Scrapbook: September 2022

THURSDAY 1 Sparkling piece by Rafael Behr in the Guardian about the unspoken role of Brexit in Britain’s current state of near-catastrophe.

πŸ“Œ Britain is under-insulated and far too reliant on gas, the price of which is set globally and not locally. Sure makes the “take back control” Brexit argument look lame.

πŸ“Œ Spoke to Claire about the possibility of getting some of the wall space just outside the exit to the Barbican’s Curve Gallery. Quite fancy putting together a collection of Chris’s portraits under the title Just People, or better still Us Lot… Chris’s minimal depiction is something I’ve admired for a long time.

Zoom Meeting, by Chris Miller…

πŸ“Œ At a dinner table in Holloway we all predicted A: When the next general election would be (me = January 2023) and B: When the Queen will breathe her last breath. (me = same as above). One of my informants tells me that three full days of mourning are already planned for the Queen’s eventual departure. The country will effectively close down in sadness. So be careful when you book that wedding, birthday party, trip to visit your aged relative somewhere far away requiring a train or fuel.

FRIDAY 2 The announcement of a new prime minister could feasibly coincide with the ultimate de-frocking of Boris, leaving no scope whatsoever for a political resurrection.

From the Daily Mail…

πŸ“Œ I honestly can’t work out how America can justify the extradition of Julian Assange when its 45th President stole classified documents from the White House and hid them in his holiday home.

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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

Barbican Garden Party…

πŸ“Œ 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

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

Our wedding day…

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ Sam titled her latest portrait Georgian Costumes, but it’s the people inside them that interest me more.

Georgian Costumes, by Sam Jevon

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.

πŸ“Œ 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

πŸ“Œ Vera has discovered that the terrapin she has been calling Leonardo is actually a Leonarda.

πŸ“Œ We weren’t quite sure what to do with our latest arrival at the allotments.

The weird tomato thing became a salad with Spring onions and dressing…

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.

πŸ“Œ It’s fascinating to watch the faces of two people as you introduce them to one another.

πŸ“Œ 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

πŸ“Œ TV is showing clips of the Queen and Paddington Bear sharing a fondness for marmalade sandwiches, and of her brief encounter with James Bond.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

Winchester Town Hall…
Alfred The Great…

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ Headway posted one of Errol’s many drawings of the Queen.

Queen Elizabeth II, by Errol Drysdale

SATURDAY 10 Businesses and organisations are feverishly trying to read the public mood. Should they shut up shop for a few days as a mark of respect? Or should they keep calm and carry on?

πŸ“Œ The project to create stitchworks depicting the leaves of common trees will go ahead as normal, with a gently bowed head and sombre music playing quietly on Radio 2.

Willow leaf…

πŸ“Œ Will and Kate and Harry and Meg all turned up at the same time in the same place to shake hands and chat with the public.

SUNDAY 11 In the radio play The Mysterious Affair At Styles the killer’s accomplice when unmasked by Hercule Poirot angrily calls the detective a “little egg-shaped monster”.

πŸ“Œ Not widely reported in these sombre times is a collapse of Russian supremacy in the occupation of eastern Ukraine.

πŸ“Œ Andrew Rawnsley has a confident analysis of the Queen’s role in British politics over the 70 years of her reign.

πŸ“Œ To Tate Britain for a look at the Walter Sickert exhibition before it closes next week. Also took in Cornelia Parker, who I knew nothing about but am now captivated by. My favourite room in the Sickert exhibition was the one showing images the artist had transposed from newspapers, theatre and popular culture into canvases.

Walter Sickert…
Cornelia Parker…

πŸ“Œ Concern for the Queen’s corgis following her death has been laid to rest by the Daily Mirror. They will be given a new home by Prince Andrew and his daughter Beatrice. The Mirror also reveals that sometime in the past one of the Queen’s corgis got frisky with one of Princess Margaret’s dachshunds and the result was an entirely new breed of dog henceforth know as the dorgi.

