Diary: July 2021. Uncut.

THURSDAY 1 Paul Waugh in HuffPostUK gives Boris a proper skewering, the message being that his pathological lying is starting to undo his grip on power.

πŸ“Œ We visited the studio’s Common Threads exhibition at the Autograph Gallery and concluded that Yoki’s self-portrait is a stunner.

Yoki in the window at the Autograph gallery in Shoreditch…

πŸ“Œ That Princesses Diana statue is no triumph.

πŸ“Œ Stuart says he was so pretentious when his band were on stage one night in the 1980s that he took hold of the newly invented wireless radio microphone and left the stage, continuing to sing as he walked through the venue’s reception area, out the door and down the street.

FRIDAY 2 Any hope of enjoying the tennis at Wimbledon fell to bits as soon as the first serve arrived and along with it a succession of noisy grunts and yelps.

πŸ“Œ Stuart says when he was a youngster his dad banned him from wearing jeans. He was forced to wear either cords or nicely pressed trousers from a snobby shop in Liverpool called Austin Reed, where his dad had an account β€œfor a while”.

πŸ“Œ Labour win the Batley & Spen by-election against all predictions of a defeat. The controversial rabble-rouser George Galloway – who seems to be setting himself up as Labour’s equivalent of Nigel Farage – inevitably sucked votes out of what became a very close contest. The Socialist Worker says the result allows Labour leader Keir Starmer to β€œlimp on” for a while yet. It was a nasty, dirty contest.

πŸ“Œ Britain will soon be starved of its supply of Haribo sweets due to a shortage of lorry drivers.

SATURDAY 3 The Socialist Worker tries to work out why the popularity of social democracy is in decline everywhere, and not just in the Labour Party. And guess what, it’s because social democratic parties of the left don’t suck up to union leaders any more.

πŸ“Œ The Morning Star warns of job cuts at the British Council. I hope that doesn’t put an end to the studio‘s artistic exchange with the Riera Studio in Cuba. We just won a British Council grant for a Mail Bonding pitch based on the art of postage stamps.

Cuban stamps featuring birds…

πŸ“Œ Most people will have welcomed the government’s furlough scheme as a necessary lifeline for ordinary citizens forced to stop working during the pandemic. Few would have welcomed it if they’d known they were being conned into a taxpayer subsidy of stratospheric executive salaries.

πŸ“Œ I always knew there was something deeply iffy about the idea to link Ireland and Scotland with bridge or tunnel. CNN has nailed it.

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ Teardrop Explodes’ album Kilimanjaro is not actually as good as I remember it back in the heady days of my youth.

πŸ“Œ The latest stitching project is another borough map of London, this time on a plain white chef’s apron. My wife noticed that the image, when rotated 90 degrees becomes an abstract human face, with Kingston being the nose and Croydon the mouth. The half of Richmond on the south bank of the Thames looks like an eye. And Camden gets the job of the ear.

The face of London…

πŸ“Œ England turned in a classy performance to beat Ukraine 4-0, only let down by the BBC, who failed to field a female commentator.

SUNDAY 4 The match report in the Guardian for England’s quarter-final victory over Ukraine is the work of a lyrical romantic. It nevertheless captures the vibe perfectly.

πŸ“Œ Another week and another Labour “initiative” to get the party back into public favour. The push to “buy British” is an old idea, but this time round it does have the ring of the post-1945 Labour success story.

πŸ“Œ The chaos is starting its annual pattern of repetition. It looks like future governmental decisions will hinge on the ability of the NHS to deal with the Covid cases as and when they happen. Waves of infections will keep the service on permanent high alert. The leadership and resources of the NHS are the hot potato. A quick, reliable testing system still seems a long way off, and scientists say the easing of restrictions on 19 July is like building “variant factories”.

πŸ“Œ Bad cover versions of hits from the 1970s are proliferating. On the radio we heard fake renditions of both Fleetwood Mac and Peter Frampton songs in the space of 10 minutes, closely followed by Seals & Crofts’ Summer Breeze. Maybe we were listening to a special compilation of musical grotesqueries.

