For the past week or so it has been possible to get out and about a little more, and I have even driven a few score kilometres one day. This has rather distracted me from the blog. It looks as though we will be at this level for a few weeks yet, as it is ascertained that the virus has been eradicated. Things already look good, which means we have the siren voices already demanding a return to full economic activity. It remains to be seen whether there will be a flurry of new infections after this holiday weekend (which shows every likelihood of the resumption of widespread travel) and thus whether, like France and South Korea, some further restrictions will need to be reimposed. Personally I will try to remain at Level 2 economic activity if not Level 3) – it’s just good economics.
Though it has its oddities. I think I have already mentioned the sudden reactivation of the remote control to my garage door which had not worked properly for some 18 months or so, only to burst into life under lockdown during levels 4 and 3, and stop again the day Level 2 was announced. Marjorie’s remote has worked perfectly throughout, so the smart suggestion proffered me (that there was a local business resuming activity and hence also resuming emitting a blocking frequency) has to remain moot.
The crisis also prompted my employers to scurry round and find ways for people to work at home (much overdue, but also done at remarkable speed when it did occur). I now have a second laptop connected to my work computer. It is most provoking that the keyboard on that machine has the ‘Ctrl’ and ‘Fn’ keys swapped in comparison to my own laptop. I mean, really?
It looks as though post may be resuming – I gather my last four Listener entries, posted at weekly intervals, arrived all at once on the same day last week. I resumed posting as we can now buy stamps – remarkably the Post Office is still happily selling the 2019 Christmas stamps, of which clearly far too many were printed. But I get 10 for the price of 9…
Level 2 also means ‘track and trace’ – every shop you enter requires you to sign in and sanitise your hands. In that order, in my case, as my hands seem to be getting resistant to the sanitiser and it takes more and more rubbing. My hands turn pink, and I start counting my fingerprints. It’s not much better trying to do it electronically (unless you like dropping and then wiping your phone). There are about six or seven different systems using QR codes you point your smartphone camera at. But who wants six or seven apps doing the same thing on your phone – I’ve already lost track of one. It’s very hard to see how this wonder of economic competition supports the delivery of comprehensive tracing.
I also ended up with an album called Covid-19 on my iPad. One of my guilty pleasures is the group called The Tiger Lillies, who hark back to the sort of savage satirical singing associated with Weimar Berlin, only with a lead singer, Martin Jacques, who has an extraordinary voice, part wheedling, part threatening, generally falsetto. Their back catalogue includes discs relating to Struwwelpeter, Edward Gorey and Wozzeck, so they’re an eclectic bunch. They have been unable to tour and sell CDs so have resorted to at-home recording and online marketing (in this case, Bandcamp). It is worth remembering that many performers will be in the same boat, so you may want to support your favourites via online purchases.
Six hundred words and not a mention of crosswords, so I’d better remedy that. I recently read the astonishing novel The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt, which tells of the struggles of a child prodigy to identify his father. It ranges over astronomy, aerodynamics, linguistics and maths, and there are pages in Inuit and Japanese. At one point, the hero goes round the Circle Line to complete the Independent crossword – I assumed that was one of mine… Not the one I put up today (which postdates the events of the novel) but it is one that has been mentioned in a book. The puzzle is from late 2012.
Meanwhile my puzzles in early June are simply the regular Independent Friday appearances, though it remains possible that Kcit may appear in the Toughie series before I reappear in a couple of weeks.