Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Great Covid Quiz

 Taken from The Spectator. 

From the comfort of your own home, you can take part in The Great Covid Quiz and win! The government is giving away billions and billions of pounds in prizes. Simply answer 10 questions correctly and you could win prizes ranging from a furlough to a wheelbarrow of Rishi cash. Get one wrong and you risk being quarantined and your team sent into lockdown

You have 60 seconds to answer 9 questions. Go!

1. What is a ‘support bubble’?

a)     A group of up to 100 people with whom you share an experience of being barricaded into a student accommodation block

b)    A group of friends who provide emotional support to each other during intense periods of despair about the Covid regulations

c)     The mutually ‘supportive’ relationship between TV news broadcasters and catastrophising Covid forecasters

2. What is a ‘Matt Hancock’?

a)     A medical condition, under which the sufferer maintains an enthusiastic disposition resulting from extreme naivety.

b)    A small animal that performs in a perpetual circus

c)    The word for an unforced error

d)    The Minister of Fear

3. What are the rules about going to the pub?

a)     You can go with someone from your own household, but you must drink shandy through straws

b)    You can meet people from other households, as long as you sit at separate tables and shout to each other and do not sing

c)     You can go to the pub on your own, but you must drink yourself into depressed oblivion before 10pm

d)    This question is irrelevant; the pub is bankrupt

4. What does ‘Follow The Science’ mean?

a)     Assess the full range of scientific opinion and pick the one that is most shocking

b)    Do whatever you have just persuaded your advisors to say

c)     It’s a phrase you use when you hope that someone else knows what they are doing

d)    You have no idea, you studied Classics at university

5. How does the government decide which towns to lockdown?

a)     Northern towns where people still talk to each other

b)    Northern towns where people still drink in pubs together

c)     Northern towns where people still live as families

d)    Northern towns, situated in the north.

6. What are the rules about sporting events?

a)     You can participate in sporting events that involve shooting things

b)    You can stay healthy by watching sporting events on the television

c)     You can attend a football match, but you must watch it on the television in the club bar and the windows overseeing the pitch will be blacked out

d)    The only sport allowed is guessing which regulations are in place at any one time

7. What is ‘herd immunity’?

a)     Population immunity from an infectious disease

b)    The government’s policy of treating the population like cattle

c)     The herd of government advisors who are protected from criticism

8. Which is the most outlandish conspiracy theory?

a)     The Chinese Communist Party released the virus to stress-test western societies

b)    Bill Gates wants to inject us with microchips

c)     The government has been replaced with green lizards from the Bilderberg Group

9. How will it end?

a)     When the last fragment of Covid-19 is finally stamped into oblivion and every granny can roam free

b)    When Nicola Sturgeon leads a victorious invasion of England in the final War of Calvinist Lockdown Against The Sinners

c)     When some grown-ups are put in charge

d)    It won’t. This is it. Forever. This is the beginning of The End

But you said we had to answer 10 questions. Well, true to form Boris' lot lied to you!

Friday, October 09, 2020

Madrid under state of alarm

 The Spanish Cabinet on Friday declared a state of alarm in the Madrid region, in a bid to combat the spread of the coronavirus and after failing to reach an agreement with the regional government on the measures that should be implemented. The details of the state of alarm were passed via a decree and published in the Official State Gazette (BOE) at 5pm, coming into force from that moment.

The government opted to use a state of alarm to give the new coronavirus restrictions that were agreed on last week by a majority of the country’s regions a new legal framework, after the perimetral confinement of municipalities with a high incidence of the coronavirus was struck down by the Madrid High Court on Thursday.

The restrictions included in the BOE reintroduce the perimetral confinement of the capital and eight other municipalities in the region, and anyone trying to leave these areas for the long weekend – Monday is a national holiday – will face fines. Here are the measures now in place in the cities in question:

No one can leave or enter the following municipalities, apart from if their journey is justified: Alcobendas, Alcorcón, Fuenlabrada, Getafe, Leganés, Móstoles, Parla and Torrejón de Ardoz. The city of Alcalá de Henares was included in the lockdowns last Friday, but has been taken off the list after its coronavirus data improved, Health Minister Salvador Illa explained on Friday. Justified reasons include work, visits to the doctor or other reasons of force majeure.

