Diary: January 2021. Uncut

FRIDAY 1 Stacey has named her Word of the Year for 2021. This is the word that will be her metaphorical travelling companion for the next 12 months. The word is JOY.

πŸ“Œ Positive News has ingeniously named 20 good-news stories for 2020. The headliners include: β€œRenewables had a record year”, β€œBaby booms for wildlife” and β€œProgress in tackling malaria and TB”.

πŸ“Œ Guardian Economics Editor Larry Elliott has reprised that memorable speech he gave to the NUJ chapel meeting upstairs in The Horseshoe pub in Clerkenwell when we were faced with management plans to impose new working practices using digital technology.

He told us then that the people in charge of executing these plans are the workers, so we should grab this power and make it work in our own way. That was the gist of his message, and I bought it.

So, as someone whose heart said LEAVE the EU but whose head said REMAIN, Larry’s views on Brexit are ones I have always read with interest. Today he lays it out plain. We are where we are and the chance to get hold of the steering wheel is there for the taking.

πŸ“Œ The new stitchwork project is London’s boroughs. I already got Havering confused with Bromley. This is going to be an education.

London boroughs

SATURDAY 2 As great-sounding Dutch food words go, Hagelslag is a king among kings. And in the New Year’s honours comes Oliebollen.

πŸ“Œ The competition for who makes the coffee in the morning is hotting up. I won December 2020 by one point (15-16). So far we are equal.

πŸ“Œ The Prime Minister’s self regard is legendary. His storytelling skills are well known, and his acting skills seem to convince a lot of people all of the time. Business people are no such pushover. Time and again their real-world skepticism tells them the PM’s stories are thinly disguised fairytales.

πŸ“Œ It looks like we have a desperate week in front of us.

From the Guardian

SUNDAY 3 We are about to start the second series of Succession, a TV series said to be based on the shenanigans of media megalomaniac Rupert Murdoch and his family. We’ve given up on TV series in the past when not a single character was likeable in any way (eg, Spiral). And all the characters in Succession are thoroughly dislikeable. We decided they must be charmingly horrible, or else we are simply being dragged along by the gripping Succession storylines, which hinge on the chronic dysfunctionality of stupidly rich people.

πŸ“Œ BBC Radio 4 Extra has been doing good memoir recently. The latest is Eddie Izzard reading his/her own, which is called Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens. Izzard has always been a fascinating figure, more so now that she/he has transitioned from garish drag comedian to complex actor/performer/campaigner.

πŸ“Œ A London Inheritance is often a slog to read, but like exercise, very rewarding once you’ve done it.

πŸ“Œ Greta Thunberg will probably always exist in my mind as a swotty kid. New headlights for her bike would be the perfect birthday gift, she says.

Read Greta’s coming-of-age message

πŸ“Œ In his end-of year Diary extract in the London Review of Books Alan Bennett writes about arthritis robbing him of his mobility: “Gone are the days when I could jump on my bike and pop down to the shops, so static semi-isolation is scarcely a hardship or even a disruption of my routine.”

This something some of us at Headway have spoken about, how the isolation we all experienced after our brain injuries tutored us in dealing with the isolation of the Covid lockdowns.

πŸ“Œ Great news that two actors we know have recently had good paid work. Lisa (Hammond) has been Anna in a new outing of The Rubbish World of Dave Spud, a children’s animation I never knew existed. And Lisa’s partner in the comedy act Bunny (No Idea, Still No Idea, Old Street/New Street) Rachael (Spence) was a young mother, Karla, in a heart-ripping episode of Casualty made as a kind of tribute to frontline nhs workers.

πŸ“Œ Momentarily distracted from Succession, we discovered The Stranger on Netflix, the TV detective drama that has more twists than the road from Sorrento to Amalfi via Positano.

