drink through Deliveroo and Uber Eats.

πŸ“Œ This time last week we were at a wedding in Basel, Switzerland. The party afterwards included a quiz about the bride and groom, during which we learned that the Groom was born with three nipples. He also coincidentally looks very like James Bond, circa Pierce Brosnan.

The Groom…

πŸ“Œ To the Barbican for an Iranian road movie with subtitles. We took a supply of Haribo sweets and wine in readiness for something depressing. But Hit The Road turned out to be that rare species of a story that is both very sad but at the same time uplifting and laced throughout with wit and charm.

Read the Guardian review here…

SUNDAY 7 It was nice to hear from Bridges again, requesting permission to share some audio from a podcast I did with them years ago about goal-setting during stroke recovery, in which I talked about football and the way goals get scored.

πŸ“Œ The Spectator was always a traditional supporter of traditional Conservativism. So it’s fascinating to read one of its most senior journalists accusing the current Tory leadership contenders of failure and weasel words on the nation’s perilous state.

πŸ“Œ The tomato jungle we had created down at our allotments is now a trim plantation. Social Sundays are a great opportunity not just to socialise but to get some real work done on your crops.

Social Sunday at the Golden Lane allotments…

MONDAY 8 On a visit to the Guardian after all these years, I was delighted when two of the security staff recognised me instantly. The doorman smiled his genial smile as if it was yesterday, and Big Giuseppe greeted me like a long-lost friend. I’ve not worked there for nearly 10 years. The receptionists greeted me like a special guest and grinned charmingly as they watched me doing some stitchwork before Margaret arrived for our meeting.

Stitching at the Guardian…

πŸ“Œ When my wife’s new phone was delivered I expected to get sunk in one of our vicious techno bickering exchanges during its set-up. But no, the transition from old to new was seamless and pacific. All I was required to do was test the messaging services and to make a single call to test if everything worked ok. I don’t think I tapped in my wife’s number fast enough, but that was a minor moment of niggling that passed quickly.

πŸ“Œ RIP, Olivia Newton-John.

TUESDAY 9 Simon Jenkins wonders where all the economists are hiding while Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss slug it out in the Conservative leadership contest. The two candidates have wildly differing views on how Britain’s ailing economy should be revived, but nowhere can an economist be found with an “expert” view. Perhaps the nation’s experts are too scared. They were seriously exposed during the 2008 financial crisis as the passive peddlers of idle theory, so maybe they’ve decided it’s best to keep their lips zipped.

πŸ“Œ In one of his essays on Humour, the famous satirist Joseph Addison (1672-1719) attempts to describe it in terms of genealogy…

Truth was the founder of the family, and the father of Good Sense. Good Sense was the father of Wit, who married a lady called Mirth, by whom he had Humour. Humour therefore being the youngest of this illustrious family, and descended from parents of such different dispositions, is very various and unequal in his temper; sometimes you see him putting on grave looks and a solemn habit, sometimes airy in his behaviour and fantastic in his dress; insomuch that at different times he appears as serious as a judge, and as jocular as a merry-andrew. But whatever mood he is in, he never fails to make his company laugh.

Joseph Addison, True & False Humour

πŸ“Œ There’s a woman on Platform 2 at East Croydon station who is obviously so embarrassed by the crass slogan on the promotional cotton tote bag she has been gifted that she has turned it inside out to expose the ragged seams instead.

πŸ“Œ It has become embarrassing for rapacious profit-seeking businesses to be seen rapaciously making profits while ordinary families struggle to pay bills.

πŸ“Œ In The Monogram Murders, a Poirot mystery not written by Agatha Christie (it’s by Sophie Hannah), the big reveal at the end, during which Poirot assembles all the story’s characters and names the perp, is dragging on annoyingly over several chapters.

πŸ“Œ Chichester has rubbish phone network coverage. It hasn’t changed from its sleepy conservative demeanour of three years ago when we last visited. We were returning for Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads, which was itself returning to Chichester, at the Minerva theatre. My wife’s cousin Mike plays an evil Enoch Powell type in a working-class “white” pub during England’s defeat to Germany in a World Cup qualifier in 2002, so we got to hang out with the actors (one of whom was Paul Temple‘s grandson) after the show for a lock-in at The Bell pub, which has a vintage Space Invader machine.

