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Corona quarantine diary
ناشر الموضوع: Mervyn Henderson

Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
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Different spirits Mar 20

Hey Mervyn,

That brown potion of yours was what made me look forward to getting ill as a kid.

Not having school and getting an even bigger share of adult attention was already massively sweetening the... pill(s), (I hated runny noses, and blocked nostrils, having to switch sides all the time while bedridden), but this magic concoction is responsible for my fond memories.

Our version swapped whiskey for cognac, and was garlic-free. I don't know if the latter
... See more
Hey Mervyn,

That brown potion of yours was what made me look forward to getting ill as a kid.

Not having school and getting an even bigger share of adult attention was already massively sweetening the... pill(s), (I hated runny noses, and blocked nostrils, having to switch sides all the time while bedridden), but this magic concoction is responsible for my fond memories.

Our version swapped whiskey for cognac, and was garlic-free. I don't know if the latter ingredient would have altered the (placebo) effects... or my sweet memories. Most probably.

Also, I'm no drinker either (never have been), but I thought worms were mostly found in Tequilas or Mezcal bottles?

Different spirits, different memories.

Thank you for keeping this diary and for lifting our spirits.

[Edited at 2020-03-20 14:06 GMT]
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Brian Joyce  Identity Verified
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peekabooo Mar 20

I just wanted to say I'm thinking of you all. Since the coronavirus there has been a moratorium on evictions, which worked out for me since my landlord was threatening an eviction notice. Every cloud has a silver lining! I take inspiration from the life of Leonardo Da Vince who lived through a plague for 2 years. He didn't complain once but rolled up his sleeves and painted the last supper for a bunch of un-grateful monks who expected him to work for free. Last supper, get it.
... See more
I just wanted to say I'm thinking of you all. Since the coronavirus there has been a moratorium on evictions, which worked out for me since my landlord was threatening an eviction notice. Every cloud has a silver lining! I take inspiration from the life of Leonardo Da Vince who lived through a plague for 2 years. He didn't complain once but rolled up his sleeves and painted the last supper for a bunch of un-grateful monks who expected him to work for free. Last supper, get it.
God be with you all in this time of uncertainty.
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Elizabeth Tamblin
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Mina Chen
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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London stalling Mar 20

I must admit that Chris and others are probably right, and that Wales and other remote areas are much safer. All that fresh air. Sheep grazing quietly in the meadows as choirs sing in the valleys. Pleasant and leafy. Sleepy towns and villages. Attractive. To other people. People from other places. Lots of other places. Could be a delightful place for a little getaway from other parts of the country. Get away from The Smoke this weekend, yes, why not? It’s a free country.

Maybe ri
... See more
I must admit that Chris and others are probably right, and that Wales and other remote areas are much safer. All that fresh air. Sheep grazing quietly in the meadows as choirs sing in the valleys. Pleasant and leafy. Sleepy towns and villages. Attractive. To other people. People from other places. Lots of other places. Could be a delightful place for a little getaway from other parts of the country. Get away from The Smoke this weekend, yes, why not? It’s a free country.

Maybe right now a big man in London is thinking of doing just that. Especially as he’s had a bit of a cough the last few days, and some of that country air could be just the ticket. So this afternoon he loads his big arse into his big car and he heads over your way. He stops for petrol on the way at a service station not too far from where you live and he puts his fat sweaty hands all over the petrol pump, he goes inside and pays for it with a card or cash, all plastered with his big fat sweat. Then, because cor, strewth, it’s hot today, he calls in at the Crown and Daffodil and has a pint of Best sitting at the bar with his big fat arse oozing sweat all over the stool and his big fat pinkies leaving their mark all over the bar, the money, the change, and the glass the barmaid’s about to clear away. Yes, that barmaid. Mm, this Welsh wench is a bit of all right, he thinks and, men being what we are, after another pint he might even think he’s in with a chance simply because she’s pleasant and smiles at him, even though that merely means she’s good at her job, so he may try on a bit of in-her-face chatting-up, breathing his big fat foul breath all around her and anyone else at the bar. And so he has a pleasant weekend, although he just can’t seem to get rid of the dry cough wherever he goes – the hotel, the newspaper shop, the tobacconist’s, the tourist information centre, a few more jars in the snug at the Dog and Leek, the supermarket …

Oh yes, the supermarket. Maybe he’s just been in that new Lego supermarket. Has he? He might have gone in there, yes. Picking up this and picking up that, smearing his vile sweat all over everything, taking out coins and notes again and sneezing as he does so. Not much space in that supermarket, is there? No, there isn’t. Pretty confined. Very cramped indeed. Hardly room to swing a cat. And a very small door, too. That chap will have difficulty getting out with all that bog roll. Do you know, he reminds me of someone. It’s that biker’s helmet. Just can’t place him right now. Oh well, I suppose I’ll remember later. He does look a bit cross, though. Why the knitted brow? Is it because he was kept waiting behind a big fat sweaty man hawking and spluttering all around him in the queue at the till?

And maybe right now a young lady in Manchester is thinking exactly the same thing. So she rings up her girly friends, and all five of them get excited, and the whole gaggle of them descend on Wales for the weekend. And a plumber in Leeds, and an elderly couple in Weston-super-Mare, and a whole family in Birmingham, and so it goes on.

Wales. Safe as houses.

All this reminds me of a story about a fire-and-brimstone Scottish Presbyterian minister haranguing his flock one Sunday morning:

“ … and, on yon terrrrrible day, when the Lorrrrd casts ye intae yon lake of fire, ye’ll cry out in yer pain to the Lorrrrd: “Lorrrrd, Lorrrd, ah didnae ken [I didn’t know]!”

