Scrapbook: Week 50


December 10-16, 2022

SATURDAY 10 It drives me mad when the checkout person in the supermarket ignores the order in which you placed your shopping on the conveyor belt. Your best efforts to ease the bagging/paying routine are thus thrown into chaos. I think they see me coming and take turns to inflict the misery.

📌 A short-lived wave of low-octane smugness overtook me when I heard that England had been knocked out of the World Cup. My boycott of this year’s tournament – caused solely by the entrenched corruption at the heart of world football governing body FIFA – always risked becoming a nose-spite-face experience had England magically brought home the trophy. But they didn’t. And they missed a penalty, so they probably deserved to lose.

SUNDAY 11 I do love the way Duolingo remembers your mistakes and helps you correct them by keeping you back in class to practise.

📌 I suggested we get a smart meter fitted given the vast profiteering upsurges in the cost of gas and electricity. My wife says the queue for smart meters is as long as that for an NHS cataract operation. Then I read an article that said that the national rollout of smart meters (which tell you hour by hour how much you are spending) has been a national screwup with further screwups sitting in the pipeline waiting to happen.

📌 Been mulling over crime stories and wonder whether the belief that all relationships include some form of deception is a good root for a twisty detective yarn. Or at least the idea that some things are better left unsaid.

MONDAY 12 When I used to teach schoolchildren how to write newspaper headlines I told them that it was worth writing a good headline if only because sometimes that is all a reader will bother to read. I told them a good headline should tease, but not dishonestly, and it should tempt the reader to find out more…

📌 For some time I’ve been meaning to try some crazy graphic ideas in my stitchwork. Then I got the chance to make a piece for a giant map showing the 25 ancient wards of the City of London. I got Aldersgate. The two orange triangles are the two of the Barbican’s towers (Lauderdale and Shakespeare) that are in the Aldersgate ward. The circle at the letter ‘a’ is the Museum of London roundabout.

Work in progress…

📌 The case for a universal basic income is made once again in a timely report by Larry Elliott predicting mass poverty by 2024.

📌 Various neighbours and friends have all been sending snow photos, such is the excitement of seeing the white stuff in Winter.

Winter in the heart of London…

TUESDAY 13 I suspect attitudes towards trade unions have shifted, and it could be because the aggressive warrior male leaders of the past have been replaced by common-sense female leaders. Whatever the reason, public suspicion of union motives has dissolved.

📌 Experimenting with Mastodon as an alternative to Twitter, which seems to have stepped off some kind of cliff. Getting to enjoy Mastodon’s jargon (toots, fediverse, blah) might take some time.

📌 I notice for the first time while reading David Sedaris’s diary collection A Carnival Of Snackery, that he often reports other people’s stories as well and with as much relish as his own. In the same spirit, there was a care worker/actor in a TV game show tonight who described her proudest career moment so far as being “woman without womb” in Casualty.

📌 Mastodon seems a lot calmer than Twitter. So far. Not much hysteria and an easy air of superiority over “the other place”. Though I could be wrong, because I’m still learning how to use it.

WEDNESDAY 14 More people have died trying to cross the English Channel in a flimsy boat that capsized. The government doesn’t seem to have any idea what to do. International people smuggling is a crime that needs an international solution. Yesterday Rishi practically announced a unilateral ban on all Albanians entering Britain. Other members of the government lurch daily into hysterical proclamations they know to be utter fantasy. A government that at least appears to know what it is doing is the least any citizen can ask. One that has obviously given up even pretending is dangerous.

📌 On the last day of term in Art Class I dodged doing anything serious, guzzled mince pies and played around with some AI art and image manipulation tools to create portraits of my classmates.

So this is what AI thinks of me…
I made Enrica’s pen look like a withering chilli…

📌 At the Golden Lane Stitchers one of our neighbours, who is Russian, said that contrary to popular belief, Siberia is not that cold (yes, we were talking about the weather). This didn’t sound in any way convincing, so when I got home I googled “temperature Siberia” and it said -10-15C is common and -20-25C quite normal. The same neighbour asked if any of us would like to “babysit” three “cheerful” goldfish for three weeks.

📌 Talking of babysitting other people’s pets, another neighbour at this week’s Stitchers group confessed to accidentally starving her auntie’s budgie to death. She then added that Auntie Liz was not a real auntie, but just a close family friend, as if that lessened the crime.

📌 One recent poll says an election tomorrow would yield a massive 300+ majority for Labour. Such a disproportionate swing suggests the country really is fed up with the present government and sees its toxicity as near-total. For the Conservatives, surrender would be the noble thing to do, but as yet no one has had the nerve to say so.

📌 My wife solved today’s Wordle in three, which presented a challenge. My first two attempts yielded two vowels but no consonants. I solved the puzzle only because earlier in the day I spotted my wife’s iPad screen open on the first line of the puzzle. This told me that the five-letter solution word had three vowels (that’s unUSUAL). I cheated. We both solved it in three.

THURSDAY 15 An eco campaigner in Canada was on BBC Radio 4 talking about the climate emergency and made the statement: “the [global] economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of nature (my italics), but most of the time the [relationship between the two] is seen as being the other way round.”

📌 At last some common sense in the nurses’ pay dispute! Buried deep in a Guardian story is the solution: ask the pay review board to review its findings from February and make any adjustments necessary in the light of the current cost-of-living crisis.

📌 I suppose that inside all the forced jollity of this time of year there is some genuine happiness. Charles Dickens couldn’t have been that wrong.

📌 There has been some suggestion that the France vs Morocco World Cup semi-final (France won 2-0) was some sort of national coming-together, oppressor and oppressed reconciled, etc, blah.

📌 At Silicon Roundabout I couldn’t get a signal on my phone.

📌 Lovely short essay by Billy Bragg in the Guardian about patriotism, and what a slippery fish it can be. Kinda depends on whose hands are holding it is the message.

FRIDAY 16 If Conservatives believed the installation of Rishi offered the chance to turn a corner with voters and restore the party’s reputation for dull prudence, they might want to think again. From where I sit, if the Conservatives continue their war of attrition on national institutions and living standards until the next general election, they will have become a “never again” party. Some commentators believe that once that message is properly heard inside the party they will turn on Rishi and go looking for yet another new leader. Step forward Boris Johnson, who has declared his intention to stay in parliament and stand at the next election.

📌 I wonder if I gestured so much with my right hand before suffering a brain injury. I can’t decide if I need to curtail the habit or to let it be as evidence of how brain injury can make you a more expressive person.

📌 The Guardian often leads a crime story with a picture of the victim rather than the perpetrator. It is a noble attempt to show a different context, but sometimes causes confusion.

The picture of the evil killer is lower in the report…

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

PLEASE MESSAGE WITH ANY CORRECTIONS, BIG OR SMALL.

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