Geneva, 11 February, 2021
I caught Geneva Lux, the town’s light festival, just before its twenty-one installations were taken down. It was a cold, wet night and this was night-time viewing. There were few pedestrians about. A sign of the times was the number of food delivery bikes braving the rain-slick streets. Head down and struggling to keep my iPhone dry, enthusiasm was some way off but took a step closer when I found “L’Envol” in the Parc des Bastions.
Well done, Geneva, for rolling out public beautiful stuff in the era of COVID-19. On the outer wall of the Old Town, Chris Plant’s slow-colour-pulsating “Portal Harmonic” hypnotised a small crowd; me included.
My favourite lights had me enthralled and wandering around in small circles right outside Tiffany’s. “Hivernales Népenthèses” is Sophie Guyot’s take on a species of tropical insect-eating flower. I love the way these elegant boulder-based standing lamps have been orientated towards the luxurious premises of the famous jeweller.
The pandemic news gets no better. In the countries that have instigated distancing measures, the case numbers and mortality data are not falling as fast as expected. Even with the roll out of effective vaccines, the numbers will not suddenly drop to zero. The hard truth is that the shape of an epidemic curve dictates that the total number of cases will eventually be double of what we have recorded to date.
Different scientific institutions are getting a handle on the full implications of the different variants of the COVID-19 coronavirus and, importantly, how effective the different vaccines may be against these variants. This spontaneous generation of variants gives a new sense of urgency to vaccination campaigns. Political spats about availability of vaccines are unsurprising. Currently, the EU claims Astra Zeneca is not fulfilling it’s contract to supply its vaccine in sufficient quantity as European countries face a difficult and delayed roll-out. The WHO points out that vaccine availability must be fair and reach countries without developed public health infrastructure. This is not unreasonable; the people in these countries could act as sources of yet more variants that carry the potential to overcome a vaccine and spread to other countries. Meanwhile, Switzerland seems to be going about its vaccination programme calmly and efficiently. I have registered for my jab; it should be three to four weeks away.
It may be all too obvious, but the longer this pandemic runs, the more severe will be the long term impact. It is inevitable that COVID-19 related studies, reports and enquiries will occupy our news cycles and concerns for years to come. I would hope that the WHO has already foreseen a major and apolitical lessons learnt review that is orientated around preventing and managing future pandemics. Such a review would be incomplete without something conclusive about the origins of this virus, how the pandemic affected poor people disproportionately in most countries and how effective or ineffective different countries’ strategies proved to be. I predict a continued academic commentary about the interface of politics and the pandemic especially in the USA. With respect to the development, distribution and delivery of the vaccines, we will hear much more of governmental and corporate wins and losses. I make no predictions about the economic impact of the pandemic nor how it will be recorded other than it will be profound and long lasting. Another long running source of research will be the impact on the education and mental health of children who have missed so much school time and the accompanying social interactions. COVID-19 will have a long, long tail.
Closer to home…. I’m not really a great TV watcher but the pandemic has changed my habits. I never thought I would spend so much time watching Netflix. My impression is that you have to kiss a lot of frogs before one proves to be… well…. a prince. “Call My Agent” (prince) is a French production about actors and their agents finding themselves embroiled in all shades of gallic mischief. It is thoroughly entertaining. By contrast, Bridgerton (frog) is the TV streaming giant’s current smash; this is surprising. Lavish sets, exuberant costumes and a wondrously knee-taking cast make the first few episodes just watchable. However, we abandoned it as the story-line failed to get out of its lame first gear and whole episodes were dominated by the era’s lack of sex education for young ladies and scenes that could easily pass as raunchy Kleenex ads. Yeuch! (Sorry… s(p)oiler alert!)
Hoping my readers are well, safe and as happy as possible under the circs.