“And what will the Lorrrd say to ye? The Lorrrd will look down on ye, and in his infinite merrrcy and wisdom, he’ll say: “Aye, but ye feckin’ well ken the noo!” [Yes, but you know now - rough translation]


[Edited at 2020-03-20 15:49 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-03-20 16:03 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-03-20 16:29 GMT]
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Jennifer Forbes
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
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Point taken, Mervyn. But... Mar 20

Helmet boy spent six hours on his bike today and saw a grand total of two cars and two walkers. They looked like incomers so obviously he fired a patriotic snot-rocket in their direction. Bull’s eye! His irresponsibility knew no bounds. He even cycled gaily through a leek field. Well, that’ll come home to roost in the summer when all there is to eat is about three sheep per capita.

But when he got to the Dog and Daff for a pint and a good sneeze, London man wasn’t actually the
... See more
Helmet boy spent six hours on his bike today and saw a grand total of two cars and two walkers. They looked like incomers so obviously he fired a patriotic snot-rocket in their direction. Bull’s eye! His irresponsibility knew no bounds. He even cycled gaily through a leek field. Well, that’ll come home to roost in the summer when all there is to eat is about three sheep per capita.

But when he got to the Dog and Daff for a pint and a good sneeze, London man wasn’t actually there, because halfway down the M4 he sadly became one of the many more people killed on the roads each year than are likely to succumb to the Coronavirus.

Luckily, though, the Manx girls are up for a laugh. He shoots, he scores...

Sometimes it’s hard to get hysterical.
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Agneta Pallinder  Identity Verified
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Message to moderator - keep this thread up top, please! Mar 21

Please, moderators, could you pin this delightful thread to the top of the forum, at least for a while.
It has become my morning tonic and I would hate to lose sight of it.


P.L.F.Persio
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Saturday 21 March – The CCO Mar 21

Someone WhatsApped me about this Translator Complaints Service. Yippee, a godsend for people like us. There’s nothing we like more than a good gripe, a wistful whinge, a mournful moan, is there? Just stick the words “unacceptable rates!!”, “late payment!!”, “no urgent fee!!” in any post title, and you’ll have two hundred hits within five minutes. So I just couldn’t stop myself from calling the helpline …

When they picked up, all I could hear at first was a lot of
... See more
Someone WhatsApped me about this Translator Complaints Service. Yippee, a godsend for people like us. There’s nothing we like more than a good gripe, a wistful whinge, a mournful moan, is there? Just stick the words “unacceptable rates!!”, “late payment!!”, “no urgent fee!!” in any post title, and you’ll have two hundred hits within five minutes. So I just couldn’t stop myself from calling the helpline …

When they picked up, all I could hear at first was a lot of hammering and shouting in the background. Then he came on the line:

“Good morning, Translator Complaints Service, CCO here.” – more hammering – “What can I do for you?”

“CCO?” I asked, as the hammering grew louder.

“Yes, CCO” – hammer, hammer, hammer – “Chief Complaints Officer. It’s my job to …” – hammerhammerhammerhammer … “ … oh, bloody hell …” His voice faded a little at this point because he had obviously put down the phone, but I could hear him clearly:

“ … do you HAVE to do that now, for Pete’s sake? Or keep it down a bit, can’t you? Can’t you see I’m trying to work here?”

The hammering stopped, and I could hear someone apologising in a dreary monotone mumble a bit farther off. He came back on the line:

“Sorry about that. It’s the air conditioning. Right behind me here. They’ve been banging at it since 8 this morning. And I’m on my own as well. Two secretaries, and they’re both out at the same time. Surely the bloody point of having two secretaries is that one goes out and the other one covers. But no, no, off they go, the two of them, squawking about the weekend and clubbing and Kevin’s new pad and Dave’s brother’s new car … anyway, er …?”

“Well,”, I said, “I’ve got a complaint, and the fact is that …”

“YOU have? You’ve got a complaint? Tell me about it. You should see what I have to put up with, old son. I went to work early this morning just to get away from the missus. Went ballistic on me at breakfast, she did. All for nothing, too. She asked me if we could have her mother for dinner on Friday, and all I said, all I said, right, was “Might be a bit tough, love - couldn’t we have hake and peas instead?” The language she used. Well. Some of the words I knew, and the rest she must have been making up. I thought she was going to throw the mug of coffee at the wall, she was so …”

I thought I’d better stick my oar in fast.

“You see, I have a customer with an urgent job who doesn’t appreciate a family circumstance I’m experiencing at this time, and …”

“Family problems, eh? Don’t get me started, son. It’s not just her indoors, either. Her sister’s kid went and got herself knocked up, didn’t she, yes, had to drop out of her last year at school, and she’s staying with us for the last two months before the big day because sister can’t handle her AND work AND her mother AND the other two kids. So there she is lying around all day eating gherkins by the bucket and throwing up all the time. When she’s not sitting in front of the dressing table splodging on makeup and bleating about being fat, am I fat, do I look fat, oh God I’m so fat, I’m fat, aren’t I, all the live long day. And the proud father-to-be’s with us too. What a sorry piece of work HE is. The IQ of a subnormal prawn. No job, of course, so no household contribution, but he does his best to struggle through the day with can after can of Newkie Brown. Only one known skill, the ability to roll a spliff with one hand and drink with the other. Blinking flip. You should see the little prat, with his orange, blue and green hair. And the way he talks, Christ, it drives me mad. Every sentence ends with Know what I mean? How can you do that? I could understand it in a normal sentence like, “Now, you have to be careful driving through this junction, Fred, because there’s not much visibility and six roads all converging together, more traffic going through there than Harvey Weinstein’s crotch, know what I mean?”, but it’s like a permanent verbal appendage with this dickhead: “Going to switch on the telly, know what I mean?” - The lads managed to score in the dying seconds, know what I mean?” – “Think I’ll have some jam on my toast, know what I mean?” - “Left the post for you on the table in the hall, know what I mean?” The stupid twat doesn’t even know he’s saying it, either. He said that last one about the post to me yesterday, and I said, “Yes, I do know what you mean.” He just looked at me blankly and said, “What do you mean, you know what I mean?” Well, I suppose I should be grateful he didn’t say: “What do you mean, you know what I mean, know what I mean? ...”