MONDAY 4 There’s a creeping sense of unease out there. Rule-breaking and lawlessness stories abound. Head teachers face the agonising decision whether to open their schools. The PM says it’s safe. The Oxford vaccine starts its roll-out but few expect to get it for several months yet.

πŸ“Œ Wishing people “Happy New Year” seems presumptive, so I’m using the greeting a friend offered recently: “Happy New Something”.

πŸ“Œ Bev’s donated a black tote bag onto which I shall stitch Jean Dubuffet.

Jean Dubuffet self portrait through the image processor

πŸ“Œ Chris gave us all something to think about after Boris announced Lockdown 3.0 at 8pm.

The Sainsbury website crashed and Tesco delivery slots disappeared in minutes.

πŸ“Œ The Guardian has a story about Trump possibly planning to scarper to Scotland the day before Biden is inaugurated, then The Economist ran with this headline…

TUESDAY 5 The Morning Star argues that parents forced to both work from home and home-school their children should be furloughed.

πŸ“Œ Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced Β£4.6bn in grants to help firms furlough staff.

πŸ“Œ The London stitchwork tote bag is finished and bagged. The City of London is done in gold thread.

πŸ“Œ Routines are starting up again, but obviously not all of them. Margaret thinks our workshop with the school in Northern Ireland next week will be cancelled if they go into full lockdown. Other projects sit in the β€œwait and see” area. With new variants of the virus popping up daily, vaccination is no longer the silver bullet it promised to be. The dream solution would be a rapid move to a system of Universal Basic Income (UBI) teamed with rigorous testing and scaling up support for the nhs. All three are a bad smell to this government.

πŸ“Œ Sam sent me her portrait of Cleopatra. I told her she looks quite sexy, in a Margot Leadbetter kind of way.

Cleopatra Leadbetter, by Sam Jevon

πŸ“Œ I’m sure a lot of people share the sentiments…

And Marina Hyde came up with some characteristically skewering lines about Boris’s decision-making skills.

WEDNESDAY 6 The Economist has a story stating, “Mainland Europe stands out as a global vaccine straggler”, which I tried to illustrate using bendy type to signify the rollercoaster effect. “Gift of the Jab” is wasted as a mere slug line.

πŸ“Œ Inside the Β£4.6bn pot of cash Chancellor Rishi Sunak pulled out of the hat yesterday was money for local councils to spend on discretionary business support. This is a happy deviation from previous Tory orthodoxy.

πŸ“Œ Alex says that the stitchwork tote bag I gave her featuring Nova has been framed.

She said it was too good for onions and courgettes. I said onions and courgettes are the inspiration behind all my stitched totes.

πŸ“Œ A story headlined “Naked fugitive found in crocodile-infested waters” is hard to resist. A bruised, cut and mud-covered Australian has been found up a tree, apparently trying to build himself a nest. His rescuers were suspicious: β€œWe thought he must have had a big night after New Year’s and got lost and done himself a mischief in the bush.”

πŸ“Œ A story in the New Statesman says Keir Starmer is toeing the Boris line too much and looks like he doesn’t know how to start a fight.

πŸ“Œ Anarchy in the USA.

The scenes are eerily reminiscent of those from Russia’s 1917 Revolution or the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000.

πŸ“Œ Bridgerton is Regency Mills & Boon, US style. And it’s addictive. I’ve got a silent bet that Lady Whistledown is that actor from Derry Girls.

THURSDAY 7 There’s a lot of speculation about what Trump will pull off before Biden’s 20 January swearing-in.

πŸ“Œ A Trumpian on the radio said Antifa led the invasion.

πŸ“Œ At the Headway Art CafΓ© Sandra was sketching a portrait of her nephew, whose name is Gorgeous.

πŸ“Œ A meerkat arrived from Sam.

Meerkat, by Sam Jevon

πŸ“Œ Loads of parents have self-identified as “keyworkers” so they can send their kids to “shut” schools.

πŸ“Œ Lady Danbury is in Death in Paradise tonight. My wife reckons she’s the perp.

