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Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain

Random thoughts from a Brit in the North West. Sometimes serious, sometimes not. Quite often curmudgeonly.

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 21.6.21  
21 June 2021 @ 16:20

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable

- Christopher Howse: 'A Pilgrim in Spain' 

Detailed info on Galicia and Pontevedra city here.   

Covid 

Sweden: I don't know - does anyone? - what the final verdict will be on the Swedish strategy but it's noteworthy that the number of new cases is extremely low and the deaths total is down to zero. It's well known that - as elsewhere - mistakes were made initially in respect of care homes but, apart from that, there never seems to have been a consensus on the overall merits and demerits of the Swedish approach. Though, I guess it can be agreed that it impacted the country's economy less than in most others. And that it had only 2 waves, as opposed to at least 3 elsewhere.

The UK:   As Europe and America dance again, The UK is stuck in the slow lane. Widely-spaced jabs, a refusal to use vaccine passports and the Delta variant are holding Britain back. . . .  Although freedoms have increased over recent months, Brits still face tougher restrictions compared to others. More on this theme below.

Cosas de España/Galiza

Spain is not entirely free of the stain stain of racism, avers María, correctly. The far-right Vox party, she says, is the expression of the hatred of the other based on skin and origin that too many still harbor. The party does seem to have some rather odious spokespeople. I'm reminded of Hard-Hearted Hannah, the vamp of Savannah. Who was accused of pouring water on drowning men. 

Here's Mark Stücklin with comments on the risk posed by squatters. 

It's reported that animals - mainly wild boars, I suspect - cause more than half of Galicia's road accidents. As if we didn't have enough to contend with, what with bendy roads, quite a lot of surface water and boozed and/or drugged-up youths.

Aspirant teachers here have to take exams - Oposiciones - in the subject they want to teach. If successful, the state - not them - decides where they can start their careers. I guess it's not surprising that English was the most subscribed exam in Galicia this year but I was rather taken aback to see French ranked last, alongside Latin and Greek. Which must be painful for native speakers to read, given its status here only 30 years ago

The UK

It's frustrating to see Europe - with much higher numbers - relaxing while I can't contemplate going to the UK until the quarantine obligation is ended. These are quotes from the article below on this theme:-

- There's something so deeply British about what we’re doing to ourselves: snatching an endless purgatory of anxiety, fear and lives weighed down by the bureaucracy of hygiene theatre from the jaws of what could have been victory. We had an advantage, a huge one, and instead of running with it gleefully, we’ve driven ourselves – or have been driven – into the mud.   

- There’s a sense that when Europe opens up, it really opens up. The same goes for America. We’re the only ones being kept back in the twilight life of hygiene-bureaucracy and restrictions.    

- Britain’s love affair with self-excoriation is part of what makes it great: it makes us one of the least corrupt countries in the world. It yields great comedy. It breeds a political culture of robust, bracing critique. But when you get even the likes of Theresa May and Tony Blair calling our current jamboree of life-sapping rules bizarre and illogical, then surely it’s all gone too far.

- We began Covid with defeat, and now we have the chance to enjoy the fruits of a win. It’s just a shame that our Government, still stuck in the mindset of the first phase of the the pandemic, is set on squandering it.

Quote of the Day

After he'd seen this El Pais: "Many seniors who died from Covid-19 in 2020 are not going to die in the next few years’, my friend Eamon sent me this response: Well, that will save having to have a double funeral. 

Spanish 

Correction of the correction. Four Spanish friends have now told me that everyone really does say, A Pé Pé, not ap.

English

Do you write instal or install? Interestingly, some dictionaries say the former is British and the latter American. Whereas other dictionaries say the opposite. I've always used install. I think.

Finally  . . .

Yesterday's post late because of various distractions. The most expensive of which was fining that my iron had been left on for 4 days, just as the cost of electricity was soaring. I will now compensate by not ironing sheets, tea-towels or handkerchiefs for the rest of my life.