He stopped to draw breath, and I got in again:

“You see, my wife was going to go on a trip in the car, but it broke down, and …”

“With you, lad, with you. Say no more. Cars? I’ve got that T-shirt all right. I feel your pain, don’t think I don’t. Don’t talk to me about cars. I left mine in the garage the other day with a dodgy clutch. Just the clutch, right? Just the frigging clutch. They told me it would set me back 150 or thereabouts, and I rang up later to see when exactly I could pick it up, because they’d said two or three days, and now they say about a fortnight. A fortnight! Yes, they said, because there’d been “complications”. Complications?, I said, you’re a garage, aren’t you, not a fucking hospital. Yes, they said, they found a lot of other things, the battery and the carb, and some of the electrical stuff, and yes, it’s going to be more like 600 in the end.”

“Quite,” I broke in. “It sounds dreadful. You do seem to be having a time of it. All I can say is take a deep breath, count to ten, and start trying to resolve your problems one by one. Problems are really just a shedload of tiny problemettes, and you just go through them individually, address them and tick them off like on a check list”.

“Don’t concern yourself,” he sighed. “Anyway, I’d better hang up now. For the next caller, see. So take it easy, bruv.”

“Hang on a minute, what about my complaint? I haven’t even started in yet!”

I could almost hear him smile down the phone.

“Doesn’t work like that, mate. What we do here is spout out all OUR complaints to YOU, and eventually you empathise so much and secretly feel so glad it’s not you that your own stuff fades into relative insignificance. And it works, too, doesn’t it? In the end there, it was YOU trying to give ME advice and help ME out. It’s a new consultancy format. The PTSQ Technique, they call it. By McKinsey or someone.”

“What does PTSQ stand for?”

He sniffed.

“God only knows. I don’t think anyone knows. Just a name. Like the 4 Ps, the 7 Rs, the 10 Bs, all that tosh. Maybe it means nothing at all. Adds to the mystique. But I bet you’re feeling better now, aren’t you, knowing about all the bullshit I have to take? Like the Spanish say, ‘Misfortune of many, consolation of fools.’”

Another phone rang in the background.

“Gotta go. Have a nice day!”

He was right, actually. I certainly was feeling much better.


[Edited at 2020-03-21 12:12 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-03-21 12:13 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-03-21 12:22 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-03-21 22:01 GMT]
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P.L.F.Persio
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Nobody watching Mar 21

Into our second week of quarantine, I find I’ve been given the dubious opportunity to catch up on some late-night Spanish reality shows. I’m aware it’s not just a Spanish thing, but here at least, TV nobody watching is big business for everybody and anybody involved. To be fair, technically not all the nobodies I refer to here are real nobodies known to nobody, because some of the nobodies are somebodies whom somebody, though perhaps not everybody, has heard of, but when all’s said and d... See more
Into our second week of quarantine, I find I’ve been given the dubious opportunity to catch up on some late-night Spanish reality shows. I’m aware it’s not just a Spanish thing, but here at least, TV nobody watching is big business for everybody and anybody involved. To be fair, technically not all the nobodies I refer to here are real nobodies known to nobody, because some of the nobodies are somebodies whom somebody, though perhaps not everybody, has heard of, but when all’s said and done, sadly each and every one of them is a nobody who is really nobody at all, even if somebody, anybody, or in some cases everybody, has heard of them.

I know it’s confusing, so let me explain that in Spain’s complex, sinister TV nobody-watch world there are three different categories. There are the straight Nobodies (your plain vanilla anonymous everymen and everywomen), whose dream is to become TV Somebodies. And there are two types of Somebodies:

Class I Somebodies, who in some way have been somebodies since some time ago - luvvies, crooners, bullfighters and their squeezes, people calling themselves journalists who specialise in who’s-sleeping-with-who sleaze (yes, I know it should be whom, don’t start, but certain journalistic details don’t bother them, see), minor politicians, particularly the turncoats, the promiscuous and the outright embittered, lesser known former TV presenters, and hangers-on various of all the foregoing are good examples. Or they may even have been fully-fledged somebodies since the very day they were born (normally the sprogs and other relations of the above), and their greatest though largely groundless fear is losing status as Somebodies, thereby becoming Nobodies to whom nobody or anybody would give the time of day.

Then we have the Class II Somebodies (successful, or even unsuccessful, or colourful, sexually ambiguous or very much unambiguous, loudmouthed - and the louder the better -, outrageous, trashy, gorgeous, creepy, slimy or downright obnoxious former Big Brother contestants, that kind of person), who were outright nobodies before they became somebodies and would sooner die than go back to slumming it as nobodies, because everybody knows that nobody has time for somebody who is nobody, whereas anybody and everybody wants to hang out with somebody who is somebody. Naturally there is quite a bit of tension between Class I Somebodies and Class II Somebodies, because some Class I Somebodies think that nobody can become a somebody just like that, whereas some Class II Somebodies, having served their time like nobody’s business on their way up from nobody to somebody, feel that anybody has a right to aspire to being a somebody, although both Class I and Class II tend to look down on the nobodies, and this is even true of some Class II Somebodies who used to be utter nobodies themselves.

