Scrapbook: December 2022

THURSDAY 1 Just started reading George Orwell’s essay Politics And The English Language, in which he ponders on how the written word has fallen into a spiral of decline perpetuated by a decadent society. It begins…

[Our language] becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.

George Orwell, Politics And The English Language

Coincidentally, the same could be said for our TV viewing habits since we’ve just finished watching I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here and plunged straight into some sub-Apprentice abomination called The Traitors, a kill-or-be-killed reality show that takes all the most hateful aspects of all reality TV shows ever made and places them in the care of 20 idiots in a Scottish castle.

πŸ“Œ Got told off for using a special green plastic bag that keeps vegetables fresh to wrap some smelly spiced mackerel fillets. My wife issued the gentle scolding with thinly disguised sarcasm: “You weren’t to know those bags were for vegetables,” she withered. “Especially as I’ve told you before.”

πŸ“Œ The Guardian‘s excellent First Edition newsletter has a crystal clear report on the rail chaos in the north of England and its causes. What is not said, or even hinted at, is that the chaos is part of a deliberate policy to grind down public services to a point of near death.

πŸ“Œ The hard-hat hanging basket has become a thing at the Timber Wharf building site on Kingsland road.

Hard-hat hanging basket…

πŸ“Œ As if the blatant profiteering of the energy companies wasn’t enough of a scandal, now comes news that our water is similarly in the grip of cowboy capitalists.

πŸ“Œ At Headway’s fundraising Winter Feast I shamelessly used the old scumbag reporter’s trick of blatant bluffing to tease out a story, which in this case yielded a tasty Royal scoop. And one of our tablemates, Nick, generously spent Β£100 on raffle tickets to win a Β£6 bottle of supermarket cava.

At the Winter Feast…

FRIDAY 2 My French teacher at Duolingo has a subtle way of telling you to pull your socks up.

But when she’s pleased, Lily’s body language is entirely different…

πŸ“Œ At the start of the St Luke’s coach trip to Canterbury Christmas Market, Barbara introduces today’s raffle prizes in a tone that suggests a life-changing win could be yours very soon.


πŸ“Œ Polhill garden centre, the traditional toilet stop for the elderly en route to Canterbury, is also a traditional shopping stop for all your Christmas junk.

Polhill garden centre

πŸ“Œ Canterbury is struggling to raise its Christmas spirit.

πŸ“Œ At Headway’s Winter Feast last night one of the guests told us about AI art generators. I tried one today, typing in Golden Lane Estate as a prompt. The AI generator duly created its image based on the words given.

AI Golden Lane Estate. Not the one we live in…

SATURDAY 3 Now properly addicted to AI art tools. Tried a pop psychedlic version of the sketch I did of the wounded Syrian boy sitting in an ambulance from 2016.

The tool can also create an AI image from any words supplied. As this week’s Art Class project I will generate an AI image for each of the 14 lines of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18.

SUNDAY 4 Yesterday’s Guardian ran a story superficially about Labour’s win in the Chester by-election. But it concluded with a warning that Labour is still without a story to tell the nation about how it will rebuild both the economy and the trust of British people. One of its big ideas is to scrap the House of Lords and replace it with an elected chamber. If they can sell it as part of a fairness agenda, good. If it becomes a distraction from the serious business of getting the country back in its feet, bad.

MONDAY 5 Labour’s determination to map out plans to scrap the House of Lords and devolve more powers to the UK regions (including Scotland) is getting some lightweight kickback in the media. But lightweight it is and I suspect Starmer knows that most people in their heart of hearts back the proposals. Even in the BBC, despite its screeching demands for every last detail years ahead of the next general election.

πŸ“Œ A new series of the gripping Life Lines, a radio drama based in an ambulance control room, has started. The last series was so traumatic to listen to I’m not sure I’m ready for another one yet.

πŸ“Œ We’ve started Series 5 of The Crown, and after a few gasps at the colossal height of the new Diana and Jonathan Pryce’s failure to capture Philip as anything other than a malign force, we are enjoying it. Dodi has just appeared on the scene so things will hot up from here on.

πŸ“Œ Not paying any attention to the World Cup is proving remarkably easy, although constant footie chatter from the family WhatsApp group makes full detachment impossible.

TUESDAY 6 December is less than one week old and the desperation to find a Christmas gift for my wife is already entrenched. I thought I’d cracked it a few years ago with Indytute, which specialises in “experiences” and unusual craft courses, but eventually that wore thin. Every year I tempt her with a new Winter coat, or diamonds even, but those ideas are greeted with indifference. The joint membership to the Royal Academy has become a standard, but it’s not very gifty. So the brain-wracking continues..

