Saturday, 20 June 2020

Where we might have been. Preparing for the “new normal” in schools and catering. Fickle fame.

If it weren’t for this virus crisis we would now be in Sanxenxo - the Marbella of Galicia - where Phil would be playing in the Carlos I Silgar chess tournament and I would be making use of the hotel’s fine swimming pool, walking up and down the tide line on the beach with masses of Spaniards, possibly taking boat trips out to the Isla de Ons and other such touristy activities. Goodness knows if we will be able to do that next year. I imagine chess matches will be hard to organise with social distancing and all the problems of touching pieces. I hope enough Spaniards are visiting the place and that the friendly staff at the Hotel Carlos I Silgar are managing to be employed. Strange times!

As the government tries to get us all back to normal, a good deal of discussion is going on about schools and the desperate need to get our children back into education. Huge sums of money are being talked about:-

“Under the plan, state schools in England would be given £650m to fund efforts to help pupils affected by the coronavirus lockdown, under which nurseries, schools and colleges have been closed to most children since mid-March.”

Nurseries and sixth form colleges would not get that financial help however.

And even so, the huge sums come down to much less when you divide it by the number of pupils:-

“The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) estimated that the £650m amounted to £80 per pupil, a 1% increase on current spending that still leaves spending per pupil 3% lower than in 2010. Luke Sibieta, a research fellow at the IFS, said that due to the exclusion of nursery and sixth-form pupils, the amount would rise to £88 per head.”

There is also talk of summer schools to help pupils catch up with lessons missed during lockdown. I rather get the impression teachers have not been consulted, again, about how this would work. Head teachers interviewed on TV and radio pointed out that their teachers actually need a break and corrected the idea that those teachers have been sitting around paid for doing nothing for the last few months. They also express a greater concern for the wellbeing of their pupils, more worrying for most than how much learning has been missed.

The pub next door to us appears to be preparing for the new normal by setting up lots of those gazebo-like tent affairs all over their quite extensive car park. Clearly they have resigned themselves to the fact that they will not be cramming their indoor bar and restaurant with customers and therefore will not need so much parking space. At the same time they want to be able to serve as many socially distanced (be that 2 metres or 1 metre or whatever reduction the government comes up with) customers as possible outdoors, with protection from the sort of inclement weather we often have around here.

Here, by the way, are some details, leaked to The Times I think, of what the “new normal” will be like for restaurants, pubs and hotels:-
 * Regular patrols of pub gardens to make sure people are observing social distancing.
 * Customers will be encouraged not to order drinks at the bar.
 * Waiting staff will bring out napkins and cutlery with the food, as opposed to setting tables in advance.
 * Waiting staff will be asked to wash their hands each time they serve a different table.
 * Laminated menus will be replaced by single-use ones.
 * Porters will leave guests’ bags outside their hotel rooms.
 * Spacing out of tables in restaurants and exercise equipment in gyms to maintain social distancing, along with staggered bookings to avoid overcrowding.
 * Even if hotel restaurants reopen, visitors could be urged to use room service, which will be delivered outside the hotel room door.
 * In spas, physiotherapists, masseurs, pedicurists and manicurists will all wear full protective gear.

Of course, all of this is subject to revision from one day to the next.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s experience shows how hard policing quarantine will be. That’s assuming any kind of international agreement is reached about quarantine and safe corridors for travel. Strange times indeed!

In a more ordinary, “old normal”, kind of reporting comes the news that Sir Ian Holm, actor, has died at the good old age of 88. Sad news but he had a good innings, I suppose. On the radio I heard an newsreader say, “Sir Ian Holm, most famous for his role as Bilbo Baggins.” No, that should be “most recently famous for ...” or “known to a wider public for ...”

Here’s some Wiki info:

“Sir Ian Holm CBE

Sir Ian Holm Cuthbert CBE (12 September 1931 – 19 June 2020), known as Ian Holm, was an English actor on stage and in film. He received the 1967 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor for his performance as Lenny in The Homecoming and the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for his performance in the title role of King Lear. He won the 1981 BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his role as athletics trainer Sam Mussabini in Chariots of Fire, for which he was also nominated for an Academy Award. His other well-known film roles include Ash in Alien, Father Vito Cornelius in The Fifth Element, Chef Skinner in Ratatouille, and Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film series.”

Similarly we have Sir Ian McKellen - famous for playing Gandalf, among a whole host of other stuff. Fame is a fickle thing.

But life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone.

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