Diary: August 2021. Uncut

SUNDAY 1 Team GB won a gold medal in the BMX event. BMX stands for Bicycle Moto Cross. The Team GB gold was won by 25-year-old Charlotte Worthington, who dusted herself down after an early fall to pull off a “360 backflip”, pushing her much-fancied US opponent Hannah Roberts into the silver-medal spot. Worthington was born in Manchester and was until 2017 a chef in a Mexican restaurant. She now lives somewhere in Northamptonshire near a place called “Adrenaline Alley”.

Charlotte Worthington, 25…

📌 The vaccine uptake is so low among young people that supplies nearing their use-by date risk being binned. Or they could be donated to countries in need… So the government has launched its “Kebabs4Jabs” campaign, offering cut-price junk food to the under 20s if they agree to a dose of vaccine.

📌 Bridgend is once again looking like Wales’s very own epicentre of death. A few years ago it was the base camp of a young person’s suicide cult.

Read the full story here…

MONDAY 2 As we unearthed a small crop of new potatoes at the allotments yesterday we noticed among an orgy of worms a smattering of white spots. My wife turned detective and revealed later that we had been infested by snails’ eggs.

Snails’ eggs, with parent

📌 When the squatty old man in the gym with the implausibly bowed legs sat on the balance ball, I imagined I’d be forced to make an intervention. Five minutes later, he was fiddling with the controls on the treadmill and was very soon off on an invigorating stroll. In Crocs!

📌 Something important happened while I was deep in stroke recovery in 2013. Lou Reed died, and I never knew until today.

📌 The latest stitchwork bag is finished. The provinces of Catalunya – Girona, Barcelona, Tarragona and Lleida – are named after their principal cities.

Catalunya in stitches…

TUESDAY 3 Developing some new hand printing methods is starting to get quite exciting. Combining the wax monoprinting with the mini receipt printer looks like it might work in a collage for Project Cuba.

Mini prints for Project Cuba…

📌 The government is pushing on in its quest to force workers back to their workplaces. The “ping” frequency has been turned down on the app that notifies citizens who’ve been in contact with someone testing positive for Covid-19. And ministers have been urging businesses to re-open as normal. But some are reluctant. The state has effectively paid for mass apprenticeships in home working, and the overhead costs of running fixed workplaces in offices and other premises is starting to look expensive. Businesses that have learned to live with a diasporic workforce are tempted to shed the rents and rates that go with the permanent workspace. This could turn out to be the biggest pushback to the government’s plans, writes Stephen Bush in the New Statesman.

📌 Home working also thwarts group thinking and neuters innovation, says an article in The Conversation, which means a real “recovery” from the pandemic could take around seven years.

📌 Charlie, one of the “volunteers” in our local community centre, does a very good standing equivalent of someone lounging on a sunbed.

WEDNESDAY 4 Had an online chat yesterday with Neil Perry. He’s working on an oral history of the British music press from the mid-late 1980s. Inevitably, in the early hours of this morning, memories came flooding back, which I sent to Neil pronto. One of the clean ones was: “The sales figures [for Sounds] were sagging, so the publisher, Eric Fuller, went on a fetish for market research and focus groups. The outcome was often sobering. At one, an idle group of teenagers brutally skimmed our lovingly-crafted “product” and decided that a typical Sounds reader was named ‘Mick’ and that Mick was a long-haired oily incel in a dirty denim jacket.”

📌 Our 13-year-old Olympic skateboarder won the bronze medal.

📌 Only with great determination will anyone get to the end of this comprehensive listing of the various fighting factions and bitching groups inside the Labour Party that guarantee it a miserable electoral future.

📌 At the Barbican Lakeside Party, Jean won the “guess the weight of the cake” competition.

THURSDAY 5 My wife reckons she is probably the only woman in the world whose husband’s idea of a birthday gift is to stitch the Pop Art Hula Hoops logo into a cotton bag and fill it with small bags of Hula Hoops.

Happy birthday, darling…

📌 The Paula Rego exhibition at Tate Britain is brilliant, and her layered, textured pastels especially so. But you can’t help walking away with the impression that Paula Rego has lived a very serious, joyless life.

