Herd Mentality

Them’s the breaks

Today is Saturday July 9th 2022. Kia ora!

Today we (and many others) are digesting Boris Johnson’s so-called resignation, which is not exactly what many people were looking for. He has resigned as leader of the Tory Party, but he has not resigned as Prime Minister, until another leader is appointed. So there you have it. Shock, horror, and he’s not gone (yet). In his speech announcement, after almost a half-century of ministerial resignations, he was heard to say, without an ounce of apology, Them’s the breaks.  I have been listening to many podcasts – The Rest is History, The Rest is Politics, The Bugle, the Guardian’s Today in Focus with Jonathan Freedland, and they all condemn Boris except for The Rest is History podcast, where Dom and Tom don’t take sides, but you can read between the lines of their super-intelligent discussion. Then I listened to a NZ Herald podcast, I don’t remember what it was called, but it was narrated by a woman in a very pluty British accent with very right-wing views. That came as a shock to me, seeing as most people I’d heard were more than happy to see Boris go.

Trump and Boris are alike in many ways, as pundits have pointed out; as it turns out, getting rid of them is no easy task. When the self-styled leader has no shame, it’s everyone else that’s wrong, not him.  There are differences, of course, but both populists had an amazing ability to command a crowd (and many staff and would-be loyal followers) with their lying oratory; both somehow appealed to working class voters, although neither had the faintest experience of being unprivileged.  Family woes – ex-wives and odd relationships with just how many children – did not deter their loyal following, whether it be rich or poor, religious or atheistic.  They’ve each left an enormous mess – which they’re still influencing, as Boris remains Prime Minister (for now), and Trump is about to declare his candidature for the presidency in 2024, despite his legal troubles.  They leave an indelible mess, and I fear it’s impossible to put this genie back in the bottle. Trump has aroused huge division in the US; Johnson’s Brexit is proving to be disastrous economically for the United Kingdom; somehow to go forwards or backwards amongst such deep division is fraught with danger, either way. Totalitarian leaders like Putin and Xi have different problems on their hands, but they don’t have to deal with much internal division. It’s their way, whatever the cost.

Still and all, at least Johnson can’t be accused of cosying up to Putin, unlike Trump, although he can be accused of cosying up to his friend Russian oligarch Evgeny Lebedev, now a Lord in the House of Lords. He also met an ex-KGB agent, Alexander Lebedev, in Italy in 2019 after a NATO meeting. Despite London grad conflicts, whatever government is in power in the United Kingdom will reliably continue to support Ukraine, one hopes.

Former Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has died after being shot while campaigning. The world is mourning his sad ending – shootings like these are extremely rare in Japan. Prime Minister Arden paid him a lovely tribute in an entry in Instagram.

And so to Covid 19 news here. JD tested positive for Covid 19 this morning; I tested negative, but I’m a household contact of his and so we’re pariahs until next Sunday (July 17th), according to Healthline (I reported JD’s result).  He’d had a heavy cold; in fact it turned out to be Covid 19.  My hands are pretty raw, since any time I touch anything he’s touched I feel bound to wash my hands.  So again everything is put off. At least it’s school holidays for the next two weeks, so term-time activities won’t be running.  I received a newsletter from Hōhepa, saying that seven of the residents they support have Covid 19. I know their staff (and their families) are badly affected with flu as well. Still, it was nice to hear from them.

Today there are 9,307 new cases reported, with 22 deaths (including a child under 10). 251 of these had recently travelled overseas. There are 570 people in hospital, including 9 in Intensive Care.

Of the people whose deaths have been confirmed today, six were from the Auckland region, four from Waikato, one from Bay of Plenty, one from Lakes, one from Hawke’s Bay, one from MidCentral, two from the Wellington region, four from Canterbury/West Coast, and two were from Southern. One was under the age of 10, three were in their 50s, three were in their 60s, five were in their 70s, seven were in their 80s, and three were aged over 90.

Of the cases in hospital, 11 were in Northland, 124 in Waitematā, 39 in Counties Manukau, 56 in Auckland, 57 in Waikato, 29 in Bay of Plenty, 14 in Lakes, 20 in Hawke’s Bay, 20 in MidCentral, six in Whanganui, 12 in Taranaki, three in Tairawhiti, six in Wairarapa, 59 in Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley, 13 in Nelson Marlborough, 62 in Canterbury and West Coast, 18 in South Canterbury, and 21 in Southern.

A new subvariant of Covid 19/omicron has officially been named BA.2.75, and nicknamed “centaurus”. The subvariant has been reported in 10 countries so far, including Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Germany, the US and UK. The bulk of cases, however, have been found in India. As of yet, the WHO has not named it as a variant of concern.

