13/12/2020

A View from Crazy Town

Chris Dell, Washington, D.C.

It's Official!

 

The Republican Party is now certifiable and has sought the imprimatur of the Supreme Court to prove it. In the words of Dear Leader, "this is the big one!"

 

And He would know. After losing 55 of the 56 court cases His Defenders have filed, and seeing their Totally Accurate Accusations refuted at every turn over the lack piddling details like evidence, Team Dear Leader is down to its final few cards. Luckily those inventive folks in Texas have developed an entirely unprecedented constitutional theory that alleges their right to seek legal recourse for damages suffered at the hands of other states which had the temerity, the gall, the sheer effrontery, to cast their votes in favor of He Who Shall Not Be Named. This, it is alleged, has caused untold harm and suffering to the Faithful of Texas, whose well-being and emotional balance can only be restored by seeing the votes of those Faithless states tossed out by the Court and Dear Leader's Ultimate Apotheosis acknowledged shortly before we all enjoy The Rapture. Sensing that their moment was at hand, seventeen other states have leapt aboard the Texas Crazy Train to lend their support, as have a majority of Republican congressmen. After reportedly suffering weeks of depression over the Betrayal, Dear Leader has been overheard whistling jolly show tunes and planning for the installation of the new curtains in The Oval. (After her repeated triumphs designing four memorable Christmas decoration installations at the White House and ripping out the historic Rose Garden in favor of a re-design much more in keeping with the spirit and taste of the atrium decor at The Mall of America, Mrs. Dear Leader has graciously agreed to lend Her special touch to the refreshing. Several pounds of gold leaf are on order to tart up the dull browns of the famous Resolution desk in the Oval Office, originally a gift from Queen Victoria, whose tastes have long been acknowledged by The Best People, to be too simple and "traditional." It's widely agreed that something on the lines of Late Saddam is much more in keeping with the spirit of modern authoritarianism).

 

However, before we stray too far into dreams of gold faucets and fixtures, we must get back to the real Crazy. The attorney general of Texas, the genius who developed this novel constitutional theory, is one Ken Paxton, a name probably not familiar to you, Gentle Reader, unless you are given to perusing the legal filings of the Fifth Circuit court. Or wanted posters at the Post Office. Mr. Paxton, it would seem, is the subject of multiple investigations at both the state and federal levels and those miscreants at the FBI are reported to be rummaging through Ken's trash looking for proof of wrongdoing. How noble, how selfless, how dedicated is Ken, to spare a thought for Dear Leader in the midst of his own trials and tribulations! Ah, but the more cynical Gentle Reader among you might say, doesn't this suggest the merest whiff of quid pro quo? Can't Dear Leader make all of the good Ken's legal woes vanish with the mere stroke of the presidential pardon pen (recalling, no doubt, the tale of Corn, Cob and Flynn from last week)? Sadly, no. Dear Leader can only provide relief from Federal pain. The state case in Texas will go on. Which proves that Ken has no ulterior motives of any kind, merely full-on dedication to His Triumph. Q.E.D.

 

You might have thought that all this was a surefire way for Ken to claim the title of Crazy of the Week. Indeed, one legal scholar was even quoted thusly: "It looks like we have a new leader in the 'craziest lawsuit filed to purportedly challenge the election' category." But both you and Prof. Vladeck would be wrong. Yet again, you have made the mistake of misunderestimating, as a former Dear Leader was given to saying, the ever estimable Rudy G. Even while hospitalized with COVID, Rudy found a way to keep the Crazy focused on himself. First up, Melissa Carone, Rudy's co-star last week. This week it was revealed by the Fake News Lamestream Media, that in a younger day and earlier career, Melissa kept the spotlight focused on herself by dancing at a gentlemen's club called the Bada Bing. No, not THAT one, but a clone in Michigan. Or Minnesota. (All those boring Midwestern "M" states are hard to keep straight, something that's troubled Dear Leader's lawyers and their court filings too.) In a more recent career evolution, it seems Melissa made tapes of herself having sex with her beau and then sending the tapes to said beau's ex. All of which landed her in a spot of legal bother as, sadly, it is the time-honored fate of true artists to be misunderstood. Which is why poor Melissa has had to re-invent herself again as a mere, prosaic computer expert and electoral authority.