Details from Tate Britain’s Paula Rego retrospective…

📌 Joan Bakewell was dining at another table in the same place we had my wife’s birthday lunch.

📌 The penalty corner in hockey doesn’t seem particularly advantageous.

📌 It’s nice when Belgium win things (Olympic hockey gold). Very reassuring.

📌 Someone on the TV talking about koalas used the word “toilet” as a verb, as in: “they toilet an awful lot”.

📌 The birthday evening at the theatre (“depression-era escapism fit for post-Covid times”) was a sheer delight, and I really don’t like musicals.

Essence of joy: Robert Lindsay and Sutton Foster exit stage left after a rollicking good song and dance together…

FRIDAY 6 The word narcissist is now in common use to describe over-confident self-centred people. But the concept of the vulnerable narcissist – neurotic, insecure but still selfish – is a new one on me. Like many articles in The Conversation, this one is brilliant on analysis, but stops short of saying that vulnerable narcissists are a probably the ones we should keep an eye on.

📌 In the New Statesman Stephen Bush points out that the closure of British coal mines is a fact of life. It happened, and it has, as the PM controversially stated, put Britain in a better place to tackle the climate emergency. But the government is yet to prove it is up to the job, despite this advantage.

📌 It was agony to watch the German showjumper Annika Schleu falling apart as her horse simply looked like it had forgotten how to jump a fence.

📌 The Olympic medals table looks very different when the numbers are sorted to reflect the number of medals per head of population. San Marino is top, India is bottom, Kazakhstan is bang in the middle.

SATURDAY 7 The Morning Star is still steaming about Boris’s stupid quip that Margaret Thatcher was an environmentalist champ for closing down Britain’s coal mines.

📌 Western democracies are still struggling to find a way to counter the gangster politics of people like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. The return of Trump now looks inevitable. He makes his opponents look weak, as does Johnson, and that’s their problem.

📌 Boris threatened to sack Rishi is the headline. This could turn out to be quite exciting, like those school playground fights in which everyone gathers in a circle around the combatants and goads them into inflicting serious damage on one another.

📌 You’re plunged so deeply into the internal worlds of the refugee asylum seekers in the film Limbo that the bare facts of their tortured arrival on a frighteningly bleak island somewhere off Scotland become secondary. It is the intensity of their separation from home that hits hardest. Every atom of the principal character Omar is charged with loss. He hasn’t played his treasured oud since leaving Syria and his broken family. The instrument becomes a symbol of his identity, and only when he can strum its strings once again can he truly have survived the journey.

SUNDAY 8 A flurry of ideas for Project Cuba arrived at daybreak, from stitchwork on paper to printing on clay.

📌 Right on cue, and running deliberately alongside the Prime Minister’s recent resurrection of the Miners’ Strike, comes a Socialist Worker remembrance of Ronald Reagan’s annihilation of the US air traffic controllers.

📌 Keith sent a photo that tortures a bad pun so badly it becomes good.

Apologies to Carly Simon…

📌 The time for talking has ended. The environment has overtaken the conversation and is raining ash on the citizens of Athens.

📌 A fabulous ruck has broken out at the Tate over its alleged pledge to exhibit the studio archive works of Francis Bacon. Among the pieces that remain hidden from the public eye is an awesome self-portrait.

Francis Bacon, by Francis Bacon…

MONDAY 9 The Daily Mail reports that the Army is ready to pick up the slack in supermarket deliveries. Supply chains have been disrupted by a shortage of lorry drivers following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

📌 Mirror readers are bound to be impressed by the PM’s ability to spot an art masterpiece. One of the pieces he’s bought is described as “a set of four black-and-white photographs which show vegetation and their shadows on a grey concrete background.”

Read the full story here…

📌 The Tortoise is characteristically circumspect about the fires that are raging on the outskirts of Athens. The temptation to blame climate change would be to miss the whole story, it says. The tinderbox is primed worldwide. Climate change has just made ignition more likely.

