Geneva, Friday 3 April 2020
Yesterday evening, we decided to go into the park across the road at 21:00 and listen to the clapping for carers. It was dark and there were few people about. We heard what sounded like a party not far away; music blasted out and youngsters were whooping and cheering. Intrigued that residents of this town might actually be flouting the strictly imposed Swiss social distancing policies, we went to see what was happening. There really was a party! A whole apartment block rocked. The music came from one apartment and the balconies on all seven floors had between one and five people dancing around. It was really quite up-lifting. And the music was great. We had Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive,” Abba’s “Dancing Queen” and the sublime, rousing “Bella Ciao!” (Goodbye, Darling!) the song of the anti-fascist Italian resistance in World War II. Have a listen!
You have to understand just how unusual such a spectacle is here. Is this a sign of exceptional community solidarity or an expression of frustration about the lockdown or both? Normally, at this hour, people are scraping the delicious near-burnt crust off the bottom of their fondu dishes and looking forward to counting their money for dessert. More unusual still, my wife and I, swept up by the spirit of the occasion, danced around in the totally deserted street in full view of the party-goers (or party-stayers.) I am not exaggerating when I say that our moves, although a little rusty, caused quite a sensation. We were just waiting for something like “Crocodile Rock” or “It’s Raining Men!” when a blue flashing light came into view and a blaring siren drowned out the music. We fled for the cover of the park to the applause and amusement of our new but isolated friends. We might go back this evening. Such fun!
Today, for the first time, I heard the term “lockdown fatigue.” In the mainstream and social media, the political noise about the need to release the lockdown is already getting louder. It is clear that politicians will soon be at a critical moment (at least in Western Europe) at which a balance has to be struck between protecting a vulnerable population from the disease and protecting an increasingly fragile economy. There’s a calculation to be made here: when the number of cases per day peaks or even before, a political leader aiming to get their economy running again could release the restrictions on our lives and ride the storm brought by the resulting COVID-19 deaths but only as long as those deaths are not perceived as preventable deaths. Therefore, for the compass to swing toward the economy, there has to be a massive increase in the capacity of the health services to provide curative treatment for those seriously ill with COVID-19. From a political perspective (assuming countries are wealthy enough to do so) upscaling the health-care capacity for COVD-19 patients is a necessary precursor to lifting the restrictions little by little. However, no calculation involving deaths of loved ones is easy and the media can play this every which way. These are difficult times requiring difficult decisions. We’ll see what happens.
I hope you are all as healthy and happy as one can be at present. Go well! Be wise! Make bread! Get Lucky!
The putting! She beat me today on the first play-off hole. It’s now 10 games to 5!