Tone Police, Politics & Crochet Projects

Having survived interrogation by the Tone Police (one of my many crimes and misdemeanours being the use of italics) I’ve begun to scale a new mountain of marking. Once in the zone, I enjoy it—and it’s well-paid. The problem with relentless bureaucratic nonsense is that it drains energy from important tasks and produces low level stress that’s unimportant enough to feel guilty about mentioning but impacts on efficiency. Academics (supposedly) are paid to think and if we can’t—or won’t—then we’re not doing our job.

It wasn’t all nonsense. My communication can get rather irate when high-status professionals are eroding disabled rights. I admitted that and promised to be more meek in future. (Stop laughing!) However, on top of the stress of being a carer, standing for Freedom Alliance in the May Scottish local council elections and being doxxed by a colleague for my views on political theatre and crochet, and the continuing assault on civil liberties by Big Pharma and associated technocracy, it was all a bit too much.

So I remembered the wise words of a physio friend, “motion is lotion”, and decided to continue using the lovely set of crochet hooks that the party Nominating Officer had lent me—and to make her a shawl.

12 crochet hooks ranging in size & colour in a black silk pouch with a dragonfly motif.

It may seem odd that someone with RSI would enjoy this craft, after all it is repetitious, however it doesn’t involve finger tapping (unlike almost everything else in modern life) and the twisting motion is good for my circulation. Fundamentally the rhythm of the work and the pleasure of crafty creativity is a very good antidote for stress.

I’ve previously made some tea cosies, following a very simple free pattern: a combination of single crochet and slip stitch.

White wool chunky tea cosy on a white China teapot

I’d also had one attempt at this shawl, for a family member who was very pleased with this flimsy lime green version. But a friend said the pineapple stitch looked more like Christmas baubles so I resolved to try a more compact format in a different colour.

Long and narrow flimsy lime green shawl crocheted in pineapple stitch, spread out on couch cushions.

I found I needed a brightly coloured tray or blanket underneath the work to see the black thread clearly.

Pineapple stitch centred on top of orange tray

To be honest I’m still a bit confused between double and half double crochet (especially as the UK and USA use the same terms for different stitches) but in this version the pineapples were certainly clearer. I continued on.

Long and narrow compact black shawl crocheted in pineapple stitch, spread out on couch cushions.

I was pleased with the finished version but being compact it had lost some length—and the edges were a bit irregular.

Black shawl showing compact pineapples clearly hanging off arm of tan coloured sofa

So I decided to attach tassels and found this YouTube tutorial a great help. As instructed, I used a CD cover for the loops.

Fiddling about with even small kitchen scissors was a pain until I swapped them for tiny sharp embroidery scissors. The first tassel looked okay and I continued.

The tassels on the two sides aren’t symmetrical because the patterns is different so I went with a quirky rather than a regular look.

Shawl shown with tassels along both sides, large pink crochet hook and small kitchen scissors at bottom and tiny gold embroidery scissors at top.

My friend, who is an artist and always appreciative of creative projects—however irregular—was delighted with the result and tried it on immediately. She insisted on gifting me her lovely set of crochet hooks and, as I also bagged some of her lovely skeins of wool, my next project is a green and black beanie for her hubby.

[Photos (c) Alan McManus 2022 may be used with a link to this blogpost]


The Real Greens

The trouble with the terms “greenwashing” and “pinkwashing” is that those using them may (perhaps) inadvertently do what they accuse others of doing: painting over structural issues that need to be addressed.

Pinkwashing is often used to denigrate the success of the LGBT community in Israel and there have been several aspects to this accusation:

  • Denying the issues faced by LGBT people in majority Muslim countries in general and in Palestine in particular.
  • Denying the freedoms won by the LGBT community in Israel.
  • Denying the possibility of a people under oppression to simultaneously oppress a community of their own.

Countering the first denial, Mark Segal of NY Daily News is quoted as stating:

If you have a need to prove your “wokeness” by assimilating with those who support the rape and death of LGBT people, you don’t know the meaning of LGBT liberation.