📌 The legacy of Project Cuba is likely to be the film we make, so I am just ploughing on creating “content”.

📌 Sam recorded a song, Things That Make Me Happy, with Olli at Headway recently and has just finished a picture to go with it…

Things That Make Me Happy, by Sam Jevon…

TUESDAY 10 Desperate for some lightweight crime TV, we started watching Silent Witness right back from Series 1. Its clunky simplicity highlights how sophisticated and twisty TV crime writing has become.

📌 We’re also catching up on old episodes of Jon Richardson’s Ultimate Worrier and yesterday one of his chief worries from 2019 was that the world would face a pandemic/plague “any minute now”. His guest, comedian Rob Beckett, speculated that it might be useful in killing off a few surplus people.

📌 Another happy catch-up experience was a BBC Poetry Extra slot on Shakespeare’s famous Sonnet 18 (Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day). It was apparently written for a young boy and intriguingly dissects the national Catholic/Protestant schism of the Elizabethan era. Property law and menstruation also make guest appearances.

📌 School students long ago became part of the supply/demand meat-market function of the higher-education business. This is what the annual A-level results tell us most about society. In this context the so-called “grade inflation” debate says little about Education at all. The pre-pandemic exam system skewed the figures anyway, and maybe in the past stopped talented students getting the grades they deserved. Maybe a teacher-graded system is in fact fairer? There are other ways of seeing this year’s results, too…

📌 Spectated the Mindfulness class at St Luke’s. I only wrote that sentence to see if spectator worked as a verb.

📌 Met with the British Museum and got to handle some of their artefacts for a community art project with St Luke’s. They showed us some Ugandan durable fabric made by hand from tree bark. I can feel a modern totem pole coming on.

WEDNESDAY 11 A good espionage story is so hard to resist. The spy’s code name is David S.

Read the full story here…

📌 Covid Profiteering Inc is back in business.

📌 Someone on the radio said you can’t snore in Space.

📌 Someone else on the radio said the average annual income for an actor in the UK is £25,000. The average UK salary is £31,000.

📌 Stayday in Southend on a St Luke’s trip. The pier train has reopened and the fishing folk are back. A detour to Leigh and Westcliff included a nice seafood lunch and a glass of champagne.

The Thames Estuary never fails to enchant…

We trawled the charity shops and picked up a copy of Donna Leon’s debut Brunetti story, Death At La Fenice, for Betty. My wife won a bottle of Prosecco in the raffle on the way home on the coach, so a good day became a special one.

THURSDAY 12 For many years in the future we will be measuring the effects of the pandemic (more about that here). Right now, the arguments around this year’s A-Level results offer a clue to what’s in store. The Socialist Worker sees the dispute over “grade inflation” as nothing less than the opening shots in a new class war.

📌 The upcoming COP26 international gathering in Glasgow will show which countries are truly serious about the climate emergency, writes Larry Elliott in the Guardian. Only by putting Climate Change on the same war footing as governments put the pandemic will a realistic way forward be found.

📌 Got two especially warm welcomes at my first post-restrictions, full-house Headway. One from Sandra SH and one from Stephen, who’d never given me so much as a smile in eight years.

FRIDAY 13 On the BBC radio show Eggsistential Crisis, the comedian Kiri Pritchard-McLean said Millennials are so worried about passing on their mental-health problems to their children that they’ve stopped having children. “Pity our parents didn’t have the same idea,” she quipped.

📌 John Pilger’s book The Last Day, which tells the story of the farcical US departure from Vietnam in 1975 comes to mind as reports of the US and UK exit from Afghanistan have reached a steady flow.

📌 On a roll now with the hand-printing for Project Cuba. Determined to try one of an ancient Cuban ship next.

Monoprinted commemorative postage stamp of Cuban hero and polymath Jose Marti…

📌 I wonder if Edward Hopper is the film-makers’ favourite artist?

📌 Ethical hackers whose sole aim is to expose the fragility of online exchanges are called White Hats.