πŸ“Œ My wife was appalled to see a Just Eat delivery arrive at a nearby property at 9.30am.

πŸ“Œ Down in our community allotments, a neighbour helpfully told us what we were growing. The allotments featured recently in an online film for the Open Garden Squares project. Our small patch (Box 16) was so barren that somebody dressed it up for the cameras with spare plants. But no one told us what was planted. It now transpires that we have baby potatoes, carrots and curly kale.

πŸ“Œ The portrait from Sam looks like the kind of hobo you’d cross the road to avoid but fleetingly wonder what his name is.

Portrait, by Sam Jevon…

πŸ“Œ Sunday afternoon lightweight films: Anita & Me (charming Meera Syal biopic, which includes the word “bosting” a lot) and Yesterday, a silly love story by Richard Curtis in which the lights go out and when they come back on The Beatles have been erased from history.

MONDAY 5 Someone on Quora wants to know if Queen Victoria was a nymphomaniac. The top-voted reply is a po-faced micro-essay explaining that Queen Victoria certainly enjoyed by sex, and “there is this cliche that Victorian women regarded sex as an unpleasant duty, but the fact that Victoria didn’t doesn’t mean she had a compulsive psychological disorder.

πŸ“Œ An article in My Health Gazette hilariously replays a compilation of  passive-aggressive notes left in fridges, on microwave ovens, in bathrooms and pretty much everywhere. One from the kitchen stated: “Dishes are like boyfriends. Your room-mate shouldn’t be doing yours”.

Get the message, Bob?

πŸ“Œ Boris intends to let it RIP on July 19, and there ain’t no-one gonna stop him. Which means I can no longer use a London bus safely.

πŸ“Œ Decided to swot up on Cuba, given the grant our studio just won to collaborate with Havana’s Riera Studio on a art mail-exchange project. I always had Cuba as the nation of cigars and socialism, so an essay in the London Review of Books was a refreshing addition to my two-dimensioned perspective.

πŸ“Œ Further in our quest to catch up with the TV everyone else talks about but we’ve never seen, next up is Inside No 9, which takes dark, psychological themes, often with a sinister twist, on a journey to hilarity and back.

TUESDAY 6 The surprise of the century, and very hard to imagine right now, is that China might turn out to be the Bringer of world peace. Unknown to many in the West, China is exploring Space so fast and so intensively that if it wants to continue to do so from Planet Earth, it will need to collaborate with other nations. And it is reaching out right now.

πŸ“Œ Ellie leaves Guardian Archive at the end of the month. I’ve only ever known her digitally.

πŸ“Œ It’s great to be back in the gym (via our GP surgery’s Exercise on Referral scheme) after the stiffening effects of Lockdown.

πŸ“Œ Boris’s You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Masks message is not universally popular. But it is among Conservative backbenchers, which is what is important to the PM right now, says LabourList.

πŸ“Œ A population that has grown accustomed to being told what to do by the state must be a political gift.

πŸ“Œ We are supporting Spain. Italy are cheats.

WEDNESDAY 7 Only on Twitter does a man of God turn into a gossipy snitch. Would Rev Coles have stopped a parishioner on the street to tell them this?

πŸ“Œ Javid, Johnson, Sunak & Gove sounds like a modern-day UK version of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. They are known to each other simply as The Quad.

πŸ“Œ The Pinchpot Portrait workshop for the Barbican was a laugh. Brian filled his pot with fruit and made a loaf and a wedge of cheese to go on the side.

πŸ“Œ Much sympathy to Prince William, who had no friends or family to watch the footie with. Not sure he knew the words to Sweet Caroline, either. The big question came from one of the TV commentators, who asked in disbelief: “Who was alive when England last won something?”

THURSDAY 8 Someone in the crowd shone a laser into the eyes of Denmark’s goalkeeper last night as he faced an England penalty.

