Geneva, Sunday 29 March 2020
A young friend on the other side of the world is an avid Asterix fan. Let’s give him a roman name: Maximus Rex. Lockdown has caused him to re-read many of his favourites. Look what he found! This is from “Asterix and the Chariot Race” published in 2017.
Maximus clearly has an eye for the pertinent image. We gather Coronavirus is the name of the champion charioteer. His chariot is pure predator. His sidekick is a dumb brute called Bacillus. (Bacillus is a bacteria and therefore susceptible to antibiotics; not so, the all-conquering Coronavirus!) The four horses are all black – filched from a high-speed hearse? Do the saddle blankets indicate that the favourite team is sponsored by the People’s Republic of Red Flags? And what’s the symbol on those blankets? Omega! The last letter of the Greek alphabet indicating…. the end. Eek! Did Messrs Ferri and Conrad know something in 2017 that we didn’t? However, the design of Coronavirus’s smiling mask has clearly not been influenced by those now-all-too-familiar scaremongering false images of his namesake. Contrast this with the mask of a policeman enforcing lockdown two days ago on an Indian street. Baffling and bizarre!
We cycled up to the Swiss – French border today. There were lots of joggers and dog-walkers out and about. A border-crossing point that we have never seen attended was diligently controlled by frontier guards on both sides. Every vehicle was stopped. Papers were checked. Like seeing a long queue at our supermarket or empty buses and streets on a weekday, this was a fundamentally disturbing sight. It brought home the sobering reality of what we are living through.
Wishing to distract myself from all things coronavirus at some point in my day, I’ve been working on a small abstract painting. I finished it this afternoon and can report that I am not entirely unhappy with it. I thought I’d give it the title “Latent grapefruit autoproxy 27 (linear).” Cool, eh?
My lovely wife was working on her laptop. “What do you think of my painting, darling?” I asked, confident of admiration. She looked up, squinted at it and replied “Looks like a coronavirus to me!” A low blow! I’ve renamed it “COVID-20 (exponential).” Dark, I know.
Ah!….. The putting competition. Well, there’s a tradition – still alive and well in St Andrews, Scotland – that one doesn’t play golf on Sunday. A cold north wind blew over our balcony today. We decided to respect the tradition. The abandoned match of yesterday will be addressed tomorrow.