Here Are The News

It’s Monday morning; the world outside is grey and damp. Strange how the large bush in the back garden flails in the wind, all the branches moving in different directions.

Half-fill the sink with cold water and add a squirt of washing-up liquid, a pleasant-smelling juice in a warm orange-red colour, supposedly flavoured with pomegranate and rosemary – not sure what the point of this is, since it’s not meant for consumption. Indeed, the label carries a hazard warning to alert people to the dangers of skin and eye contact.

I enjoy cleaning the crockery; a couple of these plates have travelled with me from Derby, where I lived in 1996.

Perhaps I’ll go to Lidl in a bit, to get some of those lovely Portuguese tarts. I wonder if they have to remain in quarantine for 14 days before we are allowed to eat them? The government has issued a series of scrambled announcements, telling people that they can travel abroad but they will be required to spend a couple of weeks in isolation upon arrival, and then a further two weeks when they return to the UK.

British holidaymakers can now go to several foreign destinations without having to self-isolate when they come back; but a curious exception is Portugal, one of the most popular travel spots. The reason for these quarantine rules is, of course, the pandemic of coronavirus which has killed thousands of people and forced the widespread closure of manufacturing and leisure facilities. In 24 years’ time we will have forgotten all about this.

Another country which is not allowing direct travel from the UK is Greece; however, Stanley Johnson managed to get over there by breaking his journey in Bulgaria. SJ is better known as the father of Boris, our Prime Minister, who has presided over a shambolic response to the pandemic. The next five years will see a huge number of books and research papers exploring the background to Covid-19 in the UK and the wayward antics of our senior politicians.

It appears that my smartphone is beginning to malfunction; the battery no longer holds its charge for an entire day, and the display enjoys going through its ornate display of coloured smoke for minutes at a stretch, instead of kicking neatly into the launch menu. These devices are usually reckoned to have a lifespan of about four years; so I’m living on borrowed time having purchased this item in 2013.

At least it helped us to find our way to the Youth Hostel in Brno, with just four percent charge left by the time we arrived, down from 19 percent as we left the train at Dolni station.

Here are the News

In just the right sedate and measured tones,
The radio announcer tells me that
The virus killed another thousand people yesterday
And the high street clatters towards annihilation
With big stores watching jobs evaporate

Without the faintest murmur of excitement
The wireless informs us that we are at war,
The city overrun with fever-stricken zombies
Bleeding from every orifice and refusing
To observe the social distance guidelines put in place

No hint of drama animates the voice
That brings to life the daily news; ‘Today’
It says, ‘A one-armed dentist carried out
Open-heart surgery on a wasp. Madonna will
Conduct the Last Night of the Proms. And a football player
Has had a haircut, but is expected
To make a full recovery. Thank God for that!’

The UK economy is starting to emerge from hibernation,
Thousands of people returning to their jobs; they
Sit in parlours and paint the nails of bored housewives,
Or cold-call nervous pensioners, trying to persuade
Them to switch their energy supply. There’s nothing quite
Like doing work that fills your soul with pride.

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