πŸ“Œ It’s now obvious to all but the sight-impaired that it’s the PM’s plan to smash the NHS to bits. There is no other explanation for letting the service deteriorate in such a dramatic way.

FRIDAY 9 The Morning Star is nothing if not consistent.

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ The Headway Home Studio was all about surrealism, and more pointedly about Salvador DalΓ­. We learned that he was a foodie and threw lush parties heaped with exotic food, often styled in his trademark surrealist oddness. He loved food but hated spinach, apparently, and was quite scathing about it. Which is probably why in my effort at surrealism I put them together.

πŸ“Œ The exhibition at the Guild Hall Art Gallery celebrating the art and style of NoΓ«l Coward did exactly that. There were few hints at the origins of Coward’s undeniable talents. But there were a lot of dressing gowns, dinner suits, bad paintings and the constant nag of the opulence mega-celebrity invites. We never found out who did all the hoovering in all the lush living rooms.

SATURDAY 10 NHSvaccination staff are under attack from nasty sunseekers demanding their second jab early so they can go on holiday.

πŸ“Œ Say what you like about Alastair Campbell, but he sure knows how to write a headline. “Putinism with posh accents” is how he described the government’s most recent naked attempt to tamper with the BBC.

πŸ“Œ Quora is riddled with stupidity. But sometimes it’s worth sticking with.

πŸ“Œ Just like every other business, higher education will be forced by the trauma of the pandemic and the upheavals of the post-Brexit marketplace to think anew, abandon some of its old ways and to find new paths of learning.

πŸ“Œ Paul Waugh in HuffpostUK detects a new realism in the Labour Party for sucking up Brexit and “repairing” what is widely agreed to be a bad deal.

SUNDAY 11 The government’s mixed-messaging roundabout has restarted and the argument about masking in confined spaces after Freedom Day next week is the motor.

πŸ“Œ It was probably a hope too far to believe there was a collage artist somewhere who’d happily take the mountain of books we have in storage. A web search proved fruitless, but I will persist. There must surely be a bright young person out there who wants to do something crazy like sculpt ornamental trees from old books.

πŸ“Œ A flood in the apartment next door sparked a mini crisis that has seen all of our existing towels used to soak up surface water. The residents are away and we are the key holders.

πŸ“Œ The England football team is a modern reflection of a modern English society, writes Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer. And its inclusivity and diversity stands as an uncomfortable reminder of everything the modern Conservative Party is not.

MONDAY 12 Woke up to discover that late last night my wife and a friend shared a spontaneous WhatsApp commiseration on England’s defeat to Italy in the “Year-Late Euros”. The best quote… “The younger ones do all these steppy-dance penalties instead of just whacking it. It doesn’t work!”

πŸ“Œ So football didn’t come home. It stayed exactly where it was.

Read the full story…

Barney Ronay writes a superb piece in the Guardian that reflects on the tournament that briefly lifted the gloom of the past 18 months: “At times Southgate has seemed like the last sensible person left. This England iteration may or not go on to further glories from here. But when something is good it’s never gone, and this fine young group of footballers made a mark here that will not be lost. After a year and half of fear and isolation football has, for the last few weeks, provided a reminder that other things also exist, that there is also hope and warmth to be found, other stories to be written.”

πŸ“Œ If the Year-Late Euros gave me one thing it was a moment, just like during the 2012 Olympics, when I actually felt some affection for my country.

πŸ“Œ Pigs in blankets will be in short supply this Christmas.

πŸ“Œ Protests in Havana lend weight to the belief that the power to keep Cuba communist was always dependent on the name Castro.

πŸ“Œ One of the more bizarre conclusions you could drawn from a report about the heat spike in NW Canada and the resulting “inferno” is that Britain could be man-made warmer by greater use of fossil fuels. Emissions warm air, which then gets trapped in a “heat dome”, creating freakish local weather systems, which then bump global weather systems off course. Countries with high emissions will thus boil in the heat while the ice caps melt. Everyone else will just have to find the best way to deal with it. Until human life becomes extinct, that is.

