TUESDAY 1 I’m not sure Rishi can carry on backing Leaky Su for much longer. Her performances in Parliament are becoming more and more hysterical. There is the general agreement that she should be politically sectioned for her own good (and everyone else’s). And when a government starts breaking its own laws – be it on immigration, national security or the environment – the writing (a desperate scrawl) is on the wall.
📌 Matt Hancock is to appear on this year’s I’m A Celebrity… and has therefore been suspended by the Conservative Party for neglecting his duties as an MP. One of his closest colleagues told the press that they relish the thought of the former health secretary eating a kangaroo’s penis. A writer in the Guardian also seems to be relishing Hancock’s appearance, casting it as comedy payback for all the harm he heaped on the nation during the pandemic. I always thought revenge was best served cold, not with a barrel of laughs.
📌 Finished the stitchwork of Cecil’s gang of 70s hipsters and have decided to try recreating some classic news photographs in stitches, starting with a pattern for the 2016 image of a blood-soaked Syrian child on the seat of an ambulance.
📌 Finally finished some letterbox landscapes supposedly inspired by JMW Turner for Art Class. Can’t say I enjoyed this project. It felt like a fight.
WEDNESDAY 2 Rishi’s only been in the job for a week and already he’s tripping over his own shoelaces, says Polly Toynbee in a compendium of Sunak Screwups ranging from the appointment of Leaky Su to his “too busy” shun of the Cop27 global climate conference in Egypt.
📌 Rishi lunges into his first U-turn…
📌 Hats off to the makers of TV’s The Pact for keeping us guessing throughout Series 2 with a minimal drip-feed of confusing clues. When we finished it tonight it was obvious that what we were meant to feel was sympathy, but what we actually felt was incredulity.
THURSDAY 3 Hot news arrives from America to say da kids are alright.
📌 Larry Elliott’s opening paragraph in describing Britain’s economic disappearance down the toilet is a classic of its kind…
Economic policy in the UK is peppered with the language of S&M. The Treasury demands budgetary discipline. The Bank of England sees the need for monetary tightening. Policymakers talk of the need to avoid “fiscal dominance”. Only in Britain could there ever have been an instrument of monetary control known as the corset.Larry Elliot, the Guardian
📌 At Headway James, the music coordinator who used to be in Microdisney, tells me he is about to go on tour with Shakin’ Stevens in support of Status Quo. And Margi gave me some peanutty Fijian Cheetos.
📌 Not till very near the end of a Guardian story reporting a drop in profits for Sainsbury’s do we discover that this year’s profits were £340m. The idea that a business might be happy breaking even, paying all its costs and keeping people in jobs is truly a thing of the past.
📌 A modern remake of the vintage British comedy The Admirable Crichton has on many occasions in the recent past seemed like a film waiting to happen. And now we have it in the clever contemporary satire on class and social hierarchies that is Ruben Östlund’s Triangle Of Sadness.
There are some truly hilarious moments, the most memorable being a 10-minute sequence in the middle of the film in which an orgy of vomiting breaks out aboard a luxury yacht cruise during bad weather. It gets worse as oysters, caviar, champagne and human incontinence all get washed together in a vast floating cesspool, to be scrubbed clean almost immediately by migrant workers.
Later the yacht’s captain, an American socialist (Woody Harrelson), and a slobby Russian capitalist argue drunkenly on the finer points of Marxism over the ship’s PA system. It ends with the yacht being attacked by pirates in the dead of night and blown up. With a group of survivors stranded on a “desert” island, the role-reversal fun begins as the ship’s toilet cleaner takes charge of the situation.
Somewhere in this film you will recognise yourself, and it might not be a pretty sight.
FRIDAY 4 Bumped into Vera. Her pet terrapin Ben is recovering nicely. She had been over-feeding him, but now he is on strict regime of meals twice daily, morning and night.
📌 The iffy upper-body mole the doctor wanted to double-check is not dangerous and the miserable phlebotomist René (aka, Count Dracula) was unusually chatty.
📌 My wife tells me that the last two films we’ve seen at the cinema have both featured a dead donkey. They both in fact featured the KILLING of a donkey.