There seems to be no rule to pinpoint exactly when a nobody actually becomes a somebody, especially because some somebodies may still not be known to everybody, though not to nobody, obviously, in the way that a nobody is not known to anybody (except to nobodies), whereas some somebodies are known to anybody, and indeed perhaps almost everybody. Nobodies can also become somebodies by default when some somebody hooks up in some indirect way with their family or acquaintances, but the reverse is not true, i.e. somebodies do not automatically become nobodies when some nobody joins their circle, irrespective of whether somebody, anybody or nobody pays any attention to the newly arrived nobody. Once a somebody, always a somebody - nobody, not even a nobody, or in fact anybody at all, can turn anybody who is already a somebody into a nobody.

So are we clear on professional nobodyism?

The main exponent is a show which translates into English as “Save me”, but I’ve never understood that because, given the shouting and mauling that goes on there among the nobodies and somebodies, “Crucify me” or “Haul me over the coals naked” or “Chew my family up and spit us out in disgust in front of the entire nation” would be much more suitable titles. I’m not sure whether this is a purely Spanish trait, but the afternoon “Save me” has two stints, called “Orange” and “Lemon”. It hasn’t been explained to me as such, but I’m guessing from what I’ve seen that Orange is a lighter, juicier, carefree version, while Lemon is much more zesty, in your face and bitter, bitter, bitter to the bitter, bitter, bitter end.

The High Priest of this programme is a man who deliberately manoeuvred from nobodyist beginnings to co-presenter and presenter of a string of ever more risqué screeching matches, and has scaled the dizzy heights of live yelling contests to reach the present cult slot that is “Save me”, which he minces through with occasional tantrums when things get out of hand. As they often do, considering the vicious motley crew he has to put up with, and that’s just the main team, or the panel of “collaborators”, as they call them here, let alone the hapless somebodies and nobodies as “guests” invited to the set to bay at and be bayed at by nobodies and somebodies alike, in a kind of post-Orwellian Three-Hour Hate, the males among them all smugly sporting the same Fred Flintstone stubble so sharply traced and defined I could swear sometimes it’s a cardboard cutout glued to the face.

And if you have a High Priest, better to have a High Priestess too. All hail to the Queen of Nobodyism. A text-book case to prove that absolutely anybody can go from absolute nobody to absolute somebody in absolutely no time at all. From ultra-humble beginnings, previously a quiet girl unused to media attention before she married a man who had already been a bullfighting somebody for quite some time. Doom was darkly prophesied from the start. It was more than risky, admittedly, a nobody betrothing her nobody self to a man whose somebodyism and enormous attraction to the opposite sex had once prompted organisers to put on a ladies-only bull gig for him to strut his sword stuff. In the end she must have realised, whispered those in the know dramatically to a spellbound nation, that he was using his other weapon of mass seduction elsewhere, a-stabbing and a-spearing and a-skewering a selection of swooning substitutes with it every which way. So it was that the fairy tale between the herbivore murderer and herself shattered into a thousand tragic pieces, and before long that shy little girl got herself a divorce, somebodyed up with a vengeance, and has been pouting and screeching and badmouthing about him and his new flame ever since, taking time out occasionally to lambast nobodies, somebodies and anybodies alike who dare question the word of the People’s Princess, as she came to be known. Yes, it rings a bell, does it not? A kind of Spanish version of you-know-who, albeit several light years away in terms of class, infinitely more vulgar and trashy, propped up by all-in-one-go plastic surgery a few years ago, because the daily round as a full-time somebody takes its toll in the end, you know. After a week or two without She Who Must Be Overpaid, Spain throbbed with excitement counting down the days leading up to her triumphant reappearance on set, with multiple cracks filled in, multiple sags pushed out, and a bit of general polishing, deburring and sprucing up inbetween.

This woman is the People’s Princess because She Has Been There. She Knows. She Knows About Men and Women. She Knows About Love. She Knows About Hate. She Conducts Analyses Of Human Feelings and Suffering. She Is A Professional Consultant On Treachery And Loyalty. You can see I’m writing this out with initial caps, but I kid you not, this woman has honed her somebodiness to the extent that she can actually speak in capital letters. She pulls no punches, tells it like what it is. “My Truth”, she calls it. Truth, right. Sincerity. To this lass, sincerity is everything. Once you can fake that, the rest is easy. As easy as taking a shedload of dosh from prime-time TV as an authority on we know not exactly what.


[Edited at 2020-03-21 17:53 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-03-22 10:50 GMT]
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Francine Oliveira
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In Brazil, we are going downwards quickly Mar 21

Aline Amorim wrote:

Here in Brazil National health service: Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS)created an app.
The Ministry of Health has developed an application that provides information about covid-19, the new coronavirus. The digital platform gathers official information and guidance on symptoms, indicating when it is necessary to go to hospitals.

The application has been available since Friday (13.mar2020) for free download on Android phones and Iphone (IOS). Through geolocation, it indicates the health unit closest to the user.

But it is up to us to be aware of and Brazilian don't take it seriously. I wonder if they will ever take me seriously!
I'm doing my part.


Our public health service was already collapsing without covid-19. Unfortunately, we cannot trust the president and most representatives to make strategic and intelligent decisions.

There are still lots of people who are not taking it seriously and I just wonder when will they get it. The elderly are out on the streets, just living their lives, unwilling to quarantine themselves.

I left my house to stay with my parents so that they don't have to get out of their house. I love them, but it's very difficult to get used to a shared lockdown after years leaving alone...


 

Yurim Jung  Identity Verified
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From South Korea Mar 22

Sunday 22 March

Now, there are 8,897 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Korea.
I miss my friends...