πŸ“Œ Angelina sent a petition for continuing legislation on wearing masks on public transport. From next week the government intends to “urge” wearing masks in certain circumstances.

Read the full story here…

TUESDAY 13 There was a feeling during the England vs Italy Euros final that England could not control possession and were constantly chasing the ball around the pitch. That has seemingly been verified by statistically-minded people at The Tortoise, who report a raft of numbers supporting the view that Italy were worthy winners of the tournament.

  • Italian players attempted 820 passes between themselves – with 88% accuracy, compared with England’s 74% – allowing them to get and keep close to England’s penalty area.
  • It was this penetration into England’s territory, amounting to a ball possession rate of 66%, that gave the Italians countless opportunities to strike.
  • They took those opportunities. Of their 19 shots on goal, six were on target. England attempted six shots, only two of which were on target.

πŸ“Œ My wife wants to sneak in a last visit to IKEA before 19 July, when public transport will be thronged with the unmasked and the unvaccinated. Or both.

πŸ“Œ There’s a headline in The Tortoise that says scientists at Imperial College London found antibodies in blood samples from people with Long Covid that could lead to a test for the condition within 18 months.

πŸ“Œ How to govern a country: If a fiasco works, repeat it.

πŸ“Œ The new stitchwork looks even more like a Halloween mask every day. Few would guess that it is simply London seen from another angle.

Scary London…

πŸ“Œ Ever since reading that soon there will be a test for Long Covid I’m convinced I have it. In classic Woody Allen-style hypochondria, I see every moment of lethargy as a reminder to check my will, choose a coffin and make a list of those who were nice to me. Do I really still want Crazy by Seal as my funeral music?

WEDNESDAY 14 If England’s defeated young footballers can apologise for letting the country down, why can’t the Prime Minister and his government, asks Marina Hyde.

πŸ“Œ An alternative to the cruelty of the penalty shootout, writes Simon Jenkins, is to widen the goalposts.

πŸ“Œ The vote in parliament to cut foreign aid came via a cunning bit of trickery, despite probably being quite popular in the country at large.

πŸ“Œ In a meeting to firm up a panel discussion Headway is planning with the Barbican, when asked the question, “What is the purpose of the event?” I blurted out that it was to “smash the cliques and destroy the bullying tribes” of the mainstream art world. Oh dear!

πŸ“Œ The students at Accumulate, the art school for the homeless, are always full of ideas, so a clay workshop in self-portraits with them was always likely to throw up a few moments of magic. But the busty DJ at the decks was a real surprise.

Accumulate self-portraits…

THURSDAY 15 Last week’s Home Studio was all about Salvador DalΓ­. Sam’s portrait is a real gem.

Salvador DalΓ­, by Sam Jevon

πŸ“Œ The Prime Minister’s “Levelling Up” agenda, which has delivered legions of former Labour voters to the Conservatives, risks alienating the so-called “Shire Tories” and delivering them to the Liberal Democrats. This has the potential ultimately to reduce the Conservative Party to a minority populist movement while the rest of British politics bickers over which form of cuddly social democracy is best.

FRIDAY 16 When the decimal point goes wandering, what looked like a drama suddenly becomes a crisis…

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ There’s more speculation on the mental health of the Prime Minister after an incoherent and rambling speech yesterday to promote his so-called “levelling up” policy.

πŸ“Œ Shirley sent a message to test if your brain is working OK…

7H15                    M3554G3

53RV35          7O      PR0V3

H0W         0UR      M1ND5      C4N

D0         4M4Z1NG       7H1NG5!

1MPR3551V3            7H1NG5!

1N        7H3       B3G1NN1NG

17        WA5      H4RD      BU7

N0W,       0N    7H15       LIN3

Y0UR         M1ND      1S

R34D1NG 17         4U70M471C4LLY

W17H0U7            3V3N

7H1NK1NG      4B0U7     17,

B3      PROUD!        0NLY

C3R741N          P30PL3     C4N

R3AD           7H15!

