Thursday, 11 June 2020

On feeling sad and angry about things.

Just as we have borrowed the German word “schadenfreude” for that feeling of almost happiness about someone else’s, possibly well-deserved, misfortune, and people talk about being “hangry” when we are so hungry it makes us cross, so I think we should have a word that encompasses the angry sadness / the sad anger evoked by the list of stupid mistakes made by our government over the last few months.

  • The scientist Neil Ferguson is now saying that we should have started the lockdown a week earlier than we did and thus saved lives. 
  • This article talks about genetic analysis of coronavirus tests revealing how many cases were brought into the country by people arriving from abroad - a lot from France, Spain and Italy. (Similarly a large number of cases in Iceland arrived there via arrivals from the UK.) Had we systematically tested and quarantined arrivals back in March we almost certainly could have saved lives. 
  • Had we had sufficient stockpiles of PPE to deal with a foreseeable and indeed foreseen pandemic, the outcome could have been different. 
  • Had elderly people not been shunted off untested to care homes poorly equipped with PPE, again the outcome could have been different. 
And the list goes on and on. And every time I see figures and comparisons with other countries I feel sad and sorry and decidedly ashamed of my country.

Oh, and right now they are discussing the 2-metre rule, largely because of the difficulty of opening pubs and cafes and restaurants. Apparently only the UK, Canada and Spain maintain the 2-metre rule. Everywhere else has something shorter. But according to the radio news it’s more a question of WHEN than IF it is reduced in the UK.

And once again it will be a decision that shakes people’s trust in the whole guidance business. So it goes.

In the USA President Donald Trump has speculated that the Buffalo pensioner shoved to the ground by police could be an ‘ANTIFA provocateur’ who faked the fall. This despite masses of video footage of the “fall”. But then ANTIFA is pretty much a terrorist organisation, isn’t it?

And it seems that someone has paid $750,000 bail for one of the policemen charged with aiding and abetting in connection with the death of George Floyd. But then, in both the USA and here there are still strange things going on.

In Bristol they have retrieved the statue of Edward Colston from out of the harbour and removed it to an undisclosed location, prior to it eventually having a place in a museum. Meanwhile in Poole, Dorset, they are talking of, maybe only temporarily, moving the statue of Baden Powell while stories of his having been a Nazi sympathiser are investigated.

It could be said that these statues are now in protective custody.

Here is an interesting article by David Olugosa about time he spent as a young journalist living in Bristol. Some of the prejudice he had to face just while looking for lodgings is quite astounding, stuff we thought had disappeared decades ago:

“two weeks before my start date, I began phoning around, trying to find somewhere that rented rooms by the month or, even better, by the week. The first place I called was on St Paul’s Road in the wealthy Bristol suburb of Clifton. The guy I spoke to told me that he did have rooms, they were cheap and could be made available on a short-term let. When he named the price (which was more than I could afford), I hesitated. Sensing my uncertainty, but not knowing its cause, he filled the silence by reassuring me that although the room was in a property on St Paul’s Road, it was nowhere near the St Paul’s district of Bristol. “You know,” he said. “Where all the blacks live.”

My standard English accent had led him to presume that I was white, and that led him to another presumption: that one of my criteria when looking for accommodation was that it was far away from the homes of black people.”

“I answered an advert I found on a noticeboard that had been posted by a group of guys in their 20s who were in search of a new flatmate for a shared house. The first question they asked me when I arrived, after they had rearranged their faces and before I was allowed to ask any questions about the room or the house, was if I would not perhaps find it uncomfortable living in a house in which everyone was a university graduate. I had two degrees in history and one in journalism. They never asked if I had gone to university.”

Perhaps most disturbing is that last situation; so we still have people educated to degree level who still adhere to stereotypes that suggest that black = uneducated.

Okay! Enough gloomy stuff!

Here is an odd and amusing consequence of the lockdown. There is a shortage of marmite because there is a shortage of brewers’ yeast because less beer is being brewed. Personally I do not like marmite - horrible stuff! - but those who do will be reassured to know that some specialist brewers are considering getting going again so that barrels of beer are available when / if pubs open again. 

And I came across a completely un-virus-related story from Switzerland. During the Sissach town carnival in early March pretend Euro notes were distributed, clearly false with Chinese character printed on them. Children collected them, as children do, and at the end of April an eight year old boy, accompanied by his brother and a friend, went to a local shop and asked if he could buy something with one of these toy banknotes. The shopkeeper called the police. Yes, even though the note was clearly identified as pretend money,. “It is our policy; we were instructed to do so by the headquarters in Winterthur,” said the store manager Tanja Baumann.

You might think it would stop there but, no, the police were worried that counterfeit money might be being circulated. So went and searched the eight year old boy’s house, where they seized three 50-euro notes, two 20-euro notes, five 10-euro notes and three five-euro notes on the grounds of preventing crime. And the little boy was not charged with any offence but his name will reportedly be on police records until May 2032. Yes, 2032!!

Unbelievable! Something else to make you sad and angry!

 Ah well, life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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