[Edited at 2020-03-22 02:43 GMT]


 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Sunday 22 March - "Bilbainada"! Mar 22

“I’m from Bilbao.” That’s all I said to this chap. Maybe I was too glib about it. It’s a bit of a closed shop, because not everybody can be from here. A point of honour, really. I should add that the Basques have a certain reputation in the Spanish State, and the people of Bilbao more so, and not only because of the separatist movement, or an ancient and primitive-but-frighteningly-complicated language full of TXs and Ks, and compound words that are much longer than in Spanish or Engli... See more
“I’m from Bilbao.” That’s all I said to this chap. Maybe I was too glib about it. It’s a bit of a closed shop, because not everybody can be from here. A point of honour, really. I should add that the Basques have a certain reputation in the Spanish State, and the people of Bilbao more so, and not only because of the separatist movement, or an ancient and primitive-but-frighteningly-complicated language full of TXs and Ks, and compound words that are much longer than in Spanish or English. The long-word idea is the same as German, with the difference that the Germans simply add nouns to nouns or nouns to adjectives, but Euskera also throws in an extra letter or two or three to denote little bits and pieces of grammatical ideas and concepts of number and case, and manages to string the length of those words out even more.

The Basques are known for their strength competitions, which date back to a rural civilisation from the year dot - lifting stones weighing upwards of 300 kilos, chopping and sawing wood, humping up and down a walking course with a heavy chunk of iron in either fist in the shortest possible time, and a host of other daunting, sweaty challenges. And the main exponents are held to be the men and women of Bilbao, but in their case it is extended to more than just all that physical stone-lifting and chunk-humping. They have a word, “bilbainada”, a quasi-superhuman feat of endurance that is supposedly only possible if you are a bilbaíno, a seemingly impossible undertaking which the people of Bilbao would simply take in their stride, batting nary a determined eyelid. To exaggerate a little, for example, someone tells you they were up all night with a crying baby each night for a month despite a daily ten-hour stint at the office, or they had the relatives around the other day and cooked both lunch and dinner for twenty people, including three strict vegans, one coeiliac, and four vegetarians, or they read War and Peace and Anna Karenina in a single month while convalescing in hospital, … and when you say, “Wow, that’s some going,” they could just smile and joke: “Hey, I’m from Bilbao.” Conversely, when someone admits to a shortcoming, a fault or a foible, or has perhaps failed to make the grade in some way, they might use the same concept in mock self-deprecation: “Well, yes, I’m from Bilbao, but not from the centre.”

Talking of convalescing in hospital, the story goes that a man was found in the wreckage of the Twin Towers. Half-conscious, he told the paramedics he was fine. “Just a few scratches”, he croaked, and added “I’m from Bilbao”, whereupon he fainted away again. Scratches, right. His scratches were both legs broken in four or five places each, plus an arm, pelvis and three ribs, and he had a collapsed lung too. He also had some mysterious lacerations on his forearms and chest that the doctors couldn’t explain, because they didn’t square with the injuries he might have been expected to sustain in that scenario. The Feds were waiting to interview him because nobody could account for him anywhere either, and the doctors called them in about half an hour after he came round a day or two later.

“So which of the towers were you in, sir?”, they asked, “North or South?”

“Towers?” he says, “Towers? The last thing I remember is keeling over in the aisle after some son of a bitch stabbed me four or five times with what looked like a Stanley knife when I tried to stop him and his mates hijacking our plane. What towers? What IS all this stuff about towers?”

Sometimes you have to earn it. Back to the first sentence of this - on that particular day I had run into a couple of chaps in the street, only one of whom I knew. There’d been no introductions, but we’d been talking for a while, and then the one I didn’t know asked me where I was from. Must have been something I said, or the way I said it. I speak the language pretty fluently, but occasionally something gives you away, plus I don’t look very Basque because I have fairer hair and I don’t have their aquiline nose and sharp features, although people don’t always assume you aren’t Spanish-speaking. Sometimes, when it comes out, they say afterwards they just thought at first I was from another part of the State.

“Bilbao,” I told him breezily. “I’m from Bilbao.”

The bloke I knew raised his eyebrows.

“Eh, what, you, from Bilbao?” He turned to the other one. “No, he isn’t,” he told him. “I’ve known this guy for years. He’s Irish. He’s a translator.”

His friend laughed. “Better leave being from Bilbao to the bilbaínos. It’s a Bilbao thing. You wouldn’t understand. Not being from Bilbao, I mean.”

Naturally I couldn’t let him get away with that. I shrugged at this chap:

“I understand perfectly. Me? Not from Bilbao, me? You don’t know who you’re talking to here. I most certainly am from Bilbao. I’ve strutted all the Bilbao stuff. My spoken Basque might be a little rusty now because I haven’t been practising it for years, but then a lot of people here don’t speak a word of it. I’ve sipped the txakolina, I’ve eaten the txistorra and the txuleta, and I’ve listened to the txalaparta in the txoko while the txirimiri pitter-patters down outside over the txosna. I’ve been there, done that, and got the txapela beret. In fact, I’m more from Bilbao than you are. Try this one on for size - I am so from Bilbao, so from Bilbao am I, that I even decided to be born just wherever I chose, and I chose a sleepy little market town in Ireland. Not only that, either – many years ago I had a total cardio-respiratory failure here, dead in the water I was, and they had to break two of my ribs and jump-start me with electrodes. Born in Ireland, and reborn in Bilbao. So I’ve lived in Bilbao and I’ve even died in Bilbao as well, and I’m still living in Bilbao to this very day. I’m from Bilbao, get it? I fear no man, and very few women. Beat that bilbainada.”