Countering the third denial, Al-Qaws, a group dedicated to gender and sexual diversity in Palestinian society, has a more nuanced statement:

Singling out incidents of homophobia in Palestinian society ignores the complexities of Israel’s colonisation and military occupation being a contributing factor to Palestinian LGBTQ oppression

My point is not to reduce the socio-political complexities to which the latter quote alludes to some kind of catchy soundbite but rather to emphasise that key word. Some issues aren’t simple—but that doesn’t mean they should be painted over in pink.

Or green. Cory Morningstar, on the blog Wrong Kind of Green, has written a detailed take-down of current media environmentalism entitled The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg. (For those who prefer listening to reading, there’s a beautifully-read podcast version.)

The reaction to greenwashing can also be rather simplistic and, similarly, has various aspects:

  • Denying the ecological issues of the planet
  • Denying the benevolent motivations of environmental protestors
  • Ignoring the possibility of both of the above co-existing with invented (or exaggerated) issues and with malevolent motivations

To stop communicating in double negatives, let me state clearly what I mean. While climatologists are divided on the question of there being a planetary temperature crisis caused by human (or animal) agency, no-one sane denies the obvious issues of air, land and water pollution by pesticides and other poisons and by plastics. Electromagnetic (high or low) frequency pollution is another source of concern.

Related issues are those of the cost-effectiveness of supposedly environmental alternative sources of energy and fuel—as well as the social impact of the market for conflict minerals (used in phones, laptops, solar panels and electric cars).

About all these issues my point is simple:

  • Unless supposedly progressive groups are prepared to grapple with the complexities of real intersectional oppression and liberation, they aren’t really progressive.

It’s not enough to pay attention to the wake-up calls of green celebrities; we also need to see beyond—to the marketisation of Africa and other repressive goals of the Great Reset.

It’s not enough to acknowledge the latter and ignore the very real problems of pollution.

It’s not enough to be aware of the dangers of Frankenfood and the sinister appropriation of the means of global food production by a very small group of plutocrats; we also need to acknowledge the unnatural and inhumane treatment of farmed animals—if not for their own sake then at least for the effect that their confinement, torture, forced assimilation of toxins and barbaric slaughter has on our own bodies and on our souls.

The so-called Green parties are allied with inhuman forces indifferent to the fate of most of the planet and its population—apart from some ecological pleasure parks strictly set aside for the elite. Let’s not pretend that meanwhile these plutocrats are all ethical vegans: they’re all guzzling meat pizza, fatty hamburgers and high sugar Coca-Cola.

In contrast, the resistance to global tyranny is full of people who eat healthily, exercise daily, participate voluntarily in various community projects and grow our own food.

We’re the real greens.

Cress growing out of soil held in a White male hand in front of the mesh cover of a plastic greenhouse.


While every single institution of higher learning that offers degrees in Scotland has rushed to assure the tiny number of Ukrainian (and some also the larger number of Russian) students and staff that the Scottish educational establishment cares for them and their loved ones back home, to my knowledge none of them have even mentioned the situation in Shanghai—now spreading to other regional Chinese cities.

There could be various reasons for this, including those ideological and economic, but unlike my colleague who presumed my motives in publicly called for me to be sacked for questioning the official WEF narrative on Ukraine (parroted by media outlets and exploited by Hollywood starlets, despite obvious discrepancies and stage management) I will not attempt to read minds.

Instead I reproduce a redacted series of messages I have received from an old friend living in Shanghai, about the harsh and inhumane lockdown there, starting mid-March 2022.

Sorry these have been crazy days, you might have heard but the whole China is going into these last-minute local lockdowns , shanghai keeps shutting down and opening residential districts every days …it’s a bit of a mess

My living compound was supposed to go into lockdown yesterday but instead they just came for a “voluntary “ test , and probably we will go into lockdown next week for the mass testing

Office compound went into lockdown two day ago and I had to rush to […] finish the work that could not be done at home, as I can’t go back there for 2 weeks at least

I’m home, with some groceries and frozen/canned food (but not stacked for like a nuclear like some people did …I have just a full fridge and some cupboard of dry food…) I have a new book ([…] ) and also I’m reading […] for the book club on Kindle , some videogames , pc for work , and a little space to do stretching (my home is very very small…)

But I keep going out for now, as lockdown here has not happened yet


I do a short meditation in the evening and journaling in the morning as a regular practice.