πŸ“Œ There is an ad on the TV in which a woman in a Zoom chat with friends refuses to remove the fake background because her kitchen looks like a tip.

FRIDAY 8 An alternative view of the US insurrection has been missing, until now.

CNN became a regular source of US news during the November election and yesterday featured an angry commentator claiming Capitol police “opened the doors” to the rioters.

This was a refreshing break with the sanctimoniousness of the mainstream commentariat. And today a Morning Star editorial nails it in characteristic rad-lefty bluntspeak: “The capitalist class in any society in crisis can always call into being an army of the discontented and angry. And such a force is necessarily racist and incoherent, contradictory in its desires, riven with competing tendencies and, in the absence of a compelling ideology, condemned to life on the political fringe. Unless that is, the country can no longer be ruled in the old ways.”

πŸ“Œ Trump is grovelling around trying to keep his job.

Read the full story

πŸ“Œ In the Headway Home Studio we looked at Matisse, his use of colour, texture and everyday objects in still life. Then we tackled a picture of Alex cosplaying a ukulele to her dog Nova and a green plastic snake.

Alex in Matisse mode

For my effort I zoomed in on Alex herself, the pose, the shape of her chin and the studied look. I also tried to nail it in a few simple lines and colours.

πŸ“Œ Some people look really excited when I say I like classical music. Their faces change when I tell them I’m a fan of John Barry, Ennio Morricone and Hans Zimmer.

πŸ“Œ We finished Bridgerton and (Spoiler Alert) I was right about the identity of Lady Whistledown. I’m not sure all viewers will have twigged that Bridgerton is a comedy.

SATURDAY 9 Michael Gove says Brexit troubles begin next week.

πŸ“Œ Some schools are full because everyone has technically been classified as a critical worker. Covid deaths are soaring.

πŸ“Œ One blogger reports that as the US falls apart and the UK swims in mud, Russia and China have found a new fondness for one another

πŸ“Œ Make Votes Matter is out with the begging bowl again. If I hadn’t just pledged a monthly donation to 38 Degrees they’d get my money.

πŸ“Œ The Jean Dubuffet tote bag for Bev is coming along nicely. It is on the back side of an old Barbican tote, which Bev donated to the project.

Jean Dubuffet tote

SUNDAY 10 In Poetry Extra on the BBC Sounds app I learned of the existence of a “Celtic Rainforest” in the middle of Wales and that people from Barbados are called Bajans.

πŸ“Œ Sadly, there are more stories like this than we’ll ever hear about.

From The Mirror

πŸ“Œ I’ve been struggling to find a compact alliterative description of Donald Trump’s presidency. Andrew Rawnsley comes to the rescue with “capo of chaos”, but like most liberal commentators he fails to make plain that 74 million US citizens voted for a quite aggressive form of autocracy.

πŸ“Œ Rose’s dad seems happy with the service.

πŸ“Œ Crawley beat Leeds in the FA Cup, and deserved to.

πŸ“Œ “Ah, the proverbial smoking nun!” was a memorable line in Death In Paradise.

MONDAY 11 The Mirror announces that pubs are set to close for 5 months under Boris’s new clampdown on the R rate. I didn’t even know they were still open.

πŸ“Œ A juicy-sounding shark story in The Conversation turned out to be quite dull.

Full story here

πŸ“Œ The so-called world-beating test and trace system turns out to be not a system at all but a playground for bored ex call-centre workers.

πŸ“Œ The New Statesman says the government is blaming the public not following regulations for the soaring Covid rates when the real blame lies elsewhere – on the high street with click & collect in full swing and businesses not making the necessary work-from-home adjustments. It also points out that regulation enforcement is impossible for a police force that is tiny relative to the population size.

πŸ“Œ Armed insurrection in every US state? The revolution WILL be televised.