[Edited at 2020-03-22 15:46 GMT]
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Brian Joyce  Identity Verified
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Something to cheer us all Mar 22

contagion-full-movie-1080p.blogspot.com

 

expressisverbis
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And a bit of History to lift the spirit: Mar 23

March, the third month of the year, is derived from Mars via the Roman month Martius, which was considered a lucky time to go to war.
According to the story of the founding of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus, twin boys born to a human priestess and raised by a wolf.
Romulus later founded the city of Rome, and the Romans believed that Romulus's divine father would come to their aid in times of crisis or disaster.
Let's hope that "Mars", divine protector of the c
... See more
March, the third month of the year, is derived from Mars via the Roman month Martius, which was considered a lucky time to go to war.
According to the story of the founding of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus, twin boys born to a human priestess and raised by a wolf.
Romulus later founded the city of Rome, and the Romans believed that Romulus's divine father would come to their aid in times of crisis or disaster.
Let's hope that "Mars", divine protector of the city of Rome, protect us in this "battle" and lead us to victory.
I'm sure there are a bit of Mars in every Italian and in all of us, in every nation…
We will win this war!
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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Blast from the past Mar 23

Monday 23 March

I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if … if only there were no other people in the world.


No, no, it’s not how I’m feeling at the moment in Bilbao. It’s how someone else was feeling, cooped up in a confined space in much more dangerous circumstances. The last wo
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Monday 23 March

I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if … if only there were no other people in the world.


No, no, it’s not how I’m feeling at the moment in Bilbao. It’s how someone else was feeling, cooped up in a confined space in much more dangerous circumstances. The last words Anne Frank ever wrote in her diary, on 1 August 1944. Three days later the SS arrived and took them all away.

A few years ago I used “The Diary of a Young Girl” for occasional English classes. A poignant, fascinating read, considering everything that was going on around her. Sometimes mistakenly portrayed, though, as a detached, nondescript, simple diary written by a young German Jewess hiding out from the Nazis in Amsterdam. But, after hearing a speech by the Dutch government in exile in which they claimed that after the war they would be compiling testimony of the whole thing for publication, Anne started to polish her writings up a little more, and that’s why she delves into life, family, friendship, love and all the rest in such a curious way, although she was only in her early teens. So she was interested in publication, but could never have anticipated the global fame she eventually garnered. I thoroughly recommend it. But you read it with no mystery in your mind, no wondering how it’s all going to turn out in the end for poor lovesick Anne, Peter and the rest. Unlike an Agatha Christie novel, when you have to wait until the end to find out whodunnit:

[My apologies to those who’ve read the following story before on ProZ, but I’ve stuff to do and can’t be making up new nonsense all day long for this. I’m more than a little down today – but not out – in the knowledge that Spain’s lockdown has been extended to 11 April. At least. We knew it was on the cards, but now it’s official. Reading this again cheered me up, so I hope you enjoy either your first read or your re-read …]



Hercule Poirot was addressing the six suspects in the drawing room at Highfield Towers, residence of the late Dr Black, the renowned wealthy scientist who had been brutally done to death during our stay there, necessarily by one of those present in that very room.

There was Colonel Mustard, the gnarled, grizzled old soldier who had fought his way intrepidly through Omdurman, both Boer Wars, the trenches of the Somme amid gas, mud and endless salvos of bullets and shells, and three marriages. Now retired, with one arm shot away, he had swapped battle for bottle, and spent his time weaving unsteadily around on a self-appointed mission to protect pretty young things from the cads, blackguards, ne’er-do-wells and good-for-nothing workshy loafers and predators who littered beaches from Deauville to Estoril and Calais to St Tropez. When none of these wretched vultures were pestering the ladies, he would simply be on hand to keep the flies off the creamy white flesh of their luscious sweat-beaded melons. And their tempting pink cherries. To say nothing of their moist downy peaches.

Beside him was Professor Plum, another scientist who had been working alongside Black on an ambitious new project they were both extremely excited about – an idea they were going to call the “worldwide web”, which would apparently use new-fangled machines to provide everyone everywhere with information at the same time, and even a letter system they were going to call “e-mail”. A paperless system, too, whatever that meant. I avow it sounded like a downright hare-brained scheme to me. Absolutely ludicrous – whoever heard of a paperless letter? Dash it all, we have a perfectly satisfactory postal system in this country, with at least three or four collections and deliveries a day, for heaven’s sake. If I write a note for my man Bloggs to be delivered to someone in the morning, why, it inevitably gets there in time for afternoon tea and crustless cucumber sandwiches. The whole rigmarole was doomed to failure from the word go, if you want my opinion. Preposterous. It would never catch on.

Sitting stiffly upright in her chair, her little rat’s eyes darting suspiciously everywhere, was the third suspect, a woman by the name of Peacock, Dr Black’s housekeeper, a sharp-tongued, bitter, jealous female, permanently enraged with the hand Life had dealt her. For time had passed Prudence Peacock by - now in her late fifties, she had waited all her life in service at Highfield for Mr Right, before she was eventually forced to set her sights on the only one who was left - the occupant of Highfield, Dr Black himself, an eternal bachelor. But, sadly, it was not to be. The staid, dowdy Prudence might have held the keys to his house for years, but not the keys to his heart …

Unlike Rosie White, the murdered man’s cook, no more than a frazzled East End commoner who dropped her aitches and used frightfully vulgar expressions such as “Lor’-love-a-duck”, “Strike a light, guv’” and “Gor blimey, missus” but, as everyone knows, the way to a mere man’s affections is through his stomach, and Rosie was renowned, revered and envied for miles around for her legendary solid fare of shepherd’s pie, tripe and onions, Welsh rarebit, toad-in-the-hole and slow-roasted lamb, among other specialities. She, too, had entertained high hopes at one time with Dr Black, but given her lowly origins and lack of finesse she had sadly realised she could not hope to set her cap at him in any official capacity. She was nevertheless well aware of the prim and proper Prudence’s aspirations, and hated her for it (the feeling was mutual), and her way of foiling them was to place a delicious steaming hotpot, for example, in front of Dr Black and beam in triumph as he tucked in enthusiastically amid oohs and aahs and mmms, while the housekeeper fumed in a barely contained stony silence only yards away.