MONDAY 12 The BBC’s Soul Music radio programme featured a fascinating exploration of the Ben E King song Stand By Me. It included cover versions by, among others, John Lennon, and an epic recording of T Rex in the studio starting the song, then stopping to have a discussion about it. The programme went on to point up the song’s lasting influence, including its part in the cult film Stand By Me, based on the Stephen King story The Body.

πŸ“Œ Our Aldermanic elections on Thursday will go ahead as planned. Foodbank Liz has gone into leafleting overdrive.

TUESDAY 13 “Air Miles Charlie” and the more respectful “Charles The Busy” are the latest nicknames to use for our new monarch.

πŸ“Œ Helping out at a City Advice cost-of-living clinic it became obvious that too many ordinary families are being priced out of our market economy. One parent complained of her child’s school demanding payment for basic curriculum text books. Another was forced to stop working because her wages couldn’t even cover the cost of childcare.

πŸ“Œ Electric vehicles in Taiwan solve the re-charging problem by having battery-swap service stations.

πŸ“Œ There is no shortage of anecdotes about the Queen at the moment. The one I like most is that she was a very big fan of George Formby.

πŸ“Œ There has been a lot of analysis on the funny face Prince Charles pulled as he signed the declaration to make him King Charles III. It is said he wasn’t happy with his pen. Was it a gift from Meghan? asked one newspaper.

πŸ“Œ I’m not sure gushing obituaries come much faster flowing than the one by Matthew D’Ancona in the Tortoise.

WEDNESDAY 14 I’ve started to re-read Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct stories, starting with Cop Hater, but got sidetracked by a hankering for some Stephen King. Maybe it was a throwback to Monday’s Soul Music reference. I drew a blank in the e-books section of our local library, so I searched Kindle for something suitable to buy – ie, not too grisly, more psychological – only to discover that I already owned a Stephen King book. Two, in fact – Everything’s Eventual and Guns – which have sat forgotten in a cold corner of my vast digital collection for a number of years.

πŸ“Œ Unlike nearly every other columnist I read, Marina Hyde never ever looks in danger of tripping into pomposity. Funny but deeply serious at the same time is a fine art.

The idea that the UK is a cradle of free speech is one of those comforting stories the country likes to tell itself, when all manner of things from the libel laws to teachers being hounded to the Daily Mail devoting its entire front page to outrage that a comedian mocked Liz Truss says differently.

Marina Hyde, the Guardian…

πŸ“Œ The prospect of Vladimir Putin flying into a nuclear rage at setbacks in Ukraine have become a daily source of speculation.

It is not hard to conjure apocalyptic scenarios, especially when Europe’s largest atomic power station is on the frontline.

Rafael Behr, the Guardian…

πŸ“Œ On the very last day before an election in our ancient area of London a “wardmote” is held at which voters can eyeball those standing in the contest. Usually this is held in a crusty old walnut room in the deep City. Today’s wardmote, however, is to be conducted in a church, St Giles, who was the patron saint of lepers and beggars.

πŸ“Œ Unexpectedly, the Lord Mayor himself (Vincent Keaveny) turned up – to a chorus of “Oh Yea, Oh Yea, Oh Yea”, plus several rounds of “God Save The King” – to chair the wardmote at St Giles church. Robes, chains, swords and ceremonial headgear all made guest appearances. Sitting in church pews, their arrival from behind was first signalled by the throaty request “all stand” followed by the ominous beat of leather shoes on parquet flooring and the slow reveal of gold maces heavy robes and black tricorn hats. Then came the instruction to sit, which I took as my cue to play Wordle (got it in 4).

The Beadle has landed…

THURSDAY 15 It’s aldermanic election day and the drama is gripping. Our neighbour Sensible Sue, who helps old people claim their water-charge rebates, is standing against a pint-size lower-league toff tribute act who claims to be an expert at manipulating the establishment from the inside. We signed up last night to attend the final count. More to follow…

πŸ“Œ One of my Facebook friends asks: “Can anyone please recommend a non-proprietary liquid for cleaning binocular lenses?”