Full story here

πŸ“Œ Some people still think it’s weird that I bought my wife 48 bags of Hula Hoops for Christmas.

TUESDAY 12 We dance daily to the theme tune to Death In Paradise.

πŸ“Œ Crocs are selling like hotcakes.

πŸ“Œ Trump’s legacy of labelling facts as lies lives on. The Prime Minister went for a bike ride 7 miles from his home in Downing Street when he’s instructed all other citizens to exercise “locally”. The BBC reported this, but added without question that the PM’s office said he’d done nothing wrong.

πŸ“Œ Harry Styles has gone from One Direction to Radio 2 in a very short space of time.

πŸ“Œ At the Guardian online coffee/chat we learned that Philippa once ate a bag of crisps with a spoon.

πŸ“Œ The new order of orange thread arrived so I finished the Dubuffet tote bag.

Based on Self Portrait II, 1966

WEDNESDAY 13 Photographs of the pitiful food supplies sent to children on free school meals might have embarrassed a government that knew what embarrassment was.

Bon apetit

But this one doesn’t. Paul Waugh in the HuffPost makes a bold attempt to nail institutional neglect as the cause of food poverty, but keeping schoolchildren hungry now seems to be a political mission.

πŸ“Œ The boiler has stopped working again, so I will be hibernating in a big overcoat today.

πŸ“Œ For a radio show, I need to pick 4 Bruce Springsteen songs that will convert sceptics. At the moment, two of them are love songs and one is about 9/11. Psychoanalyse that.

πŸ“Œ It’s great to see the BBC giving some serious push to its superb Bitesize service. Any adult interested in following the school curriculum will have already marvelled at its brilliance. Now it is rolling out Lockdown Learning modules on TV, the service can finally be seen for the triumph it is.

THURSDAY 14 Trump has been awarded his second impeachment, so the prospect of him getting his tiny hands back on the nuclear button is remote. Republicans are ditching him in vast numbers, not so much because they find his politics tasteless but because the party’s megadonors have turned off the cash tap.

πŸ“Œ Some workers are so compromised that they either risk their safety or fall into poverty.

From the HuffPost

πŸ“Œ The boiler is working again. It seems the council has finally completed an external repair to a water-pressure valve. Every time it faulted, our boiler went into emergency shutdown and wouldn’t ignite. Only a Β£50 call-out to a heating engineer could restart it. Our gain is the heating engineer’s loss.

πŸ“Œ Bitcoin has always sounded like a dubious proposition, none more so than when in the hands of greedy people.

Read the full story here

FRIDAY 15 It’s now like the only point of digging in under lockdown is to wait for the government to make so many repeated mistakes that it finally learns how to govern. We could be here some time.

πŸ“Œ The Headway Home Studio session was a collage workshop with Mitchel from Accumulate, in which we randomly cut and ripped stuff up and randomly stuck it down. I chose also to randomly scribble words using a Japanese watercolour brush pen. It was all quite absorbing.

Collage, a first attempt

πŸ“Œ There’s a wave of opinion surfacing that says the government is about to start smashing up the workers’ rights employers were required to adopt under EU law. The big question seems to be how hard the EU will hit back with tariffs and incessant complaints. Little mention is given to how hard British workers might be persuaded to hit back against a government already well-rehearsed in making swift u-turns.

πŸ“Œ There’s a touch of Hogarth and Cold War Steve about the work of US artist Jim Shaw. His Master Mason scene depicts Trump as Lord Donald of Smugness…

Detail from Master Mason

… in a sprawling image that will hopefully chill the bones of future generations.

πŸ“Œ Somewhere in Germany all the men called Fritz are being lined up for the vaccine. I guess in Britain it’s all the Cecils.

Read the full story

πŸ“Œ The radio show in which I picked four Bruce Springsteen songs that would win over even the most hardened sceptic went well. Except we just did the talking and the host said they’d put the songs in later. The four songs were 1. Wild Billy’s Circus Story, 2. Thunder Road, 3. When You’re Alone and 4. The Rising.