It momentarily threw me back into all the autospelling nightmares I’ve ever had.

SATURDAY 17 Britain and Singapore have vastly different approaches to lifting Covid restrictions, reports CNN. The words that jump out in the story are that Britain’s “Freedom Day” path is a “big bang” while Singapore’s method is one of “containment and mitigation”.

πŸ“Œ Every day a united Ireland seems to move an inch closer. And one thing is for sure, if and when it happens the Prime Minister will take no credit for his role.

πŸ“Œ We had lunch with mother/daughter friends Naomi and Amanda and I witnessed for the first time Naomi’s charming compulsion to talk to strangers. Naomi is 90.

SUNDAY 18 Everyone is turning off the NHS Covid app in case they get notified to self-isolate. Even the Prime Minister. Health Secretary Sajid Javid tested positive for Covid. The PM was “pinged” by the app but does not intend to self-isolate. He intends to make himself a “test case” for Freedom Day tomorrow.

πŸ“Œ The first government U-turn of the day says that the PM will now self-isolate after all.

πŸ“Œ It’s hard to work out which superpower Britain would be best siding with. At any other time in the past, the idea of Russia and the US cosying up to one another would be dismissed as a wild fantasy.

Read the full story here…

πŸ“Œ RIP Tom O’Connor, a naturally funny man. We still tell one of his jokes… Boy: “Dad, there’s a man at the door with a bill.” Dad: “Don’t be silly, son, it must be a duck with a hat on.”

MONDAY 19 The BBC radio programme Soul Music had the reflections of a woman who hated learning French at school and became a difficult pupil. Her teacher persisted, and one day played her Edith Piaf’s Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien. The difficult pupil was immediately hooked, and that was how she started to learn French. She went on to study French at university and eventually became a French teacher. The radio programme featured a version of Piaf singing the song in English, which was a treat.

πŸ“Œ All of the above reminded me that my French nephew learned English by watching episodes of Father Ted on YouTube.

πŸ“Œ Left-leaning national leaders who embrace dictatorship are facing a tough time at the hands of their freedom-loving citizens, writes Simon Tisdall.

πŸ“Œ Collaboration among truth-telling organisations worldwide is growing, as the latest spyware hacking scandal shows.

πŸ“Œ News that on “Freedom Day” Britain had run out of the DIY tests for Covid was quickly followed by…

From the Daily Mail…

πŸ“Œ In his Imaginary Sandwich Bar on the radio, Alexei Sayle said that the middle classes resent members of the working classes who manage to sneek into the professional echelons of society.

TUESDAY 20 A story in The Conversation about consciousness disturbed me because I realised I didn’t know what consciousness is, exactly. I thought I did, but that’s not quite good enough. Turns out I’m not alone. An article in LiveScience states: “Scientists and philosophers still can’t agree on a vague idea of what consciousness is, much less a strict definition. One reason for that is that the concept is used to mean slightly different things. Many experts agree, however, that conscious beings are aware of their surroundings, themselves and their own perception.” The story in The Conversation links consciousness to quantum physics (must look that up, too), so I guess the best we can say is that nobody knows.

πŸ“Œ “Club The 18-30s” is just one of the best headlines ridiculing the PM’s latest step in dealing with the virus. He seems to favour a targeted compulsion for citizens to vaccinate (night clubs, travel) before returning to their former freedoms. Yet that is high risk, as Paul Waugh writes in HuffPostUK: “The only language the virus understands is a lockdown of one kind or another.”

πŸ“Œ Boris’s big gamble with the unlocking of restrictions is more of a political calculation than a health one. The vaccine rollout has stalled and needs to be jump-started.

πŸ“Œ I just got “pinged”… by the Daily Mail telling me that the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, has just flown into Space and back (4 minutes out, 3 minutes return) with a character called Wally Funk, 82.

πŸ“Œ There’s a department at the Guardian called the “Turkey Incubator”.

