Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Mask wearing and other safety-related etiquette. Meal tickets and eating out. Rich people’s problems.

People here in Portugal are much more assiduous and conscientious about mask wearing than in the UK. Waiters and waitresses all wear masks. Shop assistants all wear masks. At the entrance to places there are reminders to wear a mask. I understand that there are some people who think it’s all over and done with but mostly people are taking precautions. And in the chess tournament all the players must wear a mask. 

Playing chess with a mask on must be uncomfortable at the best of times. When you wear glasses there is the added problem of visibility - glasses steam up! This morning I bought a “pano anti-embaciamento”- an anti-fog glasses cleaning cloth - for the extortionate price of €6.60! The packet shows someone wearing glasses and a mask - so someone has clearly had the bright idea of cashing in on the misfortune of others. We’ll see if it works!

And of course, almost everywhere has a hand sanitiser dispenser in the doorway - someone else’s bright idea for cashing in on the general crisis.

Going into the chemist’s to purchase the aforementioned anti-fog cloth, I had to stand in a queue outside and wait to be ushered in. Then I had to stand in another queue inside until I was summonsed to an assistant’s post. Then we had an interesting conversation in a mix of languages, both of us apologising for not speaking the other’s language better.

We had to go out for breakfast again yesterday. Today they are back to something like normal in the hotel. But yesterday there was still no hotel breakfast. So on my morning walk I took a different route, one that brought me out close to Dionisio, the cafe and cake shop recommended to us on Monday. This time it was open … hurrah! So Phil and I headed there for breakfast a short while later. 

We had to take a ticket from a machine as we went in, the same kind of system as exists in post offices, for example, in the UK, ensuring that everyone gets their fair turn. It was all very organised. And the receptionist at the hotel was right to recommend it; the croissants were much better than the ones we had on Monday.

At lunchtime we tried once again to eat at the Caçarola 2 restaurant. The tournament sells “dinner tickets”, indeed gives “dinner tickets” to selected top players as part of their invitation to play here. These “dinner tickets entitle you to a meal from a set menu at the restaurant named, in this case Caçarola 2. On Monday we decided not to wait 30 minutes for a table and went elsewhere. Yesterday was Tuesday, the restaurant’s “dia do descanso”- their day of rest for all their staff! Closed! We only discovered this when we arrived there. So we went elsewhere. 

Now, on Sunday, when the tournament started, I purchased five days’ worth of tickets. I would have bought fewer but the delightful organiser, Patricia, was having problems with change. Five days’ worth gave us a nice round number and no need for change to be given. Yesterday I sold two days’ worth of tickets back to Patricia. Otherwise we will be eating at the same restaurant every day for the rest of our stay here and we have places we would like to revisit. It’s all good. 

Today we’ve had a hotel breakfast and we’ll try again for lunch at the Caçarola 2!

Back in the UK, our Boris Johnson has been photographed snoozing, maskless, at the COP 26 affair, seated next to 95 year old David Attenborough, who is wearing one. Needless to say, this has provoked a lot of commentary on social media. 

Maybe it’s a other example of certain people feeling privileged and entitled. Entitled to do what they please. 

Someone sent me this from The London Economic:

“The ultra-rich are suffering severe staff shortages on the back of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in beds remaining unmade and soirees being cancelled.

According to reports in The Times, the 0.01 percenters are having a rough time of it of late.

The demand for staff has increased by 400 per cent, but there has been 50 per cent fewer applications by candidates for each of the jobs due to staff shortages, according to Lucy Challenger, the CEO and founder of Polo & Tweed.

As a result, many of her country clients are “stranded’’, she says.

The pandemic has increased the popularity of country living significantly, with the rich and powerful picking up a renewed fondness for rural life.

But without the staff to cater to their every need, many have no option other than to close down their country houses altogether.

Philip Hooper, managing director of the interior designer Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, recently had to play florist to one of his clients because the butler had quit (and returned to Europe).”

You could almost feel sorry for them … but not really!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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