Scrapbook: Week 6

February 4-10, 2023

SATURDAY 4 We finished the first season of The White Lotus last night and two impressions stuck. First is the inventive twist on the classic Whodunnit? in which a body is found and the suspects lined up for the guessing game and the ultimate revelation. The White Lotus starts with a coffin and then we’re left to work out which suspect is in it, because they all want to kill each other. The second impression is the beauty of the series’ music – spooky and evocative of Hawaii (the story’s location), but also weirdly hymnal.

πŸ“Œ Some fella on the 46 bus said hello to another passenger. “Don’t you remember me?” he said, “I saw you in Sainsbury’s 23 years ago.”

πŸ“ŒAt the Garden Gate pub in Hampstead for lunch with a friend I learned that adult dogs are lactose intolerant. Except the one we were with, Alfie, who guzzled a dish of Cheddar.


πŸ“Œ Watching the Six Nations rugby this evening brought to mind the Echo & The Bunnymen song Nothing Ever Lasts Forever. I didn’t know any of the England players toiling against Scotland. The players of my time were Wilkinson, Dawson, Carling, Gusgott, Underwood and Rob Andrew. The only thing that lasts forever is your life.

SUNDAY 5 Nematodes eventually came up at the Golden Baggers allotment group AGM, which was a relief because earlier in the week I had urged fellow allotmenteers to join the Baggers committee by saying that the monthly meetings were “like the Vicar of Dibley with nematodes on the agenda”.

MONDAY 6 It came to me during the gripping final episode of Happy Valley (Season 3) that with the proliferation of on-demand streaming platforms, film and TV have the ability to last longer in the public imagination than they once did. The gap between Season 2 and Season 3 of Happy Valley was 6 years because they were waiting for one of the actors to reach the age of 16. This gap made the new series “much anticipated” in a real sense and thanks to streaming the viewing public was able to watch both of the earlier seasons prior to the latest one.

πŸ“Œ The countdown has started on the end of Dominic Raab.

πŸ“Œ Tried focaccia today and, wow what a lovely, easy bread to make.

πŸ“Œ Liz Truss is patrolling the political seafront again looking confident about a return to power. If she succeeds it will be a real indicator of just how dumb the Conservative Party has become. Labour must be hoping she does.

πŸ“Œ Even Dominic Raab would be embarrassed by the way Vera treats Kenny.

πŸ“Œ The weekly Sensemaker published by Tortoise Media is another of those useful newsletters that frees you from reading a lot of long, tortured articles that can be summarised in a few paragraphs.

TUESDAY 7 No doubt prompted by the massive 7.8 earthquake in Turkey, Vice reports of a “newly discovered” subsurface layer of the earth, on which the Earth’s tectonic plates effectively float. This wasn’t news to me. At 15 in school (1975) we learned in Geology class about the Mohirovicic Discontinuity and the Sial, a layer of the Earth made of a silicon-aluminium mix that somehow acted as lubricant on which the Earth’s tectonic plates slipped and slid, bumped and crashed.

πŸ“Œ Got into a painting frenzy when I really should have been doing something useful and ended up with a weird study of Boris Johnson’s right eye.

Boris’s eye…

WEDNESDAY 8 Might Britain be unconsciously following the French in its inclination toward industrial action?

πŸ“Œ In Art Class, the task was meant to be the completion of the self-portraits we started last week. I mucked around a lot to show willing but in all honesty I was already sick of the sight of my own face. I did discover the beauty of brushing water into photocopies. The water picks up the printers’ ink and swirls it around willy-nilly. Lots of bad staining but some surprisingly happy accidents, too.

More self-portraits, yawn…

πŸ“Œ I told Michelle I’d like to do a series of bare trees in stitchwork and asked her to look out for any good examples around her rural home. Next day came an avalanche of tree pictures. I’ll be working on this for the rest of my life.

πŸ“Œ Vera said Jack Daniel’s is on offer at Waitrose. She bought 3 bottles at Β£21 each.

THURSDAY 9 It didn’t take Rishi long to get hanging and flogging back at the centre of Conservative Party philosophy.

πŸ“Œ At Headway writing group our task was to write 100 words with the title ‘The Meaning Of Headway’. I wrote: “Stuart calls Headway The Way Of The Head. Sometimes he says it in Spanish: ‘El camino de la cabeza’, I think it is. He does it in French, too: ‘Le chemin de la tΓͺte? Typical Stuart. Masters degree in modern languages, blah. That expression, though – The Way Of the Head – opens up a lot of different ways of looking at it. This Way or that? Which Way to head? Anyway, according to the promo literature, Headway is ‘a charity supporting people affected by brain injury’. Then you then asked me what ‘people affected by…’ means. The only answer I have is Lots.”

Ade wrote a dubious simile in his piece about someone who was “sweating like a lesbian in a fish shop”, closely followed by another one about someone behaving “like a peado in a prep school”. James told us some hair-raising anecdotes about growing up with Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes as family friends.

πŸ“Œ Interesting to contrast the images used in the news media for the report on the jailing of former Labour MP Jared O’Mara for fiddling his expenses.

From the Guardian…
From the BBC…

πŸ“Œ Invited to the Crick Institute for the opening of Cut & Paste an exhibition on gene editing. While waiting for the speeches to start we swotted up on Rosalind Franklin, the “Dark Lady of DNA” and the “Sylvia Plath of Molecular Biology”. Rosalind died at 37. She worked alongside Francis Crick and James Watson on the discovery of the structure of DNA but was pushed aside in the acknowledgements. Cristina introduced us to two implausibly young Crick scientists who were committed fan girls of Rosalind Franklin and argued that she should be awarded a Nobel Prize posthumously. The exhibition was packed with questions on the ethical issues around gene editing. Eg, If you could have edited your genes prior to birth, would have given yourself a smaller nose? Would you gene-edit cows so they don’t fart methane? Exciting propositions, but also potentially dangerous was the message.

FRIDAY 10 Chancellor Jeremy Hunt makes the “can’t afford it” plea as if the nation’s wealth was his own.

πŸ“Œ I think living in London insulates us to the poor state of mobile phone network coverage outside the capital. As soon as you get anywhere outside London you will inevitably run into network blackspots. This is a 21st Century problem, for sure, but unfortunately the 21st Century has spawned a generation for whom connectivity is power. A class system based on network availability/affordability is the inevitable outcome.

πŸ“Œ We finished Season 2 of The White Lotus and its novel take on the Whodunnit dramatic pattern continued right up to the final revelation. Plus a cast of brilliant characters. I caught a whiff of Ruth Rendell in their paranoia and desperation, softened with empathetic humour.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…


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