DAY 70: Fri 22 May

A guilty secret and more blasts from the past

Guilty secret? I have probably has some form of hay fever for a very long time. I have no idea what sets it off. I have to admit that half a dozen sneezes in the morning is the nearest thing I get to sexual pleasure these days, so I am not inclined to do much about it.

Incidentally, talking about personal health, I noticed the other day that I have those little white spots on my finger nails we knew as ‘Angel Kisses’ as kids. That was a puzzlingly benign name for what we were later told meant some sort of vitamin deficiency, particularly a lack calcium in your diet. I suppose their reappearance means that ice cream is not the best calcium supplement…

Managed to grapple with (for the fourth time thanks tho unstable technology) and finish reviewing my friend and colleague’s high falutin’ paper this morning. Why can’t academics describe the theories they come up with in simple language that everyone can understand. They don’t seem to appreciate that you only need a reading age of 7 to appreciate the tabloids, and 14 to enjoy the broadsheets. I can only assume that academics only want to share their ideas with fellow inhabitants of ivory towers.

It used to upset me when I was teaching at university that the material we produced for the journalism ethics charity MediaWise <> was dismissed by colleagues as “not peer previewed” and therefor irrelevant  to research impact assessments. Yet our stuff was being downloaded 2,000 times a month all over the world, with our handbook for UNICEF The Media and Children’s Rights running to three editions and translated into more than 20 languages. At the same time I served on the board of one academic journal which had only 18 paying subscribers. Talk about a world turned upside down.  

Quite accidentally I picked up on the bizarre life of author Louis de Wohl, a name I had not heard  for at least 50 years. I used to read his colourful biographies of great Catholic saints when I was in junior seminary back in the early 1960s (see <>) I never knew what an odd and colourful character he was. Somehow i thought he was American – probably because the first books of his I read were sent to me by my Uncle Tom McGuinness in New York. I never knew he was born in Berlin and got out before his anti-Nazi sympathies got him into trouble, nor that he was an astrologer with MI5. I didn’t even know that was thing! One of his tasks was to help forge a German horoscope magazine run by a mate of Goebbels, which was then dropped over Germany to freak out those who rely on such things He was a prolific author and screenwriter. His life and works could make a compelling mini-series…

No sign of the the boys at lunchtime for the final chapter of Culann, so  I amused myself with the popular challenge on Twitter of changing one letter to ruin a band. I came up with The Toe; The Sinks; Whim; The Mankeys; The Beach Toys; Small Feces; Smell faces; Piss; Ian Drury and the Blackheads; The Sex Pustils; Sour Tops; Talking Deads; The Foody Blues; Pratty Things.

Friends and family then came up with Humble Pee; Poxy Music; Stink; The Ham; Sadness; Slack Sabbath; Pike and Tuna Turner; Gums and Roses; Nuns and Roses Pretty Thongs; Rake That; The Slash. This one could run and run.

But desire the wind outside sou watering and gardening needs to be done.I picked the wrong day to move the climbing French beans.The wind had them over in no time.

I shall pass over Priti Patel’s No 10 presser. For some reason when the virus has been at its most virulent there have been no controls at airports, but now it appears to be easing off a compulsory two week quarantine is imposed (from 8 June) at pain of a £1,000 fine. She really is the least sympathetic of politicians and I can barely watch her performance. No sign of sincerity in anything she says, even when she closes by mentioning the victims of terror attacks.

When my house guest appears to prepare an Iftar of leftovers he tells me he thinks we have a little visitor behind the washing machine. So it looks like the mouse seen outside yesterday has moved in with us. I shall get a humane trap and find it a new hime. And I thought we were done with rodents!

Tomorrow afternoon we have a Zoom meeting with distant cousins I have never met in America. I must make sure I don’t mention Trump! But for now after watching Gogglebox, I shall settle down with Renoir’s La Bete Humaine made in 1938, again with Jean Gabin, based on Zola’s classic.

Last night I got hooked on the surprise Netflix series Shtisel – a soap set among Israel’s most Orthodox Jews – thinking there were just six episode. x It turns out there are two seasons with 12 episodes in each. I’m not sure I’ll last that long. And it is such a strange and rather sad milieu. 

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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