More first-hand accounts are emerging from Tonga.
Cassetteboy on Boris Johnson’s latest woes. Led By Donkeys on same. What happened to non-Boris-Johnsons who broke lockdown rules. Most have no idea about the set-up of 10 Downing St. Let’s assume he’s going. What then?
The Federal President of Germany (PDF in English) on The Conference: “Bureaucratic and political structures can only resist their misuse as long as there is a stable, democratic constitution that keeps an equally stable government from slipping over the edge into the ideological abyss.”
The news of a volcanic eruption in Tonga a week ago threatened to monopolize my attention during a typically busy start of semester; more than news of increasing Covid hospitalizations in the UK, Boris Johnson’s blatant attempts to distract attention from his political plight, Vladimir Putin’s imminent invasion of Ukraine, or Brexit-caused miles-long lorry queues at Dover and Calais. While I was engaging with new students on two different courses and marking and moderating assignments from two more, my mind kept returning to my own postgraduate years, which involved studying and writing about Tonga throughout the 1990s and spending two months there in 1993. Anyone knowing the country will have been taken aback at the sight of the satellite image of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai’s ash cloud.
Taken by the Japanese weather satellite Himawari-8, 15 January 2022.
I spent the final few months of last year gradually working my way through my negatives from late 1997, when I was a visiting scholar at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand—one of the happiest periods of my life, which made revisiting it in 2021 a poignant exercise. J. and I spent our weekends exploring the city and its South Island surrounds, making trips west to Greymouth, south to Dunedin and north to Hanmer Springs and the Marlborough Sounds, discovering for ourselves one of the most beautiful places on earth a few years before Peter Jackson showed it off to the world in The Fellowship of the Ring.
Happy new year (we hope). The theme this year is chains, as befitting this restricted time, from a set of photos of a giant rusty chain that I took in Shetland and hadn’t found a use for yet. Tune in every month for a new lump of iron.
The pandemic made this another tough year, especially in its early months of lockdown. A brief window of hope in the summer was ended by family Covid infections and periods of self-isolation in August/September and December. There were some new galleries at Detail, most of them of old photos because of the relative lack of new travel, and the usual links and random observation. Here’s the year and its category archives, and here’s a gallery of the banner source images.
We had a faint positive lateral-flow test in the family last Saturday and so have to self–isolate until next Tuesday, despite negative PCRs all round and no definitive Covid symptoms (although with Omicron it’s harder to tell). The chance of false positive LFTs is low, so we have to assume this one wasn’t, and Track and Trace want us to isolate either way, even with negative PCRs and multiple jabs. It’s not how we would have liked to spend the week running up to Christmas, but the rapid rise in cases was already putting paid to those plans; everyone here seems to have entered voluntary de facto lockdown in lieu of actual lockdown. The street has been unnaturally quiet all week.
What a fitting end to another difficult year. Looks as if January 2022 won’t be much better either. Hope you and yours can keep safe.
Leunig, wellness, and wokeness. It’s been heartbreaking watching these developments over recent years. Like many Melbourne-adjacent Australians, his work has meant a lot to me. I’m trying to hang onto the good elements while reassessing the ones that Moore has highlighted.
I watched the last part of Get Back on Sunday, after working through the others during the week an hour or two at a time. By then I’d already reached the point where I didn’t want it to end, and an eight-hour cut felt too short. The first instalment at Twickenham was sometimes uncomfortable (seeing Paul belittle George without realising he had, and what followed), but the second restored the balance, with moments of pure joy in its final hour: the sense of what good friends they really were, and what good people they all, at the bottom of it, even on the cusp of the band’s dissolution, were, was profoundly moving. The full rooftop performance in Part Three only cemented that impression.
I spent the summer that I turned twenty-one obsessed with Mark Lewisohn’s newly released The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, and this has taken me right back to it: somehow all of their genius and personalities have been captured in these few weeks of fly-on-the-wall recordings and what Peter Jackson has been able to do with them. A wonderful artifact.