SATURDAY 5 A 41-year-old woman shared her concern with agony aunts Tara and Marian on the Now You’re Asking podcast that she was being excluded from the informal swingers network that operates outside the gates of her child’s school.
📌 The crumbling of Britain’s infrastructure continues apace.
📌 Rugby League is enjoying a surge in popularity. It is a vicious game but a big hit with spectators, which today in Wigan include the Prince and Princess of Wales doing the banshee scream as studs crush ankles.
SUNDAY 6 Rishi’s tactic of trying to keep a low profile has obviously antagonised the hungry media pack. They’ve sniffed out his wife’s multimillion-pound earnings from businesses in Russia. They’ve forced him to perform a massive U-turn on the climate emergency and to attend the UN Cop27 talks in Egypt after first claiming he was far too busy with domestic issues. He gave a cabinet job to a known bully just hours after being told said bully was under investigation. And last week the Guardian ran an article saying Rishi was basically a blundering bean-counter and totally unsuited to national leadership. You’d hope that nurses voting to strike might shake some kind of sense into him, but that looks unlikely and he seems determined to act as if he can still win a game he obviously lost from the kick-off.
📌 BBC Radio 5 Live had a report on a Finnish cleaner, Auri Kananen, who has become a social media sensation with videos of her getting down and dirty with other people’s filth (for free).
The dirtier the better, so if I see something really dirty I’ll love it.Auri Kananen, cleaner
📌 The standout paragraph from Andrew Rawnsley’s take on the upcoming economic armageddon finishes with a neat comparator.
By feeding media speculation about just how savage the squeeze will be, the government is playing the expectations game in the hope of generating some relief when the chancellor’s measures turn out to be slightly less horrendous than is being pre-briefed. I am unconvinced this manipulation will work. Being told you are about to be chucked out of a 10-storey window won’t make it feel any better when you are then thrown out of an eight-storey one.Andrew Rawnsley, the Observer
MONDAY 7 At the Barbican last night for a concert of modern classical American music I was mesmerised by the unobtrusive periscope camera on stage that was raised and lowered, snooping among the musicians and yielding footage for a Marquee TV recording. It stood just in from of the harp and the Big Cymbal, instruments not used during the performances, not even the long-winded but rapturously received tuba concerto written by Wynton Marsalis.
📌 Mounting artwork for an upcoming exhibition was meant to be enjoyable. It wasn’t. It was so boring that I started to dislike the images.
📌 Claims that Brexit is at the root of all the UK’s economic woes are well wide of the mark, writes Larry Elliott.
📌 A strong article in the Guardian argues that Britain’s alleged “immigration problem” is a massive con and that no such problem exists. It is a government fiction – in defiance of plain facts – to disguise its total failure to build a better Britain after Brexit and to deal with the natural ebb and flow of people around the world.
TUESDAY 8 The Tortoise reports in its Weekly Sensemaker that Facebook is in terminal decline. Its customers are slowly being eaten by nimbler social-media platforms because, says the report, what started as a bright idea has become dull. The story links with one in the Conversation, which asks whether social media is responsible for the decline in democracy across the globe. The academic research behind the article included the analysis of “ten indicators of democratic wellbeing”. The list: political participation, knowledge, trust, news exposure, political expression, hate, polarisation, populism, network structure, and misinformation. On the day of the US Midterm elections, pondering these topics was a cup of tea well used and with it the realisation, for example, that greater political engagement can lead to greater polarisation.
📌 Cypress sprig stitchwork finished and claimed already by Betty, who thought it was a Christmas tree.
WEDNESDAY 9 Labour is continually ducking the question “What would you do if you were in charge?” whenever it questions the government’s judgement. That looks an awful lot like poor judgement to me.
📌 In Art Class we learned how to make drawings by visually breaking down objects into simple geometrical elements.
📌 Marge told us about a Barbican resident who had her dead father’s ashes added to potters’ glaze so that ceramic artworks could be made and sent to various members of the family, with the message “a little bit of Wilf”.
