Today is Tuesday, January 26th. Kia ora!
Just after I last posted, a community case of Covid 19 was diagnosed in Northland. There was a press conference at 4 pm, fronted by Chris Hipkins and Dr Ashley Bloomfield. This person had returned from overseas, had twice tested negative in MIQ, but after leaving MIQ developed some Covid 18 symptoms , has tested positive for the African variant, and is now self-isolating. This woman had done everything right: she’d used the Covid tracer app to log all her movements (which were many!) between Mangawhai and Ruakaka, just south of Whangarei. I must say I find Chris Hipkins slightly irritating, although I am disposed to think well of him. He’s not as patient or gracious as Jacinda Ardern pr Ashley Bloomfield.
Everyone here is eager for news. So far, her husband and 14 close contacts have tested negative. A list of the 29 places she went to has been published. She is doing, and has done, everything that was requested of her, and has been careful. There are long lines for testing: that seems a bit odd to me, for surely when you make an appointment for a test you’re given a time to come? Some shops are closed. There is a question about the ventilation system in the hotel where she stayed. It’s thought she caught Covid 19 from another traveller on the same floor who tested positive. Perhaps the ventilation system is to blame.
So far, so good. No really big dramas here. No lockdowns, or restrictions, have been announced as yet. But I really do think we were due for a wake-up call. I too have been assiduously tracking my movements in the Covid Tracer App, noting that you can always make a manual entry if there’s no visible QR code, or it’s too far away on the bus, or you forgot. Meanwhile, we are waiting on vaccines. Two people I know are involved in this, which is heartening. After all, we can’t go anywhere outside New Zealand, so there’s no rush.
What’s been happening here? Last Thursday we took two friends to the Golf Club at Heretaunga, and had lunch there. Sadly, the weather wasn’t great – it was very windy, and drizzling with rain at times. On Saturday we went to a granddaughter’s birthday party – a Teddy Bears’ Picnic. Sadly, the weather wasn’t that great for this, although better than on Thursday. Yesterday we had a very nice lunch with my cousin – Quiche Lorraine and Salad Caprese.
Yesterday I listened to Orson Welles delivering a sermon on Jonah, from the film Moby Dick. This was very powerful. I also watched another good movie: The Zookeeper’s Wife. In the evening I watched The Quiet Room with Emily Blunt. The movie features remarkable performances, although I found aspects of the storyline highly improbable. I was suitably spooked, however. I am also reading East West Street by Philippe Sands. I am fairly heavily immersed in dreadfully sad stories of survival during the Second World War. This morning the LRB is letting me read an article about Eric Hobsbawm, communist and historian, written by Frances Stonor Saunders; he, too, escaped from Germany in the 1930’s. I have now read this interesting article. Saunders evidently talked to John le Carré about Hobsbawm’s case, and about the Secret Service’s merciless drive against members of the Communist Party, or those who had shown communist tendencies (except for some charming, well-educated aristocrats, of course). Her speaking to le Carré brings it all back – the smell of a London “safe house”, and the dingy surroundings of the secret bureaucracy.
So much to read! So little time! I bought the latest NZ Listener yesterday. The puzzles did not take me very long. Today a copy of the London Review of Books arrived – the first one I received for a long time. It’s dated 5 November 2020. I think I am missing several editions, but it’s good to get this one. I also took the liberty of buying this week’s Economist, because it looks interesting! Someone has written a book about Gorbachev, and I’m interested to read the review. It seems Gorby was a deeply conflicted character. I can relate to that.
Today is Tuesday, so the week begins again in the US and the regular podcast cycle starts up again (meaning I can listen to the Bulwark podcast, always good for keeping up to date with the US political news, and the podcasts of Chris Hayes’s show All In and Rachel Maddow’s TRMS).
In the meantime, I’m reading for my life. It’s all so interesting, and helps to take my mind off US politics. I have to realise US politics has ever been weird and a bit scary – from the assassination of JFK through to Dubya’s invasion of Iraq. Trump just took everything to another level. And even though he’s no longer president, and Joe Biden and his very capable team are working hard to undo Trump’s dreadful legacy and address major issues, like the pandemic (now 421,000 dead), the economy, schooling, to name the most important….yet still the Republican Party seems to be the party of Trump. They’re partisan and difficult, and seem determined to stand in the way of any moves to do good things. Then are the threats posed by China, Russia, North Korea, Iran….I hope Biden and his amazing team, will be both trustworthy and honest. One thing I will say for Trump, he didn’t start any new wars, however one might question his alliances and support. So I guess I should butt out, and say it’s none of my business. Except, as a citizen of the world, it is. Whatever the US does has an impact on the rest of the world.
Late breaking news indicates that McConnell has stopped demanding that the Democrats hold on to the filibuster, and has signalled his agreement to come to some kind of power-sharing agreement with Senator Schumer, I fear that Senator Schumer, despite his good intentions, is not quite up to dealing with the wily turtle. We shall see, of course. Meantime, the will be a second impeachment trial. It’s hard to see how Trump can “win” this one, although the GOP seems to be the Party of Trump. What do they stand for? Who knows? Power, at any cost, it seems. Millions of people admire this and back it, despite the lies, the conspiracy theories, and the craziness.
The US Supreme Court has thrown out cases brought against Trump for defying the emoluments clause in the Constitution. There has been so much corruption.
In a Press Conference Jacinda Ardern has stated that our borders will remain closed, for now, although the government will continue to explore travel bubbles with Australia and the Pacific. That’s no great hardship. After all, where in the world would you go? Any by what means?