 

With that as the appetizer, Rudy then brought on the main course. After his release from hospital, Rudy reminded us that life, and indeed history, move in circles. Or at least news cycles. Echoing no less an authority than Dear Leader Himself, Rudy announced to a relieved nation that he'd received treatments for COVID not generally available to the public, Faithful or Faithless alike. Echoing the words of Dear Leader, Rudy told a radio station in his home town "If it wasn't me, I wouldn't have been put in a hospital frankly. Sometimes when you're a celebrity, they're worried if something happens to you they're going to examine it more carefully, and do everything right." Yes folks, that's right, on a day when 3000 other Americans not famous enough to get special treatment died from COVID, Rudy G. marched boldly forth where no one before had been Crazy enough to tread, saying the quiet part out loud - Celebrity is the new power. Power is everything. And there's no bigger Celebrity than Dear Leader. To which the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, cried as with one voice, in exuberant, Crazy Chorus, "amen."

13/12/2020

Bookbinding

John Underwood, Norfolk

All quiet on the home front.

 

We have been very quiet this week, feeling rather low because of the death of a friend (not COVID related, but a sad loss at a difficult time).

I have been busying myself with decorating our bedroom which has what estate agents these days call a “vaulted ceiling” but we would call “a roof”. It has involved erecting our scaffolding tower (best bit of kit I ever bought),

after lugging it up stairs, and reversing the procedure after painting. I moved down to the floor today - the original oak floor inserted in the mid c17th we think-  to refresh it after nine years of use. The wood is astonishingly hard, and in wide rough planks held down with handmade nails. When we first cleaned it up, I burned out a floor sander, and a carpenter doing repairs destroyed three router bits trying to cut patches.

Business has been steady rather than spectacular, and we have sold several bits and pieces, none of them book related, and bought some chapbooks. We are trying to gather a complete set of halfpenny chapbooks produced for children, printed in York in the 1820’s. It seems a lockdownish sort of thing to do. I am rather interested in how the printer used the woodblock illustrations. Quite a few do not relate to the text in any obvious way, some were reused for cover illustrations, or repeated in different chapbooks, and when I find some time I will chart the woodcuts and where they appear. The fact that the tiny little books have survived at all seems miraculous; that they have survived in almost new condition more so.

In the world outside, the first few older folk are enjoying their fifteen minutes of fame by being the first people to be inoculated, after the thousands of volunteers who have participated in trials over the past months - rather brave and selfless people I feel. Various conspiracy theories seem to be circulating about the vaccination program. I saw one young woman on the television news saying that she had heard that the government was secretly adding things to the vaccinations.

You can only hope they are injecting us with a serum which provides immunity to the no-deal-Brexit disaster that might be about to befall us. But not to worry, hedge fund managers will be making wads of cash out of it, so that’s all right then.

13/12/2020

My feelings on paper

Barbara Warsop, Sheffield, Yorkshire

During this time before Christmas I am feeling a little maudlin and angry, all emotions coming to the fore.

 

Thinking of Catherine and my daughters going through the change of life.

I am over that thank goodness 

 

A Woman's Lot - Sods Law

Just when our children are going through teenage problems, when parents may need looking after or we are needed to babysit grandchildren, women are going through the change of life, suffering a cruel natural occurrence. 

 

RANT On this year of the Covid

I have been watching a lot of TV since my fall, the icy mornings, cold, wet and cloudy days. make me wish to stay in.

As I watch the adverts between program's for children's Christmas toys. My mind boggles at the prices of some of them. Who are these adverts targeting. With so much expensive plastic. Yes all destined for the mountain thats built up since the 1950s. One of the toys priced at over £100 per item.  

With lock down, so many people are reliant on food banks or are on furlow or have lost their job.

How could they afford these things.