πŸ“Œ The new stitchwork tote project is a vain attempt to use up a lot of old remnants of thread. Is that a metaphor for something?

Using up the leftovers

SATURDAY 16 One blogger I follow said his day went from bad to worse when he got in the queue at the Post Office and was stood “behind someone with a rudimentary grasp of parcels”.

πŸ“Œ Hearing La Vida Loca first thing in the morning really does help.

πŸ“Œ Marge knocked off a bootleg of a fabulous jazz album she borrowed from the library, proper Bugsy Malone stuff.

πŸ“Œ In the process of trying to find a tin of tomato soup for lunch, I uncovered a huge stockpile of contingency foodstuffs in a corner of our spare “bedroom”, which I have already renamed The Pantry.

πŸ“Œ Twitter is riddled with hidden storylines for budding fiction writers. Such as: “Hi hon, it seems like a hundred years since lunch in Norwich.”

SUNDAY 17 Someone on the TV described Debbie McGee as a Glob, meaning Good Looking Old Bird, apparently. I asked my wife if I was a Good Looking Old Bloke.

πŸ“Œ We used our daily exercise allowance to visit some of the local pieces by the anonymous French street artist Invader , who steals into various urban locations worldwide in the dead of night to deposit his Space Invader-inspried tile mosaics in non-obvious settings.

πŸ“Œ The boiler conked out again, but healed itself later, just in time for the Liverpool vs Man Utd kick-off (0-0).

πŸ“Œ My kind of humour.

MONDAY 18 Finally finished the first Cormoran Strike book, The Cuckoo’s Calling. What should have been a short read turned into long agonising one. I like JK Rowling’s crisp sentences, but as a piece of crime fiction this was deeply unsatisfying. Strike conducts too many long interviews in which you know clues are buried but aren’t compelling enough to keep your attention.

πŸ“Œ Big Garden Birdwatch enthusiasts everywhere, should beware the appearance of the vampire finches. A remote possibility, but worth preparing for.

πŸ“Œ I wonder if Boris will suck up to Joe by having a fight with Vlad.

πŸ“Œ Stuart’s latest message began, “Dear Sinner” and was signed “Father Arthur Trollope”. The message came with a photograph, an interior shot of Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral taken by Stuart’s dad.

Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool

The picture was only possible, Stuart claims, because he was forced to hang precariously holding a piece of lighting equipment. Dickensian use of child labour, if you ask me.

πŸ“Œ The latest stitchwork tote bag is finished, ready to be filled with carrots and onions.

The story behind this one is roughly this…

When we were kids, there was an imaginary place called the “Four Nations” – England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales. That was where we were from. We knew there was some argument about Ireland, but in our heads Ireland was just that big island to the left of Liverpool.

We were children. Scotland was the Loch Ness Monster. Wales was JPR Williams, a rugby player who stitched his own injured face back together. England was all green and owned by wealthy southerners.

We probably knew that the Four Nations was not a real place, but it was nice to know it was there.

πŸ“Œ My appearance on Canal Side Discs talking nonsense about Bruce Springsteen turned out far more embarrassing than I thought it would.

πŸ“Œ Did a sketch of Michelle for her 20 years at Headway tribute.

Michelle

TUESDAY 19 There’s some kind of media commotion in progress about young muscular men from the Midlands singing sea shanties on social media.

πŸ“Œ There’s a lot of reports on the success of the vaccination programme, yet Britain has the world’s highest Covid death rate and the health service is close to breaking. The situation is very fragile, but the government is still dusting down its “back to normal” soundbites and punting false hope.

πŸ“Œ At the Guardian online coffee/chat Angela, who has just joined Instagram, discovered that she was being followed by Damian Lewis. She removed him. In jest, her daughter speculated that maybe Lewis had her mum mixed up with Angelina Jolie.