Within the affected municipalities, citizens are able to move freely, but the government has advised against all unnecessary journeys and activities.

The state of alarm will be in place for 15 days, and will have to be approved by the Congress of Deputies if it is to be extended.

A maximum of six people are allowed to meet in public or private throughout the whole region, except for activities where specific limits have been established.

Stores and establishments such as gyms and hairdressers must limit capacity to 50%, and must close by 10pm.

Bars, restaurants and betting houses will be limited to 50% capacity inside and 60% outside, with consumption at bar counters prohibited. They will have to close at 11pm apart from for food deliveries.

The capacity in sports venues, both outside and inside, is reduced to 50%, with a maximum of six people for group sports with the exception of official competitions.

Academies and private training or teaching centers will see their capacity reduced to 50%.

In places of worship, capacity is reduced to a third, with a minimum distance of 1.5 meters. At funeral wakes, there is a limit of 15 people outside, and 10 inside.

Friday, October 02, 2020

Blame Alex


Monday, September 28, 2020


It should have been obvious that criminals would find ways to exploit the coronavirus crisis to make money. This story also highlights an issue with the tracing system in the UK. How are you to know that the phone call you receive is genuine? 

 ‘Good afternoon I'm calling from the NHS track and trace service. According to our system, you are likely to have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This means that you now need to self-isolate for 7 days and take a COVID-19 test.'

'OK. Can you tell me who that person was?'

'I'm not able to tell you that. That is confidential information.'

'Right. Um... so ....'

'But you do need to be tested within the next 72 hours. So can I just get the best mailing address so that we can send a kit to you?'

'Ok (gives address)'

I just need to take a payment card so that we can finalize this and send the kit to you.'

'Sorry - a payment card? I thought this was all free?'

'No - I'm afraid not. There is a one-off fee of £50 for the kit and test results. Could you read off the long card number for me, please, when you're ready.'

'No - that's not right. This is part of the NHS so there's no charge.'

'I'm afraid there is. Can you give me the card number please - this is very important, and there are penalties for not complying.'

Puts the phone down.

This is how scammers work. And vulnerable people will fall for it.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Viva la diferencia

 In my opinion, Spain has been consistent in its approach to coronavirus. OK, there have been mistakes made. Just as was the case in England, lockdown was too slow and large gatherings were allowed in the early days that should have been stopped. 

Since then though the rules and stages have been clear and largely followed. We knew week by week what was and what was not allowed. We also knew that the rules would be enforced by law with fines for those who broke them. We don't have mottos like, "Hands, Face and Space" though. 

By comparison, there seems to have been a lot of confusion in England. For example, people were allowed to go out for exercise - how far and for how long was not specified. They were allowed to go to beauty spots and the beach to undertake this exercise. 

Being outdoors in fresh air was said to be good for both mental and physical well being and so it was encouraged as long as people maintained social distancing. The result was that we were presented with pictures and news reports of resorts like Bournemouth being overwhelmed. Social distancing was impossible even if people thought to apply it. 

It was exactly the same when the pubs were allowed to reopen. It was impossible for drinkers to keep 2m apart. Even if they started out well meaning, by the time they'd have several drinks most would have not even thought about it. Drinkers were also supposed to give their name and phone number so they could be contacted in case someone in the pub showed symptoms of coronavirus. No surprise that there were loads of Donald Ducks in bars and pubs.  

The "work from home if you can" message was replaced with, "get back to the office now!". And to encourage people to eat out, they were given a 50% discount off their meals up to £10 - Mondays to Wednesdays. 

There have been examples of blatant rule breaking with, for example, illegal raves of up to 100 people. To be fair, two Government Ministers and a Special Adviser were guilty of breaking the rules without redress. Some may well have used that as an excuse to break the rules themselves.

There has been a lot of passing the blame to others. E.g., when there was a shortage of PPE, NHS staff were accused using it inappropriately.  Recently, the shortage of tests was blamed on people asking for a test when they didn't need one. Last night, it was the sector of the public who refused to follow the rules that meant Johnson had to introduce harsh measures. 