📌 Still trying to make weird digital images using photographs taken during TV programmes. This one is of comedian Fern Brady from Taskmaster.
📌 Bev told me today that she has been frightened of sewing machines ever since sewing lessons in school, during which she tried to make a bikini that smelled of fish.
THURSDAY 10 All the commentary suggests that Donald Trump is still very popular in the US with lots of people, but toxic with a growing number of Republicans and therefore likely to be eclipsed by a character called Ron DeSantis from Florida, who spouts the same line as Trump but laces it with something resembling reason.
📌 The delayed opening of Tony and Tirzah’s exhibition at Rich Mix was exceptionally warm, probably because the artists are so loveable.
Despite the social whirl, I still somehow found time to knock off a shadow portrait of my wife and to do a short promo interview with Elisa on my appearance in Posy’s film Chaos/Quest, which shows at Rich Mix next week.
FRIDAY 11 The pure green cypress stitchwork has been pledged to Betty, so in order to keep the studio collection (oak, elm, sycamore, fig) intact I’m doing another one, this time adding reds, browns, lighter greens and yellows. If anyone questions the colours I will claim it’s a mutant variety of cypress. This one really does look more like a Christmas tree.
SATURDAY 12 Another impressive column by Andy Beckett on how Britain might reverse its decline. It points to the lack of will among the political classes to make it happen, mainly because it does not serve their interests.
One way to think about Thatcherism, and all the British governments it has influenced, is not as a project to end national decline – as she claimed – but as a way of confining that decline to social groups that mainstream politicians and swing voters don’t care a lot about.Andy Beckett, the Guardian…
📌 Facebook tells me that three years ago I drew a picture of Angela Rayner, who I believed should be leader of the Labour Party.
📌 Yesterday I got a mysterious message via Facebook Messenger from a writer called Howard Male saying he liked the look of my profile picture (a self-portrait in ink) and wondered whether I would like to read a free promotion copy of his novel Etc Etc Amen, in the hope that I might then read more of his books (photo supplied). I balked at the missing punctuation in the title of the book but decided to suspend my irritation and say yes. A digital copy duly arrived and I read the first page. I was not put off by the style or the characters outlined so far, so I will continue.
📌 It’s still only November but Christmas arrived early at the cinema this afternoon in the shape of Living, a slushy, sentimental film starring Bill Nighy about a dull man with a terminal illness who makes one last attempt to put some happiness into his zombie life.
📌 The number of objections my wife has to the antics on Strictly Come Dancing is getting longer. Last week she insisted on an immediate ban on the judges standing to applaud the contestants after they have just put their hearts and souls into a cha-cha-cha. This week it is a ban on contestants telling sob stories about dead relatives and suffering children, etc – any corny story, in fact, to harvest sympathy votes from viewers.
SUNDAY 13 It looks like Sleepy Joe Biden has succeeded in putting a touch of Grandpa Walton into American politics. All they need now is a national John Boy, Jim Bob and Mary Ellen.
📌 Every year at this time my three red Remembrance poppy badges get resurrected. I didn’t know until this year, when one of our neighbours, Annie, gifted me a purple poppy, that these commemorate the animals that died in warfare. It makes a nice addition to my lapel collection.
📌 The mutant red cypress sprig stitchwork is finished. We shall give Betty the choice of this one or the more conventional green one.
📌 Q: When is a donkey a chicken? A: When its name is Tony Adams.
MONDAY 14 My wife is out all day so I take this as an opportunity to engage in experimental cooking. Today I will attempt to make a galette.
📌 I don’t often imagine the world long after I’m dead, but an article in the Guardian about India’s demographics offers a few hints.
📌 The experiment with cooking galettes got off to a bad start but recovered slightly in time for lunch.
📌 Sam has rekindled her love of pandas. Years ago she did a version of a famous Bert Hardy photograph featuring a panda posing as a photographer.
📌 UK politics is in a sorry state if the Labour Party really cannot now tolerate the membership of Jeremy Corbyn in its ranks. Radicals such as Corbyn have kept the party on its toes ever since I can remember.