It’s now Sunday July 10th.

This morning I zoomed into the church service. I found that I could throw a jersey over my pj’s, and have the computer on my lap in bed.  The sound was problematic, but eventually I could hear most of the service.

JD’s not feeling great. He’s had no calls or texts today, either from Healthline or the medical centre. I am wondering if he should be on Paxlovid, to treat Covid 19, but no one medical has been in touch. I presume a script could be faxed to a chemist, for my covid-free son to pick up the medicine, and drop it at our front door, but this has not happened. I am increasing fearful about touching anything he has touched, such as the fridge, the china cupboard, or the cutlery drawer. I asked him to put dirty dishes in the sink and run water on them; instead he put a mug full of water on the bench, which I then tipped over.  We have run out of chux cloths – I feel that I should use a second one, and so am re-using a washed one. I feel I need to wash my hands all the time, and they’re getting quite rough and sore. I’ve run out of decaffeinated tea bags. There are quite a few items now to go on my shopping list for my covid-free son. JD cannot make lunch now, as he normally does. I fear that if I get Covid 19 too, it will be hard for us to cope at home. Although if I get it too I won’t have to be so fussy about trying not to get it.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there are 7,461 new cases, 8 deaths, and 622 people in hospital – a significant increase. Of these, 13 are in Intensive Care.

Of the deaths reported today, four were from Auckland region, one was from Bay of Plenty, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from Canterbury/West Coast, and one was from Southern. One was aged in their fifties, five were in their 80s, and two were aged over 90. Of these people, three were female and five were male. This brings the total number of deaths to 1,671.

It’s reported that those currently in hospital are being treated at Northland: 14; Waitematā: 137; Counties Manukau: 56; Auckland: 68; Waikato: 55; Bay of Plenty: 32; Lakes: 13; Hawke’s Bay: 31; MidCentral: 27; Whanganui: 10; Taranaki: 12; Tairawhiti: 3; Wairarapa: 7; Capital, Coast and Hutt Valley: 68; Nelson Marlborough: 13; Canterbury and West Coast: 74; South Canterbury: 20; Southern: 22. Hawkes Bay: 31!  That’s alarming. I think of all my friends who have surgery scheduled – I fear it will be cancelled, or postponed. We’re not told the locations of the new cases.

Church today was “Café Church” – in the Hall rather than the church itself, with coffee and croissants available. I have to say I don’t really agree with mixing worship with so-called carnal pleasures of eating and drinking;  it’s physically complicated for me to eat or drink, in any case. Looking on zoom, there didn’t seem to be a lot of people there, and many were wearing masks.  On trips to Europe, though, I loved the way church was part of everyday life in Europe: in Rome, in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, and in a beautiful church in Barcelona services were going on as we visited. We sat down and enjoyed them – and enjoyed so much hearing Italian, French or Spanish, and having some understanding of what was being said. The church in Rome had the famous statue of Saint Teresa (and her vision); in Notre-Dame a black priest was saying Mass; and in Barcelona there was a baptism, where I recognised that “El Senor es mi pastor” was Psalm 23. It seemed very fitting as we began our journey back to New Zealand – and there’d just been a coup in Turkey. Having said that, I never saw anyone bringing a takeaway coffee or eating food in a church.

The unravelling over Boris Johnson’s demise continues, as the rest of the world looks on, as it did after Trump’s losing the presidential election, with a mixture of fascination and distress. How did it come to this? That Britain’s Brexit was carried out (and what a shambles that continues to be), and Trump was elected president in the US.  Both events were only just won, and were won on a series of lies. How sad, and what dreadful consequences they’ve both brought. Not only have they wrought huge changes in British and American society, they both handled the coronavirus pandemic really badly.  Now we’re all living with the consequences of both, and the deep divisions between right and left wing politics in every country. There seems to be no more of wanting what will be best for most of the people.

I find the newspapers so annoying here too. While I realise they want to shock, really some stories are just so silly.  People want to be happy – what has gone wrong with New Zealand? Well, you can be grateful to be here, for a start; it’s lamented that house prices have fallen – after saying they were much too high;  then people are complaining about there being more housing in their neighbourhoods.  New Zealand needs more housing, and, guess what, more housing is being built. So your neighbourhood is changing? And that’s a bad thing? I continue to maintain that we are so fortunate to be here. The health system is under pressure? When was it ever not under pressure? Some things don’t change.

That’s it for now. The world is indeed a strange and oftentimes a scary place. I’m thankful to be here in Aotearoa. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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