Nobody knows if their living compound will enter lockdown as they only announce it the evening before, so everyone is rushing stocking groceries and I had to do the same, but now it’s seems that each district of the cities will have different policies, who allows deliveries , who doesn’t , who allows walking dogs, who doesn’t , who allows going into common areas of the compound who doesn’t let the people out of their house door who installs sensors who makes daily census …it’s a total mess


[…] I’m always available as I’m locked at home

[…] I’m not feeling great and I need to rest

Ok no worries. Pls enjoy the Easter holidays . I’m home since end of March and not allowed to go out due to the strict lockdown. I’m fine but just scared of ending up in a quarantine center and that is affecting my mood but I keep it under control. I’d like to hear about your campaign.


I’m sorry, I cannot get through

Happy Easter to you too Alan !

I don’t think there is anything that could be done if not spreading the news of what is happening, so that the international exposure could force the local government into adopting more human measures

This article is very well written


Life in Shanghai is not so great at the moment.

Personally, I realized that being at home in good health is the greatest happiness in these days, and we can choose to embrace it and observe all the beautiful things that blossom from it.

A few months ago a friend who I reached out to in need of inner peace was so kind me to give me a Gratitude Journal, that since then became my morning practice with a warm tea or coffee, and it’s now what I gladly wake up to in these days of home routines.

I’m thankful for the food I have at home, but the other day during the queue for testing, an auntie of the compound gave me her homemade wonton “to take care of my health”. I cooked them, they’re not the best wonton I had and they’re a bit too starchy, but they felt like the best meal ever with some spicy peanuts sauce.

Work is not great at the moment and trying to maintain the normal workflow […] during heavy lockdowns, movement and travel restrictions around the whole China has proven to be difficult and stressful, but it’s teaching me resilience and confidence in problem-solving.

I have the chance to dive deeper in my readings, enjoying the quietness. I was so fascinated by the solemn and profound writing of […] that took me back to my high-school classical studies, I’m now marveling at […], and I’m looking forward to start […] from the monthly Book Club gathering we plan to have after the lockdown.

Several people reached out to me to ask my feedback on their activities, their work, their writings, their business, and I was happy to sit and provide my impressions in this newly found way of connecting with them. It’s a time to recollect, to plan, to reconsider, and I’m trying to do the same.

I regularly practice mindfulness without expecting anything from it, just for the practice itself, being it sitting 10 minutes to listen to by breathing and scanning my body, or […] that leaves me rested or healed.

I’m indulging in playing video-games on my dear […] in the evening to wind down and take my mind off things; I’ve finished […] (so emotional!) and now starting […] to satisfy my thirst for j-rpgs.

And yes, sometimes I sit on my small couch hugging my knees under a blanket and fear, anxieties, sadness rise. I allow them to be, let them make their course, and observe them subside after a while, breathing them out. They do not disappear and part of them stays with me, like a wave that comes and goes, slowly subsiding each time.

So, life in Shanghai is not so great at the moment, but it’s amazing how many ways we can find around ourselves to get through it.


I try to cope

I feel alone and lonely. […]


I don’t want to talk in a negative way


Hi Alan

Thanks for reaching out

No, things have gotten worse

They are fencing people in now. The objective is to clear the city of Covid by locking all the compounds where positive cases are found with fences . The communities will be punished for not being able to curb the infections , fenced communities will not be able to receive any kind of food delivery if not the government rations delivered by volunteers.

These two articles are very well written

Sorry, I had already sent you the austrianchina one

Anyway now the talks are about trying to open by end of May, but the situation will be in and off till October, when Xi Jinping will be re-elected. They won’t risk to change the policy until he is re-confirmed

Meanwhile Guangzhou, Beijing and around 40 other cities in China are starting mass testing, lockdowns etc

It is estimated that at the moment around 400millions Chinese people are under lockdown. The government is showing its force and they are only starting

I will write about it, I’m just trying to figure out what I want to write. I won’t do it to share the news, that is already happening . I need it to be personal

I haven’t heard from my friend in a week.

Cartoon male prisoner wearing grey with arrows behind steel bars on window opening in brick wall

Thanks to Dawn Hudson for releasing her image Prisoner into the Public Domain.