πŸ“Œ I got the legendary eye-roll from my wife when I attempted to put some cut flowers into a vase of water. I got a repeat performance when I put the wrong bread to warm in the oven.

WEDNESDAY 21 Tried starting my weight-training session with the shoulder press, leaving the chest press to last. I hit my target comfortably.

πŸ“Œ Testing the monoprint workshop we have next week with the Autograph gallery, I managed to make Eva, London, one of James Barnor’s most famous portraits, look both gentle and severe.

Eva, from an original portrait by James Barnor

πŸ“Œ Liverpool has been kicked out of the World Heritage club because of overdevelopment.

πŸ“Œ The NHS pay rise was shelved then awarded in one day. Omnishambles is word that hasn’t been used for a while.

πŸ“Œ The Pegasus Project makes espionage sound a lot less glamorous than it used to be.

THURSDAY 22 An article in The Guardian by a paramedic describes how to the ambulance service rather than the GP surgery has become the default first stage in primary care.

πŸ“Œ UNESCO made a mistake in robbing Liverpool of its World Heritage status, says an article in The Conversation.

πŸ“Œ If the Prime Minister happily breaks all the rules, is it any wonder his supporters feel entitled to do likewise?

πŸ“Œ The pop-up vaccination centre on Hoxton Street had a lengthy queue.

πŸ“Œ The twin strands of James Barnor’s photography are his depiction of young people in Ghana as the nation came to independence from British rule (late 1950s) and in London shortly afterwards as a smart young Ghanaian professional class adapted to making their home in Swinging Sixties Britain.

πŸ“Œ Brexit is definitely not done in Northern Ireland.

FRIDAY 23 An article in HuffpostUK suggests the nation could be entering a new era of worker-management disputes as businesses tell employees to get back to their desks, or whatever. Working from home for 18 months will have given many workers a glimpse of an autonomy they might be reluctant to surrender. Hybrid methods require skilled management.

πŸ“Œ Home Secretary Priti Patel continues her attack on citizens of former British colonies like she’s on some crazed cleansing spree. Maybe she secretly thinks she can singlehandedly eradicate Britain’s colonial past.

Read the full story here…

Patel is not having a good week, which will be cheery news for many. She is under the cosh over border control as boat after boat of desperate migrants attempt to enter Britain. And the Police Federation has issued a stern vote of no confidence.

πŸ“Œ “Double-vaccinated” is a mighty long way from “unvaccinated”.

From Full Fact…

πŸ“Œ Quite sad to watch the slimmed-down Olympics opening ceremony, but reminded that short-sleeve blazers are a probably a fashion item that deserves to have been more successful.

πŸ“Œ I’d be interested to hear Eric Clapton tell us what bio-security he would accept as suitable for him to knock off one of his dusty old riffs. No, that’s a lie. I don’t care.

πŸ“Œ My wife suggested I try to wear my glasses when I trim my eyebrows (difficult). The right one has practically disappeared, she said.

SATURDAY 24 Yesterday we visited the Victoria Miro gallery to see the Yayoi Kusama exhibition, plus a brilliant set of paintings by Chantal Joffe about her relationship with her mother.

Yayoi Kusama at London’s Victoria Miro gallery…
Chantal Joffe with her mother…

Then, in the dark hours of this morning, as a fox could be heard scavenging the bins outside, my wife woke from a dream. “There’s something we need to do, but I can’t remember what it is!” she stated urgently, half-conscious.

Very quickly she was asleep again and I realised that her slumber had been disturbed by one of the Kusama exhibits at the Miro gallery.

In a small room with dimmed light, a pentagonal columnar display case, a sort of TARDIS interior, contains a yellow spotted tentacle that appears to twist and turn into infinity. The effect is a trick with mirrors, but scarily threatening to any viewer suspended alone in the darkness.

The stuff of nightmares…

πŸ“Œ A fascinating pair of images appeared on the Edward Hopper Facebook page showing one of Hopper’s etchings of a lighthouse and a corresponding photograph of the scene today.