Also every other program is about food and the luxury items to eat or bake. When some children are not getting enough food. What a society we are living in, all geared for profit and capital gain.

 

I walked past my local pub just to post my cards and had to do a double take. It was all boarded up and that really brought it home to me, I walked home feeling more depressed than ever.

 

Happy Christmas Everyone. 

A knock on my door yesterday cheered me up. A neighbor has organised a carol sing every Thursday night like when we clapped the NHS. We went out at 8 pm and sang Hark the Herald Angels Sing, at social distance in the rain.  

Meanwhile Boris's hair becomes as unruly as his negotiations with Brexit.

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13/12/2020

Home Thoughts

Hilary Q, North Norfolk

STOP PRESS... and in haste... Finished and delivered ALL craft assignments and Martin traversed the Tier 3 Valley of Death to collect my 89 year old mother from Liverpool. She arrived yesterday and we shall spend the next several days learning to live together harmoniously again... she is forbidden from saying ‘sorry’ or that she is a nuisance!

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13/12/2020

Then and Now

Peter Scupham

The Heart of Things

 

Slowly, the old house has pulled the night

about its bones, and wears it like a shawl.

Tonight, we sit here deeply by a fire

which warms the stretch of all those hands

the house wore down to skin and bone,

 

its flames the pulse beneath these coverlets

of paint and plaster; they talk of life

in that soft whisper and collapsing glow

which tells us how the dark and light are one,

in a soft bandaging of tears and laughter,

 

and lamplight rippling at the window pane,

watches time hovering about the room

in streak and bauble, scrats of winter weather.

And look, the cat sings to its ghost, ears cocked,

eyes bright from seeing into the heart of things.

13/12/2020

Rural Norfolk

Chris Gates, Norfolk UK

Monday and a day of false starts: 

though the vaccine is here and 9 Vaccination Centres appointed, none have been administered yet. And, having announced the over-80’s will be in the first group along with Care Home residents and staff, late on Monday comes the slight row-back that those over 80 shouldn’t feel overlooked if no invitation comes as it’ll be January before there’s any real action.

Then there’s the final throes of Brexit negotiations which a) don’t seem to be getting anywhere and b) if they do, the claim is immediately contradicted by the other side for fear that they look weak.

My own false start was to sit in the sunshine at Potter Heigham with a portion of chips, only to be mobbed by seagulls making elegant snacking impossible. I flailed around a bit, retreated to the car, but then went to investigate a clamour and found a family happily feeding huge numbers of gulls, ducks, geese and the odd swan, just near Herbert Woods ‘docks‘, over the road from where I’d been. They (the family) and the birds were equally excited, and as a result the canopies of many HW boats are liberally guanoed. By the birds, just the birds.

Otherwise, this epicentre of Norfolk Broadland boating was, well, vacant.

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Tuesday and we wake to two Covid nuggets: brightly, spectactularly, the first inoculation at 6.30am - that’s ‘the first anywhere in the world’ says the News... well, except I guess, those who took part in the testing programme, there’s a few thousand of them. Anyway, Maggie Keenan (90) was understandably pleased. Excitingly, the second recipient was one William Shakespeare (456), a gift which encouraged the extravagantly named Lottie Tiplady-Bishop of the Sun (no, I don’t buy it, really I don’t  - I saw this on Twitter) the headline: “All’s Well That Ends Well.” As if anything has ended yet.

And darkly, in the past week the US reaches the very unwelcome milestone of 1,000,000 new infections. Now, I don’t often stray into International Covid, but can’t resist: Trump is incandescent that the UK fast-tracked vaccine approval and his FDA hasn’t, we’re jabbing and they aren’t. He’s thrown a wobbly and ordered it done.

Here in Norfolk UK the infection rate has increased to 99/100,000 with a spike in Yarmouth to 120/100,000 up from 66 - but thankfully we’re still below the national average of 148. Blimey, that’s a breathless swirl of numbers.

On the downside, we’re losing a lot of turkeys to bird flu.

