Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Close the Fridge Door!

The Chinese may be getting a bit of stick at the moment over the Coronavirus pandemic but at least I have them to thank for the extension to my current stint in Spain. Nine weeks into our intended four-week trip we should now in fact be somewhere in France, in the car, heading back to Spain for another three months. But thanks to someone in Wuhan who didn't close the fridge door properly, we're now cutting out the middle man and enjoying staying put for the foreseeable. It all sounds rather good doesn't it, nine weeks in Spain with loads more to go. But for seven weeks we have been confined to barracks as part of the Spanish lockdown restrictions which have been far more strict than those imposed in the UK and policed with a vigour one might readily expect from the Guardia Civil. Trust me these guys wouldn't stand idly by and watch whilst Extinction Rebellion dug up your front lawn. 

For seven weeks the only legitimate reasons for leaving one's abode have been trips for essential shopping (basically being food supermarkets and pharmacies), taking the rubbish out and taking the dog for a walk. And that's it. Exercise? Nah, forget it. Going out together? Don't be silly. Honestly, we've been fighting over who gets to take the half-full bin bags round to the bins just so that we can legitimately set foot out of the house. In fact we've barely got anything left in the house as we've thrown pretty much everything away in the desire for an occasional few minutes of freedom. And pity the couples where only the husband can drive and which has led to supermarkets full of bewildered blokes wandering haplessly from aisle to aisle.

I even considered buying a dog.

So after seven weeks imagine the sense of relief, nay euphoria, which accompanied the partial relaxation of lockdown restrictions meaning that families can leave their houses together (albeit not for the purpose of exercise - Covid will apparently get you if you go jogging in pairs!?!?). With differing time slots throughout the day for (accompanied) children, the over 70's and everyone else, our first opportunity for freedom fell between 06.00 and 10.00 on Saturday morning. Obviously when you're in Spain 06.00 hours doesn't actually exist but at 08.00 I was out of the house and - I am embarrassed to admit - I ran. Now, I don't do running. Never have. But I ran. Such was the joy of being on the other side of my front door. 

And I wasn't alone. People running. On their bikes. Out with their dogs. Couples out walking together. Everyone was just happy/ pleased/ relieved to be outside, enjoying the early morning fresh air and the beautiful scenery that this part of Spain has to offer. For me and Mrs C our legitimate freedom extends to just one hour a day during the morning hours as above or between 20.00 and 23.00 in the evening. But it's a step (jog?) in the right direction and the Spanish government has announced a provisional 6 to 8 weeks timetable for further relaxations. 

Now we will all have our own thoughts as to the rights and wrongs of the lockdown restrictions and the way that national government(s) is handling the situation but that is what they are there for. We elect a government to govern and they are ultimately accountable at the ballot box. I am a guest here in Spain so I respect what the Spanish government is doing to protect its people. That respect extends to the Guardia Civil with whom I recently had a conversation and (reluctantly) concluded that I wasn't going to convince them that Warburtons crumpets represented an essential food purchase justifying a nice stroll to the British supermarket. So I went without but I still got a nice stroll.

It wouldn't have been difficult to go a little bit stir crazy during these past seven weeks but I will be the first to admit that Mrs C and I have had it relatively easy and of course the beautiful Spanish weather has certainly played its part in allowing us to remain fairly sanguine about the whole affair. And after years of (yes, I know this sounds a bit pathetic) my struggling with the nondescript Spanish beers typically at my disposal, the local supermarkets do now stock some rather more tasty options with Mahou IPA having proved to be a particular ally during the lockdown.

From an El Real Thing perspective, there has obviously been no football to enjoy, be it Spanish or English, so I can only take solace in the fact that Wednesday are unbeaten since 7th March and Liverpool still haven't won the Premiership title. And apart from that, whether you work in a virus research lab in Wuhan or you just like to keep your beers cold in the Spanish heat, always remember................close the bloody fridge door!

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