πŸ“Œ The Adidas walking shoes I’ve had for years are playing up. They squeak when I walk, on both feet. They are so old, I guessed they would no longer be in stock. But I nevertheless googled the brand just in case, only to discover that for years my favourite walking shoes have been Adidas Edge for Women.

πŸ“Œ I’m getting stern reminders from Duolingo to pay more attention to the accents on the words that appear in my French lessons. I am bad on gender, too, but not as bad as I am at missing the cedilla off garΓ§on. I never worried too much when Lily was the one issuing the reminders, but Duo has installed a new teacher, who is far more frightening…

Madame Scary...

WEDNESDAY 7 Used the AI art generator to make an oil painting for my cousin Kate’s birthday, then messed around with some shadows cast on to our living-room wall.

Shadow play…
Kate’s birthday oil painting…

πŸ“Œ At a Barbican workshop in how to use storytelling in evaluation I made a nuisance of myself by continually picking holes in what is obviously studied methodology. It all just seemed so flaky to me.

πŸ“Œ Floated the idea to Sue of a Friday-evening after-work arts & crafts cafΓ©. She seemed to like it.

THURSDAY 8 At the Barbican storytelling workshop yesterday the facilitator started by asking us to introduce ourselves, including our personal pronouns. Four of the six-member group opted for she/her, one chose she/they and I said I disliked pronouns and was quite happy with “Billy”. I wanted to question the she/they about their choice but never got the chance.

πŸ“Œ There’s a lot of media chatter about the government’s inclination to introduce strike bans as more and more workers are choosing to travel that road. And there is parallel chatter on the possibility of a general strike before long. That would put the Labour Party in a pickle.

πŸ“Œ Not widely reported is the supply-chain problem with HRT.

πŸ“Œ Rishi Sunak is the living embodiment of the word “disappointment”, writes John Crace in a column that also includes “Door” Matt Hancock’s return from the jungle to announce his departure from UK politics. No one cried.

πŸ“Œ One very stupid fleeting thought is that the government’s only way ahead in handling the country’s perilous predicament (millions striking, millions on hospital waiting lists) is to deliberately do nothing in the hope that private profit will be shamed into paying its way and deliver the services. Yes, very stupid.

πŸ“Œ I think psychologically I knew something was wrong. In the latest of my series of stitchworks featuring tree leaves I misspelled the name of the tree in the original transfer trace. I wrote GINGKO but was then forced to correct it in the stitching.

Spot the mistake…

πŸ“Œ Listening to Oasis with Chippy at the Headway Vinyl Club coordinator Paul remarked that he once read that Liam Gallagher modelled his voice on “bad-day” John Lennon, who in some of his solo work slipped into a raspy whine, extending the vowel sounds into an expression of dull pain. I suggested Liam might have done that at the instigation of his brother.

πŸ“Œ I hate it when you bump into someone, ask after their family and are told of a death you never knew about.

FRIDAY 9 Somebody I knew a long time ago as a young snotty brat put a picture of themself on Facebook, now balding badly and wearing a hearing aid.

πŸ“Œ To the Guildhall School of Music & Drama at Milton Court for an Open Space Technology gathering to discuss Creative Placemaking. OST is a theory and methodology based on the idea that all the best ideas come up at the coffee breaks in meetings. While I was still trying to work out what Creative Placemaking is, I sneaked into the Guildhall School’s costume department to check out the student’s work.

OST at the Guildhall School…

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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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…

πŸ“Œ 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…

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

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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…

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.”

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ At Silicon Roundabout I couldn’t get a signal on my phone.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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.

πŸ“Œ 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…

SATURDAY 17 Restorers have mutilated a 550-year-old masterpiece, says Jonathan Jones in a withering put-down of the National Gallery’s best efforts to make Pietro Della Francesca’s Nativity attractive to a modern viewer by painting in cross-eyed half-wit shepherds and boosting the colours. One of the shepherds is singled out for his exquisite gormlessness: “It’s like he’s trying to remember where he parked the donkey.”

πŸ“Œ Right on cue with the nurses, rail workers and even Amazon staff in Coventry going on strike, the Socialist Worker wonders how Karl Marx would have viewed the nation’s predicament. It appears in a long but not boring potted history of Marx, his theories and how they operate in modern-day capitalism.

SUNDAY 18 The children’s carol concert in our local community centre yesterday was a delight, even though only five members of the children’s choir were able to perform. The heartbreaking sight of one of them frozen in fear at having to sing to a room full of strangers meant that only four squeaky voices were left to raise our spirits and spread some seasonal good cheer. Then Santa appeared to hand out the gifts and all hell broke loose. I retreated into several cups of mulled wine, mince pies and sausage rolls.

