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Corona quarantine diary
Autor wątku: Mervyn Henderson

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Jigsaw Dec 13, 2020

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

Dangerous things, saws. A nephew of mine was given a jigsaw for Christmas last year, and he lost two or three fingers fooling about with it when he plugged it in. Still, they managed to sew them back on, so luckily everyone saw the funny side.


Maybe he's ready to play with my chainsaw now. I give no sewing-back-together guarantee, though.


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Queueing for a drink? Dec 14, 2020

Not me, thanks. I did consider it on Sunday, when we were meant to go for a midday snifter of white wine and maybe a couple of Dutch oysters. I'm no oyster expert, but I'm told either the Dutch or Irish variety is slightly better than France's Gillardeau. Can't remember the prices now, but one of them, the Dutch, I think, is much more expensive.

Not that it mattered one jot in the end. I got there first, to case the joint - no standing at the bar, the back-wall counter, which can u
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Not me, thanks. I did consider it on Sunday, when we were meant to go for a midday snifter of white wine and maybe a couple of Dutch oysters. I'm no oyster expert, but I'm told either the Dutch or Irish variety is slightly better than France's Gillardeau. Can't remember the prices now, but one of them, the Dutch, I think, is much more expensive.

Not that it mattered one jot in the end. I got there first, to case the joint - no standing at the bar, the back-wall counter, which can usually take about half a dozen couples or groups of three on stools, had been divided into four spaces, all taken, no standing quaffs inbetween allowed, and all tables taken outside, with vultures hanging around waiting for people to leave. This place is bunged at the best of times and it occasionally takes some time to catch the man's eye at their busy bar, but there's something about my character that stops me waiting half an hour amid a sea of masks just for two oysters and a bit of plonk.

That seemed to be the tonic for all the other bars on one of Bilbao's most bar-strewn streets, Ledesma, so we went home instead. No oysters, though, just chicken and rice. And I'd already made that, and the wine was in the fridge, so no waiting around. Home sweet home.
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A shot of reality Dec 15, 2020

All vaccines these days, innit? Here we've been told that the first rounds of vaccination will start in January. With vaccines, let's remember, that have been fast-tracked, let's say. Maybe the odd trial left out here and there, and here, there, and everywhere.

And, as it could not be any other way, priority is being given to certain groups. Top of the list are, of course, the elderly, ministers say, nodding their heads gravely as they do so. We must guarantee the welfare and health
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All vaccines these days, innit? Here we've been told that the first rounds of vaccination will start in January. With vaccines, let's remember, that have been fast-tracked, let's say. Maybe the odd trial left out here and there, and here, there, and everywhere.

And, as it could not be any other way, priority is being given to certain groups. Top of the list are, of course, the elderly, ministers say, nodding their heads gravely as they do so. We must guarantee the welfare and health of our senior citizens.

Now, call me cynical - yes, I'm cynical - but two words occur to me in connection with this priority, and the words are "pigs" and "guinea", but not necessarily in that order. Human beings no longer fit for productive activity, kind of on their way out anyway. Expendable. There's another word.

Or is it just me?
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The Santa Claus Files – File 6A Dec 15, 2020

You wouldn’t think Santa Claus has much to do with geopolitics, now, but you’d be wrong there. I was told Vladimir Putin wasn’t at all happy with the Santa thing in Russia, and so I was asked to a video conference. Mrs Claws, Rudolf and me sat there at the PC while Live from the Kremlin!! came up in big red letters on screen, and stayed there flashing on and off, but all we could see at first was a long corridor with an unbelievably high ceiling, and nothing else. Then we could just make o... See more
You wouldn’t think Santa Claus has much to do with geopolitics, now, but you’d be wrong there. I was told Vladimir Putin wasn’t at all happy with the Santa thing in Russia, and so I was asked to a video conference. Mrs Claws, Rudolf and me sat there at the PC while Live from the Kremlin!! came up in big red letters on screen, and stayed there flashing on and off, but all we could see at first was a long corridor with an unbelievably high ceiling, and nothing else. Then we could just make out a speck at the end of it all, way off in the distance. After about two minutes the speck turned into a dot, the dot turned into an ant, the ant turned into a figure, and after another five minutes we could make out a man walking briskly towards the screen. After another two minutes he’d come close enough for us to see it was Putin himself, but dressed in nothing but a pair of shorts and hiking boots. He thrust out his hairy chest at the screen, nodded, and then someone turned the screen around and we saw a kind of arena marked out on the floor. In the corner against the wall there was a huge cage with an equally huge bear in it, and television cameras and reporters in another cage close by. A mechanism threw up the gate, and out lumbered the bear.

