April 8-14, 2023
SATURDAY 8 On the radio Frank Skinner told a Johnny Cash story. He said that when Johnny and Bob Dylan went fishing together, Cash said, they “spent five hours not saying anything to each other. That was when I knew we’d become really great friends.”
📌 All I heard was that an 8ft gorilla called Gary had been stolen from somewhere in Scotland then spotted heading south on the M40. It prompted me to imagine a comedy caper in which Vladimir Putin commissions some baddies to apenap a gorilla for one of his Crimean girlfriends, Friski. The girlfriend sees Gary, pronounces him the wrong colour and scorns Vlad for his failure to provide for her needs. Vlad sends Gary back to his captors and refuses to pay the agreed nabbing fee. Gary ends up living on a remote farm back in Scotland watching Gogglebox on TV with his human foster parents. Then I learned that Gary was just a statue.
SUNDAY 9 There’s been a lot of commentary about the police raid on Nicola Sturgeon’s house in Glasgow and the erection of a blue tent in the front garden, inside which police officers with spades are said to be digging in search of hidden “evidence” in relation to a pile of missing money. I’m not sure my front garden is where I’d hide my loot, but who knows what desperate people do. The other big talking point is Sturgeon’s “very ordinary” house, which looks like Beth and Eric’s place in the Scottish TV sitcom Two Doors Down. It will be funny to see if two new characters, Nicola and Peter, pop up in the next series.
📌 At an evening meal with two of my cousins I discovered that one of my deceased relatives had gambling problems.
MONDAY 10 Easter got into full swing with two Ealing Comedies (Lavender Hill Mob and Passport to Pimlico) and ET on the TV.
📌 China’s military manoeuvres around Taiwan make World War 3 look like something about to happen very soon.
📌 The Royal Family have created a Coronation emoji for Charles III.
TUESDAY 11 One thing guaranteed to get my goat is the person who boards the bus then rummages in their pockets or, worse, a massive bag, to find their bus pass.
📌 It’s the 60th anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s, The Birds, which I remember as one of the most haunting films of my childhood. It was based on Daphne du Maurier’s 1952 short story of the same name, but lacks, according to an article in the Conversation, Du Maurier’s prescient understanding of ecology.
Du Maurier observed a world in which humans were becoming increasingly disassociated from their environment.
The article goes further, seeing people and nature in direct conflict. In the story the worm is turned and the birds seek revenge on humans.
As the birds attack the eyes, sight becomes a metaphor for humans failing to see the changes in nature.
📌 My big text stitchwork for the Headway Summer exhibition in the Barbican’s Curve Gallery is rocking on despite my recent injuries. If asked I say I stole the idea from Cornelia Parker’s Magna Carta embroidery, a 13m depiction in stitch of the Wikipedia UK entry for “Magna Carta”. That isn’t strictly true. Michelle at Headway had been urging me to do text stitchwork for some time. Seeing Parker’s piece in an exhibition at Tate Britain last year made me see how typography and stitch work well together.
📌 Back to Liverpool to visit our friend Rachel in Aintree Hospital, where she is recovering from a reconstructed right leg. And if you have an appetite for even more alliteration her doctors are talking about how she can be “repatriated” to a hospital in London, where she actually lives.
📌 Our 9th-floor hotel room on the Liverpool waterfront had great views from the lift lobby, but not from our bedroom. Good job the food in Queens was as good as the last time we were there.
WEDNESDAY 12 US president Joe Biden’s visit to Belfast gave the Guardian the opportunity to repeat Barack Obama’s joke about US presidents and their alleged familial connections with the Emerald Isle.
I’ve come home to find the apostrophe that we lost somewhere along the way.Barack Obama
📌 The item my wife spotted in the corner of the hospital waiting room brought to mind the early 1980s TV sitcom Only When I Laugh.
📌 My sister’s old school is now a petrol station.
THURSDAY 13 I submitted my 100-word story, ‘Body in the Canal’, to the Headway Babyshoes writing group, realising as I did it that the stories I’m submitting are not really stories at all. They are merely the gist of a story the reader is required to imagine for themselves: “Errol raised his chunky arm and pointed to the stern of Thomas’s houseboat. A tangle of brown, stringy debris swirled in the water. ‘Body,’ Errol said quietly. The deceased – white, female, 24 – had spent the previous evening at a party on one of the ‘hospitality boats’ that now patrolled that stretch of the Regents Canal. Her name was Chloe. By the time the police arrived a group of Headway members, led by Errol, had already mustered into a makeshift team of detectives. Their future investigations became a valuable revenue stream for the charity that supports people affected by brain injury.”
📌 Suella just got a massive slap from fellow Conservative Sayeeda Warsi.
If we are going to have honest conversations, let’s start by saying this – black and brown people can be racist too.
📌 RIP Mary Quant, 93.
📌 The judges on the BBC TV dance show Strictly Come Dancing are said to be after whopping pay rises to their already whopping salaries. I hope the BBC shows them how to exit the stage.
FRIDAY 14 Another ridiculously young gaming enthusiast has cracked the code and humiliated the US government and military by publishing secret documents. Jack, a 21-year-old Massachusetts serviceman, wanted to show off to his online friends.
📌 Even more Conservatives are piling in on Suella. Rishi looks powerless in his own party, again.
📌 It will be fascinating to see how the DUP performs in next month’s local elections. There has been chatter recently about ways to rewrite the Good Friday Agreement to prevent future collapses in the Stormont Assembly, but Tony Blair argues against urgent reform of the legislation he helped put in place to secure the peace in Northern Ireland. But what if a once-dominant party that has the power to wield a legislative veto loses popularity and no longer represents the majority of its community? What if it is overtaken at the ballot box by its rivals? In May that could be where the DUP is headed.
Read all of my scrapbook diaries…
PLEASE MESSAGE WITH ANY CORRECTIONS, BIG OR SMALL.