WEDNESDAY 10 Chichester has a solid relationship with art and craft of all types. Pallant House Gallery has a fab collection of 20th Century British Art and is the home of British Outsider Art, but sideshow exhibitions pop up all over the place. Even Banksy and Stik have paid visits. We surprisingly bumped into Jennifer, who had three of her artists in a small compendium exhibition at the Oxmarket, which included a very strange portrait of TV wildlife pundit Chris Packham.

Art in Chichester…

πŸ“Œ Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are playing to different audiences. Truss is digging in hard for the support of the Conservative membership and their deep prejudices. Sunak is courting the country as a whole with promises of support for families struggling in the energy crisis. He hopes it will appeal to members as their only chance of getting the Tories re-elected. But will the members see it that way?

πŸ“Œ One of the bloggers I follow, Lakshmi in India, reported a mouse habitually breaking into their car. It took them a while and several failed attempts at entrapment to catch the mouse and release it in a nearby field. I imagined a comical scene in which the mouse finds its way back to their car and manages to hide, undetected, for several years, coming and going whenever the coast was clear.

πŸ“Œ Chichester Cathedral is a very typical English Cathedral, but the inclusion of curious artworks alongside ancient holy relics somehow make it a more thought-provoking and less obedient spiritual environment.

At Chichester Cathedral…

πŸ“Œ In an essay on capitalism in the London Review of Books, John Lanchester notes…

Singapore consistently tops lists of free-market societies on a range of metrics, but also has one of the largest provisions of state housing in the world.

Fraudpocalypse, LRB

THURSDAY 11 The Conversation has a fascinating article about the prospect of a meat tax and how it might work.

To slash emissions, slow the loss of biodiversity and secure food for a growing world population, there must be a change in the way meat and dairy is made and consumed.

The article points inevitably to massive price hikes on meat in developed countries and doesn’t flinch from calling this policy idea what it really is – an environment tax. Where it does fail is in its assessment of the will in government corridors to make it happen and on the equally inevitable debate on how taxes are redustributed.

πŸ“Œ You get the sense that Donald Trump is on the run now. US state law has become the tripwire he will be forced to dodge at every turn. Eventually he will be holed up in a sympathetic state from where he can drop his message bombs on the rest of the world.

πŸ“Œ Unbeknown to me a baby sketch I did in the studio many years ago, when a new pregnancy was announced, was turned into a lino-cut, which was then used to make a clay print, which was glazed and fired. It was such a surprise to see something beautiful made from something so incidental. I’d love to say it was all my own work, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Not made by me…

πŸ“Œ Money-saving expert Martin Lewis is becoming more and more politically vocal. Celebrities dabbling in political posturing is no new thing, but unlike other celebrities, Lewis does not sing songs or cut a mean look in the latest film or TV series. His celebrity comes from mastering the economic nuts and bolts of the average family. It’s a difference ordinary citizens are well aware of.

FRIDAY 12 Full Fact has a report revealing that…

It is possible for people who are not British citizens and do not live in the UK (and so would not be eligible to vote in a UK general election) to be eligible to vote in the upcoming Conservative leadership contest.

Full Fact

πŸ“Œ To Tate Modern for the “visual hallucinations” of Yayoi Kusama.

At Tate Modern…

The weird Infinity Mirrored Room Filled With The Brilliance Of Life was indeed spectacular, but the rest of the exhibition featured me-me-me images of Kusama the exhibitionist, plus mirrors and polka dots. And judging from the photo-timeline that opens the exhibition, something transformative appears to have happened in Kusama’s life when she was around 30 years old.

Kusama (left), aged 28…
Kusama, aged 29-30…

SATURDAY 13 Andy Medhurst is a magnet for daft jokes that circulate the internet…

πŸ“Œ As opening sentences go, Marina Hyde’s latest is up there with the best…

Nothing could possibly be longer than this Conservative leadership race – not even the final minute of your washing machine cycle.

Marina Hyde, the Guardian

πŸ“Œ I’d put money in Trump being jailed eventually.

πŸ“Œ Jennifer has a new artist on her books, Yoshihiro Watanabe, who does origami with old leaves and creates animal sculptures.

SUNDAY 14 The Guardian‘s Week In Patriarchy says the chief informants in the FBI vs Donald Trump case are his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, a double act popularly known as Javanka.

πŸ“Œ On Twitter the author JK Rowling gave her reaction to the knife attack in New York on fellow writer Salman Rushdie, and got a chilling reply…

πŸ“Œ There is a rump of commentators who don’t believe the climate policies contained in the US’s recently passed Inflationary Reduction Act go far enough. Positive News, however, always does what it says on the tin:

Yet it also marks a significant turning point for a country that barely two years ago had withdrawn from the Paris agreement.