πŸ“Œ We’ve been invited by our friend Sandra to a sleazy local jazz bar for cocktails and music next week, so we’re checking out the artiste Liane Carroll in preparation. She does some nice cover versions, wrapping a bit of melancholy around songs you never saw that way.

πŸ“Œ We finished Series 3 of Sex Education and wondered whether there would be a Series 4. The worldwide web soon provided the answer, yes, and it will be worth watching how the series’ makers can spin out a saga of youth that has already appeared to have come to an end.

MONDAY 19 I have a habit of stupidly agreeing to mend busted contraptions. The current project is an electronic sewing machine. And although I appear to have got it to work, I can’t be sure it is working properly. The stitches are very lose. Is this a malfunction or a wrong setting? The elimination process is slow.

πŸ“Œ The desperate struggle to find a Christmas gift for my wife continues. Then there are the obligatory novelty stocking fillers that come naturally to happy shoppers but not to shopophobics.

πŸ“Œ My wife relented last night and watched the gripping end to this year’s World Cup (Argentina vs France). I stayed in the kitchen. The Mail reports today that defeated French soccer ace Kiliyan MbappΓ© snubbed the French president Emmanuel Macron when he offered a consoling hug.

πŸ“Œ Dark clouds are gathering above the head of Elon Musk.

πŸ“Œ I stupidly took the sewing machine apart and couldn’t get it back together. To be continued…

TUESDAY 20 Britain isn’t the only place where health workers are on strike. The World Socialist website says that France, Germany, Spain, Greece and even the sleepy Canary Islands are similarly inflicted with doctors and nurses who’ve battled through the covid crisis only to find their employers expecting more of the same for little reward and longer hours. In France, GPs even bypassed their union and organised their strike on Facebook, a trend you’d never have expected to see in France.

πŸ“Œ RIP Terry Hall. Same age as me.

Terry Hall…

πŸ“Œ The white-heat of excitement for AI art has diminished, but the holding image (the circle at the top) for this scrapbook will continue to feature AI images, but otherwise I think they’re rubbish. I asked for a Picasso version of the words “December 2022” and the AI generator gave me this…

The Bleak Midwinter,
by Billy Picasso…

πŸ“Œ Andy Beckett has a strong argument for higher wages, which probably resonates in the private sector. But coaxing the present government to think this way about the public sector is pure heresy.

Workers might be more motivated and efficient, lessening Britain’s productivity crisis. Some employees would be able to work fewer hours, and families might benefit as a result.

Andy Beckett, the Guardian

πŸ“Œ Our friend’s son arrived from America for Christmas, felt unwell and promptly tested positive for Covid.

WEDNESDAY 21 Last night our neighbour Jacqueline told me her husband had suffered an eye injury that required surgery. Luckily Moorfields Eye Hospital is not far away. As they made their way along Bath Street to the hospital they saw two people in the distance staggering then collapsing to the ground in unison. They suspected them to be drunks or drug addicts, but on attending and questioning the grounded couple they discovered that they were sight impaired and looking for Moorfields Eye Hospital. Together they all went in search of the hospital, cracking jokes on the way about the blind leading the blind.

πŸ“Œ Rishi’s lining himself up for what he believes will be his Miner’s Strike moment, refusing to discuss pay with striking nurses and sending out his loyal troops to cast striking ambulance workers as heartless killers.

πŸ“Œ Rishi really doesn’t give a toss about young people, says the Guardian. They were never likely to vote Conservative anyway, and the way the present government is screwing their prospects, they never will.

THURSDAY 22 Not surprisingly The Traitors has become a TV hit. Its noxious chemistry of vicious rivalry is a symbol of the times we live in. What is perhaps most sickening is that the contestants all seem to have noble reasons for wanting to kill their opponents in the game and win the prize money (“up to” Β£120,000). One of them simply wants to help Mum pay off the mortgage and retire debt free. Another wants to develop a social enterprise supporting young people to become model citizens. The BBC are the big winners, because what started out as an experiment in human behaviour quickly became a TV spectacle of nastiness. It risks going the way of Great British Bake Off and being stolen by a commercial channel, but it nevertheless illustrates that the BBC still knows how to craft out a uniquely British TV mutation.

πŸ“Œ On Tuesday my wife came home worried about the life prospects of a frail 95-year-old neighbour. Early yesterday morning we went to check if the neighbour was still alive. The answer was yes, and later in the day a doctor had visited and medication delivered. Today begins the challenge of engaging a remote relative to take up caring duties and to make sure the neighbour actually takes the medicines prescribed. That is easier said than done because her home is a masterpiece of clutter, a seemingly chaotic compendium of her long, rich life.