πŸ“Œ It will be all downhill after the Queen’s funeral, writes Andy Beckett. Support for the monarchy was already in decline, despite surface appearances to the contrary. The Queen was admired around the world for having a presence, but not too much of it; Charles will degrade the brand and even a majority of Britons will end up not really bothered what he says or does. Because unlike the Queen, he will say and do things, because he can’t help himself.

πŸ“Œ In conversation with my wife I described someone we know only slightly as “super annoying”. I asked: “Do you think she has mental-health problems?” “No, she’s American,” my wife replied.

πŸ“Œ At Headway Tim asked me if I was a monarchist and then told me about a dubious legend in which an eagle picked up a tortoise and dropped it on the King’s head, killing him. For that reason, he said, natives of the island of Gozo near Malta eye tortoises suspiciously and tell children to keep away from them.

πŸ“Œ One of my wife’s favourite songs in recent times is The Only Thing, a love song by Travis with Susanna Hoffs, lead singer with The Bangles. In it Travis singer Fran Healy tells Hoffs: “I was the record in the record shop that nobody wants to buy“, which are words I can well identify with.

πŸ“Œ Our neighbour Sue won a landslide victory in the aldermanic elections held today with more than 80% of the vote. In my mind, the result was never in doubt.

FRIDAY 16 The queue to view the Queen lying in state is now so long that the authorities are discussing when and how to close it. There has been some discussion in our house about which is the START and which is the END of a queue. Other considerations have been how one might turn queuing into a money-spinning enterprise. It could make our diminished nation once again rich and all-powerful

πŸ“Œ The race is on to get the massive #SewBros stitchwork wall-hanging started before The Geezers arrive next week to add their bit.

πŸ“Œ The Royal Queue has been closed temporarily. It will re-open once they work out how many more people can join and still have time to get to the front before the coffin departs for the funeral on Monday. News reports say David Beckham has been queueing since 2am.

πŸ“Œ In an ultimate attempt to justify its existence, the BBC turned the Celebrity Masterchef final into a demonstration of transparency by showing the contestants creating a 100-year anniversary afternoon tea party for a selection of BBC stalwarts. Kitty’s pyramid of profiteroles collapsed but, typical of the BBC, everyone laughed it off.

SATURDAY 17 The Guardian has a totally serious guide on β€œother things to do” during the Queen’s funeral. They include going for a walk and baking a cake. My wife said she would be swapping the duvet on our bed for the Winter Duvet, which has lain idle in a big suitcase all Summer.

πŸ“Œ The congested sprawl of retail mega-mall Westfield is a great place for experimental photography projects such as shooting backwards over your shoulder to see what random images result.

SUNDAY 18 Joe Biden has ducked a meeting with Liz Truss, presumably because giving her a piece of his mind might add a sour note to the Queen’s funeral.

πŸ“Œ There’s a lot of frantic last-minute shopping for food and drink in advance of the Queen’s funeral tomorrow. We went out hoping to find some cut-price luxury foodstuffs but came home only with a loaf of toasting bread and two bottles of beer.

πŸ“Œ The helicopters are circling – some noisily, some silently – in vigil over the Royal Queue.

MONDAY 19 Andrew Rawnsley says King Charles III has so far stepped up to the plate of modern monarchy with a cultured approach to national duty and leadership. His solid performance has, Rawnsley adds, been matched by Keir Starmer. Not so, though, by newly crowned prime minister Liz Truss, who has bungled badly and even managed to entrench some of the antipathy still held for her in factions of her own party.

In its early political dealings and behaviour, Ms Truss and her band of zealots have neither shown respect for tradition, stability and continuity nor for solidarity, community and togetherness. Whatever she represents, it does not feel much like the nation.