Positive News

πŸ“Œ A columnist in the Observer reckons the majority of Conservatives have accepted that time’s up, the party has run out of steam and winning another general election is a fantasy. There’s a tiny hint in the article, too, that Rishi Sunak is now happy to sit back and watch Liz Truss make a bigger mess than Boris did in the two years until the next election.

πŸ“Œ Gosh! Will Hutton actually sounds quite angry at the prospect of two years of Liz Truss as PM. He goes right out there and shouts a rude word (“bullshit”). And from Paul Waugh in The i

πŸ“Œ A new trend I’ve only just spotted in word use is the adjective as a noun. It comes hot on the heels of nouns being reformed as verbs. In Lisa’s new book, Non Conform Ers: A New History Of Self-Taught Artists there is reference to self-taught art as a contracted “self-taught”. This is a neat shorthand, made a bit cleverer by the use of the adjectival hyphen. Few, I suspect, will spot the joke in the book’s typographically tortured title. Read a serious review here.

MONDAY 15 There are media reports circulating that tell of a British holidaymaker in Greece spotting Boris and shouting at him: “Get back to work, you fat ponce.”

πŸ“Œ Someone posted a video on Twitter of a dog who had worked out a way to play fetch with itself.

πŸ“Œ At last the opposition Labour Party starts to look like an alternative government with a call for all electricity and gas prices to be frozen for six months. It looks even better being made by leader Keir Starmer on his return from his Summer holiday just as Boris sets off in his SECOND Summer holiday, leaving behind a sitting government that is paralysed waiting for its new leader to be declared. But you can’t help thinking this is Labour playing a cunning political game. Time and again if Labour policies look like they can win public support, the Conservatives simply steal them and dress them up as their own. And Labour couldn’t do much about it. Now they know that if they shout a radical policy such as the energy price-cap from the rooftops, the government is likely to cherry-pick bits of it. I think this might be Labour’s way of governing without being elected to govern.

TUESDAY 16 You know you’re in trouble when the parody version of the news does a plausible impression of the truth.

πŸ“Œ Today marks the start of new experiment aimed at finding “interesting ways to walk to Aldi”. The budget supermarket has recently opened nearby, and although it is twice the distance from home as our usual supermarket (Waitrose), the habit of habituating Aldi needs to be nailed. My favourite local cafe is also on the way back, so that helps.

πŸ“Œ My wife says the last person in the world you want telling you to eat less meat is George Monbiot.

πŸ“Œ The stitchwork leaf series is shaping up. Number 3 is nearly finished. I thought I was subconsciously choosing trees with three-letter names (oak, elm), but that’s obviously not the case.

Sycamore in stitches…

WEDNESDAY 17 Essential industries formerly in public ownership, such as water and energy, are at the centre of scandal and scrutiny. Top bosses have taken massive bonuses while household bills soar; raw sewage is daily tipped into rivers and 3bn litres a day are lost in leaks. It’s not surprising, then, that the public is getting fed up with it…

πŸ“Œ Down in Blackfriars, just south of the river, the area around what was once King’s Reach Tower and Ludgate House has changed beyond recognition. Nowhere could you buy coffee with cash. Thankfully, the posh office reception in which my fellow studio artist Dolores Crump was selling her blossom paintings had plenty of free comestibles to keep the soul together.

Dolores canvas at Vivo Reception, Southbank Central…

πŸ“Œ In Clerkenwell there’s a plaque on the wall in remembrance of “the musical coalman”.

THURSDAY 18 After struggling through some tediously overwritten crime stories I’m back to reading plays. The economy of language is a big draw, plus the bonus that every line of dialogue serves the drama, which is a compelling coupling. I found a play from 1921 curiously called The Philosopher of Butterbiggens, by Harold Chapin. I picked it for no other reason than I liked the title. It feels from the first few pages like a comedy kitchen-sink drama set in a poor area of Glasgow. The dialogue is all in dialect, which makes it fun to translate.

πŸ“Œ We’re enjoying the new Stefan Golaszewski drama Marriage, starring Nicola Walker and Sean Bean. That puts us at odds with the rest of the viewing public who have declared the series boring. It lacks the instant charm of Golaszewski’s previous Him & Her and Mum, but the characteristic immersion in the mundane with good actors and characters forever failing to find a way to talk to each other I guess might be a turn-off for some. We love it.