THE ARTICLE    

Trust Britain to trade our vaccine advantage for this bureaucratic travel shambles. While Germans are sipping sangria in Mallorca, we’re being kept back in the twilight life of hygiene theatre and restrictions: Zoe Strimpel The Telegraph

I got back from amber-list Europe last weekend. It was lovely to have made it to a beautiful foreign landscape, but the obstacle course of stressful, expensive admin required for returning to the UK stuck a dour tail on the trip. 

With its rictus of illogical hurdles keeping vaccinated and properly tested people from travelling with relative ease, Britain seems to want to trumpet from every possible rooftop that it is closed for business, closed for fun and closed for any kind of rational enjoyment of what has been an astonishing vaccine drive.

There is something so deeply British about what we’re doing to ourselves: snatching an endless purgatory of anxiety, fear and lives weighed down by the bureaucracy of hygiene theatre from the jaws of what could have been victory. We had an advantage, a huge one, and instead of running with it gleefully, we’ve driven ourselves – or have been driven – into the mud. The latest figures show we’ve partially vaccinated 42 million adults, or 80% of the adult population, and 30 million have been fully vaccinated. 

The Delta variant is cause for concern, of course, and a single jab is much less effective against it than two jabs. But Britain has an over-abundance of our very own AstraZeneca vaccine, and so – if we really wanted to embrace our vaccine ingenuity – we could be shortening the gap between jabs not by a month, as we are now, but by two months. We could even let people pay to have their second jab sooner. Sacrilege, but it shouldn’t be.

However, we prefer the unpleasant route. And so while America romps on with normal life, having unleashed hundreds of millions of vaccines in its own impressive inoculation effort, back in Blighty just going to the pub is still a slalom of pointless admin. And instead of looking at ways to get rid of them, arbitrary rules only seem to be multiplying. To view a book in the British or Wellcome Libraries, you have to wait three days because the material must ‘quarantine for 72 hours’ – this despite the fact that as far back as the summer, numerous, reliable studies have shown that the risk of transmission through surfaces is almost nil.

No, you’re not going to catch Covid from a manuscript that’s been in an archive for years, but you might on a packed Tube where most people are no longer bothering with masks – that being a simple area in which the British have been rubbish compared with Europe and much of the US. This is something the Government might usefully focus on, but I suspect the PM and Matty H don’t tend to take public transport, apparently preferring to force theatres, pubs, libraries and museums to tinker with pointless measures.

Meanwhile, Europe has had an abomination of a jab programme, which is only now picking up. It has a much bigger problem with anti-vaxxers than we do, and has vaccinated a far smaller percentage of its population than us. The Delta variant is on the march there too. And yet even they have realised: as the rate of vaccination picks up, it’s time to let people live again. Variants are here to stay, and as the UK has shown, can erupt anywhere, even in Kent. Red list or not, they’ll get in anyway, as the Delta variant has made all too clear.

So while Brits are stuck at home, paralysed by the punitive barrage of medical bureaucracy required to re-enter the country, and then 10 days quarantine, across Europe borders are reopening, beaches and bars are open for business, Germans are sipping sangria in Majorca, and people who have had both vaccinations aren’t forced to undergo endless rigmarole by authorities – as well they shouldn’t.

In Italy last week, it was such a pleasure to sit wherever I wanted for coffee, for beer, for spritz. I went for ice cream, I went for dinner, I went to museums and churches without booking in advance. People are respectful with masks, zealous with hand sanitiser, but they were enjoying themselves. Pointless one-way systems have been ditched, and the Italians realise that making people register for a faulty contact tracing programme with their phones before they can enter a venue is pointless. There’s a sense that when Europe opens up, it really opens up. The same goes for America. We’re the only ones being kept back in the twilight life of hygiene-bureaucracy and restrictions.

Britain’s love affair with self-excoriation is part of what makes it great: it makes us one of the least corrupt countries in the world. It yields great comedy. It breeds a political culture of robust, bracing critique. But when you get even the likes of Theresa May and Tony Blair calling our current jamboree of life-sapping rules bizarre and illogical, then surely it’s all gone too far.

We began Covid with defeat, and now we have the chance to enjoy the fruits of a win. It’s just a shame that our Government, still stuck in the mindset of the first phase of the the pandemic, is set on squandering it.



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