Well, we watched open-mouthed as Putin advanced towards this bear, apparently fearlessly, talking to it, taunting it, I think. That bear raised itself up on its hind legs with a terrible growl, but Putin, he just ran in and executed a horizontal drop kick right in its solar plexus. The bear roared in pain as Putin danced around like a boxer, moving in again to punch it hard on the snout, both sides, and then jumped back, bringing up his hands and flexing the fingers, bring-it-on style. The bear lunged at him, but it was a clever ruse. Quick as a flash Putin dodged and rushed in from the side, grabbed its huge paw, and used the animal’s own momentum to throw it right over his shoulder. A ripple of trepidation and admiration ran through the crowd of reporters as the bear crashed to the floor. Putin was still holding the paw, and then he threw himself on it, twisted those muscly legs around its neck and fell back to the side with the paw outstretched. A double stranglehold/armbreaker move. The bear roared and roared, but eventually its other paw banged the floor in submission. Vladimir jumped up and danced around again, hands in the air in victory, and the bear growled and limped back to its cage. The gate went up and it lay down inside, licking its paw.

Well. Someone put the PC straight from behind again, and Vladimir strode over and sat down, sweating slightly. He looked sternly at the monitor, said four or five words in Russian, looked at his watch, winced in irritation, looked up and over the PC, at the reporters, I suppose, made a scissor “cut” sign with his fingers, and got up and left. We could hear a lot of shuffling, presumably as the reporters all filed out.

A nervous little man appeared and sat down. “His Excellency said he’s not interested in Santa Claus in Russia. He thinks it’s a vile Western influence on all those little Olgas and Olegs, the future of Mother Russia, and anyway we have Saint Nicholas here in January.”

“All that in so few words?” I said.

“Yes,” said the man. “President Putin is a man of very few words. He likes to say he is a man of action, not a man of words.”

“Oh yes,” said Mrs Claws. “We did see that. My, that bear. What a man. What a leader you have over there in Russia.”

The little man grinned. He looked slyly to left and right, and behind him. “That bear. It’s from the Moscow Circus,” he whispered. “It knows better than to hurt Putin. As long as it plays ball, all it has to do is a bit of dancing and balancing balls on its nose now and again, and then retire at Moscow Zoo, and that’s why it seems to put up a fight, but it’s all fake, like professional wrestling. It’s all for the cameras. Why do you think the journalists are here? The Kremlin's finally realised it's bad PR nowadays for journalists to show up shot dead in lifts, or for dissidents to be poisoned in mysterious circumstances, so they can’t take the risk of anything going wrong and it being reported. By the way, he also said he’s late for the game. He’s gone off to play ice hockey as a guest feature for the Moscow Necksnappers. Against the Vladivostok Paralysers. The Necksnappers won 24-18.”

“How can you possibly know they won if he’s only just …?” - I had started when I saw his eyebrows go up and his hands spread before him, head on one side – “oh, of course they won. 24-18 to the Necksnappers. I see.”

Well, that was that. No more Russia for Santa, apparently.

But it’s not just Russia. And especially since 2016, after Brexit. All that confusion. I don’t know how Lapland got dragged in, but the EU couldn’t decide whether we were in the bag or not, the UK couldn’t decide whether they wanted an Irish backstop or a Lapp backstop, both, or neither, and so I got another video call a few years ago. There was Boris, Merkel, EU negotiator Michel Barnier, and Brexit Minister David Davis."

"Mutti was only there at the beginning, though. A man came up to where she was sitting with what looked like a pizza box, and I could have sworn I heard the word “Apfelstrudel”, this man then announced Mrs Merkel had to leave “on some urgent business”, and she just smiled as she got up and said “Wer die Wahrheit sagt, braucht ein schnelles Pferd”. Boris said “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit”, Barnier said “Peut-être, mais il faudrait établir une commission permanente pour étudier cet enjeu”, and David Davis said “What? What?”

I put forward Lapland and my activities as a special-case scenario, and waited for their response. Michel Barnier said “Peut-être, mais on doit travailler tous ensemble vers un avenir européen équitable”, Boris thought a bit and came out with “Sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua”, and David Davis said “Oh, for God’s sake, Boris.”

It seemed to be a stalemate, so as a last resort I said: “There must be something I can do to convince you.” I looked at Boris and Davis. “Would it make any difference if I told you a Scottish joke?”