Andrew Rawnsley, the Observer

πŸ“Œ My wife was annoyed that the Royal children were paraded in front of a gazing nation when maybe they were really quite sad at great granny’s death and just wanted to cry.

πŸ“Œ Idle web browsing while the Queen’s funeral procession made its way down The Mall revealed that one of my cousin’s old boyfriends who became an actor had died in 2020 but appeared in a 1988 Christmas special of Only Fools & Horses. He played an online dating agent, charged Del Boy Β£25 but was eventually told to “put that on ya floppy disk” for his efforts.

πŸ“Œ In another sparkling opinion piece Aditya Chakrabortty cracks a whip on the archaic feudalism of the British monarchy and its continued hold over modern Britain.

TUESDAY 20 I’m tempted to start modelling my behaviour on what Marina Hyde describes as the Queen’s chief way of conducting Oneself.

The Queen never spoke but seemed to spend her life of service embodying: β€œDon’t just do something – stand there.” 

Marina Hyde, the Guardian

πŸ“Œ The pavement outside our house has been repurposed into an e-scooter graveyard.

e-scooter place of rest…

πŸ“Œ Liz Truss wants us all to sit in the cold while she works out how to “turbo-charge” Britain’s economy.

WEDNESDAY 21 Maybe cynicism is the new rampaging virus because every time I hear reports of failure in the NHS I suspect the perpetrator to be our present government ripening some public fruit for privateers to pick. Maternity provision is the latest example.

πŸ“Œ Got my Covid booster jab quickly and comfortably at St Luke’s.

πŸ“Œ In art class we were given a piece of stale white sliced bread to make an artwork out of. For me bread symbolises sharing, so I used the sharing symbol from the worldwide web, colouring each terminal point red, blue and green as a nod to the RGB colour system used on computers. After painting the slice of bread I photographed it and processed it on my iPad to look like an oil painting. Pointillism works well on bread, I found.

Bread art…

THURSDAY 22 The Guardian has five not unreasonable top tips for King Charles to modernise his monarchy. The bald numbers point to an institution that is bloated and wasteful, which is not exactly a good look for modern times.

πŸ“Œ Larry Elliott’s plain explanation of Trussonomics would seriously bother me if I were half my age.

πŸ“Œ The next entry in my series of tree leaves in stitches is the fig, which I have distorted slightly in an attempt to make it look like it’s wilting. Picking the right colours to serve that purpose will be fraught with danger.

Fig leaf…

πŸ“Œ Started to experiment with blue outline on Cecil’s gang of 60s hipsters.

πŸ“Œ My wife is suffering from post-jab side effects (loss of appetite, shivering) and I’m doing my best Florence Nightingale, but I stopped when she said No to cherry chocolate liqueurs.

πŸ“Œ The Headway #SewBros teamed up with the #BowGeezers to work on a massive stitchwork wall hanging as part of a Crafts Council 50th Anniversary celebration.

πŸ“Œ Russia’s war in Ukraine seems to be unravelling very fast. I expect to wake up in the morning to hear that Vladimir Putin has shot himself.

FRIDAY 23 Wedding anniversary today. 34 years.

πŸ“Œ Putin didn’t shoot himself, but some fascinating geopolitical noises that started with reports from the UN general assembly yesterday have been pulled into something resembling analysis by the Guardian. States formerly supportive or neutral towards Russia’s war in Ukraine have started to hedge their bets.

πŸ“Œ I bumped into an elderly neighbour in the park and she told me she recently had a fall, “splat”, with cuts and bruises to her her knees and chest. “My bosoms didn’t help me one bit,” she said. “I haven’t had much use for them for a long time now, but when I finally do need them, they’re hopeless.” She went on to tell me that when they try to lower the lid on her coffin she will shout, “Hang on! I’m not finished yet.”