πŸ“Œ Using the stitchwork as a way of sketching is fun. It’s really quite folk arty.

Stitchsketch

WEDNESDAY 20 Our local pharmacies are not rushing to join the great vaccination roll-out, so many of our most vulnerable neighbours are being sent far and wide, to places with long queues and no toilets.

πŸ“Œ In his final hours as President, Trump has pardoned more criminals.

πŸ“Œ At the foot of paragraph 3 in a Morning Star editorial, the subject of a new WHO report finally surfaces: “The most significant feature of the whole global Covid-19 pandemic has been the widely varying response of different countries and the dramatically divergent health outcomes.”

πŸ“Œ Brian the boiler man can’t detect where water is leaking from our heating system, which is worrying.

πŸ“Œ The online chat with the Barbican curators about the upcoming Jean Dubuffet/Art Brut exhibition went off without controversy.

I said I thought their alignment of the term Brut with champagne was a bit overimaginative. In Spanish and Italian Bruto means ugly or gross. Ken said to him Brut meant a distinctive 1970s aftershave in a green bottle. We agreed that L’art Merde would have been a good title, too. Or Art D’Incontinent.

Dubuffet’s Tree of Fluids, 1950

πŸ“Œ Lady Gaga’s National Anthem was a belter. No armed attacks on the inauguration ceremony as Biden embraced his inner poet and promised to write the next great chapter in American history, blah.

πŸ“Œ Brian found a leaky bit of pipework in the boiler cupboard and will return tomorrow with a new part.

THURSDAY 21 One of the bloggers I follow noted: “It’s so long since I’ve used the bread maker that I had forgotten there was a setting for crustiness.” This made me envious, as I struggle to get our busted oven up to 200C. Loaf crustiness is a distant memory.

πŸ“Œ Strange times indeed when a London council is looking at ways to buy back council properties sold under the right-to-buy scheme.

πŸ“Œ Joe Biden’s middle name us Robinette.

πŸ“Œ Sam sent her drawing of Alex Playing the Uke with Dog & Snake. She reported a mishap with a red Sharpie that she was somehow able to deal with.

πŸ“Œ In a Zoom quiz with 5 competing teams, the losers scored half a point less than four joint winners.

FRIDAY 22 Full Fact has a stinging correction for Conservative MP Dr Liam Fox, who publicly claimed we didn’t have any data on the numbers of people whose deaths were directly attributable to Covid-19. Worse, Full Fact claims the information was staring Fox in the face all the time.

πŸ“Œ Fresh, interesting Covid stories are rare, so it’s great that The Conversation has a “Covid-19 Editor” who steers us through the minefields of conflicting information with lots of academic analysis and a weekly vaccine roundup. The Conversation also reports this week that accidental half doses of the Oxford vaccine could have unearthed a game-changing hidden property.

πŸ“Œ Paul Waugh in Huffpost UK reckons that while Priti Patel is dishing out hefty fines for pandemic partygoers, she should slap one on her boss Boris for handing out the invites.

πŸ“Œ You sense the sheer delight when the Morning Star gets to publish one of its “Covid Cronies” reports…

Read the full story here

πŸ“Œ At the Headway Home Studio we made drawings of Romeo, a Royal Academy model who has beautiful eyes and a talent for standing still.

πŸ“Œ Fintan O’Toole once again writes a stunning long-read. Donald Trump has left America in a spin of confusion. Is it still a democracy, or did Trump twist it into a despotic freak show in which the strongman rules with an iron fist. 74 million voted for that, so Joe Biden needs some big ideas to take those voters with him on the search for the American soul.

πŸ“Œ Battery technology is pushing up sales of electric cars. A new battery just developed offers 200 miles on a 5-minute charge.

πŸ“Œ One of the contestants in Junior Bake Off used salt instead of sugar in her churros recipe. My wife duly reminded me of the time in the Bystander cafΓ© in Brighton when I flavoured my chips with sugar rather than salt.