Now, that hit the spot all right. Those red-blooded Englishmen’s eyes lit up. “Oh yes,” they both said together happily, “Scottish joke, Scottish joke, yes, yes, that would swing it all right, swing it good and proper, good-oh”. Barnier chipped in with “Peut-être, mais …” but the other two cried “Oh shut up, Barnier, will you?”

I had no idea how tough these negotiations could be. And so I played my Scottish card as they all settled back in their chairs, secretaries taking notes behind them:

“You may not realise this,” I told them, “but until not so long ago it was still lawful to kill Scottish people on sight on the Isle of Man. An ancient law that had never been repealed.” I could see their eyes gleam at that one. “In fact, the practice was not just lawful, but was actively encouraged. Rather like Mrs Thatcher’s unspoken shoot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland in the early 80s.” They frowned a little at that one, but probably not because of Margaret. “Well, at that time a Scottish renegade was hiding out from the soldiers in the wilds. But he got so tired of hiding all the time, that he said to himself, “Now, laddie, ye hae to dae somethin’ about this, the noo.” So he threw away his bagpipes and his kilt and his sporran and his long tartan socks and shoes with the fine buckles on them, and stole some everyday clothes from a remote farm.”

“A few days later he was walking down the road, and was stopped by a squad of soldiers. “You wouldn’t be Scottish, would you, sonny?” the captain asked him. “I?” laughs the Scot. “I, Scottish? Dash it all, my good man, I can assure you without fear of contradiction that I am positively not Scottish. The very idea! I am jolly well not Scottish, no.” And the captain said, “All right then, you can be on your way. But if you see any Scots on your travels, report them to the soldiers immediately. All Scots must be shot on sight.” The Scot nods gravely, and then his eyes open wide, and he blurts out: “Hoots, mon, an’ if ah see any, would there be a wee rewaaaarrrrd in it for me, the noo?”

Well, they just sat there with straight faces. Boris stared at me and said “Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.” Davis said, “Well, that wasn’t very funny, was it?” and Barnier said “Peut-être, mais on devrait …”

“Look, look,” I said, “how about an Irish joke, then?”

“Ho, ho, ho,” I thought, as those eyes lit up again. “Oh yes,” said Boris and Davis together, “Irish joke, Paddy joke, yes, yes, that would swing it all right, swing it good and proper, good-oh”. And so I played the Irish card:

“You may not realise this,” I told them, “but until not so long ago it was still lawful to kill Irish people on sight in certain parts of England. An ancient law that had never been repealed. In fact, the practice was not just lawful, but was actively encouraged, and …”

“Just a minute,” says Davis, “this is the same joke.” Boris tried to start in with “Duis aute irure dolor …” but Davis waved his hand impatiently. Barnier said “Peut-être, mais plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” and Davis shouted “Mais, ta gueule, Michel, merde alors!!”

“No, no, it’s not the same joke at all,” I told him earnestly.

“Yes it is, at the end they’ll say exactly the same thing, the Scot because he wants the money, and the Irishman because he’s a stupid Mick.”

“No, no, they won’t, it doesn’t go like that, I assure you, it’s different,” I insisted, and I went on: “ … and a renegade Irishman seeking refuge from the soldiers hied away to a cave” - “you see?” - I said, spreading my hands – “where he lay down and fell asleep. But he awoke to a fearsome sight, for standing over him was an ugly, filthy, toothless crone draped in tattered garments.”

“This is my cave,” rasped the crone in a terrible voice. “What are you doing here?”

“Well, the Irishman confessed he was hiding from the army, and the old woman smiled a horrible smile, and said: “Not only is this my cave, but it is the Cave of the Queen of the Hags. Lady Luck has smiled on you today, Irishman, because the Queen of the Hags has magical powers, and can grant you one wish in return for a small favour.”

“One wish, is it, Bejasus?” said the Irishman. “Moi wish is to lose de appearance of a Paddy, wid me red hair and me freckles and dis Oirish accent, at all, at all, at all, so dat I can walk around England widdout let or hindrance, at all, at all, at all.”

“I will grant that wish,” breathed the Queen of the Hags. “But now we must speak of the favour you will grant me in return. You must make wild passionate love to me, yes, and leave your seed inside me.”

“Well, the Paddy looked her up and down in disgust, because this hag had certainly earned her haggish title as Queen of the Hags. A viler woman he had never laid eyes on before. But he steeled himself, they lay down on the ground in the cave and he made love to her, doing his best not to gag in the process, especially when she broke wind full in his face right at the end.”

