January 7-13, 2023
SATURDAY 7 The Guardian sings the praise of groundbreaking working-class TV comedies such as The Likely Lads, Early Doors and The Royle Family. When I worked at the Guardian I urged executives to include class on its annual diversity survey questionnaire. It never did.
📌 The actor Amanda Abbington shares a posting and helpfully illustrates (on Twitter) why users continue to abandon Twitter.
📌 I’ve started too many stitchwork projects and the task now is to finish them and limit the number I start in future. Our council has a giant map project underway and has asked for contributions from each of its 25 wards. Cripplegate is where we live.
📌 Watching FA Cup soccer on TV today, the goal-time celebrations revealed that lots of footballers now wear sports bras.
📌 I think I might have been over-sarcastic with the checkout person in Waitrose who didn’t ask me if I wanted a receipt.
SUNDAY 8 This is a key moment for Rishi. If he can get the nurses back to work and keep the bulk of his party onside he will go up in the popular estimation. We are about to find out if he really is a prime minister in anything other than name.
📌 I retreated to a safe distance as a fevered discussion unfolded among our allotment committee on how best to employ eight corporate volunteers who will arrive at 9am tomorrow. I eventually agreed to make tea, make merry and to supervise the reconditioning of the water butt.
📌 The opening pages of The Stepney Doorstep Society, by Kate Thompson (on loan from our friend Sue) reports on the rent strikes of 1930s London, and it doesn’t take a massive leap of the imagination to picture a repetition 100 years later.
MONDAY 9 I feel sorry for plastic. It is a perfectly good and useful human invention that has been demonised and punished because humans have failed to invent a safe way to dispose of it.
📌 The Socialist Worker mockingly refers to the Tory government as a “Toy” government.
📌 To fuel my fantasy of writing a mega series of police procedurals and become stupidly rich I have been swotting up on the police force that will solve all the crimes in The Barbican Murders. The City of London Police is a spooky sub-masonic outfit that operates independently of London’s main Metropolitan Police Force. But I’ve found a useful anchor for my blockbuster stories in the MIR (Major Incident Room) in Bishopsgate. This is where all the brainstorming, interrogations and collegiate banter among the detectives will happen. I think also my hero detective inspector will have a hatred of cowboy capitalism and a love of iffy tribute bands such as Nearly Dan, which he will see regularly performing in shady City basement bars frequented by intoxicated hedge-funders (aka, murder suspects).
📌 My wife asked me why I thought there were so few black British goalkeepers in the professional football leagues. I didn’t know. The only keeper I could name was David James, and he is more non-white than black, and retired. But I was determined to find an answer, and the The Athletic came up with six depressingly predictable ones.
TUESDAY 10 Labour has started to drip-feed some of its brighter policies into the public sphere. Some of them suggest it knows exactly what to do when it gets its hands on the wheel. Unlike the last time it came to power.
📌 My greatest achievement at yesterday’s session with corporate volunteers sprucing up our allotments was to demonstrate the door-jamb method for removing stubborn lids from bottles.
📌 The Tortoise has launched a nifty new search tool, the Westminster Accounts, which allows you to check the bungs your MP has been taking from various groups, national and international, interested in buying British parliamentary influence. And there’s a podcast to go with it by way of explanation that unhesitatingly names names and points fingers.
Over £183 million of outside funds has flowed into this parliament alone, with no way of fully understanding who’s getting what, from whom, and why. Until now. This is the story of the money flowing into our politics, hidden in plain sight.
WEDNESDAY 11 The Mirror has a gripping story about the naked confessions of Prince Harry. They took place in the presence of upside-down door handles.
📌 Rafael Behr reckons Conservative thinking on industrial relations hasn’t shifted since the 1970s, while those of the unions clearly has.
A government that responds to trade union pressure by breaking the legal levers by which that pressure is applied is not serious about negotiation.Rafael Behr, the Guardian
Behr also coins a neat phrase for Rishi. He is the Placeholder Prime Minister “averting his eyes from the past, silent on the future, marooned in the present and shrinking every day.”
THURSDAY 11 I used the AI generator to make a pop-art version of a weather map of Europe showing abnormally high temperatures for this time of year.
📌 Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mark Rowley was on the radio this morning complaining that he is powerless to sack police officers who have broken the law. The story took off with its standout quote: “We have some very worrying cases with officers who’ve committed criminality whilst police officers and yet I’m not allowed to sack them. It’s sort of, it’s crazy.” What’s more crazy is that Rowley sees his priority as sacking the offenders rather than arresting and convicting them.
📌 I missed Art Class yesterday but caught up with the project at home, which was to collage a 6-in tile design using recycled materials. I recycled photographs of an art project I did last year (subject: white on white) to create my beautiful tile, which I then enhanced using lots of different filters.
📌 To the Barbican for Till, a film based on the real-life lynching of 14-year-old Emmet Till in 1955 Mississippi. It’s a story that might have been better served by a quality documentary rather than a heart-strings feature film, but I guess racist torture and murder is a blunt subject that demands an emotionally powerful touch.
📌 I tried to initiate a conversation about euphemisms for breasts (boobs, baps, knockers, etc) but my wife said I was being silly.
FRIDAY 12 I woke up in the very early hours with a thought: “I must catch up on what’s happening in Haiti.” The urgency of this need was quickly erased by an article in the Conversation about a tiny village in Wales that celebrates New Year’s Day on January 14, perpetuating the legend of the “11 Lost Days Of 1752′. Needless to say, begging children and the tax man make an appearance in this gripping tale.
📌 Fascinating discussion on the News Agents podcast about Northern Ireland, Brexit, etc, which threw up the idea that Rishi is looking to neuter the swivel-eyed loons on the right of his party by accepting the offer of votes in Parliament from Keir Starmer’s Labour.
📌 One of the finalists on TV’s Pointless said that if they won the £1,250 prize money they’d spend their share on new cello strings, because they are very expensive. Their first answer (of three) was Pointless.