A week may be a long time in Politics - 48 hours is in Covidland: come Wednesday our local hospitals are up and running with jabs for the over eighties and Care Home staff - not sure if residents are included at the mo, but terrific progress.

 

Friday - and Boris has been taking charge of Brexit, attempting the apparently impossible by dining out in Brussels, no doubt giving the impression we want separation on our terms while simultaneously appearing on our screens saying Australian Terms wouldn’t be so bad if all else fails. This provoked the one-time Australian  PM Malcolm Turnbull to comment Australia’s deal with the EU is “not one Britain would want, frankly”.

Sigh.

13/12/2020

Corona Diary

Annabel, A village in North Norfolk

Bossy and Needy

Vaccines and Brexit. 

Not much to report in my world. 

Dame Barbara Windsor died yesterday.

There was a lovely photograph of Kate and Wills quietly sitting on a platform in masks and coats on their 3 day tour of the UK on the Royal Train to thank key workers on the front line during the pandemic. They were criticised for going on this tour!

This week Matt Hancock pretended to half cry on the news, overcome by emotion as the first couple of people were vaccinated, the second man being octogenerian William Shakespeare. In all fairness he must have had an exhausting and dreadful year.

The first vaccines are being rolled out now which is really rather incredible. My mum will be in the elderly group but I don't think she has a date yet. 

Boris and gang have been in battle with the intransigent EU. We’re heading for a No Deal in three weeks. A disaster. God knows what’s going to happen after Christmas.

To be honest I’ve zoned out of the news, it all goes over my head and my ears close.

 

Last weekend after the two busy days painting grafitti and then 2 manic days in the shop dealing with some nice but other impatient customers I was exhausted and went off to a fictitious town in Netflix world and watched drivel on my lap top. It was lovely.

Met my friend Raff for a coffee in a cafe on Wednesday so I could give her Christmas present which needs to be planted out now and we sat outside in the freezing cold but a major excitement going out for a coffee. Earnie stared at her Danish pastry with such intensity until she gave him some. A man sat down at a table quite a way away and Earnie sat and stared at him eating his scotch egg. He was pleased to go out and see people as well.

He’s lying on the floor next to me on his back having his tummy tickled.

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Last night I got out some of the Christmas presents I’ve bought and also various boxes I've being saving up for the purpose. Royal Mail are going to make a fortune out of me this year with all the parcels that have to be sent out instead of being delivered to friends and family in person. I hate wrapping things up. Some people are brilliant at it but not me. Think I’m going to graffiti the wrapping paper with my new found skills.

 

A huge order of my fabric arrived so I’ve been slowly dealing with that and sending off orders and going through rolls to send to my sewing lady Jenny for cushions and face masks etc.

Today I had to do more graffiti numbers at the Street Feast restaurant.  One builder Nick who I know quite well introduced me to the maintenance man as This is Annabel, she’s Bossy and Needy.

AT 5.30 as some of the 320 bookings arrived, Nick was trying to dry the wet paint for me with his heat torch. I told you you were bossy and needy he said!

 

Hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Love Annabel xxx

13/12/2020

From the Editor

Margaret, Norfolk

Looking ahead to the Christmas edition of this journal, please note the following changes. Despite Christmas Day being on a Friday, Sheila aims to get that week’s edition published by the usual time of Sunday morning , BUT it means that we need all submissions two days early, by 3pm on WEDNESDAY 23rd. Make a note! I’ll remind you next week!

 

Also, several of you expressed an interest in joining us by Zoom on Christmas Eve for Peter’s reading of the Tailor of Gloucester, but I didn’t make a list. If you are interested do make sure I have your name and email, and I’ll let you know more next week. 

 

In the garden things keep growing and even flowering: cow parsley, choisya... and now my May flowering ceanothus is covered in buds and small flowers. Even the natural world is confused.

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That’s all for now... like Annabel, I’m feeling news-fatigued.  

The title of a book by one of my favourite authors, Kate Atkinson, floats into my head:
When  will there be Good News?

 

Stay safe, stay cheerful!