DAY 83: Thurs 4 June

Hurrah for some rain! I can spend time indoors.

Today my mother would have been 102 had she survived. But she died 50 years ago leaving 8 children who are all still with is, thank goodness. I shall raise a glass to her this evening, as I do each year on the anniversary of her death on All Hallows Eve. I sincerely hope we shall not still be in lockdown by then.

Really powerful interview on Sky News with Jamelia by Kate Burley about racism, and the need for white people to take action . “It’s about dismantling systemic racism from the inside. There are knees on the necks of black people every day up and down the country.” And when asked about her thoughts on Trump, she snorted: “I have no thoughts on President Trump.

Here is one of many strong and moving statements made by black people in Britain and America. Benjamin Zephaniah’s words especially poignant reminding people that the colour of his skin was the reason he was stopped by the police as a child and as a man in his 60s. Nothing has changed since he was railing against injustice when I first saw him at the Half Moon Theatre in Stepney so many years ago. There are stories I could tell, but for now I would love everyone to hear Jamelia’s forthright challenge,

My second Malcolm Playce column Black Moments describes a couple of incidents that illustrate situations people of colour face every day.

Melon and instant coffee for breakfast, just for the sake of something different. But I still needed a bowl of muesli later. Feeling much better today but my right eye still feels achey. I wonder what it is. I catch up on the Dispatches programme about the government’s (mis)handling of the coronavirus pandemic. There was nothing to inspire confidence – and I worry that they will use the time between now and the public inquiry which must come to launder their incompetence and blame others.

Pottering about again. A bit of gardening; some writing; quite a few phone  calls including brief FaceTime chat with Grandson No. 1. Oh, and I spent time in the kitchen. Plus hanging around Twitter too much. Maybe this is how I should write up my diary in future. Short factual sentences and a lot less prattling on about things. I am not sure the entries would be more interesting, but they would take up less of my time.

Smoothie-chops Grant Shapps is up on his hind legs for the No 10 briefing, trying to be up beat about the braveness world we can all look forward to with electric cars and lots of bikes and masked men, women and children on public transport. Deaths are down, he tells us. But you have to watch the small print on all the slides – it is difficult enough on a big screen, so I imagine many people will not even be able to see there are footnotes on old-style TVs. They let you know that the mortality rate is at least 10,000 more than the government announces each day; but other experts warn that doubling the figures given out is a more accurate statiistic. 

But good old Grant Shapps (the man who hid behind pseudonyms to avoid admitting he had a second job while an MP, got blacklisted by Google over copyright breaches on a series of his websites, and has been hauled over the coals for several other bits of dodgy dealing) decided that honesty wa the best policy today. He admitted that the vastly increased number of tests recorded on the scoreboard included not only tests that had taken place, but also those that had simply been put in the post. If you do decide to buy an electric car after lockdown, this is another salesman to avoid. 

Had I not been in lockdown I am sure I would have joined fellow Bristolians who gathered in nearby Eastville Park – the People’s Park set up in the Victorian era – then paraded down to College Green in front of the Council House know known as the Americanised City Hall, where they lay face down for 9 minutes in solidarity with the the Black Lives Matter movement. A powerful symbol of support for all those who have lost their lives at the hands of uncaring and inhumane authorities whose primary task is to protect people and uphold the rule of law.

Meanwhile our street has agreed to continue clapping for the NHS. after which I intend to have supper. I shall start with a sliver of smoked salmon washed own with a wee dram of Laphroaig in honour of my mum. (I have no Irish whiskey at the moment or I would make an Irish coffee. My father and my brother and I had one on the way home from the hospital to tell my siblings that mother had gone. I have one every year on the anniversary of her death.) 

My main course will be a lamb and mint pie with mash and black kale and peas from the garden while I start watching Chernobyl . It has come recommended and I shall be able to see what the fuss is about before the awards are handed out. I hope my aching eyes will hold out for a couple of episodes. Mind you I still have some sub-editing to do! Which should come first? The decision is made for me – my dinner is ready,

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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