Almost Normal

Today is Saturday August 22nd. Kia ora katoa.

Last Wednesday was a very quiet day. I continued to read “Olive Kitteridge”. What a strange book it is, but interesting and very readable. On Thursday morning I go to singing in Khandallah. We can’t use the kitchen to make a cup of tea, so we sing from 11 am to noon. There’s quite a good turnout, and it is good to sing together again. Some people were quite disappointed that we didn’t sing at the Retirement Home as planned.

On Friday my cleaning person is supposed to come, and afterwards I am to meet a friend for coffee. But the cleaning person doesn’t come (he is away sick), so I meet my friend for lunch at a French Café. It is very nice there. Although there is a queue, we are soon seated at a comfortable table, and we get table service. I have a salmon and leek tart with a very nice salad; she has pumpkin soup. It is actually quite mild and sunny. I wear a cotton shirt and a vest.

On Saturday we drive to Johnsonville to return some library books, and do some food shopping. A new LRB arrives, to my delight. I read Part Two of The Suitcase. Part 3 will be printed in the next issue. I am hooked. This issue provides lots of interesting reading.

The coronavirus outbreak here is not really such a big deal, although there are plenty of conspiracy theories around. There have been 6 new cases today, all connected to the community cluster; nine people are in hospital, and three are in Intensive Care.  Two postal workers have tested positive, and their (70) co-workers are in self-isolation. So far, there have been no new cases diagnosed south of Auckland, and the numbers are minimal: numbers like 6, 9  perhaps; it is difficult to get earlier information. The Prime Minister will announce on Monday whether Auckland is to remain at level 3, and the rest of New Zealand at level 2.

Here in Wellington, everyone seems pretty relaxed about the situation. You have to sign in everywhere, but I have the Covid 19 ap on my phone, which makes it very easy – I just hold my phone up to the QR code. There is a lot of hand sanitiser about. If you are signing in physically, you should use your own pen, surely! There aren’t many masks around in Wellington.

In the US, interesting things are happening. The Democratic Virtual Convention was held to be a success, with wonderful speeches from Barack and Michelle Obama, and from Kamala Harris and Joe Biden, amongst many others. There were wonderful clips (the rollcall) from all states and territories given their elected delegates. And there were several Republicans there, including Colin Powell, who also spoke well. John Kasich spoke well. Bernie Sanders spoke very well. Even Fox News’s Chris Wallace, a woman commentator, and Karl Rove spoke well of Biden’s speech. Republicans acknowledge that not only did the Democrats not mess it up, they actually did rather well.  People talk about having goose bumps during parts of it.  Americans are very emotional about politics! It’s also been pointed out that their 2016 Convention was chaotic. The Republican Convention is due to start next Monday.  Apparently the press have been barred, although it’s hard to imagine Trump not wanting press coverage, so he can rant and tweet about it.

A Senate Intelligence Report (bipartisan!) has been published (at last), all 1,000 pages of it, which is particularly damning about Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election, and the Trump team’s willingness to accept this help. Several people are severely criticised, including Trump himself for lying to Muller, and Manafort, for his direct link with a KGB operative. So why didn’t this come out earlier? Why didn’t these Republican senators vote to convict Trump when he was impeached by the House of Representatives?

And then, Steve Bannon was arrested, along with three other men, in connection with a fund-raising effort to build the Wall on the Southern Border between the US and Mexico. There are plenty of ironies here, but suffice to say that the sense of schadenfreude is being enjoyed. Corey Lewandowski, watch out!

It seems there are all kinds of problems with learning, both online and in-person. More and more young people are falling ill, and, once again, there is no plan for safety of those concerned.

In Russia, Alexei Navalny has been poisoned. This is a common MO for dealing with Putin’s enemies.

Things in Wellington are semi-normal. My Tai chi class returns in the Hall next week: the authorities have decided that we can use the Hall after all. Last Tuesday it was great being outside, but if the weather is unkind, it’s good to have the Hall as back-up. It’s to be hoped that we will be back at level 1 soon.

Nga mihi. Ka kite ano.

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