📌 The headline says that the Berlin spy, David S, “kept himself to himself“. Unlike all other spies, I suppose, who run round waving their arms shouting, “Here I am! Anyone want to know a secret?”

📌 I honestly don’t think news institutions set out deliberately to feed the nation with fear, but some of their cheapened methods and short cuts end up doing just that.

Read the full story here…

📌 Another London stitchwork bag is added to the swelling stock of standby gifts.

London in stitches…

📌 Vaccination in the workplace is a subtle mixture of opportunity, convenience and coercion.

Read the full story here…

SATURDAY 14 There’s an easy-read history of the staycation in The Conversation, which includes reference to William Wordsworth being very annoyed about the encroachment of the railways into the Lake District. It also tells of the Victorian marketing men who turned the map of Cornwall upside down to make it look like Italy.

📌 The return to the gym has seen the return of the trawl through the albums of my youth. I listen to at least one per exercise session in an effort to trigger Memoir Moments. Today was the turn of Queen’s Sheer Heart Attack and 10cc’s How Dare You. I could remember nearly all the words from both albums. 10cc were frankly embarrassing when trying to score political points, but their technical proficiency was a thing of beauty. There was no anonymous techie fiddling with their knobs. They did it all themselves.

Listen here…

📌 London has a healthy collective of nude cyclists, whose antics have amused and shocked innocent bystanders for many years. Today, for the World Naked Bike Ride, they gathered in preparation on our estate. My wife noticed that most of them were men.

Blurry picture of bare bums, etc…

📌 Marina Hyde depicts a Prime Minister who puts personal popularity before public interest, but also senses an imminent revenge attack from the one person in his party (Rishi Sunak) who is fast overtaking him.

Read the full story here…

Yet Boris still probably believes he is born to be King. It’s hard-wired into him from his school days, as detailed in a new book, Sad Little Men, by a fellow prep/public schoolboy Richard Beard, extracted in The Guardian: “School was where we went, aged eight, to learn to despise other people.”

SUNDAY 15 The Prime Minister’s inability to make big decisions will be brutally exposed over the coming weeks as preparations for Britain’s hosting of the Cop26 conference on climate emergency in Glasgow warms up. Talking endlessly about “green jobs” will even irritate members of his own party, many of whom have no issue with a Net Zero target but lots of problems with how the PM intends to get there.

📌 Sam sent her picture of Michelle’s trinkets and accessories, which adorn her mantelpiece at home.

Trinkets by Sam Jevon

MONDAY 16 As the Taliban lays down its latest version of totalitarianism in Afghanistan, a timely essay in The Conversationabout George Orwell reminds us that tyranny can take many forms and the ability to see it for what it is remains urgent

📌 The reverse side of a Muji cotton tote bag is blank. I managed to use this spare “canvas” to make Japan look exceptionally small.

Japan in stitches…

📌 TUESDAY 17 The pure excitement of learning is written on the face of the young Afghan schoolgirl. It is a moment in history.

📌 The St Luke’s Men’s Shed team agreed to my idea to build a modern totem pole as the community craft project we’re doing with the British Museum. We visited the museum today to get inspiration and a guided tour of the Japan collection from its curator.

Then we got free access to the current exhibition on Nero, which oddly brought to mind the Prime Minister. Maybe Nero’s lavish hairstyle was the link. Or his urge to get rid of people who irritated him (including mother and wife).

Nero’s haircut… what real leaders are made of…

WEDNESDAY 18 The Taliban leadership is trying to convince the rest of the world that it has changed and that its wicked ways are a thing of the past. The fact that the Taliban is engaging with the rest of the world is a new twist. Whether this is a ploy, and they intend to follow other Islamic states in a diplomatic taunting of the non-Islamic world, remains to be seen. Is the non-Islamic world fit for the game?

📌 I want to write a few more drabbles (single stories in exactly 100 words). Made a start with…

The deaf one was irritating. He shouted a lot. That’s understandable, but he was also a braggart, so his shoutings were especially annoying. I’ve got a new phone, you know. Takes pictures. Brilliant quality. I got this case for it off the internet. The clasp is magnetic. 