πŸ“Œ At Headway someone came and sat next to me. We did some small talk and they told me about an event they recently attended that was inspiring. Just as I thought the conversation had reached its natural end, my companion lingered and we sat in silence for some time. Eventually I excused myself but wondered later if the real motive for the prolonged lingering was to confide something or to ask my advice, and I hadn’t twigged. I am notoriously bad at spotting the signs and have a habit of treating one-to-one exchanges as polite function. Missed moments that prompt the question “What if?” are eternally fascinating.

FRIDAY 19 The anticipated guerrilla phase of the Russia-Ukraine conflict has started. Expect it to last a long time as Russian resolve withers and a political path beckons. It is not the grindingly tough journey Vladimir Putin wanted.

πŸ“Œ In a typically sturdy and dependable article, Andy Beckett declares the Thatcher brand still potent, despite its redundancy.

πŸ“Œ On the radio an interviewer asked Andrew Ridgeley why he had remixed the classic Wham! song Club Tropicana for a modern audience. Before he could answer, my wife interjected, sarcastically: “To pay for the personality lessons”, adding that George Michael must have been a really nice person to share songwriting credits with such a talent-free dullard, 59, who incidentally now looks like one of the lesser characters in McMafia.

πŸ“Œ Checking the reviews for a local Malaysian takeaway we found a review that was obviously written for another business.

πŸ“Œ If Liz Truss is seriously looking for her Miners Strike moment in pledging to put the boot in on striking public-sector workers (the list is getting longer by the day), let’s hope she seeks a mandate via a general election before doing so.

πŸ“Œ The image from the rail track just outside of Farnborough (en route to Winchester) suggests someone did not have a peaceful journey.

SATURDAY 20 It seems Marina Hyde is quite looking forward to Liz Truss becoming prime minister…

It’ll be interesting watching Liz try to give a pep talk to gravity.

Marina Hyde, the Guardian

πŸ“Œ Back in Winchester and the chance to touch base once again with Bapsy.

SUNDAY 21 Finland’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, has been targeted in the media for dancing wildly at a party. Some saw it as unseemly for the leader of a country to behave in such a way, others thought it perfectly normal for a 30-something woman to be out partying and hit back at critics with the the hashtag #solidaritywithSanna, posting on social media videos of themselves cavorting similarly.

πŸ“Œ In Southampton our very first visit to the bulk-buying warehouse enterprise Costco proved that there are very few things you can’t buy 10 of, and nothing you can buy one of.

At Costco, Southampton…

MONDAY 22 The bumpy train journey back from Winchester must have shaken us more than we imagined. Half an hour after arriving home we both exited the flat without our door keys. The next-door neighbours keep a spare for us, but they were away. Just as I was scoping the possibility of breaking into our own home through the kitchen window, my wife was able to contact our Nextdoor neighbour, who revealed the secret code to the key safe they have outside their front door. We gained access to their property and grabbed the spare keys for our property, and the day was saved.

πŸ“Œ The September train journey through France to Spain for Graham’s birthday is shaping up, thanks to Jane and Liz. My role has been next to nonexistent. I’ve managed to check out a few bars and restaurants near our apartment in the St Michel area of Bordeaux, but otherwise I’ve done little but get excited.

TUESDAY 23 Last night I bumped into Bev and she asked me to send a message to our community Facebook group. This is what I wrote…

Terry at City Hardware found a blue parrot. If you know anyone who has lost one and is searching in desperation for the dear creature, reassure them and tell them Terry took it to Clerkenwell Vets for safekeeping.

πŸ“Œ We travelled to Milton Keynes first class for my birthday treat at the insistence of a kindly platform guard at Euston station. First impressions of MK were of it as a business and retail park the size of a whole town laid out in a strict grid. On our approach to MK Gallery, the smell of chips and weed wafted over us as we passed a weird sculpture called Dangerous Liaisons.

Dangerous Liaisons…

πŸ“Œ I’d never heard of β€œnanny photographer” Vivian Maier before today. Now I am mildly obsessed and want to know more. Thankfully my wife bought me a chunky book for my birthday to go with the magical day out in Milton Keynes to see an exhibition of her work. My jotted notes read like an extract from a bad stream-of-conscious essay…

At MK Gallery…

Reflections and odd juxtapositions. A way of seeing and sensing all at once. Patterns and composition, framing, texture. The photographer as a spy. Subjects always unaware of photographer. Thousands of images seized from storage lockers and auctioned to pay off the outstanding rent. Forever ready to capture a moment. A balletic assembly of unsuspecting actors. Self portraits with mirrors, often wearing a hat. Shape and shadows as signifiers of mystery. Though many of the images appear snatched it is obvious from the series of contact prints that she hung around a scene waiting for a shot to emerge.

