Scrapbook: Week 14

April 1-7, 2023

SATURDAY 1 I never fail to fall for an April Fool, because I reckon deep down we all want to believe in the power of the story.

πŸ“Œ Pain management has become a thing for us, obviously because of what happened on this day last week but also because we’re getting old.

πŸ“Œ At Marge’s for nice wine and nibbles we re-examined the character of The Maniac in Accidental Death of an Anarchist, which we saw together last week in Hammersmith. Marge has seen the play 3 or 4 times and her son Steve, now a theatre director and academic, studied the play for his A-levels. He even played The Maniac as an actor at some time. It is an intriguing role that can spectrum from utter madness to playful non-conformism. And the play, Marge says, can swing from deep and earnest political critique to fun-filled social satire. That’s probably why the character and the play can always be reimagined for the times we live in.

SUNDAY 2 Every school holiday, vast queues of traffic clog Dover en route to France and irate middle-class parents complain about it as French border controllers conduct the customs checks the British public voted for on 23 June 2016.

Welcome to Dover…

πŸ“Œ An article in the Observer suggests that Rishi is going soft on Brexit.

πŸ“Œ The City was shut down to traffic for a marathon, which meant a nice stroll over to Marks & Spencer in New Change to buy a luxury fish pie was ruined by no available bus for the return home.

πŸ“Œ Magpie Murders is an interesting twist on the conventional whodunnit. It starts with the mysterious death of a successful crime writer, but then we are introduced to the whodunnit he was writing before his death. This pitches the archetypal dual-plot whodunnit in a new way – present (death of writer) and past (writer’s 1950s-set whodunnit). They start to merge – as do fiction and reality – to create a guessing game where the storylines knit together into a mesmerising puzzle. And so do the characters, which in each storyline are played by the same actors. Just realised the last paragraph is a plot-twister all by itself. It made sense when I was writing it, but got complicated when I read it back.

MONDAY 3 Sam’s Roman soldier has a great pair of legs.

Roman Legionary, by Sam Jevon

πŸ“Œ Another powerful new TV crime drama is Blue Lights, which studies the growing pains of the PSNI through the experiences of a group of young trainees, who may or may not make it to become real cops.

πŸ“Œ Up on Cromwell Highwalk, the famed Barbican hammered concrete is showing signs of wear and tear.

Concrete repairs at the Barbican…

TUESDAY 4 At a friend’s birthday meal last night I was told that among the group I was known for “having good shoes”.

πŸ“Œ Comparing Donald Trump with Al Capone has become a media trope. No doubt the courtroom saga will be playing all through the night.

Perhaps she meant to write “most alone”…

πŸ“Œ I’ve never had much sympathy with sports people who get injured as a result of their own stupidity then moan about lounging around doing nothing during recovery. Since I stupidly injured my left shoulder I’ve been that moaner, and not only does the disability sap the spirit, the self-pity does, too. Feeling sorry for yourself is exhausting. Even a simple stitchwork project is draining.

WEDNESDAY 5 On the radio My Life in Seven Swimming Pools told of a Palestinian man in Gaza who became obsessed with teaching children to swim so they might find the freedom from strife that he himself had found as a child splashing in water. One after one, his pools and his pupils are bombed out of action, forever snagging his ambitious search for a purity of spirit in a landscape of destruction.

πŸ“Œ All I’m asking myself is whether Donald Trump’s words and actions in the New York courtroom, plus the slow swell of legal rat-traps that face him in the coming year, will make him more or less likely to become the next president of the United States.

πŸ“Œ Rishi’s been caught bungling at the very thing he likes to think he’s good at – spreadsheets.

πŸ“Œ In its ‘Daily Sensmaker’ Tortoise has an impressive compendium of facts about Finland’s strategic and military strengths now that it has joined NATO. The US obviously sees Finland’s membership of NATO as a poke in the eye for Putin. And if Sweden’s membership is eventually ratified, the alleged reasons Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (telling the West to back off) start to look like a very big shot in the foot. The difficult peace Russia and Finland had always managed to maintain has also been blown to bits.

THURSDAY 6 The Guardian reckons the Conservatives have stolen Labour policies so easily because Labour – and leader Keir Starmer in particular – are so dull and uninspiring that nobody noticed they had any decent policies in the first place.

πŸ“Œ At Babyshoes (Headway Writing Group) I did a 100-word story with the title ‘Going Underground’. It was… “All those stories he’d written that went ‘beneath the surface’. There was the one about the illegal fracking caper in Scotland, and the one about the dead South African diamond miner whose skull became the superstructure for Damian Hirst’s For The Love Of God. But the one he liked most was about a Hollywood movie star who fell down a hole in his back garden and became a human resident of a Gopher Town. The gophers rescued him, fed him and brought him back to fitness. Now he could go back to his old life. But did he want to?”

To mark my absence last week, some of the group’s members had written pieces titled ‘Billy’s Chair’, which was very touching. Stuart’s centred on my working-class Liverpudlian background and Alan described me in his story as “witty and trim” (my wife disputed the “trim”). Claire wrote very sentimentally about me being missing in action.

πŸ“Œ Our friend Rachel has had her leg operation. She’s been told she might limp and suffer from arthritis.

Rachel’s new right leg…

πŸ“Œ To cheer ourselves up we went to the cinema. That was a mistake. God’s Creatures is proof that you can’t make drama out of drudge. My wife fell asleep at an indeterminate moment and woke up at the end, which I think was meant to be a young woman driving away from the burdens of her life. My wife didn’t even know (spoiler alert) that Paul Mescal died, and his mother (ultra-tortured, totally twitchy Emily Watson) was complicit.

FRIDAY 7 Fascinating Opinion piece by Guardian Economics Editor Larry Elliott on the role of AI in economies of the near future. It includes reference to something called Moravec’s Paradox…

For robots, the hard problems are easy and the easy problems hard. 

…which leads to Larry’s conclusion that to be properly useful to humankind AI needs its own 3Rs: regulation, retraining, redistribution.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…


2 thoughts on “Scrapbook: Week 14

  1. Hope your shoulder gets better soon. It has been ages since we went to the cinema. The very thought of sitting there for hours is beyond imagination 😊. The Writing group, do you all meet regularly and write on spot? That is an interesting question, whether he wanted to return to his earlier life. In so many stories, the characters find out that they like what they have got. Please convey my best wishes to Rachel. My neighbour had a knee replacement months ago. She is a lot better now. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lakshmi. My shoulder is repairing slowly. Each week our writing group agrees 3 or 4 titles. We try to write a story in 100 words exactly. This is a form known as the Drabble.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.