Monday, 2 March 2020

Getting blown away!

I was rather hoping Storm Jorge had blown himself out. If indeed it was Jorge who woke me up several times in the night as he blustered around our block of flats and rained furiously against the windows. On our return from Pontevedra at the end of yesterday afternoon it was raining so hard that we chickened out of walking up the hill to the flat and took a taxi instead. And that was it. The foul weather was set in for the night.

It rather felt as though the whole block might be swaying in the strong wind during the night but we decided that this was just our overactive imagination. There were a couple of large rubbish containers overturned on the street this morning. Surely this was not the work of late night revellers. Last night was not a night to go out and get up to high jinks with the street furniture. It must have been the wind, which is capable of doing odd things like that. Back home in the UK it is a regular thing for us to find the lid of a large container in the garden lifted off and carried away to some other place, despite being weighted down with a large stone.

Anyway, this morning appeared calmer. The sky was mostly blue and the wind seemed to have abated more than somewhat. Perhaps, I thought, our friend Colin, who was driving to Madrid today, would have a calmer journey than envisaged. When I went to hang some washing on the balcony, however, the wind had got up again, to a much lesser extent, and it was blowing rain at me. You just can’t win!

I came across this in yesterday’s newspaper online:

“Julia Samuel

I was 47, shaking and with tears streaming down my face as I held a perfect baby girl in my arms. My body was zinging with oxytocin, the bonding hormone, in response to her smell and touch, those little breaths – it felt as if she was my newborn baby. She wasn’t. She was my first grandchild. My daughter’s daughter. I’d become a mum at 21, she was 26…

The following evening, for my best friend’s landmark birthday, I had made an effort – hair done, party frock, high heels – and I stepped confidently into the room. The first person I saw shouted: “Hi Grandma!”

I had to stop myself from slapping him. I was totally up for the love of this new being in my life, but I was by no means ready for the new status of grandmother.”

It turned out, reading the rest of the article, that Julia Samuel is a psychologist and she was writing about embracing change. It was that introductory bit that caught my attention though, mainly because I knew exactly how she felt, having been 49 when my daughter made me a grandmother and feeling exactly that mix of emotions. Certainly there are much younger grandmothers but, like Julia Samuel, I wasn’t ready to take on that new role. I had my own busy life to lead. I am quite sure my experience, like Julia Samuel’s, was not unique.

Babies are in the news. There are unkind suggestions that the announcement that our prime minister and his partner are expecting one has been timed to draw our attention away from the antics of at least one of his ministers. Could that possibly be true?!

Otherwise coronavirus hogs the limelight still. Here is an article about a town in the USA that managed to avoid the Spanish flu pandemic back in 1918. The town of Gunnison, Colorado organised a quarantine to avoid that Spanish flu epidemic. Here’s an excerpt:-

“Dr FP Hanson, the county physician, took a leading role. “An epidemic, terrible in proportions and resultant deaths, is sweeping over the country,” he wrote. “I have caused a strict quarantine to be placed on Gunnison county against the world. Barricades and fences have been erected on all main highways near the county lines.”

Lanterns and signs warned motorists to drive straight through or submit to quarantine. Train passengers who disembarked were quarantined. “Any person may leave the county at his will; none may return except those who will go into voluntary quarantine,” said Hanson. Any violators would be be “dealt with to the fullest extent of the law, and to this we promise our personal attention”, he added.”

Could we do the same sort of thing nowadays? Would it be possible in a small island like Great Britain where so many people commute to work daily?

The article has an interesting end note:-

“But a mystery endures: how did residents endure the cabin fever? Those currently under quarantine in Spain, Italy, China and elsewhere could benefit from tips but Gunnison does not appear to remember. Little documentation exists, leaving an information void. “The issue still remains of how to keep up morale and cooperation at a time of heightened stress,” said the study. In 2015 the Guardian appealed to readers of the Gunnison Country Times – a descendant of the News-Champion – for any letters, journals or folk memories about the lockdown. No one replied.”

 The Guardian does a lot of this “share your experience of ... with us”. I often wonder who are the people who reply to such appeals.

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