Smirking insolently at all those gathered there was Letitia Scarlett, a penniless flame-haired tearaway with dangerous curves who latched onto other people’s money to smoke gaspers, swill whisky and flirt with anything in trousers, particularly trousers with bottomless pockets, and, as Rosie White, who was by way of being a bit of a Keyhole Kate tale-bearer, put it to me rather coarsely, she was not averse to a “piece of skirt” either, dear me. Professor Plum had also confided to me that, although Black’s bloodshot eyes would linger longer than was strictly necessary or decorous on Miss Scarlett’s trim figure on occasion, the owner of Highfield Towers was no fool and knew she was a gold-digger, and had told her so in no uncertain terms, much to her chagrin and disgust, and in any case at the end of the day he was more captivated by Rosie White’s legs of pork and sides of beef than by Letitia Scarlett’s best rump.

I disclosed to Poirot that the Reverend Green, a small round piggy-looking man, had ended up in this remote neck of the woods because the Church had quietly dispatched him from the capital following allegations that he had plied altar boys with communion wine at catechism classes. The tattling masses also assured the boys had been subjected to, shall we say, certain acts unbecoming to a man of the cloth. And that was not all. Here too, the gossipy cook had informed Poirot of rumours concerning the saintly Reverend during choir practice with young lads in Highfield village, in the hoarse whisper of the great unwashed: “More queer practice than choir practice if you arsk me, Mr Parrot sir, or my name ain’t Rosie White. Gawd strike me down dead if it weren’t.”

Yes, Poirot was working the room ...

“Mesdames et Messieurs, this has been one of my most difficult cases. I smelt a rat. Or rather, something smelt fishy to me. The whole thing smacked of a red herring. Many red herring, in fact. More red herring than one would find in the hold of a trawler putting in at Grimsby, as Inspector Japp said to me this very morning when we were winding up the case."

“They don’t catch red herring”, drawled Miss Scarlett, lolling against the fireplace with a bored defiant expression.

Poirot turned his egg-shaped head to look at her.

“So you wouldn’t find any in a trawler. What you mean is a kipper, and they’re smoked”, Letitia went on, taking a long drag from her cigarette as if to illustrate the verb, and carelessly tapping her ash onto the Persian rug. “The expression “red herring” comes from when they were training hounds to run after the fox. What they did was to …"

Poirot rapped his cane on the floor for attention.

“Thank you, Mademoiselle, thank you indeed for your kind enlightenment, but what I meant was that there were far too many incriminating clues pointing to far too many suspects. There was either a clue found at the scene of the crime, or something to provide motive. Could either Letitia Scarlett or Prudence Peacock have become so enraged with unrequited affection and rebuttals that they took it upon themselves to commit murder? Unlikely, and anyway by their separate accounts they were together at the time of the murder, when Prudence was berating Miss Scarlett in the lounge for her outrageous behaviour and blatant flirting with Dr Black and others in the house, whereupon the young lady merely shrieked with laughter and poured herself another double of The Famous Grouse, and so her pink garter found at the scene had obviously been deliberately planted there to incriminate her. And why on earth would Rosie White do away with the man who was her bread and butter?

The sheer violence of the crime in any case pointed to a man. Also, the lavatory close to the scene was heard to flush from the lounge shortly before the dastardly deed was discovered, but there was something about that lavatory which signalled a man to me when I inspected it. And then it came to me. The seat had been left in the upright position and, as everyone knows, very few women are physically capable of leaving a lavatory seat up.”

Poirot was warming to his task.

“Discarding the women, then, we now know Colonel Mustard despised Dr Black as a filthy unpatriotic coward who had deliberately used the feeble excuse of his important research to avoid being sent to the front at Ypres and being cut to pieces like everyone else at the whim of Kitchener and the rest of the top brass. Again, however, it is hardly a reason for murdering the man, and anyway the good Colonel, I am afraid, is rather the worse for wear for much of the time, and I do not believe he could either properly plan or execute such a crime.”

Mustard glared at him, harrumphed a little and twisted furiously at his handlebar moustache with his only hand, but otherwise said nothing.

“Could Professor Plum have become so incensed with Black taking out a patent for his new system without including him, as it has transpired, that he decided to take revenge?”, Poirot went on. “But he, too, had an alibi – the cook was ordered to bring the grilled trotters to his room that evening, and lock the door behind her until the following morning, as he wanted no interruptions from anyone and was not prepared to leave his desk before he had finished that day’s research. Which she did.

“Perhaps”, ventured the detective, “the doctor had threatened Green with disclosing his shenanigans, and the desperate Reverend had to act fast? After all, a catechism was found torn into pieces in a wastepaper basket down the hall. Perhaps, but ironically it transpires that at the time he was closeted in the vestry with two choirboys, giving them extra Bible classes. It sounds … plausible enough.”

The Reverend Green’s face turned a delicate shade of pink as all those assembled in the room fixed him with a disapproving stare.

Poirot raised his hands in the air.

“Truly, ladies and gentlemen, I believed I was going mad. There seemed to be no way that anyone could have killed the doctor. “Nom d’un chien, Hercule!”, I thought to myself. Yes, yes, I did. And then I said, “Nom d’un nom!” Followed by "Nom d’une pipe!” And then “Nom d’un nom d’un nom d’un nom” …

“I say, can we get on with this without all the foreign shilly-shallying?” broke in Colonel Mustard, still irritated by Poirot’s previous remark. He swayed as he got up to pour himself another brandy and soda. “I have to catch the 6.27 to Paddington to get to my club, and I’ll have you know my driver and my man can't wait around all day doing nothing and getting paid for it, by Jove. It’s a dashed liberty, law-abiding British citizens being retained and insulted like this by an uppity French detective.”

