January 14-20, 2023
SATURDAY 14 Users of Mastodon refer to Twitter as “the bird”, as if even naming it is an act of treachery.
📌 The lurid circle above with the words “week 3” inside is created by an AI art generator set to “psychedelic pop”. It is what the algorithm made from the words WEEK 3 2023. The same words set on “oil painting” resulted in…
And on a second attempt…
📌 My wife returned from the supermarket with the news that there had been a run on eggs. Not a single half-dozen to be had. Use them sparingly from now on, she instructed: “No random porridge experiments.”
📌 The invitation to a friend’s Civil Ceremony in Brighton came just before we left for an early-evening birthday party featuring lots of music from the 1970s, which peaked dramatically with three drunken women of a certain age singing Islands In The Stream.
📌 Alison lived in Chelsea in the 1960s and tells of the time Mick Jagger drove his car over her foot.
SUNDAY 15 The current crisis in the NHS has given birth to a bizarre trend in soundbiting. Tories are daily telling Rishi that Margaret Thatcher would never have tried to pull the macho stunts he has in dealing with the wave of industrial unrest.
📌 Tár is another film rated highly by the critics that proved disappointing. It is slow and laboured in parts, its alleged “psychological drama” quite flat. All the tense moments seem so cleverly studied. Cate Blanchett is nevertheless superb in the lead role of orchestra maestro and toxic monster Lydia Tár, who in what is in effect a modern tragedy meets her fate at the hands of the cancel-culture mob.
MONDAY 16 Looks like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has tickled Serbia into having another go at Kosovo.
📌 RIP Gina Lollobrigida, without question the sexiest woman in the world, according to my dad.
TUESDAY 17 I have a Note To Self that says “make a breakthrough with the dog”. This refers to a stitchwork I am currently on that features a young man and a dog standing on its hind legs embracing him. The breakthrough refers to my failure so far to find a stitch style that suits the dog. I gaze in envy at the work of stitch artists such as Shimunia and hope soon a sort of raggy doggy stitch will come to me.
📌 My Duolingo French teacher Lily was sending sarcastic messages about my progress and my wife wondered what “whatevs” was in French. It is “Quoi qu’il en soit”, which needs to be said with a dismissive shrug. Lily is good at that.
📌 While exchanging messages about fictional detectives, one of the bloggers I follow, Isobel, recommended the Inspector Chen series by Qiu Xiaolong. I’ve never visited Shanghai but now feel I have. I had the same experience with Donna Leon’s Brunetti series. I’ve only visited Venice once but imagine I know it like the back of my hand. Isobel would add, incidentally, that both detectives are seasoned foodies.
📌 This week’s Art Class is a study in touch and feel. We have been asked to come up with something using braille. The first of the two pieces I’ve opted to do is an imaginary restaurant napkin signed by Picasso in raised metallic stitching. The actual napkin I stole from a restaurant in Lyon.
📌 To St Giles church in the Barbican for a meeting of residents who object to the City of London Corporation plan to demolish and develop the site of the Museum of London, which has been relocated to the old derelict Poultry Market building in Smithfield. Nimby arguments aside (plenty), the case against demolition and for refitting and repurposing the building is strong. But that’s not in the Corporation’s DNA. It is a hungry, profit-seeking monster and to expect it to behave like Bambi is just naive.
WEDNESDAY 18 In Art Class I did another piece using braille, inspired by a visit last night to Marge’s place. She fed us wine and crisps and showed us the piece she was working on: a poppy field with the word poppy spelled out in braille. I stole her setting and made a painting with the ghostly image of a disrobing woman (courtesy Toulouse-Lautrec) planted among the poppies. The raised white dots in the sky spell LAUTREC in braille.
📌 City of London Social Services say they are unable to help our frail 96-year-old neighbour (3 falls already this year, the last one requiring 5 stitches to face) because she says she doesn’t need help, when she so obviously does need help and is not getting it from her family.
📌 Sam is back on “Queen of Wonky” form with an epic skyscraper.
📌 I always start off despising the privileged little brats that contest the annual Junior Bake Off on TV. Then something happens and I end up rooting for one of them.
📌 To the Barbican for Dreaming Walls, a documentary made in the poetic light-touch style you thought had disappeared into history. Much like its subject, Manhattan’s famous Chelsea Hotel. Its renovation is pushing it to the edge of a vertiginous drop into nostalgia. And the plunge is likely to take with it its last few eccentric residents.
THURSDAY 19 One of the problems of the monarch being a king and not a queen is that King is also a surname, so that when a headline announces that King is doing this, that or the other, you can never be sure you are reading about the King of England or some other random with the surname King.
📌 Rishi’s been caught pumping public money into his own constituency.
📌 I got my irregular verb conjugations wrong in Duolingo and was forced by my French mistress Lily to do them again.
📌 Been swotting up on Goblin Mode, a new expression to enter the dictionary and the subject of next week’s Art Class. From what I can tell, in the broad sense it is an outward statement of nonconformity. More narrowly it is a new way to talk about slobs and slobbing.
FRIDAY 20 Rishi is collecting enemies faster than Boris ever did. He lacks a winning personality, which is not essentially a bad thing in a politician. But it doesn’t bode well for being a winner come polling day.
📌 At a soda-bread workshop I learned that it is better to weigh your milk rather than use a measuring jug. I also learned the importance of getting the loaf into the oven quickly after mixing.
📌 Borough Market has grown and changed dramatically since we were last here more than 10 years ago, but so has the London Bridge area.