“He lay there panting as the Queen of the Hags sat back and took out a dirty old pipe. “Roight,” says the Irishman, “oi’ve done moy paart. Now it’s toime for you to grant moy wish.”

“The old crone filled her pipe and lit it. “How old are you, young man?” she enquired, a smile playing at her wrinkled, toothless hole of a mouth.

“Oi’m turty-foive,” says the man. “Why?”

She cackled loudly, and blew out smoke all around him. “Thirty-five?” grinned the hag. “Aren’t you a little old to believe in a magical Queen of the Hags, sonny?”




[Edited at 2020-12-15 10:26 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-12-15 16:06 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-12-15 16:10 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-12-15 16:13 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-12-15 18:51 GMT]
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Others are more cynical Dec 15, 2020

Mervyn Henderson wrote:
Now, call me cynical - yes, I'm cynical - but two words occur to me in connection with this priority, and the words are "pigs" and "guinea", but not necessarily in that order. Human beings no longer fit for productive activity, kind of on their way out anyway. Expendable. There's another word.

Or is it just me?


Others, for instance countries that don't take any measures at all against Corona, not because they can't, but to get rid of the poor, the old, and the weak, who wouldn't be of any use for the globalized economy. I will not name and shame the countries I have in mind, because perhaps I'm wrong.
And I don't know what vaccine Spain will use, but at least they start to use one, with all the risks a vaccine may have. Nobody is forced to take it. I believe Spain will apply certain standards as well when it comes to choosing among the few vaccines we have in the world, most of them well studied against the same scientific standards used for any other vaccine and with the same risks any vaccine has. Perhaps these risks are higher for the weaker and elderly people, but you should not play the game, that all the anti-vaccinationists with their aluminum helmets on their heads play.

[Bearbeitet am 2020-12-15 12:05 GMT]


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@Matthias Dec 15, 2020

Maybe I should think a little more before I blurt things out. It's difficult to know what to believe, but by this stage I tend to believe very little of what I hear from the authorities, and when a good measure comes along, I just assume they're lying to me. Peter and the Wolf Syndrome or something like that. I was just tired of hearing them on the TV all the time talking about the senior citizens' homes.

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They have to start with the oldies either way Dec 15, 2020

They’re the ones most at risk, after all.

They are also most expendable, as you point out, and if they start dropping like flies they’re the easiest to sweep under the carpet.

It’s a win-win.

Especially if you like mixed metaphors.

Something we can be certain of is that no matter how useless the vaccines might be, they will save the day, and no matter how deadly they might be, they won’t go down as killing a single person. There’s ju
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They’re the ones most at risk, after all.

They are also most expendable, as you point out, and if they start dropping like flies they’re the easiest to sweep under the carpet.

It’s a win-win.

Especially if you like mixed metaphors.

Something we can be certain of is that no matter how useless the vaccines might be, they will save the day, and no matter how deadly they might be, they won’t go down as killing a single person. There’s just too much vested in them now.
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I see that Dec 15, 2020

But it seems sneaky to me to say they're a priority when that's not really what they mean. I know nobody's going to say "Right, we're going to start with the wrinklies as a bit of a test-drive, and if the vaccine goes south, well, who cares?" Maybe they shouldn't say anything at all. Then again, maybe that's worse.

In a general sense, I don't have enough information about other countries, but here the homes were very much a part of the news for many reasons, with many people complai
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But it seems sneaky to me to say they're a priority when that's not really what they mean. I know nobody's going to say "Right, we're going to start with the wrinklies as a bit of a test-drive, and if the vaccine goes south, well, who cares?" Maybe they shouldn't say anything at all. Then again, maybe that's worse.

In a general sense, I don't have enough information about other countries, but here the homes were very much a part of the news for many reasons, with many people complaining about the treatment of their parents. With, I suspect, more than a few crocodile tears mixed in there too, because mismanagement and deaths were after all removing a major inconvenience from some people's lives.

I think I'll stop there.
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Better have a piece of ... Dec 15, 2020

Mervyn Henderson wrote:
I think I'll stop there.


...Mutti's Apfelstrudel you mentioned in one of your posts she has left for you (and only for you!). But better beware: You would be the first person testing her recipe. No studies at all before, neither in the Favelas of Brazil nor in any camps in Siberia.


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Hairy issues Dec 15, 2020

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

How long have you got?


