September 3-9, 2022
SATURDAY 3 The best analysis of Mikhail Gorbachev and his legacy I’ve found is, unsurprisingly, in the Socialist Worker. You have to now imagine that Russia’s flirtation with a western economic alliance was just that. Normal dictatorship resumes. Germany more than any other European country bought into the possibility of taming Russia, so it now faces a big challenge to reverse out of it. Russia has helped by turning off the gas tap.
📌 The Barbican’s Summer Garden Party was in full swing when I dropped by to check if any kind of diversity had managed to sneak in during Lockdown. It hadn’t, and the whole event could easily have been a set from TV’s Midsomer Murders. The ones you hoped would soon be found face down in the rhododendrons were easy to spot.
📌 Oh no! The Moon rocket hasn’t taken off again…
SUNDAY 4 Simon Tisdall applauds Joe Biden’s denouncement of the dictatorships and calls on all freedom-loving people to stand firm, shoulder to shoulder, and say boo to the goose. Problem is there is no denying that Tyranny is a place where the trains run on time, or that the world’s understanding of “freedom” is programmed by the US, which arrogantly describes itself as the “leader of the free world”. The scruffy, messy democracies of Europe would be a more convincing case for me, a place where imperfection is a thing of beauty. But “Freedom Is A Bit Smelly” will never catch on.
The stark contrast between muddle and malpractice and the deliberate, sustained misanthropy of anti-democratic, authoritarian regimes is impossible to hide.Sinon Tisdall, the Guardian
📌 If he’s not removed from Parliament forever, Boris will hang around and cause all kinds of trouble, writes Andrew Rawnsley. His eye is obviously on a return to the top job. Boris’s entire life has come to resemble an satirical comedy film by Armando Iannucci.
📌 Our wedding-day photo, from 34 years ago – painted by Cecil Waldron and soon to be a stitchwork by me – is coming along nicely. Just putting a dab of purple into my wife’s hair. She says I made it look like she’s holding a pizza.
📌 To save money in the cost-of-living onslaught, our neighbour has cancelled her 15-year-old daughter’s gym membership in the belief that she won’t notice.
📌 My wife waits until I’ve gone to bed on Sunday nights, dims the lights and watches a TV programme called 1000-lb Sisters.
MONDAY 5 The Karin Alvtegen book Missing does a neat combination of the amateur detective story partnered with the hunted/hunter theme. The chief suspect in a series of grisly murders is forced to solve the crimes herself when she realises the police are not searching for anyone other than her. In a clever concoction of cheesy and corny she hooks up with a schoolboy nerd who believes her to be innocent and agrees to help.
📌 Liz Truss finally crossed the line in the Conservative Party leadership election. The 80,000 votes (47% of the electorate; 57% of the vote) she won bizarrely entitles her to become Prime Minister.
TUESDAY 6 Lost .2kg in one day. Or so say the scales in the gym.
📌 A good word about Liz Truss is hard to find. Until yesterday I didn’t even know she had two daughters, 16 and 13, one of whom shares a name with a fashion designer and the other who is looking forward to sleepovers and pizza in 10 Downing Street.
📌 Sam titled her latest portrait Georgian Costumes, but it’s the people inside them that interest me more.
WEDNESDAY 7 Drought has exposed the wreck of a steamboat that sank in the Missouri River in 1870. Which recalls the story of the village in the Lake District that was deliberately flooded to create a reservoir.
📌 It’s always a good laugh to imagine how the Queen deals with prime ministers. The TV series The Crown gave us a few entertaining insights, but never did it depict the Queen as being bored rigid by the task. I suspect a post-Truss installment might be different.
Presumably Her Majesty asked Truss to form a government in the same way you might ask a telemarketer if you can call them back in five minutes.Marina Hyde, the Guardian
📌 Vera has discovered that the terrapin she has been calling Leonardo is actually a Leonarda.
📌 We weren’t quite sure what to do with our latest arrival at the allotments.
THURSDAY 8 I’ve lost interest in listening to any government announcements. That probably puts me alongside 90% of the population. But as someone who intensely interested in politics I think the boredom must be down to prolonged exposure to characterless politicians making grand statements and doing nothing. Under this regime Britain has become a chronically incapacitated place where nothing works and no-one cares, even if they say they do.
📌 It’s fascinating to watch the faces of two people as you introduce them to one another.
📌 The Queen’s family are all rushing to Balmoral.
FRIDAY 9 Any reaction other than grave sadness to the Queen’s death is generally frowned upon. Our friend Graham sent his neighbour a photo of us raising a glass in her honour and was roundly rebuked when they mistook it for light-hearted disrespect. Another friend wrote a satirical poem that began…
Our lovely Queen has left the world and all of us are sad.
She had many prime ministers, some were good, some bad.
She cared for the disabled, the blind folk and the deaf.
And when she died the BBC took off ‘Masterchef’.
The prediction that three days of national mourning would start the moment she drew her last breath were well wide of the mark. It will last at least 10 days and Prince Charles became King Charles III immediately.
The Guardian, a newspaper that has in the past argued for the abolition of the monarchy, took a cautious line and fell in with the public mood by recalling a quote from the Queen’s 1977 Silver Jubilee.
When I was 21, I pledged my life to the service of our people, and asked for God’s help to make that vow. Although that vow was made in my salad days, when I was green in judgement, I do not regret nor retract one word of it.Queen Elizabeth II, 1977
📌 TV is showing clips of the Queen and Paddington Bear sharing a fondness for marmalade sandwiches, and of her brief encounter with James Bond.
📌 The Socialist Worker argues that unions should not have cancelled planned strikes for the period of national mourning. English football matches scheduled for the weekend have been called off.
There will be no such squeamishness from the Tories and bosses, who will not pause the class war for a moment.
📌 The nation hasn’t quite shut down in sadness. In Winchester the High Street was full of busy shoppers and the workers dismantling the erection around the newly-polished Alfred The Great did not down tools.
📌 Serenity could be had in the small chapel next to the bus stop and the chaplain had already penned two prayers for the Queen and King Charles.
📌 Headway posted one of Errol’s many drawings of the Queen.