TUESDAY 15 I realised yesterday that I am a mansplainer. I don’t think I’m seriously infected, but some treatment is required. I probably just thought I was performing a service to those I was mansplaining to, offering linguistic clarity. But no, it’s mansplaining, even when I’m talking to a man. In 8 Ways To Stop Mansplaining, number one is “Take Ownership Of The Problem”. Tick. Number six is “laugh at yourself”.
📌 On It’s A Fair Cop, Alfie Moore reminded us that even what is seen as the lowest-ranking of police officer – the traffic cop – has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law. He also illustrates week in week out that ordinary British police officers have a high level of discretion as to how they implement and enforce the law. He makes this funny by pointing to some of the contradictions, like when a boozy office party during lockdown restrictions is not a crime but a “misunderstanding”.
📌 India and China are starting to crack in their backing of Russia over Ukraine.
📌 To Rich Mix on Bethnal Green Road for a screening of Zara’s documentary portrait of Tony Brooks and Posy’s Chaos/Quest, after which I joined a panel conversation about my involvement in the film. It was all part of our Art Is Freedom residency.
WEDNESDAY 16 We laughed out loud when the ageing poseur from across the road posted a request on Facebook.
📌 In Art Class we had been instructed to bring “something from home” to use in a workshop on impression printing. I stretched the brief a bit because I fancied the idea of combining printing on Calico with stitchwork. To a deep green holly leaf I can add gold veins and red berries.
📌 I’ve become mildly addicted to a Twitter group called FessHole, in which people offload all manner of ridiculous and outrageous confessions. Most of them, though, are just funny.
THURSDAY 17 Energy prices are tipped to soar even higher than they already are. I wonder if it’s a uniquely British thing to turn tragedy into comedy…
📌 The comedian Joe Lycett is seriously threatening to shred £10,000 unless gay icon David Beckham withdraws his support for the Qatar World Cup or donates his fee to LGBTQ+ causes.
📌 Womensart posted a fascinating picture of a model made by the 18th-Century French midwife Angélique-Marguerite du Coudray to teach her pupils anatomy and obstetrics.
📌 Lunch at Headway (£3.50) is often like visiting a new restaurant. What gets cooked and served by staff and members can be exotic and inventive in the extreme because it is based on whatever ingredients have been supplied by Fare Share. Today we had Ghormeh Sabzi, an Iranian lamb stew.
📌 The big tech companies have a lot to answer for, but rarely are their stratospheric rapid growth strategies brought into question. The result is that the idea that rapid growth is good has become embedded in economic thinking. Larry Elliot believes it’s time to think again and for advanced global economies to work towards a slower and steadier path.
FRIDAY 18 Quick half-hour gym sessions split between upper body and lower body does it for me.
📌 Getting my Canon DSLR to connect with my iPad is a serious test of temperament.
📌 Qatar has banned beer from the World Cup. And the BBC reported this morning that most of the England women’s team have decided to boycott it.
📌 The Guardian’s First Edition newsletter always arrives just after my early-morning French lesson with Duolingo. Today it includes a close look at how the Labour Party is ducking and diving over how differently it would handle the UK’s current economic plight.
📌 Learned from Twitter that Hackney Mayor Phil Glanville visited Headway today. That is a big step forward in networking for the future. Next: Meg Hillier?
📌 Our 80something friend talking about her grandson: “We think he’s going to be gay, when he gets started.”
SATURDAY 19 Fesshole delivers a steady stream of confessions of all types. Mainly they aim to titillate and rarely does the confessor give the impression that dishing their dirt publicly is an act of self-reflection.
📌 Elon Musk is being dubbed the “Liz Truss of social media”.
📌 Paul Waugh in the i reports that Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement included a thinly disguised admission that Boris’s “oven-ready” Brexit deal was in fact thin gruel for the UK.
The painful truth is that Brussels got the better side of the bargain: great access for their goods, protection from British competition for their services, plus a hit to UK GDP that serves as a warning to any other states thinking of quitting the bloc.Paul Waugh, the i
He goes on to add that the EU benefited so convincingly that stitching any kind of new deal back together will be a tough task for any government, whatever its colour.