πŸ“Œ Brussels sprouts have as much vitamin C as oranges, say a pair of academics in the Conversation.

πŸ“Œ My Duolingo French studies have arrived at the chapter on The Family. The French words for brother, sister, husband, wife, grandfather, grandmother, etc, are easy to absorb. But the lesson doesn’t stop at people. The Duolingo French Family includes pets (animaux de compagnie), one of which is an owl. The word for owl in French is chouette, and every time I say it I think of Harry Potter and Hedwig. Then the worldwide web told me that chouette = cool, as in β€œDude, that’s so owl!”

FRIDAY 23 We discovered last night in the sleazy jazz bar in Smithfield that our friend chats with a man in the gym who is a top Clerkenwell gangster. The basement bar was full of ageing jazz bores in Shetland jumpers playing Wordle on their phones before the singer, Liane Carroll, came on stage. Liane is both a talented singer and good at banter. She told a joke about her hometown, Hastings: “It’s a small drug town with a big fishing problem.” One of Liane’s biggest fans, and here tonight, is Jessie Wallace, who plays Kat Slater in TV’s EastEnders.

Liane Carroll at Piano Smithfield

πŸ“Œ The roof terrace at One New Change was astonishingly free of drunk City workers, which opened up a photo opportunity.

Looking south from St Paul’s…

πŸ“Œ At the Barbican Art Gallery I fully expected the Carolee Schneemann exhibition to be an orgy of breasts, vaginas and a trip down that 1960s art road called “The Happening”. There was plenty of that, but it was Schneemann’s paintings that stole the show, plus her fascinating though impenetrable film work.

Carolee Schneemann at the Barbican…

SATURDAY 24 As if Rishi didn’t have enough problems, some troublemaker in The Critic has decided to point out that Liz Truss was right all along.

She was the wrong person with the right message.

The Critic

πŸ“Œ The Christmas Eve schedule was laid out clearly: Deliver cards to neighbours; visit Somerset House and the newly refurbished Courtauld Gallery; cocktails at The Savoy; dinner at Belanger in Islington; home for chocolate and TV. It all went like clockwork and was pure joy, spiced by an evening visit from Shirley with gifts. Highlights were the impressive make-over at the Courtauld. What was always our favourite art collection (vast and rich) is now even better for having a simple neat structure with delightful surprises sprinkled around (eg, special Bloomsbury Group room; Room 8 is all Rubens). The Vorticist Helen Saunders we’d never heard of, which wasn’t surprising since her flatmate (Wyndham Lewis) painted over one of her canvases and only recently using X-rays did art detectives at the Courtauld find what lay beneath Lewis’s famous Praxitella painting.

Helen Saunders at The Courtauld…
At the Courtauld…
Cocktails at The Savoy… A treat because Betty gave us some Christmas money

SUNDAY 25 If any single person could be credited with putting the beauty into the beautiful game it is PelΓ©.

πŸ“Œ A Christmas-Eve shooting in Wallasey has been credited to Liverpool.

πŸ“Œ Epic bit of comedy writing in the Guardian by Diane Morgan on the useless delivery companies who fail to deliver your goods.

πŸ“Œ Dream gift for Christmas: an electronic keyboard.

πŸ“Œ I put the words “Christmas Day 2022” into the AI art generator four times.

AI interpretations:
Clockwise from top left:
Oil Painting,
Psychedelic Pop,
Japanese Anime,
Concept Illustration…

MONDAY 26 Naomi’s pride and joy is a personal handwritten letter from Clementine Churchill. It sits encased in a sturdy glass frame on the box shelves next to her dining table.

πŸ“Œ Delighted to have domestic football back after the drama of the controversial Qatari World Cup. Hearing the final scores come in is a rare pleasure, as league after league of big and small teams are dutifully listed by the BBC, their match-day fortunes pored over by experts in loving detail and the fans pictured in agony and ecstasy.

πŸ“Œ Brighton & Hove Albion’s new manager, Roberto De Zerbi, was working in Ukraine until Russia invaded.

TUESDAY 27 Yesterday BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme was edited by ageing cricket legend Ian Botham, who used the opportunity to promote the view that quality international cricket has fallen prey to the excitement of the fast one-day/limited overs game. By quality I mean slow, five-day test matches that unfold in the manner of a drama. Botham was referred to throughout the radio show as “Beefy”, a nickname that was uttered just like it was a proper first name. And test cricket was referred to as the “red-ball” game as opposed to its “white-ball” upstart rival.