[Edited at 2020-12-15 10:26 GMT]


Well, this last instalment of your Santa Claus Files really takes the ginger cookie, Mr Henderson.

You've obviously never been the proud owner of a Putin calendar, otherwise you'd be aware of his manly, smooth chest, and you could admire his other inspiring pics, that show him lovingly stroking dogs, and lovingly pouring tea to his enemies.

As the chairwoman of the committee for Cultural Uniformity & Literary Omissions Surveyors, I hereby urge you to refrain from posting this kind of libellous, erm, posts.

Besides, Christmas in Russia is celebrated on 25 December in the Julian calendar used by the church, which falls on 7 January in the common Gregorian calendar.
Saint Nicholas Day is observed on 6 December or on 5 December in Western Christian countries, and on 19 December in Eastern Christian countries using the old church Calendar.
Russian children receive their gifts from Ded Moroz, or Grandfather Frost, an old gentleman who shares his rather impressive style and extravagant fashion sense with Santa Claus, Sinterklaas, Father Christmas, Babbo Natale, and so on. He's accompanied by Snegurochka, or Snow Maiden, his granddaughter and helper, or so he says.

Get your facts straight, Mr. Henderson. You either do it right, or you don't do it at all, said the actress to the bishop.

Then you proceeded to regale us with 50 shades of politically incorrect jokes, containing all kind of unseemliness, from racism to sexism, to ageism, even to latinism.

I'm joining my esteemed colleague Chris S, a.k.a. Disgruntled from Tunbridge Wells, in his crusade against the general sloppiness of your writings, and your cavalier attitude towards your readers.

Mr. Henderson, this whole thread is becoming very unbecoming.


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The shame and pain of being PLFPersioed Dec 15, 2020

Oh dear. The price of ignorance. Or laziness. Do you know, I was going to check out that famous photo of Vlad on a horse bare-chested, but when I found myself typing "Putin riding his horse" into Google, I thought For crying out loud, son, this is above and beyond the call of duty.

My most sincere apologies. But I can edit it to historical, hirsutical, social and Santical fact this afternoon as a pathetic kind of repair job if you like ...


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Tough love Dec 15, 2020

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

Oh dear. The price of ignorance. Or laziness. Do you know, I was going to check out that famous photo of Vlad on a horse bare-chested, but when I found myself typing "Putin riding his horse" into Google, I thought For crying out loud, son, this is above and beyond the call of duty.

My most sincere apologies. But I can edit it to historical, hirsutical, social and Santical fact this afternoon as a pathetic kind of repair job if you like ...


You don't have to edit it, leave it as a memento to future generations. Besides, I don't want to look stupid with my pedantic ramblings, if there's nothing more to ramble on about.

My puritanical side didn't like File 6A at all, which means my naughty side enjoyed it exceedingly.


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Let it sit as-is, then Dec 15, 2020

As a monument to gross inaccuracy and poor fact-checking.

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Disgruntled Dec 15, 2020

Disgruntled of Tunbridge Wells is frankly not that bothered, being more concerned about getting the Rover out of his drive now that there are trucks backed all the way up from Dover ahead of Play Brexit becoming Real Brexit and the shit really hitting the fan.

And having a low opinion of Americans collectively, if not individually, as most elderly Brits do, especially given how nearly half of them voted, DTW is also now wondering why Americans throw shit into a fan rather than flush
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Disgruntled of Tunbridge Wells is frankly not that bothered, being more concerned about getting the Rover out of his drive now that there are trucks backed all the way up from Dover ahead of Play Brexit becoming Real Brexit and the shit really hitting the fan.

And having a low opinion of Americans collectively, if not individually, as most elderly Brits do, especially given how nearly half of them voted, DTW is also now wondering why Americans throw shit into a fan rather than flushing it down the lav or at least burying it in the woods like civilised people. Do they not learn from experience? Or is it some kind of game, their take on Russian roulette, where you try to lob said turd between the fast-moving blades without splatting, like firing bullets through the propeller of a Schpittfire?
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Dear Disgruntled Dec 15, 2020

So sorry to hear of your plight. But thank your lucky stars that you can't get the Rover out of the drive, because remember that you have to either stay at home 24/7 or leave someone there just in case of fire. Just nip round to Tom's, and I'm sure he'll be delighted to lend you his Silver Shadow. Or his Lamborghini. Or his Ferrari. After all, he probably spends most of his day entertaining the ladies there with his pensive beauty, and is likely chauffeured around if he does go out on the town.

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