592

When Boris Johnson was mayor of London, the number of people sleeping rough in the capital soured and Johnson wasted almost £40M on a garden bridge project never built.   Vast sums and politics appear to be no more than a joke to the man largely responsible for this Brexit fiasco.

591

Red August. Mao plunges China into a decade of carnage. A woman’s apartment is ransacked. Guards shave her head and pummel her with a nail-studded plank  before slitting her throat. She’d worshipped Mao and left this world, feet bare and blue, heart filled with terror.

590

Headlines report that Syrian children are ‘pushed to the brink’ after the worst atrocities since war in Syria began: “Unprecedented number of children maimed, killed and recruited for combat roles in 2016”, says a Unicef report. What price will we pay for not taking in these children?

589

We have a centre-of-town garden where visitors include a green woodpecker, hedgehogs, lizards, passerines and someone who nicked a tree full of olives overnight.  Beasties, fungi and possibly the woodpecker are attacking the plum tree.  A caterpillar is attacking the neighbour’s box hedge so the neighbour sprays with pesticides banned in France.

588

Raspberries, fruit trees, rhubarb, berries & potatoes: the large scrub of garden we took on last year is slowly taking shape.  Bulbs appear in unlikely places and roses pruned hard back are blooming. A machine that shred branches is handy for making paths – the neighbours are appalled. They like gardens manicured & sterile.

587

25,000 children are stuck in makeshift refugee camps in freezing temperatures in Greece.  In Czechoslovakia in the 1930s, one man alone, Nicholas Winton, rescued 669 children who might otherwise have perished. What has changed that we no longer reach out to children in places like Syria, take a stand against tyrants and dictators?

586

Ken Clarke on Brexit: “I’ve never seen anything as mad or as chaotic as this”. The only Tory to vote against triggering article 50, his passionate pro-Europe speech made him an unlikely hero of the ‘Remain’ left. So how bad does he think Brexit could be? –  “A historic disaster.”

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585

Dandelion roots are ridiculously long and stubborn and it seems odd, when dandelion leaves sell so well at market, to spend sweltering Sunday afternoons uprooting them. We have enough to go into business, but I’m gripped by the desire to create a cottage garden and allotment full of fruit, & veg, not dandelions.

584

An estimated 40,000 child jockeys, are currently said to be riding in oil-rich Gulf States, trafficked from countries like India & Pakistan. Small and lightweight, boys as young as 2 have been taken to the Middle East to ride. Beaten, starved, strapped into their saddles, crippled, discarded. How often do they make the headlines?

583

Each time I’m in London, I’m amused to hear French spoken everywhere, to see Lycéens queuing for lunch at fancy restaurants wealthy Parisienne ex-pats in the V&A café while away their afternoon drinking wine, bitching, eating cake, as in the background the pianist from the sunk cruise liner Concordia plays…

582

Maths and I have an uneasy relationship but I get incredibly passionate about architecture, and Zaha Hadid’s design (modelled on a wind tunnel for a plane first flown in 1929) for the new Mathematics Gallery at the Science Museum is particularly seductive, all luscious curves, sensual colour & light.

581

More demonstrations. Thankfully. In 2014, when polls suggested Scotland might choose independence, Boris Johnson said, “we are on the verge of an utter catastrophe for this country … No one has thought any of this through.” As foreign secretary he’s changed that to: “we would be perfectly OK” if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.

580

A bilingual friend who acts, directs, writes and prints books in French applied for citizenship because he’s built a life in France & wants to stay here.  Application automatically rejected because he doesn’t have 1000€ regularly coming in to his account each month. Community spirit and culture don’t count – everything boils down to money.

579

Embarked on a graphic novel only to marvel at how much work is involved: they’re like little films – I’m storyboarder; costume-, set-, light- & sound designer; script editor, director… anything’s possible in a graphic novel.

578

Arthur Miller wrote that Marilyn Monroe, “was able to walk into a crowded room and spot anyone there who had lost parents as a child or had spent time in orphanages….There is a ‘do you like me?’ in an orphan’s eyes, an appeal of bottomless loneliness that no parented person can really know”.  Those old orphan attitudes, always on the outside looking in.

577

Britain’s highest earning MP (46-year old heir to an Irish baronetcy) finds time to edit a daily newspaper, advise fund managers (salary £650,000 pa), raise children, run two homes and undertake speaking engagement (15 of which earned him £800,000 last year). There’s also a book deal, which makes me wonder how many hours there are in an Osbourne day.