Sunday, March 15, 2020

Thoughts from Jávea, Valencia, Spain: 15.3.20

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.   
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain A terrible book, by the way. Don't be tempted to buy it,         unless you're a very religious Protestant.]

The Bloody Coronavirus
  • So, the expected more and wider travel restrictions duly arrived yesterday morning. Meaning, I'm not sure we'll be able to leave here next weekend, when our self-imposed quarantine is over.
  • Spain's situation is dire, with an R factor which means everyone infected passes on the virus to 3 others. This contrasts with the improvement in Italy, which, according to reports, has halved the rate of infection. See here on this.
  • On our beach in Jávea, the scene was very confusing yesterday morning. Despite the fact that the beaches were closed, there were surfers in the water, a couple of kids playing in the sand and a single person lying in the sun on a towel. The police were certainly there and, as ever in Spain, they were in several guises  - the civil guard, the regional force and the local force. The first were patrolling the promenade and, while ignoring the people on the beach, were compelling the owners of shops to close down. The second were fining a guy for parking half on the pavement, and the third were driving around, counselling people via loudspeakers to refrain from being antisocial by venturing out of doors other than to buy food or medications.
  • There seems now to be a de facto curfew in place, regardless of whether the Guardia Civil or the police can legally arrest you for walking in the street where there is no ATM, pharmacy or grocery store.
  • Needless to say, the events of Semana Santa are starting to be cancelled. which might well lead to some suicides.
  • This is the very supermarket we hurried to on Friday night. It seems to have been a good decision not to wait until 8.30 on Saturday morning.
  • Here's what you can and can't do here in Spain for at least the next 2 weeks. With thanks to The Local for making this free to view.
  • Medical advice from The Olive Press.
  • A worrying comment from Hernández Puente, the health labor union official: We have a very good Spanish health system, but we have the problem that it is fragmented between 17 regions and under the control of politicians who often do not wear the same party colours. But this is nowhere near as problematical as the US system, Or, rather the lack of it.
  • Finally, if you're morbid enough, you can follow all the statistics here, national and international.
Spanish Life
  • Even in - especially in? - times of crisis, we need to retain perspective.  Below is someone's list of reasonably priced great Iberian wines. I've spared you all except the first paragraph of the insane guff which always accompanies these recommendations.
  • And here's info on Spain's 10 best landscapes. Which I intend to see when all this is over. Assuming I haven't succumbed to the plague, of course. 
  • And there is some good news .
  • The other good news is that, cooped up like a chicken, 'wine o'clock' gets earlier every day.
The UK
  • Says a (permanently unimpressed) Richard North: Latterly we discover from the chief scientific adviser that the government's only aim is to reduce the peak of the epidemic, rather than bring it under control. This has the theoretical but unproven aim of reducing pressure on healthcare systems.  . . . Assuming a fairly conservative death rate of 1% of those exposed to the virus, the government is conspiring, as a matter of public policy, to engineer the deaths of at least half-a-million of its citizens. More here.
  • That Oval Office Address on coronavirus was terrifying because it revealed a man completely unmatched to the moment. Even though he was reading from a teleprompter, the president got the details of his major policy announcements wrong. He attempted no emotional connection with or comfort of the tens of millions of Americans whose lives are being upended by the threat of the disease. He didn’t even have anything useful to say about what his own top scientist has described as America’s “failing” testing regime, which has screened about as many people all year as South Korea does in a day. In a presidency accustomed to lows, this one was quite literally sickening.
  • At some point in the future  . . . The pandemic will intersect with Trump’s authoritarian impulses in truly frightening ways.  A claim which might not have been believable 2 years ago.
  • For light relief, see Trump's diary for the last week below.
The Way of the World
  • It's an ill wind . . . .The sectors said to be benefitting from the pandemic are:- 
  1. Luggage delivery
  2. Home workouts
  3. Digital streaming services
  4. Frozen food and freezers
  5. Food deliveries 
 Nutters Corner 
  • Christian conspiracy theorist Mark Taylor is no stranger to “too ludicrous to be remotely possible” paranoia. His latest delusion is no exception. He said on a recent episode of The MC Files that the coronavirus was just a cover story Donald Trump was using to distract everyone while he arrested hordes of journalists, business leaders, and others in the media who are part of a large satanic pedophile ring.  
  • Words of the day:-
  1. Pinacoteca: Art/picture gallery.
  2. Zozobra: Anxiety; Distress; Capsizing
  • Funeral companies: Now 'The death management industry'
Finally . . . 
  • I woke this morning to the cacophony of several seagulls and - even in my dozed state - the thought occurred to me that they're being deprived of their normal food scraps from outside restaurants and bars. The poor things will have to revert to catching fish, unless they've evolved to the point where they no longer know how to do this. In which case, the noisy bastards will just have to die.


