Scrapbook: Week 42

October 15-21, 2022

SATURDAY 15 In an interview with a poultry farmer on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today we heard how annual attacks of bird flu have forced farmers to shield chickens in barns to avoid  infection. This means that fewer free-range eggs can be produced. With no remedy or vaccination programme against avian flu, free-range eggs will disappear from British shops.

πŸ“Œ Marina Hyde has a great idea for identifying the 80,000 Conservative members who voted for Liz Truss to become prime minister. Dip their fingers in indelible ink so you know who they are, and if you find yourself standing next to one of them in a queue, you can pass on your thoughts about what they did to your country.

SUNDAY 16 I can imagine only one fanciful scenario in which the Conservatives can rescue their perilous position: persuade Liz Truss to call a general election then quickly sack her and reinstall Boris by coronation. Even that might not work, but they are finished as a political force for the time being, so the sooner they go the better.

πŸ“Œ The BBC’s News 24 is wall-to wall speculation and doom about how many more days Liz Truss can last as PM.

MONDAY 17 New chancellor Jeremy Hunt has dismantled all of Liz Truss’s economic plans and Liz herself has gone into hiding and is refusing to answer questions in parliament. The drama is intense, so it was fitting that I found time to turn my attention to the moody skies of JMW Turner in preparation for this week’s Art Class, in which we will paint in the style of Turner on to the canvases we made last week using coloured tissue paper and PVA glue.

πŸ“Œ There’s serious speculation among the TV political pundits on whether the return of Boris is imminent.

πŸ“Œ Penny Mordaunt did a surprisingly efficient job of needling Keir Starmer in parliament this afternoon.

πŸ“Œ My wife bumped into a local resident today who’d had her electricity cut off and was looking for advice, and candles.

TUESDAY 18 Sympathy for Liz Truss must be in short supply right now. Few will have noticed the undertones of misogyny that shade all the dismissals of incompetence and heartlessness that have been heaped upon her over her casual crashing of the UK economy. But don’t forget for one moment, says Owen Jones, that the Conservative Party is a killing machine and soon she will be gone. Her new chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, might look like a smiley, benign, common-sense veteran of British politics right now, but underneath all the faux gravitas he is an evil austerity monster. So don’t rush to rehabilitate Liz Truss once she’s been dispatched by her own people (cf Theresa May) because she is, and always will be, a part of the Conservative coalition from 2010 onwards, that has reduced Britain to this sorry state.

πŸ“Œ St Luke’s was buzzing today as it was St Luke’s Day. I was reminded what an exemplar of a community centre it is, working with and for the South Islington/City of London people with great results. I became a fixture, sitting on the sofa in reception doing some stitchwork while fun and laughter rang out all around me. I was also reminded that St Luke was the patron saint of physicians and artists.

Stitchworking at St Luke’s…

πŸ“Œ More speculation on which Tory MP will eventually replace Liz Truss: Theresa May. Plus unattributed quote: “She’s competent. She’s boring. She’ll calm things down.”

WEDNESDAY 19 On the radio last night was a compelling programme titled I Dressed Ziggy Stardust. In it several British Asian women spoke of the influence David Bowie had on their developing sense of identity as young women.

πŸ“Œ Some reports are suggesting Liz Truss will call a general election today.

πŸ“Œ She didn’t. She opted for squirming and hectoring instead.

πŸ“Œ In Art Class we finished our landscapes supposedly inspired by JMW Turner. Nearly everyone else went for an acid-trip interpretation. I chose something I like to call formal but others would call anal, featuring horizontals, and diagonals in the form of overhead telegraph cables and a railway track. I might drop the sky a bit lower and work more on that. The soft-focus horizon is too high in the picture, the roughly ploughed field too dominant.

French Field inspired by Turner (allegedly)…

πŸ“Œ The government is falling apart hour by hour.

πŸ“Œ At our local allotment committee meeting we discussed ways to sanction growers who neglect their plots. We call them “Hoggers” because they refuse to surrender the tenancy of the allotment space while keener new growers languish on the waiting list itching to get some carrots growing.

πŸ“Œ Liz Truss is obviously a fan of Susie Dent’s Word Of The Day – latibulate – which means to find a corner and hide in it.

THURSDAY 20 I don’t think I’ll ever understand the person who gets on the bus and stands searching in their bag for their bus pass.

πŸ“Œ I’m no fan of Liz Truss, but I enjoy following her determination to tell the “men in grey suits” to shove it. Conservative MPs are complaining incessantly that Truss is a PINO (Prime Minister In Name Only) and that she should resign for “the good of the Party”, but they are lying. They want her to resign so they might get to keep their jobs. Just as I finished writing that sentence, a notification popped up on my phone…


I told Tim sitting nearby that the prime minister had just resigned and he replied: “Which one?”

πŸ“Œ At Headway we had a batik workshop and I made a cotton flag.

FRIDAY 21 People who drone on that Liz Truss has been treated unfairly and “wasn’t given enough time” to prove her political genius really should check in with reality sometime soon. The facts of her shambles are laid out carefully in an article in the London Review of Books (LRB) by John Lanchester, who states quite clearly that pushing through unfunded tax cuts because that’s what you pledged at your job interview was always destined to hit a brick wall. And so it came to pass that “the markets” turned out to be more Conservative than Liz Truss and gave her big revolutionary plan short shrift, which leaves us in the pitiful state we are now.

πŸ“Œ At last night’s Headway supper club we had a Guyana Feast with food, drink and art inspired by Cecil’s journey from Guyana to Liverpool as a stowaway in 1958. Between main course and dessert, I interviewed him about his journey. It was hard to stop him talking once he’d started.

The menu…
Cecil, Alex and me…

πŸ“Œ It’s so annoying when the ring-pull breaks and you’re forced to dig out the can opener you’d long forgotten how to use.

Broken ring-pull…

πŸ“Œ There’s a mounting belief that the government should abandon the idea of serving out its term of office and accept the role of opposition. The current leadership contest, between all those who lost the last one, is a good guide to where the Conservative Party now stands.

The deserving winner of the race would be the person who can sift through the rubble in the crater where Truss’s economic plans blew up and apologise for amassing so much combustible delusion over so many years.

Rafael Behr, the Guardian

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…


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