The country has a Prime Minister who likes to be cheerful and rosy, putting a positive spin on everything. He has made many false promises starting with the one where he said it would all be over in 12 weeks. Last night, he tried to placate his message with the notion that by Spring things would be much better, there would be a vaccine and half a million tests a day that would give instant results. It is good to be optimistic but that optimism needs to be tempered by realism. 


Monday, September 21, 2020

A tribute to Joaquín Perales Pérez

 Joaquín Perales Pérez was probably best known as the the "Perales" in the Perales y Ferrer company who pack lemons to export to France, Belgium, UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Slovenia, Hungary, Germany, Norway, Czech Republic, Japan, Canada and USA. and provide employment for many in and around Bigastro. 

This is an extract from an article that Pascual Segura, Official Chronister of Bigastro has written on his blog, "Recuerdos de Bigastro". 

Joaquín Perales Pérez was a great family man and a model businessman, but above all a man proud of his people and his beloved band. And if Bigastro was his centre of activity and business project, the Sociedad Unión Musical de Bigastro was one of his great joys.

Pascual Segura clearly remembers the last time he listened to Joaquín Perales. It was at a concert of the band promoted by him at the Francisco Grau Municipal Auditorium. At the end of the last work and with the last applause of the night, when the audience left their seats and the curtain closed until the next musical evening, Joaquín Perales took the stage and applauded the musicians. He did it alone and with a big smile on his face. After the prolonged applause, he said: "You have done very well and you are the pride of all the people. Congratulations. I congratulate you and I encourage you to continue working as you have done until now, because the band sounds fantastic." He shook hands with all the musicians close to the place where he was and left accompanied by the grateful applause of the musicians who saw in the gesture of Joaquín Perales a new show of gratitude and humility from this Honorary Member, as he was named by the board of directors of the Sociedad Unión Musical de Bigastro when Mr. Emilio Sáez Pérez was president.

Born on March 7, 1940, Joaquín Perales Pérez, father of five children, always felt a special affection for the customs and traditions of his native Bigastro. A man from Bigastro linked from his youth to the business sector He knew the importance of teamwork, and what better example of teamwork than that of a musical group?

While successfully developing his business project, he became a fervent admirer of the band, making the decision to be a member of it as soon as the way to enter the band was formalised. His registration in the membership book occupies one of its first pages with membership number 52. Incorporation that did not go unnoticed by the board of directors of the Sociedad Unión Musical de Bigastro which named him a partner of honor. An honorary distinction that shortly after was assigned to great successful professionals of our band, such as Joaquín Grau, José Vicente Díaz, Manuel Moya, Manuel Gutiérrez, etc.

Excited and happy to be able to contribute to the development of our band, and despite having a professional schedule full of responsibilities that reduced his leisure time, Joaquín Perales shared great moments with his band. Like when he postponed his professional commitments to travel to Valencia and support his band at the Palau de la Música, or when he accepted with enthusiasm the tribute that the band gave him on March 5, 2011 at the VI Vega Baja Music Gala - Baix Vinalopó held in the neighboring town of Redován, with Emilio Sáez Pérez being president, who accompanied him and gave an award for actively supporting the Bigastrense musical society.

Distinctions that were happening over time and that tried to return the affection of the first honorary member to his band, as when in 2012 at the concert offered in honor of the members, the board of directors wanted to thank his unconditional support by dedicating a tribute to him in the one that participated his great friend and honorary director, Francisco Grau Vegara, who composed a pasodoble for him.

Acknowledgments in which Joaquín Perales Pérez was moved and grateful for being a participant, through the promotion of his band's projects, its growth, sharing his enthusiasm and affection for the band with his children and grandchildren -now students from the music school-, for whom today Joaquín Perales is an example of aptitude, effort and sacrifice, of overcoming adversity, and of course, of affection for his people and his always esteemed band.

There are friendships that last forever through the years, the difficulties and the onslaught of life. The Bigastro-Joaquín Perales relationship will last a long time, despite the fact that he can no longer reciprocate with his encouragement and affection for his people; only from above, he will watch over his family, his people and his band with his esteem, like a shining star in the sky of Bigastro. Rest in peace.