  • Cune Rioja Barrel-Fermented 2018(13%). Everyone always forgets about white rioja. This one’s made from viura that has been fermented and aged in American oak and the style is all about the wood – a flow of vanilla, the smell of distant stocks (as in the flower) and beeswax. 
  • Old Vine Garnacha Campo de Borja 2018  (14%) 
  • Ceprel Rioja Reserva 2015  (13.5%, Lidl)
  • Pleno Tempranillo 201814%)
  • Old Hands Organic Monastrell Joven Yecla 2018  (14%)
  • Matsu El Picaro Tinta de Toro Tempranillo 2019 (14.5%)
  • El Duque de Miralta Rioja Crianza 2015 Spain  (13.5%)
  • Crasto Douro 2018 Portugal 814.5%)
  • AltoLandon Bobal Extreme 2018 
My Week: Donald Trump*


“The thing is,” I say, scooping up the burger that has fallen on to my shoe and sticking it back into the bun, “I’m a germaphobe.”

“Yes sir,” says Veep Mike, who is a good man. Which is why I’ve put him in charge of the coronavirus response. And also why he’s with me right now. In the bathroom.

“So I’d know,” I go on, “if there was any reason to be worried, and I’m the least worried. The American people are in great hands. Also, big hands.”

“The biggest,” says Mike.

Then I look at my hands, and I lick a bit of ketchup off one of them. Then Mike brings up his new virus taskforce, says he’s still trying to figure out who should be on it.

“Obviously Jared,” I say.

“Obviously,” says Mike.

“And my chiropodist,” I say, “is excellent.”

That’s when I notice there’s still a bit of sauce behind my thumb.

“Get that would you, Mike?” I say.

Mike licks it off.

“So much fuss,” I say, “about nothing.”


Today I’m meeting with a buncha health experts. Yesterday, they’re saying, tests identified hardly any cases. Today, likewise. Which I think shows our approach is a triumph. Although one of the experts says it also might be because we’re not doing much testing.

“But why would we,” I ask, “when there are so few cases?”

The expert closes his eyes.

“I’m great at this stuff,” I tell him. “I coulda been an epididymis.”

He snorts.

“You could have been an epidemiologist,” he corrects me.

“You agree!” I say. “Tell people.”

Then we start talking about strategies. Mainly, they say, it’s all about washing. Also, social distancing.

“As in,” one of them explains, “staying away from people. Even family.”

“I’ll suggest that to Melania,” I say. “If she ever comes back from New York.”


My fellow Americans. As of Friday, we are going to close our borders to people from Europe. Except for Britain, because in my experience that’s mainly just golf courses. Be in no doubt that this will also affect trade.

Or will it? Maybe I meant it won’t. Don’t focus on this bit. I’ll fix it later with a tweet. But the important point is that I am taking a bold stand against a foreign virus that is not my fault. And which true Americans will not get. Except for some losers and haters who do, but just to embarrass me. So transparent! I think that covers it. Is this thing still on?


Some of my enemies are talking about the stock market crash like it’s a bad thing. But never before have shares been so affordable for Americans.

Nobody thanks me. Sad!

Today, I am meeting Leo Varadthingy who is the Teathingy of Ireland.

Actually I’m pronouncing those words very well. And I’m telling him that we didn’t include his people in the travel ban, because they’re basically the UK, too.

“Excuse me?” he says, and I back away, because I think he’s about to sneeze. Gross!

After that it’s time for him to go, and we have to decide what to do instead of a shake.

“There’s this,” I say, putting my hands together. “Or the bow, like the Japanese. Or maybe we could do the Eskimo thing.”

“Definitely not the Eskimo thing,” he says.

“You’re not thinking straight,” I tell him. “It’s perfect. No hands.”


So now some Brazilian guy who was here last week has been told he’s got it. But Mike Pence skypes me straight away and says there’s absolutely no reason to be worried.

“I wasn’t,” I say, “because I’m very strong. Even in a germ way.”

Then I ask Mike where he is calling from, and he says Texas. So I say it’s a weird coincidence that they have the same curtains there as he has in his office, and he just shrugs. Then I think of how the next few months are going to be, and I sigh.

“It’s so unfair,” I say. “I just wish this could be happening to another president!”

“Oh I think everyone wishes that,” says Mike.

*according to Hugo Rifkind


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