Eastern Point Lighthouse, Gloucester, Massachusetts

πŸ“Œ In 1961 a field in Cambridgeshire was ploughed for the last time then abandoned to see what would happen. It was the start of a tentative experiment in re-wilding that has become the Monks Wood National Nature Reserve and a powerful reminder of how human activity has bullied the natural world for too long.

πŸ“Œ At Barbican Cinema 2 we saw Summer of Soul, a documentary about the Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969, which later became known as the “Black Woodstock” because it happened at the same time as the more famous Woodstock Festival. For 50 years, film of the event had lain neglected in a basement store room.

The Harlem Festival also happened at the same time as the first Moon landing. Concert-goers interviewed were in no doubt which was the most important event.

Standout sections of the film include a commentator who identified the Harlem festival as the moment in history when the term “negro” was supplanted by “black” – a real moment of liberation and empowerment for non-white people, he said. Performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & The Family Stone and Gladys Knight made it a music documentary that pulled in politics, religion and sociology rather than the other way around. The clothes are a show on their own.

The occasion and its deep impact on all those who performed or attended was anchored by testimony from the film-maker Musa Jackson, a mischievous child at the time in search of adventure in his local park. In a screening studio he sat and gazed intelligently at the film’s scenes. Tears of joy came to his eyes. One of the defining moments of his life, long written out of history, was finally up there, in bright lights, for all to see.

SUNDAY 25 Shami Chakrabarti has come out fighting against Covid passports. And as always, her arguments make perfect sense…

“Covid passports are part of a strategy of smoke and mirrors for a government that would like to believe that ‘personal responsibility’ can substitute for sound and ethical public health policy during a pandemic that has already cost the UK nearly double the civilian fatalities of the second world war.”

The best line is the one in which she says the government’s current plan is to hand over control of the virus to “outsourced bouncers-turned-Covid cops”.

πŸ“Œ It’s fun to imagine what the Conservative Party thinks Life After Boris will look like. The party has been so radicalised by the PM’s dodgy conduct in office that a return to the image of ladies in blue stockings bearing gifts of home-made jam at village fetes seems ridiculous. Their present leader is a character whose “sod that” attitude casually imperilled the life of The Queen, writes Andrew Rawnsley.

πŸ“Œ Team GB has a talented 13-year-old Anglo-Japanese skateboarder called Sky Brown.

πŸ“Œ We know people who at the moment are on holiday in various far-flung corners of the world, making the most of the opportunities available to travel overseas. We have no plans to leave the country anytime soon and cannot imagine ever wanting to step on an aeroplane again.

MONDAY 26 I’m due to deliver an online hand-printing workshop in two hours and my anglepoise phone clamp, which I use as a close-up camera and has its own Zoom box, has broken.

πŸ“Œ Gaffa tape and Gorilla Glue… the universal solution to all busted contraptions. The workshop went ahead successfully, but I never have the time while presenting to enjoy the exercise myself. The prints I make are always boring. I shall explore the method more carefully in future.

Workshop monoprints…

πŸ“Œ The woman who hosted the printing workshop was repeatedly smelling her long hair. My wife disapproves of hair-messing at online meetings.

πŸ“Œ The chef’s apron with stitchwork borough map of London is finished. Rotate through 90 degrees and a weird death mask appears.

TUESDAY 27 There’s a reason I get all my zany crackpot ideas when I’m in the bath. According to an article on the Open Culture site, it’s because relaxation releases dopamine in the brain and more dopamine = more creativity. Psychologists call it “incubation”.

πŸ“Œ Great Art Explained on YouTube is my favourite new discovery – superb, accessible, compact 15-minute tutorials on the acknowledged masterpieces. Alongside those from the Royal Academy, online learning has never been so good.

πŸ“Œ Only just worked out that ROC in the Olympics is Russia, who have been banned as a nation after a drugging scandal, but have sneaked into the games on a technicality by calling themselves the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC). All the commentators refer to this team as Russia, so the ban is effectively pointless. The only punishment is that the Russian national anthem cannot be played during the medals ceremony.

