Unlike the interminable first week of lockdown, the second one has pretty much flown by; I've been surprisingly busy and focused. It's days like these that lockdown is hardest, when it's perfect hiking weather and yet you're not supposed to leave the house unless you have a dog to walk. Seriously, I'm half-tempted to borrow someone's dog just so that I have a reason to be outside. Or maybe a cat that doesn't mind being walked on a kitty leash. While I was having my morning coffee on my balcony, I watched my landlord run up and down the little street; he's the local PE teacher and a Paralympic athlete, and lockdown must be particularly tough for someone made entirely of muscle and sinew. Speaking of coffee, my moka pot has arrived.
It joins my other coffee-making paraphernalia; I now have five different ways of making coffee and intend to try each one out on each of my bags of single origin beans, recording the results. I finally have the spare time to devote to coffee nerdery.
My morning yoga continues apace. I've finally graduated to Day 5 of 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene. It's very hard and I still can't touch my toes. And my Downward Dog...
...looks nothing like Adriene's Downward Dog, who manages to make a perfect triangle with her body and the floor.
On the upside, I am now very well-acquainted with my knees.
My only in-person interaction with humans this week has been a dash down to the lettings agency by the municipal car park in order to pick up various parcels. If I'm going to be here for goodness knows how many weeks or months, I need to be equipped with a chef's apron...
...and a knife sharpener.
I've never been very handy, unlike various friends of mine who are taking advantage of lockdown to repaint their house, or build a treehouse for their child from scratch, or organise their garden and plant food crops on rotation, but never let it be said that I'm unwilling to learn new skills.
'Social distancing' is a misnomer, really. What they really mean is 'physical distancing', because socialising has just moved online and is conducted over video calls or via Zoom. Last night, I joined over 35 of my travel writer colleagues, logging in from all over the world with their mugs of morning coffee or glasses of evening wine, to catch up, share lockdown stories, show off their parade of cats and dogs, take trips down memory lane, do Show-and Tell (I showed off my wooden skull, beautifully carved out of a Tasmanian hardwood) and generally offer each other some moral support. Some are dear friends; many others I've worked with, but have never met, and while it was a bit odd, meeting people over video for the first time, it was a wonderful couple of hours, and a social event that we'll repeat, hopefully.
Socialising is not the only thing happening online. Supermarkets and restaurants are having to adapt to the pandemic crisis and the delivery sector will be greatly expanded as a result. I suspect that after weeks or months of this, people's retail and perhaps even social habits won't go back to what they've been, pre-pandemic. Other things are moving online also - masterclasses in coffee and wine tasting, music lessons, and even personal fitness. A friend of mine who is a bit of a gym fiend is having sessions with their personal trainer via video link. People are adapting.
The arts are flourishing in the virtual realm. One of my friends was very excited yesterday about the prospect of watching five hours of opera. I was perhaps less thrilled, having gone with him to the opera one time and having fallen asleep in my seat. Actors and musicians have been entertaining the public from their living rooms to help them through lockdown. Sir Patrick Stewart reads a sonnet a day, while Mary Chapin Carpenter does mini-concerts in her living room, flanked by Angus, her golden retriever, and White Kitty.
I'm cooking with a vengeance. Ottolenghi has really opened my eyes to the exciting things one can do with vegetables and I've been working my way through other recipes that I've been meaning to cook for years but never found the time to do: potatoes dauphinoise, Greek-style lamb chops, stuffed courgettes with baked asparagus, baked aubergine with anchovy dressing...I may expand into breads and cakes, along with my waistline.
A quick Covid-19 news roundup:
A couple of days ago, Spain reached the ghoulish milestone of more Covid-19 deaths that day than any other country: 832. Though I believe we've now been overtaken by Italy.
United States is now No. 1 in terms of total cases. Trump is refusing to invoke the Defence Production Act in spite of pleas from governors across the country, as they don't have enough protective equipment for medical staff or enough ventilators and have no way of securing supplies that may only be provided by the federal government. After the impeachment, it should surprise precisely no one that Trump is doing what he's always done: put his own self-interest ahead of the wellbeing of his country and the lives of Americans. And his saying that unless governors of New York, Michigan, California, etc., suck up to him, they won't get lifesaving equipment is pretty horrifying. I suppose I should stop expecting Trump to hit rock bottom; there is no bottom to his cruelty and incompetence. It just makes me hugely angry that so many Americans, including maybe my friends and family, will die needlessly, because Trump is entirely incapable of ever rising to the occasion and doing his goddamn job.
Some prominent Republicans have openly expressed the opinion that the older and vulnerable Americans should be prepared to die in order to save the economy. Nothing quite so easy as a sacrifice they themselves would not be prepared to make.
Boris Johnson has tested positive for Covid-19, as has Matt Hancock and chief medical advisor Chris Whitty. It boggles the mind that Sir Patrick Vallance is not getting tested, even though he's been in close contact with the other three. Prince Charles has tested positive. Dominic Cummings has been seen running away from 10 Downing Street the day Johnson tested positive; some wits on Twitter have added a Benny Hill soundtrack to the video of him running.
Russia is finally taking Covid-19 seriously. I suspect that's because it has now reached Putin's inner circle. The vote on his becoming president for life has been postponed and they're even thinking of cancelling the May 7 parade.
The UK has held its first 8pm applause session for NHS staff. Pah, here in Spain, and Italy and France we do it every night. I must admit, though, that videos of London roaring its support for frontline medical staff were rather moving. Someone tried to instigate a #ClapForBoris event, but it fizzled. Funny, I thought that that's one thing he'd have no trouble with.
The lack of protective gear for NHS staff is hugely worrying. Compared to the hazmat suits, masks and goggles that Chinese medical staff wear, the flimsy plastic aprons and surgical masks provided for NHS staff are a disgrace. We now know that when Jeremy Hunt was in charge, he rejected the report calling for higher standards of protective gear. We also now know that, after about of week of lying and claiming that they didn't get the email, that Boris Johnson's government has rejected participation in the EU procurement scheme because of Brexit ideology. It's completely unconscionable (but sadly unsurprising) that Johnson and friends are putting dogma ahead of people's lives.
China is trying to expand its soft power by providing aid to stricken countries. They are getting a lot of stick, and rightly so; if it hadn't been for their silencing of their own whistle-blowing doctors and covering up the fact that there was a pandemic afoot before it was too late, and infected individuals were travelling all over the world, then maybe Covid-19 could have been contained within China's borders. But that's no excuse for the racist attacks experienced by anyone Asian-looking as a result of Trump and his followers determined to emphasise the Chinese origin of the virus.
As of tomorrow, the Spanish government is putting us on stricter lockdown for (at least) two more weeks; all non-essential workers to stay home. Let's hope that we're nearing the peak, because the number of medical staff and patients who've already died is pretty terrifying.
My wonderful GP has written back to me after I sent her a message of goodwill. Her reply was typically understated and ominous:
" That we have been without protective clothing has been a concern but this is now starting to arrive.
We are being asked to work in different areas of medicine to help our Addenbrooke's Hospital colleagues. So work will be more diverse.
We think it will get busy in the next week." Doctors in the UK are bracing themselves.