πŸ“Œ The new Chancellor’s mini budget has set the chatterati off on a game of If I Were In Charge. The response that seemed to ring true for me was from shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, who described the PM Liz Truss and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng as being like two desperate gamblers trying to bet their way out of a losing streak.

SATURDAY 24 Departure from London to Paris went much smoother than anticipated. My wife spotted the actor Lorraine Ashbourne in the queue at Eurostar St Pancras. I think also her travelling companion was the actor Andy Serkis, but it was hard to tell for sure. The journey from Paris Gare du Nord to Gare Montparnasse was pleasingly scenic (Louvre, Eiffel Tower, etc), though if I’m ever asked if I’d mind not being on Place de la Concorde in heavy traffic ever again I’d surrender happily.

Lunch in Paris…

πŸ“Œ Bordeaux feels like a proper working city. It’s trams are not designed for tourists and have the comforting French habit of lingering lazily a few extra seconds at the stop, as if the driver’s cigarette break is built into the schedule. I like that about France, and it certainly makes for a bold contrast to the Swiss way of doing things.

SUNDAY 25 In a column that is quite low on messaging, Marina Hyde manages to squeeze out some classic lines. Liz Truss, she says, has started her new job as PM “casting the UK as a country too mad to nuke.” She rips through Truss’s accomplices then settles into a cosy duffing-up of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the opponent of the Nanny State who, at the age of 53, “still has a nanny.”

Mogg comes across like he’s escaped from some knock-off live Cluedo event… his character is called Lord Purple.

Marina Hyde, the Guardian…

πŸ“Œ Proportional representation is back on the agenda. At the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, it will be put to a vote, but leader Keir Starmer is against it. For what reason, I cannot imagine. PR’s main fault, it is argued, is that it leads to boring coalition politics, something Starmer seems made for.

πŸ“Œ Things you forget about France but still exist … 1) Nobody picks up and bags dog dirt; 2) The shop mannequins all have erect nipples; 3) Smoking is as popular as ever; 4) They take dogs of all sizes into restaurants; 5) The plight of the disabled person wanting to use the toilet in a French restaurant is a piece of absurdist theatre waiting to happen.

Day One in Bordeaux, including a visit to MarchΓ© des Capucins

πŸ“Œ Witty architecture is not something you expect from French cities…

Un car parque de Bordeauxwhere a vintage Jaguar can be seen crashing out of a wall

πŸ“Œ At the Brasserie Le Passage St Michel there was a shard of glass nestled in my fish lunch. When we told the waiter he joked that it came from “the fish that eats glass”. French humour, eh?

πŸ“Œ If you were casting a psycho child killer for a TV drama a photograph of Georgia Meloni giving a speech might be a good place to start.

πŸ“Œ Wandering in and around the MarchΓ© des Capucins is a real pleasure. An old decrepit leather sofa bed counts as cool decor in bars around here.

At Bonsoir Bordeaux

MONDAY 26 News that the pound has lost value around the world starts to make two cups of coffee in Bordeaux look like a bargain…

πŸ“Œ Bordeaux’s MusΓ©e des Beaux-Arts has a fascinating collection(15-20C) of artists that rarely appear in the text books. Albert Marquet is/was a big figure in the Bordeaux art world.

πŸ“Œ Someone at Bordeaux’s MusΓ©e des Arts DΓ©coratifs has a fetish for mixing the ancient and the modern, not always successfully. Thankfully, its partner MusΓ©e du Design had pulled together an absorbing interiors exhibition occupying the cells of an old prison.

MusΓ©e des Arts DΓ©coratifs…
MusΓ©e du Design…

πŸ“Œ My wife is very disappointed that the area of Bordeaux we are staying in has too many craft beer bars rather than Bordeaux wine bars.

πŸ“Œ We finally found a wine bar in our neighbourhood that didn’t specialise in beer, then another one where the chef, who held more than a passing resemblance to Tintin, took pity on the elderly couple who sat drinking and talking long after everyone else had gone home. He brought to our table what he called in broken English a “gift of chips, madame”, which was a perfect description for what we ate with a smile.