πŸ“Œ The US Republicans are on manoeuvres. They seem to sense the need for a new beginning.

Read the full story here

SATURDAY 23 Slowly but surely, the government is being pressured into picking up the policies of its opponents.

πŸ“Œ Looks like Mel is about to dump Don.

πŸ“Œ CNN reports that Bernie Sanders has got a new job as a fashion icon.

SUNDAY 24 Reimagining popular pictograms to match the mood of the times sounds like a fascinating but difficult job that always runs the risk of ridicule.

From Positive News

πŸ“Œ I have a strange premonition that the 50/50 white/brown bread dough I just made will not rise. Then begins the business of reinventing flat dough into something edible. Cheese biscuits, maybe.

πŸ“Œ It snowed and then it stopped. Children squealing. Joy.

Something magical about snowfall

πŸ“Œ I will never tire of watching The Ladykillers on a cold winter’s day.

MONDAY 25 The latest stitchwork tote bag is finished. It’s title is ‘Alex Plays The Uke’ and is based on a drawing I did of artist/illustrator Alex Brady from a photograph she styled for a Headway East London Home Studio session.

πŸ“Œ It’s Burns Night tonight and it is still a mystery why no-one believes me when I tell them that one of Burns’s best-loved pieces is ‘Cock Up Your Beaver’.

πŸ“Œ I’m not sure why I’m surprised but the contractors appointed to fix our leaky roof arrived on time and got straight to work.

πŸ“Œ The City of London’s eerie emptiness inevitably prompts speculation as whether its avenues of steel and glass will ever again be sardined with people. One new skyscraper, nicknamed The Wodge, seems almost pointless in the extreme.

But no, says an expert in the Guardian Weekly magazine, the City will bounce back post-pandemic with new vibrancy.

πŸ“Œ The company that counted the votes in the November 2020 US elections is suing Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudi Giuliani for $1.3bn.

πŸ“Œ CNN reckons China has started taunting Biden already with warplanes over Taiwan.

πŸ“Œ A 10-year-old on Junior Bake Off fashioned her 12 iced donuts into a display representing her favourite hobby – archery.

TUESDAY 26 Frank Lampard’s sacking as Chelsea manager was not entirely a surprise given the past behaviour of the club’s owner Roman Abramovich. What was surprising was the headline that appeared in the Morning Star.

Read the full story here

πŸ“Œ There seems to be a lot of media interest in the number of pens Joe Biden is using to undo the work of his predecessor Donald Trump. It turns out that all US presidents have lots of pens.

πŸ“Œ Vanessa gave me my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. We were on a standby list for any leftovers. The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at very low temperatures and defrosted before use. It must be used within 3 days of thawing, so our local hospital (Barts) uses up its surplus vials rather than waste it.

πŸ“Œ Michelle called to say Cleveland died last week. Not related to Covid. I will remember him most for snoring loudly during relaxation classes.

πŸ“Œ I spotted the elusive bluebottle walking across the rug. Walking!

WEDNESDAY 27 We finished The Serpent last night, which was gripping if a bit daft in parts, like when Nadine felt compelled to wander into The Serpent’s lair in the dead of night, with creepy atmospheric sounds tracing her every step.

πŸ“Œ Fans of Brexit must be dancing with joy at the latest vaccine spat. with the EU.

πŸ“Œ The day-to-day repetitions of living in the pandemic have driven out deeper reflections of a world beyond my own immediate needs and desires. That self-centredness masks the secret knowledge that something bad is happening elsewhere.

From the Morning Star

πŸ“Œ Michelle got in touch to tell us about a Manifesto Meeting for the studio in a couple of weeks. I started to wonder about the essence of the Submit to Love project, then it all dropped into place in an email from Sam.

By Sam Jevon
From HuffPost UK

πŸ“Œ Pip is always straight on to Facebook as soon as some government tosser screws up.