For once, Poirot ignored the slight on his nationality.

“What I mean, Mesdames et Messieurs, is that all the information I was receiving was bogus, none of the clues led anywhere at all, or else everyone had an alibi, and at every turn I was foiled. They could not ALL have done it together, as they did on the Orient Express, I told myself.”

Then Poirot’s expression changed to a sly leer. He was at his most catlike, his green eyes shining, positively purring as he spoke:

“I reached the conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, that there was no logical reason for the murder of Dr Black. It was a totally random act, committed not for money, not for love, not out of hatred, not to take revenge on the doctor, not to silence him … non, non, this man was murdered simply because of the totally unrelated rage of a person belittled, denigrated and defeated. Dr Black was not killed by Miss Scarlett, or by Rosie White, or by Prudence Peacock, or by the Reverend Green, or by Colonel Mustard, nor, curiously, was he killed by Professor Plum either. It all became clear when I thought back to one of my previous cases, the murder of poor Roger Aykroyd.”

I watched in suspense as his voice grew harsher.

“I am now in a position to reveal the truth. To my great dismay, the perpetrator of this foul act was a person no one would ever have suspected. None other than my own companion, in fact. Yes, Dr Black was murdered by Captain Hastings. In the library. With the lead piping.”

The game was up. I sprang to my feet.

“Yes! Yes, I admit it! It was me, damn your eyes! I killed Black, yes, I did it all right! I belted him with that piping good and proper. And yes, for no reason whatsoever, just to commit the perfect murder and see you fail, Poirot. To watch you squirm, eat humble pie and bite the dust at long last among all the alibis and false clues I planted, you little Belgian monster. Damn you, Poirot. Damn you to hell, you cursed mountebank!”

Yes, it was true. I had grown to abhor that foreign Johnny so much down through the years. What with me doing all the legwork and him just sitting there with his fingers pressed to his temples, banging on about the grey cells, Hastings, the grey cells, and that irritating habit of his of suddenly dashing off to clinch the case all on his own, grabbing all the glory for himself, and telling ME diddly squat until it was all over. Oh certainly, I loathed the arrogant little sod, I can tell you.

And so I yearned to take the pint-sized pillock down a peg or two. I had to fairly stick my fist in my mouth to stifle the laughter when Mustard called him French just now. Dear God, the way he reacted to that kind of thing! Lord, how I roared inside when somebody took him for a Frog. How the little runt would bristle. How his hackles would rise. He would go red in the face and a vein would start pulsating on that blessed egg head of his. Sometimes I even propitiated it myself, just for fun. “M. Poirot wishes to ask you a few questions”, I would say to people, “ … er, by the way, do you speak French at all?” And then of course they’d assume he was French, and walk in and maybe ask him what part of France he was from, and then the fun would start. He would draw himself up to his full height of four foot three, and splutter:

“I am not French, Madame, I am Belgian. Like Hergé. Georges Simenon. And Jacques Brel, to name but a few.”

The old fool. Brel isn't even born, and nobody’s heard of the first two yet.

And as for all that poncing around with the waxed moustache, the tiny Russian cigarettes … and oh, those ruddy syrups of his. Give me strength. I took him down to the Goose and Gander one day for a snifter. I ordered a brandy, naturally, but Poirot just had to ask if they had any “sirop”, didn’t he? John the publican being a simple man, he went out to the kitchen and came back with a tin of Lyle’s Golden Syrup, a spoon and a little bowl. Poirot’s face was a picture.

And the patent leather shoes. Oh, don’t get me started on the patent leather. All the fussing and whining if he got so much as a speck of dirt or dust on them. As we were leaving the public house that day I just managed to avoid some horrid smelly dog’s mess at the bottom of the steps, but cunningly said nothing to the little Belgian following me out. Not only did he step in it, he stepped in it with both shoes, and so there had to be a great to-do and palaver of washing and drying and brushing and preening with his man Georges later. Laugh? Laugh? I’ll say I laughed all right – dear God, I thought my plus-fours would never dry.

As if on cue, Inspector Japp entered the room with two officers.

“Got to come with us, I’m afraid, Captain Hastings”, he announced gravely.

And I was led away in cuffs, a broken man, to my date with the judge and the hangman.



[Edited at 2020-03-23 11:47 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-03-23 11:48 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-03-23 11:53 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-03-23 11:54 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-03-23 12:08 GMT]
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P.L.F.Persio
 

P.L.F.Persio  Identity Verified
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Proper lush Mar 23

Thank you so much, Mervyn, what a great read!

[Edited at 2020-03-23 12:13 GMT]


 

Brian Joyce  Identity Verified
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Dear Kitty Mar 23

Diary of Anne Frank, brilliant book, read it years ago. I would recommend for another inspirational read "Papillon", never mind the Steve Mcqueen film, I especially liked the shark stories, the time he opened up a restaurant, the leper colony, the prison cells near the beach that would fill with water when the tide came in. Truly a story of a man who could face it all, and still come out smiling. What a guy! Stay strong everybody, and keep the faith, some guy in the south of France is close to ... See more
Diary of Anne Frank, brilliant book, read it years ago. I would recommend for another inspirational read "Papillon", never mind the Steve Mcqueen film, I especially liked the shark stories, the time he opened up a restaurant, the leper colony, the prison cells near the beach that would fill with water when the tide came in. Truly a story of a man who could face it all, and still come out smiling. What a guy! Stay strong everybody, and keep the faith, some guy in the south of France is close to a cure.
Oh and Harvey Wienstien tested positive, so not all bad news.
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