WEDNESDAY 28 There’s a report in the Morning Star about Labour’s plans to reform the workplace with job shares, flexitime, worker directors, etc. It all sounds very reasonable. It would be nice to know if the Labour party itself practises what it preaches. I shall write immediately to ask.

πŸ“Œ Joe Zadeh writes to promote a long-read article he’s written about Time. In it he refers to the ancient Greek dual concepts of time, Chronos & Kairos. Chronos is clock time and Kairos is a more intuitive, serendipitous type of time. I wrote back asking if photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson had been Greek, would his famous “decisive moment” have been the “kairos moment”?

πŸ“Œ The Olympics always throws up fabulous examples of human fellowship among the athletes.

πŸ“Œ Lakshmi posted a great quote from the Dalai Lama: “Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”

πŸ“Œ I don’t think I want the Richard III mystery of the Princes in the Tower ever to be properly solved.

Read the full story here…

THURSDAY 29 Matt Hancock has been given a slap by his local councillors in West Suffolk. He has “neglected the best interests of his constituents” and, as health secretary, β€œdemonstrated hypocrisy and hubris in the pursuit of his own interests.”

πŸ“Œ For Project Cuba, an art collaboration with the Riera Studio in Havana, it would be nice to make a film of the process and the artwork we produce together (inspired by Cuban and British postage stamps). A sympathetic video editor (ie, Dave Briggs) would be nice, but probably not in the tiny budget.

πŸ“Œ Oh the agony of seeing and hearing yourself on film! The video for the work we did with the Barbican team for the Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty exhibition is out and my flesh is crawling with embarrassment.

FRIDAY 30 The Morning Star predicts an Autumn of discontent, as the real cost of wage disputes and the end of the Furlough scheme hit the economy. Decent wages for an honest day’s work doesn’t seem unreasonable to most people, I’m sure, but until most people are prepared to fight for it, the rich will get richer and the rest will be left to suck it up in silence.

πŸ“Œ We’re really enjoying the women’s rugby Sevens in the Olympics.

πŸ“Œ Larry Elliott in the Guardian very cleverly detects a new variant of Capitalism in the wind. This strain is tough on the tech monopolies, shows big faith in tax and spend, and broadly makes the State a big player in the development of national economies. It has been bubbling since the 2008 global financial crisis but has now come to a rolling simmer as the only way to meet the economic changes wrought by the pandemic.

πŸ“Œ A friend is currently on a circular cruise around Britain, aboard a ship heading straight for Storm Evert.

πŸ“Œ Quote of the day comes from SΓ©an, 11, who told his nattering mother firmly: “Brave women aren’t bothered about their hair.” That was just after he told Alexa that her 100 “random” fart sounds were not very good.

πŸ“Œ The final Headway online Home Studio (for now?) was all about cats, so I attempted to draw one with my disabled left hand.

πŸ“Œ Getting pinged by the Daily Mail is often a feast of hilarity. The name of Matt Hancock’s mournful dog is Hercules.

SATURDAY 31 Some of the most unlikely people have stood up to sing the praises of ZZ Top, whose bass player Dusty Hill has just died. Andy Medhurst wrote: β€œFew other acts were so skilful, witty and focused in inhabiting the landscape of their own embodiment.”

πŸ“Œ The TV reality show Love Island is a hub of metaphorical invention, says a boffin in The Conversation. Every week, sex talk breaks new boundaries, euphemisms get lost in the throes of ecstacy, and terms such as β€œdoing bits” get spoken openly between the randy contestants in their quest for β€œthe full shebang”.

πŸ“Œ The MP Dawn Butler was recently kicked out of Parliament for pointing out that the Prime Minister tells lies repeatedly. Full Fact checked Butler’s claims and found them to be correct.

πŸ“Œ The big secret from Sandra’s birthday picnic was that very few of the people who put their hands inside the bag of Pop Chips knew what Gill knew.

Spot the baby slug in the background…

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…


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