And while he is doing it, his partner Andy is hunting down useful websites…

Click on photo to find the answer

πŸ“Œ Every day we wait anxiously to see if our favourite Junior Bake Off contestant Naima, 10, survives into the next round. She’s great on flavours but a work in progress on technique.

Naima, 10

πŸ“Œ A hairdresser called Jane Eyre has become a champion wine-maker.

πŸ“Œ The Mirror reports this year’s first sighting of the Loch Ness Monster, though the included video footage of the “mystery beast” turned out to be spectacularly disappointing.

THURSDAY 28 Tried homemade cuppa-soup porridge for the first time, and it was surprisingly good.

πŸ“Œ Sam sent her drawing of Romeo, the Royal Academy pony who graced our screens at last week’s Headway Home Studio online session.

Romeo, by Sam Jevon

FRIDAY 29 New vaccines pop up daily, and with them a wave of optimism.

πŸ“Œ The Headway Home Studio session was to draw a Jean Dubuffet-inspired portrait of Michelle wearing Jean Dubuffet-inspired face paint.

Michelle Γ  la Billy Dubuffet

Early in the pose Michelle had waved her hands and group member Connie’s portrait included those hands, drawn in a typical Dubuffet style that made them look like smeared dog turds.

πŸ“Œ The Barbican have asked if the studio will collaborate on some workshops for families. It might be a chance to pimp my idea of sharing thumb drawings done on your phone.

Rule of thumb portrait

πŸ“Œ It’s a bit worrying now that the EU has slapped an export ban on some vaccines. Will we ever get our second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, which comes from Belgium?

πŸ“Œ Edgy Minds is proving a good read.

πŸ“Œ Billie Piper was on the TV talking about her chickens, one of which looked remarkably like a performative species I illustrated some time ago.

πŸ“Œ From Ed McBain’s ‘Sadie When She Died’…

It would not be fair if the other men in the police lineup were all Puerto Rican midgets wearing clown costumes.

SATURDAY 30 Amid the skewering humour there’s some proper reflection in Marina Hyde’s column.

No doubt history will judge the merits of the Treaty of AstraZeneca, which the EU seems to regard as the most incendiary dotted line since Versailles. 

πŸ“Œ Buffy The Vampire Slayer has been recommended as good Lockdown viewing. Since we are probably the only people in the world who’ve never seen it, we might give it a go.

πŸ“Œ The latest stitchwork tote bag is finished. It features Pangaea, the geological supercontinent from circa 300 million years ago. It later split apart to form the seven continents we recognise today – Europe/Asia, North America, South America, Africa, India, Australasia and Antarctica.

Pangaea in stitches

πŸ“Œ The fight between the EU and the vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca is quite an embarrassing spectacle.

πŸ“Œ Did I mention that very disappointingly Naima did not win Junior Bake Off?

πŸ“Œ Poirot definitely has a bit of a thing for Miss Lemon.

πŸ“Œ We finished Finding Alice (nicely set up for another series) and returned to Kendal being a zombie in Succession.

SUNDAY 31 Amazon has given itself a logo makeover, dropping the word Amazon and the shopping trolley, leaving a smiley cardboard box secured by some blue tape. It is said to be the retail giant’s attempt to do a Nike swoosh.

πŸ“Œ The vaccination project appears to be going so well that there’s speculation that the the government’s popularity will soar.

πŸ“Œ I’ve never considered myself remotely paternal or nurturing, but when our nephew showed us his wife’s babyscan photo as part of a family Zoom quiz (in a What is this? question), I was deleriously happy.

πŸ“Œ The characters in Succession are obviously human, but they are a breed of human that is so separate from the existence of most people that they resemble wild animals in an environment all of their own.

πŸ“Œ News of Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat of West Ham was overshadowed by Captain Tom, who has been taken to hospital.

Read all of my Diaries.

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