πŸ“Œ Wonder Of Science posted a fantastic bit of footage of a hovering kestrel.

WEDNESDAY 24 The hosepipe ban starts today, so it’s watering cans for the tomatoes from now on.

πŸ“Œ It now seems so inevitable that Liz Truss will become prime minister that all speculation has shifted to who might be in her cabinet. Rishi Sunak has all but ruled himself out with his denouncement of Truss, and Priti Patel is standing hard, hands on hips, steely gaze, etc, with a look that dares Truss to sack her from her job as home secretary.

πŸ“Œ I always get the blame for the paper tissue in the washing machine. I blame the person who didn’t check all pockets before tossing the laundry into the machine.

THURSDAY 25 Martin Kettle points out how the system for electing political party leaders has become so twisted that Liz Truss, if elected Conservative party leader and prime minister, will be forced to call a general election immediately.

πŸ“Œ Michelle asked me to write a line memorialising Stephen, one of the studio’s artists who died recently. I wrote: “Watching Stephen paint was like being caught unawares by a force of nature. As he sat jabbing colour after colour into the canvas you felt kinda helpless, locked in wonder and never quite sure how you’d make it back into the real world.”

πŸ“Œ A Turkish company is trialling a new turbine in Istanbul that uses the wind generated by passing traffic.

πŸ“Œ At Headway Chris did his presentation of findings from his visit to Germany and the Prinzhorn Collection. From what he was saying, studios such as ours get more direct state funding in Germany than in Britain.

πŸ“Œ The hustings for the election of a new alderman in our local ward threw up the prospect of the alderman becoming an alderwoman and a campaign under the hashtag #sue4alderwoman. Our backward council, the City of London Corporation, has a history of denying the existence of female councillors by describing all of its elected representatives as “councilman”.

FRIDAY 26 We’d been listening to shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves hammering on about energy price caps and what a turkey of a government we have, so when we woke up this morning I jokingly said to the black ball in our bedroom, “Alexa, play Rachel Reeves”. Alexa did just that, though I think she got Rachel Reeves politician and “Rachael Reeves on Amazon Music” mixed up.

πŸ“Œ Boris presided over more than 100,000 deaths with his failure to act at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Now his successor is likely to follow suit with a failure to act on energy prices.

πŸ“Œ I watched a YouTube video of Will Self talking about psychogeography, but stopped paying attention not on his fifth mention of Baudelaire but on the sight of his fingernails, which appeared to be painted pink.

SATURDAY 27 We finished Marriage, the Stefan Golaszewski drama starring Nicola Walker and Sean Bean. Its billing as a conventional TV drama and its scheduling on BBC1 obviously led to disappointment for some viewers, since nothing extraordinary happens and your understanding of what “drama” means is always being stretched. Two people sitting side by side, one of them reading a long letter, is not what many would call drama. But in this case it is riveting, made more so by actors who have only silence and proximity as their tools. Such is the power of this writer’s and those actors ability. Walker and Bean are two characters crippled by their inability to communicate, psychologically paralysed but yearning for release. That’s the tension that makes this the best kind of drama you can imagine.

πŸ“Œ Another birthday present arrived today – an appointment with Mimi, a podiatrist with a dog called Gromit, who dutifully scraped away all the dead skin on the big toe of my right foot.

πŸ“Œ We’ve started to sketch out our plans for the cold bleak Winter when energy prices go through the roof. Our living room faces South, so we intend to maximise the greenhouse effect of daylight sunshine and huddle indoors under an electric overblanket. Other rooms in the apartment will be closed up to preserve the heating we will be forced to pay astronomical prices for.

πŸ“Œ To the Barbican for the superb Official Competition, a film about acting and actors that pings you back and forth between laughter and intrigue. Starring the ever-dependable Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas, it interrogates the space between acting and lying, good acting and bad. Is acting pretending, and is the difference between good and bad acting how convincing the pretence is? And are some audiences easier to convince than others?

