Bumped into an old friend in town yesterday who is certain to have had covid-19 twice (from the same source - a nurse residing in his house). I had to restrain myself from taking a step backwards on hearing this news!
Friday, August 28, 2020
Every four months...
Saturday, August 22, 2020
January 30, 1665
...and Samuel Pepys is having some trouble sleeping:
"At this all day, and at night to my office, there to do some business, and being late at it, comes Mercer to me, to tell me that my wife was in bed, and desired me to come home; for they hear, and have, night after night, lately heard noises over their head upon the leads."Now it is strange to think how, knowing that I have a great sum of money in my house, this puts me into a most mighty affright, that for more than two hours, I could not almost tell what to do or say, but feared this and that, and remembered that this evening I saw a woman and two men stand suspiciously in the entry, in the darke; I calling to them, they made me only this answer, the woman said that the men came to see her; but who she was I could not tell."The truth is, my house is mighty dangerous, having so many ways to be come to; and at my windows, over the stairs, to see who goes up and down; but, if I escape to-night, I will remedy it. God preserve us this night safe!"So at almost two o'clock, I home to my house, and, in great fear, to bed, thinking every running of a mouse really a thiefe; and so to sleep, very brokenly, all night long, and found all safe in the morning."
Arnhem by Anthony Beevor
Beevor’s latest tome takes on the WWII battle that perhaps fascinates me the most.
“Many historians, with an ‘if only’ approach to the British defeat, have focused so much on different aspects of Operation Market Garden which went wrong that they have tended to overlook the central element. It was quite simply a very bad plan right from the start and right from the top. Every other problem stemmed from that.“Montgomery had not shown any interest in the practical problems surrounding airborne operations. He had not taken any time to study the often chaotic experiences of North Africa, Sicily and the drop on the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy. Montgomery’s intelligence chief, Brigadier Bill Williams, also pointed to the way that ‘Arnhem depended on a study of the ground [which] Monty had not made when he decided on it.’ In fact he obstinately refused to listen to the Dutch commander-in-chief Prince Bernhard, who had warned him about the impossibility of deploying armoured vehicles off the single raised road on to the low-lying polderland flood plain.“Yet towering over everything else, and never openly admitted, was the fact that the whole operation depended on everything going right, when it was an unwritten rule of warfare that no plan survives contact with the enemy. This was doubly true of airborne operations.”
"Generalleutnant Walter Dornberger, the Inspector of Long-Range Rocket Troops, was later recorded secretly in a British prisoner-of-war camp speaking of the activities of his colleague SS-Standartenführer Behr. ‘In the Netherlands he made Dutchmen build the sites for the V2,’ Dornberger told fellow officers, ‘then he had them herded together and killed by machinegun fire. He opened brothels for his soldiers with twenty Dutch girls. When they’d been there for two weeks they were shot and new ones brought along, so that they couldn’t divulge anything they might discover from the soldiers."
"Approximately 110,000 Jews out of 140,000 were deported from the Netherlands, and only 6,000 of these survived the war."
Thursday, August 20, 2020
A couple of days ago we received a call with the very sad news that a near neighbour, a man my wife as known for most of her life, had lost his fight wit covid.
This man was personally responsible for the erection of the bell-tower on our local church. His family home is less than 200m away.
Another denizen of this village, a first cousin of my wife’s, has also been taken into hospital with the graver form of the disease.
Guatemala is currently reporting around 50 deaths a day, especially around mid-week, but this is only the mortality recorded in hospitals, so that individual who dropped dead in the pharmacy outside the Bodegona last week, or the woman who passed away on a Litegua doubledecker, will presumably not have made it onto Worldometer.
Yesterday, as they announced a record 91% drop in profits, the Australian airline Qantas suggested that international travel is unlikely to recover at all before the middle of next year — and even if a vaccine should turn up in the meantime, they won't be restoring the US to their market before the conclusion of 2021.
This has to be a clear indicator of the ongoing challenges faced by countries like Guatemala, which have tended to depend on the more adventurous, longer-haul forms of tourism.
Spain tried to salvage its short-haul summer holiday season, yet it has been left in tatters. In per-capita terms they now have post-lockdown infection levels on a par with us here in Guatemala.
Unlike Spain — Italy and France too — the UK is now comparatively well off. For levels of active infection in England are now at the equivalent of ‘green’ status in Guatemala.
Yet the late summer surge on the continent has to be a source for worry for the government, especially as local spikes continue to occur in northern cities, in particular those with a larger proportion of families of south-Asian ancestry. Oldham may be about to be put in localised freeze.
The enormous challenge presented by the re-opening of schools nationwide is also just around the corner.
A new poll just released seeks to tease out just how brave Britons are feeling amidst the prevailing mood of uncertainty...
95% say they have left their home in the last seven days.
However, 26% say they still feel uncomfortable about doing so.
73% have met up with friends or family to socialise. Of these, 47% say they observed social distancing.
Just 40% say they would feel comfortable sitting inside a pub or restaurant.
20% have cancelled plans to travel abroad.
Only 14% say they would be comfortable visiting a swimming pool.
Monday, August 17, 2020
There was talk this morning that economic activity across continental Europe is likely to settle at a level around 10% lower than the pre-pandemic one, for the time being at least.
Saturday, August 15, 2020
The Bay Of Silence (2020)
This can only really be enjoyed as a sort of anti-thriller, a movie that lurches around trying to tick all the boxes of the visual tropes of the genre, but is utterly clueless about how they are supposed to function narratively.
Saturday, August 01, 2020
The Rental (2020)
His direction is solid (carefully avoiding the direct portrayal of violence against women; unusual for this genre) but the material has certain weaknesses — that unfortunate combination of predictability and slowness to ripen.