At the exhibition, Shouty was so shouty that everyone moved away as if he was a rogue stranger. He kept asking the quietly studious curator to speak up. He knew everything already anyway. 

It came as such a relief when he said he needed to catch the 2.42 train from King’s Cross.

📌 Sam’s curious picture of a girl with a cat curiously reminds me of someone.

Girl With Cat, be Sam Jevon

📌 Sean Lock, RIP.

THURSDAY 19 Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab apparently took a leaf out of his boss’s book and thought “sod that” when his counterpart in Afghanistan made the emergency call regarding the Taliban takeover. Raab was on holiday in Crete and did not want to be disturbed.

Read the full story here…

📌 Chris’s joke was, Q: “Why is there no Aspirin in the jungle? A: Because the parrot ate ’em all.

📌 Made a start on the massive 2m composite postage stamp we’re making for Project Cuba. I still hope to slip in a galleon or two when the opportunity arises, and a line from the Gibson Brothers song, Cuba: “Quiero bailar la salsa”.

📌 There’s a chicken shortage. Good job I’ve still got some left over from Tuesday, which will partner that ripe avocado perfectly.

FRIDAY 20 I think the taxpayers of Dover have been conned. The celebrated government climbdown on proposals to build a massive Customs clearance lorry park might be a trick. The original plan was for a site that could accommodate 1,200 vehicles. That number, say reports, has been scaled down to a meagre 96. But the area occupied by the lorry park has been downsized to 25% of the original. 96 is not 25% of 1,200. That is 300. Watch the thin end of that lorry-park wedge get fatter.

📌 In a rare moment of agreement we have managed to devise a system for dealing with the colossal amount of “stuff” we’ve managed to accumulate over the years. From now on, all the worldly goods we have in storage will be ranked and labelled according to its immediate fate. There are three categories: KEEP, SELL and DONATE. Items identified as KEEP will over time move to SELL, and SELL to DONATE, etc.

SATURDAY 21 The Mail is saying that evacuation flights from Afghanistan will end next week. Maybe Afghanistan is the reset-to-zero button on Britain’s foreign policy.

📌 August in Britain is known as the Silly Season because all the waged newsgatherers have gone on holiday and everyone else just tells jokes.

📌 In the opening pages of We Are Liars, by E. Lockhart, the narrator tells of the day she was ‘shot’ in the chest by her father, who then did a runner: “My heart spasmed among the peonies like a trout.”

📌 Mo Salah had a lovely left-foot goal disallowed by VAR.

SUNDAY 22 Government plans to capture and sell NHS data have been suspended after a mass online resistance campaign.

📌 Tony Blair is on dangerous ground preaching foreign policy, but it does look like Biden has stumbled in his rush to get America out of Afghanistan before the 20th Anniversary of 9/11.

📌 A withering analysis of the US surrendering its role in defence of liberal democracy and Britain’s global impotence, by Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer. “Mr Biden has sown doubt about the bankability of US security guarantees to other allies and undercut his hopes of co-ordinating the democracies to take a united stand against the autocracies.”

📌 Even though I’d much rather sit in a corner gawping at old episodes of Taskmaster, my wife insists that my birthday should include something novel and outward-looking. Today it’s horse racing at Brighton. The course is known as the Favourite’s Graveyard.

📌 The beer ran out before the second race started.

Brighton Races…

MONDAY 23 Prisoners on day-release forced to work in abattoirs sounds like the pitch for a new situation comedy.

Read the full story here…

📌 Liberty and Jake won Love Island, but they don’t actually appear to be in love.My wife renamed them Libertake.

📌 Our friend Sue is teaching English to a Polish guy who lives in Walsall.

TUESDAY 24 Twitter announced that Millie and Liam won Love Island. So where does that put Liberty and Jake? I really don’t know what’s going on. Milliam is a better name than Libertake, though

📌 An article in The Conversation says that the West needs to accept defeat in Afghanistan and look at ways to urgently re-engage with the new Pakistan/Taliban regime.