SUNDAY 28 In his Observer column today Andrew Rawnsley points to a fact of our current political predicament too many people prefer to look away from…

Many Tory members remain entranced by the Johnson cult and have fallen for the fiction that he was a colossus brought down by treacherous colleagues.

Andrew Rawnsley, the Observer

πŸ“Œ Someone posted a picture of a restaurant in Belfast. It sums up a strand of British humour that probably isn’t shared anywhere else in the world.

πŸ“Œ To the Barbican for the exhibition Our Time On Earth in the Curve gallery, which aims to convince mankind that humans are just one of the multifarious species that occupies our planet and that only a harmonious coexistence between all living creatures and their environments will see use through catastrophe. The exhibition was overpopulated by both humans, CGI trickery, daft photographs of people dressed up as trees and games-arcade sound effects. We gave up and went to the lakeside bar.

πŸ“Œ Update: The Interesting Ways To Walk To Aldi project has hit a snag. Basically, there are only two ways to walk to Aldi unless you contrive a massive detour to invent some more. So it is simply a choice of which way to go and which way to return.

MONDAY 29 I caught a haunting story on Poetry Extra about the painful life and early death (age 5) of Lord Byron‘s “bastard” daughter Allegra. Byron himself emerges as the bastard and his friend Shelley as a hero, of sorts.

πŸ“Œ I already knew all about the legend of the French volcano nerds Katia and Maurice Krafft from my geology studies at school, but finally seeing their work on the big screen in Fire Of Love reminded me of all the primitive life lessons geology taught me all those years ago.

πŸ“Œ Our friend’s husband is in one of those horrible profiteering care homes who treat their guests like animals and charge Β£6,000 a month for it. He is currently in a 4th-floor room – as far as you can get from any excitement – but our friend has noticed that a ground-floor room has recently become empty and is hoping, fingers crossed, that the emptiness is permanent, so that she can request a transfer for her husband. The downside of this thought is that the former resident of the ground-floor room has probably died.

TUESDAY 30 On the radio a top Royal Navy commander aptly described HMS Prince of Wales, the Β£3bn aircraft carrier that just broke down and limped pathetically back to port in the UK, as a “massive chunk of sovereignty”.

πŸ“Œ Thatcher was the milk snatcher and now it looks like the spawn of Thatcher, Liz Truss, will have the pubs shut down by Christmas. It could be a tipping point. Or a tippling point.

πŸ“Œ Liz Truss is facing “cluck, cluck” jibes after dodging an interview with the BBC.

πŸ“Œ Every once in a while I like to set myself a school essay title to churn around in my head while I try to find interesting ways to walk to Aldi. Today’s essay title was Surnames, Their Use And Significance in TV’s Big Bang Theory. This tedious excursion basically hangs on the observation that all the scientists in Big Bang Theory are awarded surnames (Cooper, Hofstader, etc), but other key characters are not. Penny is Penny From The Cheesecake Factory; Stuart is Stuart From The Comic Book Store. But the “essay” (it’s just a title) is really just an excuse for me to search the internet to discover that Penny’s surname (pre-marriage to Leonard Hofstader) was Teller, and that Stuart’s surname is Bloom.

πŸ“Œ Our neighbour Brian, 76, is learning to swim. Today he completed 5 metres.

πŸ“Œ It took me a while to sift the Top 12 Nose Hair Trimmers for 2022, but settled eventually on the Wahl at Β£10.99, down from Β£14.99.

WEDNESDAY 31 It looks like any possibility of Russia living in cooperation with the West died alongside Mikhail Gorbachev.

πŸ“Œ I won’t be surprised if Winter power cuts are announced soon. Some of us have been fondly recollecting our experiences in the 1970s of playing Monopoly by candlelight.

πŸ“Œ While walking to Aldi a fantasy film story came to mind. It went something like this… “Geneticists decide to fire bullets of human DNA into space so that any other life forms out there will be able to see what we humans were like long after we had been made extinct on Earth. They make a global request for specimens, sift them for adequate representation of the human species and eventually shoot two of them deep into the universe. Eventually they land on a distant planet and the native life-forms succeed in reconstituting the human DNA into living creatures. The two specimens that emerge are Penelope Cruz and Bradley Cooper, both of whom do light irony really well on the big screen.” I think that Barbican exhibition Our Time On Earth got to me after all.

πŸ“Œ Vera’s terrapin, Leonardo, escaped. She found it hiding under her bed and lured it out with a Weetabix.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…


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