Geneva, Saturday 21 March 2020
Yesterday evening, we watched on-line the unusual spectacle of the Swiss parliament – all seated well apart – announcing the new legally-enforceable social distancing measures. Maximum group size in a public place is five people and they must be at least two meters apart. The police can issue a fine of 100 Swiss Francs (about 95 Euros) on the spot. Serious stuff! What’s more, the lockdown is to last at least until April 19.
This morning I woke at 06.00. I stood on our balcony. Another beautiful, quiet and clear morning with a fine view of the mountains. An extraordinary dawn chorus of at least a dozen different birds. A woodpecker rattled a branch of a nearby tree. I swear the air is cleaner and sweeter. What awaits us at the end of this crisis? I wonder if we will reflect just a bit more about the risk of unlimited international air travel. I wonder if humans might find a better way to interact with the natural world. I wonder if we might be able to generate a healthier and more resilient nexus of government, business, the general population and the environment. I am reminded of the challenge thrown down by Greta Thunberg when laying into the nations of the United Nations last year: She asserted “You cannot continue to propagate the fairytale of everlasting economic growth.” I felt that many of our leaders might have been sympathetic to her view and would have been happy to have guidance as to first steps. Perhaps Greta should have pulled on a T shirt emblazoned with the words “Mother Nature” and said “Here’s a viral pandemic; that’ll give you some pointers!”
I’d like to believe the lockdown is nevertheless an opportunity to expand horizons. Whilst enjoying our tea and toast breakfast, two overripe bananas sat in the fruit bowl and begged to be made into a banana cake. New territory! Internet recipe. A hint of cinnamon. It smelled truly delicious as it came out of the oven. Bit of an issue turning it out of the baking tin! Clearly, those new horizons include baking paper.
I look forward to the neighbourhood applause at 21.00 this evening. It is coming to mean appreciation for anyone who is still working to support the populace whether police, refuse collectors or supermarket workers. The applause has also expanded to include bashing a saucepan with a wooden spoon; at least on my part. I wonder if, after all this, we will have to reappraise the importance we give to our digital community in relation to the immediate and real community where we live.
Today’s putting match: eighteen putts each at 2.2 metres. So exciting!! All square after 18 holes. I win on the fifth play-off hole. Stats: me 20/23 (87%); wife 19/23 (83%). Ha!
In these difficult times, I take comfort in the words of the German philosopher Porkus von Munchkin: “Everything has an end. Except a sausage; it has two ends!” He was a clever man. He invented the umbrella. He wanted to call it the “brella” but when asked the name of his invention he hesitated.