📌 Good Zoom meeting with the Art et al steering group. Me, Jen, Stacey, Sophie, Lisa and Sim in Australia. We churned over a few ideas for exhibitions and workshops for the British Council’s upcoming UK/AU season early next year. It all looks very exciting, so I’ll soon need to swap my Cuba hat for an Ozzie one.

📌 The Women’s Equality Party sent a message that sounds disturbing…

WEDNESDAY 25 The Morning Star says Tony Blair should be held accountable for his co-conspirator role in the latest calamity to befall Afghanistan.

📌 The totem pole we had planned to make as a community craft project with the British Museum is now likely to be three totem pillars instead.

Totem pillars waiting to happen…

📌 Gold thread is really quite hard to work with. This project demands clean type stitchwork, which I’m struggling with.

THURSDAY 26 The Labour Party’s relationship with the unions just got a whole lot more precarious. The new leader of the Unite union is A, a woman called Sharon, and B, determined to focus the union’s activities on the workplace rather than in the various bitching salons of the Labour Party.

📌 The Conversation tells us what it is that turns ordinary boring people into spies. The acronym to remember is MICE (Money, Ideology, Compromise, Ego). These are the weak spots that espionage head-hunters look for.

📌 HuffPostUK has a classic silly-season item about the pathetic excuses government officials use for being bad at their jobs. The PM’s once-supreme advisor Dominic Cummings claimed he drove his car to a nearby tourist attraction to “test” his eyesite, and Foreign Office chief Dominic Raab claimed recently that he was not sunbathing while the Taliban seized Kabul because his local beach in Crete was “closed”.

📌 Speculation has started on how long it will take the PM to prioritise lorry drivers in the Kabul airlift.

📌 In the Headway art studio, Project Cuba has been replaced by Project Book Front, in which a number of us will be making our own replicas of a wealthy publisher’s “iconic books”. The one I’m tackling is We Were Liars, by E Lockhart.

The native birds of Cuba…
A book about brain injury, or a tortured teenage love story?

FRIDAY 27 As soon as I read the quote, “This is not a war on golf” about proposals to use London’s golf courses in more imaginative ways (inc housing), two things sprang to mind. First was the headline “Golf War Syndrome”. Then came the image of the huddled masses of GWS sufferers in their gaudy golfing clobber advancing the nimby argument for the sport that ruins a good walk (apologies to Mark Twain).

📌 The Guardian argues that there is room for optimism in the election of Sharon Graham as leader of the Unite union. This finally could be the new face and the way forward for a union movement focused on agitation and real collective bargaining rather that in knee-jerk strikes and nasty confrontation.

📌 As the mad rush for the exit from Afghanistan reaches its climax, government ministers are reduced to depicting The Taliban as the cuddly moderates they can “negotiate” with. The new incarnation of Islamic State, IS-K, is the enemy now.

📌 Not for much longer will the PM be able to blame Britain’s empty supermarket shelves on the Pandemic, writes The Guardian. Brexit is a major cause, and the principal owner of that cause is Boris Johnson.

📌 Project Museum, a St Luke’s Men’s Shed craft partnership with the British Museum, is shaping up. The original idea for a community totem pole has been scaled back to three totem pillars on a table. I like its ancient monolith vibe.

Pillars of wisdom…

📌 A lovely programme on the radio about Jonathan Miller (made by his son William) posed the question of what happens to our memories when we die. Or more pertinently, what happens when dementia takes over and slowly they dissolve.

📌 To the Barbican to see a photo exhibition about the endangered Brazilian Yanomami community. I found it more anthropological and photo-technical than artistic. It had facts but no stories, and lacked affection. My wife noticed that none of the Amerindian men had grey hair or suffered baldness. Later inquiry confirmed that this hair thing is the subject of intense study.

SATURDAY 28 Paul Waugh writes in HuffPostUK, “As for the so-called ‘special relationship’ between the UK and US, the phrase feels even more of a polite fiction than usual.” This after news of dead Britons in the Kabul Airport bomb attack.