📌 To Paula’s in Sutton for Thanksgiving turkey dinner. Entranced once again by the print on the wall of Irish Girl, by Ford Maddox Brown.
SUNDAY 20 Fabulously clear analysis by Larry Elliot comparing the Thatcher/Lawson Tory economic revolution of the 1980s with the shambles of the Sunak/Hunt “two chancellors” effort to bundle Britain into an evermore insecure future.
📌 It was inevitable that post-Brexit Britain would eventually need to patch together a working trade agreement with the EU. The nation’s current desperate plight has brought the prospect closer. Common sense suggests that an arrangement similar to the ones enjoyed by Switzerland or Norway is the best first step/least worst option to start repairing the damage already done. The lunatic fringes of the Conservative Party, however, believes such a deal amounts to treason. I can’t imagine the EU is interested anyway.
📌 In an effort to look a bit more like a prime minister, Rishi Sunak made a surprise visit to Ukraine.
MONDAY 21 I’ve been told to go easy on eating eggs as there is a national shortage due to the avian flu epidemic and supply-chain problems. Supermarkets have started to ration sales, but poultry farmers say in secret that because they’ve been so badly screwed over by the all-powerful supermarkets, there’s no longer any profit in eggs and have cut production.
📌 Back in Brighton after three years. We’d let our small apartment to someone who needed a home, but now he’s moved on we will spruce it up and hopefully sell it in the new year. Empty it looks sparse and a lot like a basic holiday let, but it didn’t take long to remember why we fell in love with it all those years ago and have happy memories of fun-filled weekends at the seaside.
TUESDAY 22 Went for a walk on the seafront in search of psychogeography titbits, but all I came back with is that places can be a lot like people; they come and go, rarely stay the same as you fondly remember them and eventually become dead to you. When we arrived in Brighton yesterday I felt I was seeing it anew and I think that is where we are now. I am a visiting tourist. Brighton as I once knew it has left me and I need to find a way to leave it too and not feel bereaved.
📌 My sister WhatsApped to ask if we were watching the World Cup. I said no.
WEDNESDAY 23 In TV’s I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here the rugby player Mike Tindall is notorious for his loud snoring, so much so that the other celebrities wish for nothing more than to be kept as far away as is possible from Tindall come bedtime. They are not alone, it seems. His wife Zara, daughter of Princess Anne and 20th in line to the throne, is likewise disturbed by her husband’s night-time noise making and is pleading for our help.
📌 Someone on Twitter reported a bear hiding in the Alpine illustration on the Toblerone sleeve.
THURSDAY 24 Two of Britain’s top politicians are in a sticky spot. Yesterday the UK supreme court ruled an independence referendum in Scotland out of the question. For now. This leaves SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon waiting until the present government is replaced by one that might agree to a popular vote. That replacement is likely to be the Labour Party, which actually wants to heal the wounds between the UK nations, not sanction further separation. Labour will campaign at the next election for a better deal for Scotland, so don’t be surprised if the SNP’s grip on Scotland starts to loosen.
The other troubled politician is PM Rishi Sunak. He looks nervous about his next move. He knows the game is up with the voters, but should he spend the next 12 months setting timed booby traps for the next government (Labour) to fall into, or should he attempt to clear up the mess his party has created over the past 12 years?
📌 It looks obvious even with six contestants still in the jungle that Jill Scott will win this year’s I’m A Celebrity…
📌 Transport For London is obviously aware of the problem because the 55 bus now has the covers of its priority seats (for elderly, disabled or pregnant passengers) in a contrasting colour and pattern to all the other seats, plus big labels on each one stating “Priority Seat”.
FRIDAY 25 Talked with Michelle yesterday about the studio’s input to next year’s Headway@25 anniversary exhibition at the Barbican’s Curve gallery. We will present ideas to the steering group next week, but the key thing that emerged for me was that during the conversation I became more excited by what some of the other artists are working on rather than with my own idea (a short-short horror story stitched into gold satin).