Gift of chips…

TUESDAY 27 Breakfast in the MarchΓ© des Capucins after learning that our train to Toulouse tomorrow has been cancelled. My wife got up early, dashed to the railway station, negotiated a seats on a later train and was back in time for toast and jam.

Bistro Poulette, MarchΓ© des Capucins

πŸ“Œ Our Art Class project for this week is to look through binoculars and consider “space”. I resisted the lure of the planets and stretched the idea to destruction by looking at the “spaces” in front of my nose.

πŸ“Œ First to the antiques stores and stalls, then to the CitΓ© du Vin for a marathon CBBC audio-visual presentation about wine, plus a glass of Bordeaux cremant in the panoramic bar overlooking the Garonne river.

Antiques of Bordeaux…
CitΓ© du Vin…
On the Garonne…

πŸ“Œ Left behind on the table next to ours in the restaurant: the smallest cigarettes you’ve ever seen.

Tiny cigs…

WEDNESDAY 28 Reports of Keir Starmer’s performance at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool describe him recasting the party of the workers as “boring but decent”.

πŸ“Œ Relatives in Florida are waiting for Hurricane Ian to hit. Cuba is already devastated.

πŸ“Œ More experimental over-the-shoulder photography, plus fish soup in the MarchΓ© des Capucins.

At the MarchΓ© des Capucins…

πŸ“Œ Our arrival in Toulouse was wet, but at the Citadines we were granted an upgrade from a  room to a spacious apartment, which raised the spirits.

πŸ“Œ There was some heated debate during aperitifs whether the amuse-bouches on offer in the Place Wilson bar included pickled almonds or a variety of cocktail bean.

THURSDAY 29 Weird. Everything seems to be happening at a distance. Our family in Florida are battling Hurricane Ian with no electricity and we are witnessing the demolition of Britain’s economy from France.

πŸ“Œ On our first full day in Toulouse we revisited Places Wilson and Capitole to recall memories of the wedding in 1996 of our friends Dominique (a native of Toulouse) and Graham (a native of Shoreham-by-Sea).

πŸ“Œ The MarchΓ© de Victor Hugo is more structured and slightly grander than its cousin in Bordeaux. We went in search of something my wife termed a “tasteless bread-stick opportunity” because I like to keep something in my bag for when I get “hangry”.

MarchΓ© de Victor Hugo…

πŸ“Œ Lovely lunch of bavette, fennel and potatoes, plus apple crumble for dessert and 250cl red wine: €12.

πŸ“Œ At the MusΓ©e du Vieux we learned lots about Toulouse from a stern madame whose English was about as good as my wife’s French. The titbit I found most fascinating was that Toulouse became the “Pink City” by accident. Builders trying to outdo rivals in Bordeaux set about making a unique sparkling white brick, but they fluffed the job and the bricks ended up pink.

The Pink City

FRIDAY 30 In a withering editorial the Guardian calls for Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng to be sacked and PM Liz Truss to be ousted. They alone, it says, have put Britain’s economy in peril and inflicted yet more hardship on millions.

Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng give every impression of not caring. They seem to think they are clever and other people are stupid.

The Guardian

πŸ“Œ With Labour Party members and union leaders now backing proportional representation, momentum is gathering for the reform British politics so badly needs.

πŸ“Œ Back at the MarchΓ© de Victor Hugo we averted our eyes when passing the tripperie but bought wine and chocolates for this evening’s dinner hosts.

MarchΓ© de Victor Hugo…

πŸ“Œ On a lovely afternoon guided around Toulouse by our friend Med we especially enjoyed the area of St Cyprien on the Garonne.

πŸ“Œ Lovely couscous meal at Med & Latifa’s place just West of Toulouse, plus the chance to check out some of the art on their walls.

At Med & Latifa’s…

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…


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