📌 The discovery of a new island off Greenland hints at the Earth’s past repeating itself.  As oceans swell and land disappears, polar ice melts or is shifted by earth movements, and previously hidden land masses are exposed. Whether humans will still be around to colonise and exploit these new territories as they have in the past is another question.

📌 In the mad, desperate dash to get out of Afghanistan, British officials left behind secret and confidential documents. Some reports describe them as being strewn across the floor of the British Embassy.

📌 Our estate’s Summer Picnic was a joyous event but for the noisy helicopters flying overhead tracking the activities of Extinction Rebellion campaigners in Smithfield.

SUNDAY 29 Rachel said yesterday that huge numbers of young people have become smokers. We wondered why that might be. Today The Guardian reports that e-cigarettes are being sold as yummy sweets and cute cartoon characters.

📌 Comparisons with Margaret Thatcher are potentially very damaging to the PM’s popularity  among older voters.

📌 Andrew Rawnsley paints a portrait of a Prime Minister already reaching his “use-by” date. He describes Boris Johnson as a “cakeist” and the rest of his party as stern fiscal conservatives, the most prominent and popular among them being his Chancellor and next-door neighbour Rishi Sunak.

📌 Michael Gove spotted at a rave in Aberdeen. You couldn’t make it up. What is equally absurd is that The Mirror thought the most important aspect of the story was that he was wearing a suit. A straight M&S polyester thing, not a suit of armour or a chicken-crossed-with-a-rat suit.

📌 When it came to the vote in the Brexit election of 2016, my heart said OUT but my head said IN.

Europe and the EU were never equivalents for me, anyway. British politicians had no skill in the sneaky bureaucracy of the likes of France and Germany. The pretence that the institution was open and democratic was a sham. It was a kingdom of fiddles and bribes. Many of my objections are described today in a piece on CNN about EU disunity.

So I wasn’t that upset when a NO vote resulted. But I did believe that an open, democratic and prosperous future for Britain was only possible if Britain stayed in the Union, won the argument and shared power in a responsible manner. In that sense, leaving the EU was an act of self-interested cowardice for a number of canny politicians and their tribal followers.

📌 Mark Steel is on top form today in a piece supporting the PM’s view that people should prosper from their own efforts rather than with handouts from others.

“If there was a ‘magic money tree’, even if you picked six £50 notes a minute it would only amount to £18,000 an hour. For David Cameron, a magic money tree would involve a cut in wages.”

MONDAY 30 Lou Grant, RIP. Another hero gone.

📌 I keep forgetting that normal things don’t happen on bank holidays.

📌 I’ve found some new gold thread that’s easier to work with. It slips slightly on linen, but it looks good. My favourite pastime now is sitting quietly, David Attenborough documentaries on the TV (muted with subtitles), stitching precisely to a pre-ordained pattern.

The letter e in gold thread…

📌 A friend returned from a home visit to Ireland.

And her 11-year-old son spent an hour asking Alexa to play fart noises. Alexa was happy to oblige and fart noises, fart songs and fart jokes will now become part of my Amazon algorithm.

TUESDAY 31 A nasty war of words has broken out between Britain and  its “special relationship” partner (the US). It’s an obscene bickering match over which country is more responsible for the deadly screw-ups in the evacuation of Kabul Airport.

📌 The separation of the Labour Party and the Trades Unions has been bubbling in the background ever since Keir Starmer became leader. If unions seek to disaffiliate from Labour, the Prosecco Party will soon need to think up a new name for itself.

📌 Recommended: lovely Edward Hopper slide-show.

📌 My best ideas always seem to arrive when I’m either in the bath or in the gym.

📌 RIP Geronimo, the bovine tubercular alpaca.

📌 Great simile in David Attenborough’s Blue Planet. When asked why he didn’t go faster, one of the underwater photographers said that “would be like riding a motorbike through a museum”.

📌 Sat down to read a Guardian editorial on quantum physics in the hope of better understanding what it’s all about. No such luck, but the article did reveal that recent studies have at last found a new way of interpreting Schrödinger’s Cat. Finally, someone’s decided to look at it from the cat’s point of view.

Read all of my scrapbook diaries…

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