Monday, March 23, 2020

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 22.3.20

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 Coronavirus 

Last night. I read a truly apocalyptic warning from a US expert but I've decided not to cite it here. Instead I'm going to concentrate on what good news there is, such as it is:-
  • British engineering companies have responded well to requests to shift production to ventilators.
  • In the UK, teams of engineers, doctors and scientists have teamed up online in an effort to prevent shortages of equipment.
  • New 'simple' antibody tests are promised 'within a few weeks", allowing people to know if they've either got or (better) have had the disease and acquired immunity.
  • The British government has announced a £20 million investment to study the genome of Covid-19 and better understand its spread. Similar investments are surely taking place in other countries too.
  • China is recovering normality
  • Spain has commissioned 6 million tests, 650,000 of which have already been delivered.
If you know of more good news, please consider telling me via Comments and I will publish it tomorrow.

Life in the Time of Something Like Cholera
  • You'll probably know the the Spanish government has made the first of its probably several extensions of our lockdown, until 11 April.
  • One of the saddest aspects of total lockdown is that people are denied seeing their loved ones before or at their moment of death. Not only that. There's always been a challenge here of getting to a funeral which, under the law, must take place within 48 hours. But now funerals - along with just about everything else - are banned.
  • Coming back after 3 weeks away, I expected to see my new neighbours in the house next door. After all, they bought it in early December. But, no, the place is still empty. I guess they're marooned in the flat in Pontevedra they're trying to sell.
  • When my gate bell rang yesterday afternoon, I thought it would be my neighbour, Toni - the captain of an oil tanker and home from the sea. But it wasn't. It was a (drug addicted) young gypsy male whom I'd forgotten comes begging every Sunday. From a safe distance, I told him he was not allowed on the street, to which he replied that he was immune. I tried to explain that this wasn't the point and repeated that it was illegal for him to be on the street. But I doubt that will have any effect.
  • The turning of the screw . . . Down in the Valencia region we left on Saturday morning, the fines for being on the street have been doubled, with the maximum for repeat offenders now being €600,000. 
  • I find this sentence confusing: Police also fined several dog-walkers, some of which had been noted walking the same dog on different occasions. Does it mean they're hitting 1. People who are sharing a dog; or 2. Dog-owners/walkers going out several times a day, or 3. Both of these? In either case, is this authorised by the law? As if this matters, firstly from a health point of view and, secondly, from the point of view of wide-ranging 'authorised' police/military repression.
  • Here's news of the Spanish government following up on my warning yesterday of fake news and hoaxes. Frequent use of the Snopes web page is highly recommended, before sending items winging round the ether.
  • Zoom seems a good - very possibly better - option than Skype or FaceTime for staying in touch with friends and loved ones. Nice 'gallery' feature. 
  • One positive aspect of being stuck indoors 24/7 is that you don't have to worry about charging your phone, iPad or laptop . . . Small mercies.
The UK
  • Can anyone understand why this is so? What seems to typify the UK approach is the half-hearted response to the epidemic. We have a weak lockdown, which relies largely on voluntary action and is being widely ignored throughout the country, especially by younger people.  And, with no provision to stop "refugees" fleeing the cities to rural areas, potentially bringing the infection with them, we are seeing incredible scenes of stupidity and selfishness. 
The USA  
  • If you ask Fart a reasonable question which the Vice-President later replies to, you're a nasty person and a useless journalist. At least to the OFC himself. But no huge surprise there, given the thinness of his skin. And so much else we know about the man.
The Way of the World/Shysters Corner  
  • As someone has just said on the TV, a situation likes this brings out the very best and the very worst of humanity. Doctors in Spain have been prosecuted for stealing and selling masks, etc., and now I read that both Spanish and British companies are profiteering by markedly raising the prices of testing kits. One British doctor is reported to have netted almost €2m[sic] last week alone in selling kits at 3 times what the manufacturer sells them for. He said he'd been overwhelmed with orders, after he'd somehow wangled an interview with a leading British newspaper. How, I wonder. I smell dirty work at the crossroads.
 Spanish
  • Word of the day:- Tapizado. Covering - wallpaper. carpet. upholstery material, etc.
 Finally . . .  
  • Here's another of those lovely films of an event in the early 1900s. I'm sure the word 'fat'  existed back then (though none of the several modern euphemisms for it). But, try as I might, I couldn't see anyone in it who was overweight, never mind obese. Imagine the kids in a modern sports-day setting . .
  • Which reminds me . . . My sister has been with me for almost 3 weeks. She likes to cook and does it very well, but the result of having two 3-course meals a day has had its inevitable impact. I've gained more than 2 kilos in this short period, undoing all the (slow) work of the last 2 years. Time for a new regime, especially as I'm not now walking into and out of town twice a day.
  • My mirthful 'Spanish' grandson in 80 years' time:-

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