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w/e 2019-09-29

This week seems to have rushed by. Some work, and no new music to report.


I had the first of several refresher driving lessons. It’s probably been 15 years or so since I last drove much and that was on holiday in the US, in an automatic on America’s wider, straighter roads. So, given I can see more driving in my future, I decided I should get some practice in with someone helpful.

Thankfully it went well! I had no idea what to expect. Just sitting in the driving seat of a car felt alien to me but I asked the instructor (from Holborn Driving School) to assume I knew nothing and he gently lead me into it and I successfully drove repeatedly left around a quiet square without mishap. As he put it, people think they lose the ability to drive, but they only lose the confidence. And the mechanics of it all did feel familiar once I got going and drove around north London. I mean, it’s still slightly nerve-wracking and feels more difficult than cycling – more things to keep an eye on, more things to do, less visibility of what’s happening around you, a faster speed, more potential to do damage – but hopefully it’ll continue to come back to me.


This week we finished watching season one of The Young Pope — Jude Law as an unlikely new pope — which was very good. Slow and calm and pretty, like a TV version of a European arthouse movie, which isn’t surprising given its creator, Paolo Sorrentino. I so wish there was more variety in style and feel when it comes to TV drama. There were times, especially early on, when it all felt quite arch and knowing, but then also moments when it became sincere and beautiful. I’m looking forward to the follow up with the addition of John Malkovich.


We’ve also watched State of the Union, ten short episodes of Rosamund Pike and Chris O’Dowd as a separated married couple meeting before their weekly marriage counselling sessions. It was good and it’s nice to see things that don’t feel obliged to fit into conventional TV lengths.

Nick Hornby’s dialogue is good (as are the performances) but I am a bit puzzled that someone who can obviously write well can only write about the same characters (at least, in the only fiction of his I’ve read/seen)… a grouchy, obsessive, self-absorbed man-child and a mature, intelligent, sensible, overly-patient woman. He (O’Dowd’s character) has a never-ending stream of failings (and, of course, often doesn’t recognise them as failings). But her only apparent fault is having had a brief affair. Mustn’t it get a bit boring writing about the same characters all the time?

One other tiny niggle… I can’t imagine these British city dwellers would walk out of their way to cross at a zebra crossing when there are no cars coming; they’d just cross straight over the road. I found this behaviour increasingly odd.


Usually I try to avoid the news during the day, only keeping up with events with a daily morning read of “the paper”. On Twitter — which I still read but try not to post to — I’ve muted keywords and people that would result in too much news seeping into my feed (apart from one private friend who does a great job in picking out good quotes and tweets).

But I’ve noticed that over the past few weeks I’ve been checking the headlines an increasing amount during the day. It reached a peak this week with the Supreme Court prorogation verdict and then the Prime Minister returning to the re-opened never-officially-closed House of Commons. I went as far as making a quick Twitter list of political and legal commentators to follow. On the one hand it was fascinating to read about events as they happened and I can see why people get obsessed with following everything live. On the other hand it really wasn’t good for me. The usual background feeling of helpless despair became an overbearing sense of hopeless anger and I had to stop reading that Twitter list. Never mind watching the House of Commons live, which was probably the most depressing point of the week. I can see an argument that I should feel overwhelmingly angry, and not try to keep my distance from events, that I will never do anything about anything if I only calmly read reports of the previous day. But, ugh, I despair.


For ages I’ve been meaning to take advantage of our local library’s collection of trade paperback comics, hampered only by my lack of knowledge about which ones I might like. If I was ever remotely in touch with the world of comics, it was a long time ago. Being me, it has occurred to me that I could work my way through all of them, alphabetically. (I won’t.)

But at some point in the past I’d noted down Fashion Beast and recently I saw it at the library, and it was good and interesting, as you might expect from Alan Moore and Malcolm McLaren, together at last, creating a fictional fashion house in a dystopian world.

Other suggestions for comics the library might have that I’d like (no superheroes ta) are welcome.


That’s all. Look after your brains, and step away if it all gets a bit much.