πŸ“Œ In his diary collection A Carnival Of Snackery, David Sedaris reports getting sent a magazine article from his sister Lisa featuring people who crave amputation. In one instance a man craved amputation so much he chopped off his leg with a chainsaw. Disappointment set in when he woke up in hospital and was told “Great news, we can sew it back on”.

πŸ“Œ Discussing group Wordling with our friend Liz, she said: “We had a phase of using PENIS as our start word.”

πŸ“Œ My attempt to start learning the piano was impeded by the need of a software file to drive the video lessons.

WEDNESDAY 28 Last night we were all ready, coats on, to go see some neighbours when my wife couldn’t find her Motorola phone. She upended the sofa cushions and searched her multiple handbags. Then she asked me to call her number on my Motorola phone. Her phone was in my jacket pocket.

πŸ“Œ I know all about Middle C and A played in 4/4 Common Time (whole notes and half notes) with the thumb of the right hand. The electronic keyboard I got for Christmas has a talking manual. And a vicar on YouTube showed me how to put reverb on the organ setting to give a deeply satisfying funereal sound. He said the sound you can get from my keyboard is better than the one from the organ in his church.

πŸ“Œ I tried to make a bread roll with some leftover dough from two days ago. It was rock hard on the outside and half-baked on the inside.

πŸ“Œ I caught the end of a radio programme called The Fake Paralympians, made by the British swimmer Dan Pepper. At the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, Spain cheated by using non-disabled basketball players to win gold. This resulted in a blanket ban on intellectually impaired athletes from competing in all future Paralympic events. Pepper was one of them.

πŸ“Œ To the Royal Academy in the rain for the superb Making Modernism, a exhibition majoring on four early 20th-Century German women artists so full of magical pieces and rich in psychology that we pledged immediately to return before the exhibition ends in February.

At the Royal Academy for
a collection of works by
Paula Modersohn-Becker,
KΓ€the Kollwitz, Gabriele MΓΌnter and Marianne Werefkin.
View the exhibition presentation

THURSDAY 29 There’s never much political news at this time of year because parliament is closed for the holiday. Stuff still happens, obviously, but the news loses its potency generally because no-one can be bothered. Last night at Marge’s she commented on what little attention her daughter and the family paid to the news over Christmas while she was there. Not even the murder stories. I can’t say I’ve paid much more attention myself. Something leaked out yesterday about Kier Starmer having had an oven-ready government standing by during Boris’s demise in case he called a snap election. And yesterday came something about Rishi being in search of an exit strategy from the deepening strike action by public-service workers. But otherwise, no news is the news.

πŸ“Œ Every morning we wake up, decide who’s turn it is to make the coffee and tell the Alexa in the bedroom to play a certain radio station. Every evening after dark we tell the Alexa in the living room to “turn on Switch One” which fires up a vintage spot lamp. This morning I got the command sequence mixed up. I went downstairs to make the coffee and the vintage lamp was beaming proudly in the living room.

πŸ“ŒRIP PelΓ©.

πŸ“Œ From her performance on TV’s House Of Games, Scarlett Moffatt is not as dim as many people think she is.

πŸ“Œ To Barbican Cinema 1 for the overlong Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody. I can think of worse ways to spend two and a half hours than listening to Whitney Houston songs, but this film annoyed me constantly with clichΓ© after clichΓ©. Men were always the problem/temporary solution in this film. Typical also how the entertainment industry deals with anything bad about itself by retelling the story in a way that makes it look excusable. It takes ownership of its badness and polishes it.

Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston…

πŸ“Œ RIP Vivienne Westwood, 81. My wife reckons lots of people die at this time of year from over-eating.

FRIDAY 30 Merry, our neighbours’ pet cat, has been missing since Christmas Eve. Since I’m allergic to cats, and all cats seem to know it and persecute me, I can’t raise much sadness about Merry’s disappearance, despite knowing its owners. If Merry were hiding in the back of one of our cupboards, I think I’d know about it. It’s more likely, from conversations I’ve had with other cat owners, that Merry has abandoned its owners for a new family with nicer cat food.

Merry is missing…

SATURDAY 31 In the early hours, playing an after-dinner game in which we competed to guess the introductions to songs I was performing so badly that I downloaded Shazam and cheated. I also realised that as a youngster I was massively indoctrinated into the complete works of The Beatles. I can scarcely recall any other music from my childhood years.

πŸ“Œ Even hardline Conservatives believe the government is broken, writes Katy Balls (a Tory) and 2023 will be a tortured continuation of the chaos of 2022.

πŸ“Œ New Year’s Eve at Magdalen House, Winchester…

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…


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