📌 I’ve got four pictures from my art class in the community college exhibition – Eggface, Langham Place, Bordeaux Balcony and Sara’s Hand. My wife has two of the cushion covers she made in her Sewing & Textiles class.
📌 Russia is bombing Ukraine into becoming some sort of post-USSR Gaza. And like the Palestinians the citizens of Ukraine will continue to resist. Does the world really need another one of these pointless wars?
📌 The Creatives craft exhibition at our local community centre turned into an exercise in community cohesion. I introduced a councillor to an art teacher, and art student to art student.
📌 Someone called Owen on I’m A Celebrity… seems to spend all his time sunbathing or trimming his carefully sculpted beard.
SATURDAY 26 Ashamed to say I angrily flounced out of the Christmas craft market when some self-important art-school twat decided to invade the “Made On Golden Lane” space with her ridiculous (not made on Golden Lane) collection of berets for sale.
📌 If ever there was a TV programme that could turn you into an assassin it is The Wheel.
SUNDAY 27 Wet winter Sunday afternoons really are a great time to go to the pictures. Aftersun looks like an art film shoved uncomfortably into mainstream cinema. On a Turkish package holiday the purity of youth and the pain of losing it cross paths in the relationship between a lone 30ish father and his 11-year-old daughter. In parts the film is so freighted with melancholy that to casually strap on a happy ending would have been a betrayal of the poetic complexity of the story and the subtle meaning of the title.
MONDAY 28 The momentum of the Zero-Covid protests in China hint at a deeper discontent with a brutally authoritarian regime. Pockets of protest in Russia against the war in Ukraine illustrate likewise that the freedoms offered by more open societies cannot be selectively absorbed into dictatorships and managed by fear. They take on a life of their own. Governments might successfully suppress outward dissent in the short term, but in the long term it is a fertile organism growing secretly and steadily out of sight.
📌 When Michelle suggested I try using text in my stitchwork I never paid much attention. She had previously suggested including bits of handwriting into my paintings, so I don’t know why I dismissed the idea so readily. The thing is… just like going to the gym, once I started stitching text I really got a lot out of it. I am putting one of my old flash stories on gold satin.
TUESDAY 29 Qatar seems happy to accept its failure as a football playing nation so long as it can be seen as an influential playmaker in the Middle Eastern region. And teams such as Morocco, Iran and Saudi Arabia seem to be proving the point.
📌 To Barbican Cinema 1 for the completion of Daniel Craig’s transitioning from James Bond to Hercule Poirot. It started around this time in 2019 with the fabulous Knives Out and is complete with Glass Onion, which takes the Agatha Christie whodunnit model of gathering a bunch of people together, lights out, body on the carpet and lots of guilty looks. The story barrels along with gloriously entertaining twists and turns and finishes, inevitably, with the detective pointing his finger and a big explosion.
WEDNESDAY 30 Listening to the Welsh fans moaning about their 3-0 loss to England in the World Cup and exit from the tournament a new variant of the English slang contraction “innit?” made its debut on BBC Radio 4. The Welsh pronunciation comes out more as “ennet?” and is delivered with a shrug of resignation, as if the Welsh see in themselves a destiny of defeat.
📌 The popularity of Fesshole suggests there’s obviously an attraction in keeping a secret closely guarded.
📌 It will be fascinating to watch how Joe Biden’s”Buy America” coupling of protectionism and environmentalism pans out.
📌 In Art Class we did life-drawing, and needless to say I played the disruptor by using the session simply to make what I think are nice pictures.
Also discovered that three of the four pictures I have in the college exhibition have sold. Have high hopes for the 4th to sell before the exhibition closes because it is a painting of our teacher Sara.
📌 Presented some of the studio’s current ideas for the Barbican Curve exhibition next year. Can’t wait to see what the curators come up with. They seem to already have a good grip on the project.
Read all of my scrapbook diaries…
PLEASE MESSAGE WITH ANY CORRECTIONS, BIG OR SMALL.
2 thoughts on “Scrapbook: November 2022”
Thé film Chaos/ Quest is a great watch.
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No Dead Donkey in that one.