Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 25.3.20

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.*  
The Coronavirus: A Less Negative Take
  • A Dutch firm has created a new test that looks for antibodies and gives results in just 15 minutes. Might be true; was in The Daily Mail.
  • Disney+ Launches Today in Seven European Markets. Again, that might be good news. For some at least.
  • Pornhub making premium free in Spain and Italy. Ditto. 
  • The British Parliament is to close for at least 4 weeks: Definitely good news.
  • Boris Johnson may be dumped by his party and replaced as PM: Ditto.
  • This crisis is the proverbial black swan, but good can come out of it: Good to know.
Life in the Time of Something Like Cholera
  • It's-an-ill-wind department: The price of hash has doubled or even tripled. In contrast, cocaine prices have only increased 10-20%.
  • I've been wondering about the impact on the business of Spain's notoriously ubiquitous brothels. The Olive Press reports here that: Despite the Spanish Government enforcing a complete lockdown across the country, clients continue to knock on brothels’ doors. No one could be surprised at this. 
  • Less controversially, here's María's chronicle of Day 10.
  • Gazing at Pontevedra city from my eyrie last evening, I noticed something new - a horizontal scar near the top of the nearby hill-cum-mountain. Closer inspection revealed a couple of bridges. I figured it couldn't be the tracks of the AVE high-speed train and then realised it was the route of our new ring-road - the A55 - first authorised 15 years ago. If you look hard, you can see the bridges in the foto:-
BTW . . . I'm not sure of the rationale for this ring road, as we already have the AP9 running around the city. But the new road will, at least, allow rapid access to our major hospital, on the distant hillside. Behind the tree on the left.
  • Talking of construction . . . My Monday afternoon trip to the supermarket in Lérez, revealed that they're nearing completion of the little park at that end of the O Burgo bridge, where young trees have now been planted. But the bridge itself is not yet fully open to pedestrians. And, because, we're not allowed to cross it, I have no idea why not.
  • Yesterday afternoon, I was again assailed over my front hedge by the gypsy youth who came begging on Sunday. The lockdown doesn't seem to apply to him. Our Guardia Civil and police are either inefficient or turning a blind eye to members of a notoriously anti-social local group.
The UK
  • I was musing the other day whether one of the reasons Johnson has been reluctant to move to a total lockdown is that the UK lacks the sort of militarised police force of Spain, France, the USA and others. There's a Riot Squad, of course, but there's no police force with the latent ability to force people to behave 'properly'. Evidence of this was in this morning's Sky News, where police with megaphones could be seen to be begging dogwalkers in a park to go home. Additionally, the head honcho of the police has asked the government to tell them exactly what they're supposed to do. Failing this, it's reported, the police are using 'persuasion not punishment' and fines are not yet anywhere near the level of those in Spain, for example.
  • In line with this, Richard North writes this morning that it's difficult for the police - in what he calls a faux lockdown - for them to take on an enforcement role when there are so many exemptions to the application of the (current) law. Perhaps things will change rapidly this week.
  • Meanwhile, RN reports that a woefully inadequate [health] system is massively under-reporting the true case load. And that: We can have no real idea of the extent to which coronavirus has penetrated the UK population, although it is probably fair to say that the distribution is probably patchy and that the main hotspot is London. 
 The USA  
  • Here's a fine review of the situation there from a BBC reporter. I could cite numerous quotes but it's best that you read it: Just a few, then:-
  1. Instead of of a wartime president, Trump has sounded at times like a sun king.
  2. But the tricks of an illusionist, or the marketing skills of the sloganeer, do not work here. There are things that can't be tweeted, nicknamed or hyped away. The facts are inescapable.
  3. What have we learnt of the United States? First of all, we have seen the enduring goodness of this country.
  4. Most Americans have shown precisely the same virtues we have seen in every country brought to a halt by the virus. 
  5. As for the American exceptionalism on display, much of it has been of the negative kind that makes it hard not to put head in hands.
Nutters Corner 
  • Right-wing conspiracy theorist Chris McDonald: No president in American history has been as “sensitive to God” as Donald Trump.
Spanish
  • Phrase of the day:- Traseros de pollo: Literally 'chicken areses/bums/backsides. The sort of 'quarter' you comprising some muscle and a thigh. 
English
  • Word of the Year so Far: Scrote: A contemptible person. My guess is it derives from 'scrotum'. Which doesn't seem fair to me. Being male.  
Finally . . .  
  • Just in case you didn't know . . . Don’t call it the Spanish flu. That’s what Spain said in 1918 at the start of what would become the deadliest pandemic in history, killing more than 50 million people worldwide. The Spanish got tagged with the killer name during the end of World War I because Spain was the first country to report the disease publicly, not because it originated there. [Because it was the only country which wasn't operating media censorship then]
* 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.]  BTW . . . I've moved this comment from the top of the page in belated honour of my close friend, Peter Missler/Alfred Mittington, who passed away - prematurely - in January. He complained about  it - in his blunt Dutch way -  more than once.

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