Saturday, 17 April 2021

Gnome shortage! Dangerous yoga! Useful garlic breath!

Out and about, on our many walks all around the area, we have noticed that many gardens are getting lost under a veritable plethora of garden ornaments. Stone (or possible concrete) animals of almost every kind, metal chickens and flamingos, cute red toadstools with white spots and, of course, garden gnomes are in gardens everywhere. 

Our garden, however, sports no such stuff. All I’ve done is keep it tidy, pull up some of the pampas grass which is trying to take over, and plant a few spring flowers, most of those in pots. Not a garden gnome in sight! 

It’s a good job we don’t want any because this morning I read that there is a national shortage. It seems that garden centres have been very popular during lockdown. Did they not have to close? I really don’t know because I only ever frequent such places when I have a specific mission in mind, such as buying a Christmas tree! 

But I must be in a minority because figures based on March said garden centres were 97% busier than they were in 2019. I suspect some people have used it as a sneaky day out. Here’s Mr Byrne again: “Every day has been like a bank holiday. That’s good but it’s definitely causing some issues because it’s not just English garden centres that are booming, it’s all across Europe, so it’s causing issues with supply.”

Anyway, garden gnomes are now in short supply, and the recent blockage of the Suez Canal has not helped matters at all. Who knew that our garden gnomes had to travel so far? 

“Ian Byrne, assistant manager of Highfield Garden World in Whitminster, Gloucestershire, said there had been a “massive upswing” in the sales of garden gnomes.”

(Linguistic aside: not an “increase”, not even an “uptick” but an “upswing” in sales of garden gnomes!)

 “We haven’t seen a gnome in six months now, unfortunately,” said Mr Byrne.

(And now I have visions of groups of gnomes visiting the garden centre in former, less restricted times.)

From a very British madness to a very American one: here is a headline I saw in today’s Guardian:

Yoga can leave you injured, psychotic and a Hindu, Christian groups claim.

There’s a lawmaker in Alabama, Jeremy Gray, who has been practising yoga for years or more as a way to relax and destress, as well as keep fit. He’s also decided to take issue with an Alabama law that had been banning yoga in schools for 28 years now. It begins to look as though he might be going to win his case and have the law rescinded. 

“But the closer Gray’s vision comes to fruition, the more it draws enemy fire. The main hurdle to reform lies with conservative Christian groups who argue that just the mere act of allowing yoga in the classroom will expose kids to the risk of converting to Hinduism.” 

As Jeremy Gray points out, the kind of yoga that most people in the USA and the UK practise is more about breathing, control, holding certain poses, and certainly not all about Hindu philosophy.

Mind you, it could be that conversion to a philosophy/ religion which is against violence but believes in standing up quietly and strongly for what you believe in would be no bad thing, given all the problems we are all having with violence right now.

But ... moderation in all things, please. Fundamentalism of any kind is dangerous. 

When we had lunch out with friends the other day I had garlic mushrooms on ciabatta bread as a starter. Very tasty it was too. Unfortunately Phil chose leek and potato soup and spent the next two days muttering about my “garlic breath”. (Couples should always eat garlic together.) Now advice comes from Dr. julian Tang, a consultant virologist at Leicester Royal Infirmary and the author of a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), has suggested that we should use “garlic-breath distance” to decipher whether we are close enough to another person for coronavirus transmission to occur. 

“Asked if focusing on hand-washing and sanitising was wrong, he said the emphasis was not correct. Speaking on Sky News, he said: “So the message ‘hands, face, space’, we think should be really ‘space, space, hands’. The way this virus transmits is really through conversational distance, within 1 metre.

“When you’re talking to a friend or sharing the same air as you’re listening to your friend talking, we call it the garlic-breath distance. So if you can smell your friend’s lunch you’re inhaling some of that air as well as any virus that’s inhaled with it.

“And this is why we say that masking is fine, social distancing is fine, but the indoor airborne environment needs to be improved and that can be done with ventilation.””

Interesting stuff!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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