…We all feel it, especially these days: it may be missing that trip to Piemonte that you have been (or ought to have been) planning. It may be missing family (or being with family) over Easter. It may be that, now you have 5 day stretches, there is no Test cricket being played. It may be, if you are a Liverpool supporter, you despair of ever getting that Premiership trophy. For my part, it has come in a different form, for I received no comments, groans or tumbleweed emojis (do they even exist?) following my previous post. Not one. It looks like the estimate of my readership at 2 persons is out by at least 2. Anyway, the posts keep me busy, so here’s another one for me to read back to myself later.
For the past week or so the rate of new fatalities across Italy has hovered between 3 and 4 % per day, while yesterday (Sunday 12thApril) it was a little over 2%. The rampant spread of Corona virus has been halted, but it is now in that persistent cough phase: it just won’t go. On Friday 10thApril, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte extended the lockdown, which makes sense to me. Spain has, this very day, lifted some restrictions, which feels too early to me, but I am not an epidemiologist so I don’t know. Only time will tell, but here in Italy, we are looking with great interest to see how it develops.
In the south there have been reports of organised crime outfits handing out food and other essentials to people. It seems like charity, but the recipients will be indebted for it afterwards. There is plenty of unease about how people will afford to pay for things, and with delays to government payments to support people, other ‘providers’ are stepping into the ‘market’. I imagine that this will be an unwelcome development for many people in other countries, too.
Here in Piemonte, in the Langhe around Alba, people, as elsewhere around the world, celebrated Easter not with the family, but on their own – even my neighbour and I did not share an Easter lunch, as she is becoming more concerned that we all keep our distance. She did bring me far too much food again, though. And received the regulation too much wine in return. I still have enough leftovers for lunch today and some torta with tomorrow’s coffee.
Other than this, there is little to report that hasn’t been said already. With spring, vines, as well as everything else, are growing. The agricultural cycle goes on, almost everything else remaining closed. At the supermarket on Saturday, the shelves were starting to get bare – the fruit and vegetable section was decimated. Other sections were lighter than usual. This has been the case in other places for a while, but I felt it was starting to bite here, too: it’s the worst I have seen it. Then I remembered that with it being Easter, people will have done more shopping, while the supermarket will not have had a delivery as they won’t be open again until Tuesday or even Wednesday. This made me feel better – though it could be that it will be just as empty again next week. We may have to survive on unsold Easter eggs for some time if that’s the case…!
At home, my ‘efforts’ with the plants have been rewarded with some leaves and flowers appearing. One thing I won’t be attempting to trim and tidy is my hair – nor Noah’s for that matter. We could both do with a haircut, but I don’t fancy tackling his, and I am not letting him tackle mine…By the end of the lockdown, I will either look like Peter Stringfellow or Grizzly Adams: taking into account how much I can usually be bothered to shave, my money’s on Grizzly. For those not familiar with either or both of these cultural icons, I have provided the necessary photographs, at least one of them revolting. Grizzly is here, Mr Stringfellow at the top of the page. Given that normal barbering services will probably not be resuming for at least another month, it is not so much Movember as Hairpril…No? Not having that? How about ‘even with the sunny weather, there are no barber queues in Alba’, then? If you don’t approve of them, I will just keep going, with the likelihood that they will get worse, until you say ‘basta’…
Now, if there is a reader of this blog out there, you may recall that I previously proffered an opinion regarding the advent of dictatorships. So it has come to pass…As Noah was going off to sleep a few nights ago, he asked if he could have the bedroom door open to let a little light in. I said that he could and that he was welcome to open it. He replied:
“No, you do it. Off you go. Chip chop!”
For some time now, he has been able and willing to go to the bathroom unprompted – what a difference that makes. He is pretty good at washing his hands, though drying them needs some working on: the wall being preferred to the towel in most instances. He is, however, only just tall enough to go standing up (not for a number 2 – he’s been tall enough to do that standing up for ages) so sometimes there is a mopping-up operation required. Not wishing that he get a complex about it, or stress too much, I usually say something along the lines of ‘Never mind, eh?’. More recently, he has started to go without saying anything first, which is welcome in one way, but also not quite so much given what I have just mentioned.
The other day he went to the bathroom. I heard the water running as he washed his hands afterwards (flushing is another aspect to work on…) so I called out, ‘Are you ok?’ He replied:
“Never mind, eh?’…
He was also unexpectedly profound not once, but twice. On the first occasion, he climbed off the bed and, apropos of nothing said:
“When you least expect it, love finds you.”
I asked him where that had come from. He replied, “The Love Monster’, which sounds like a Barry White podcast, but is in fact a book that I had forgotten he had.
On the second occasion, he had asked me who Wee Jimmy Krankie is. (Long story, don’t want to get bogged down with the details, but suffice to say that one of his Lego – or it might be Playmobil – characters is Wee Jimmy Krankie.) So, when he asked me who Wee Jimmy Krankie was, I decided to show him a video, the better to reveal to him the full glory of Wee Jimmy Krankie. I alighted on one in which the character in question visits an optician, with hilarious consequences…At the termination of the ‘entertainment’ Noah looked at me and simply said, “Why?”
Why Jimmy Krankie indeed…(Once again, for the ‘benefit’ of those unfamiliar with this titan of the comedy world, here is the offending – I mean aforementioned – clip.)
As for this week’s viewing recommendations…The National Theatre is showing Jane Eyre until 7pm UK time on Thursday 14thApril, at which point they will have something else on for another week. Last week I watched One Man, Two Guvnors, which was brilliant, so I would heartily recommend that you give Jane Eyre a go. I really hope that this is a sustainable future business model – we are used to subscription streaming services for tv and films now, so why not theatre? Right now it is giving people who cannot go to the theatre access to theatrical performances, but I don’t see why this needs to end when lockdown ends: there must be a way to make it financially viable.
On Netflix – for obvious reasons I can’t get UK tv such as BBC, ITV and Channel 4 – I have started watching Man Down, the Greg Davies comedy. The first series featured Rick Mayall as the father of Greg Davis’s character, Dan. While I am obviously sad that Rick Mayall passed away early, I am not sad that he passed from this series: it’s not that he was bad, but his character didn’t really add anything. It’s all highly improbable and silly, but there are some genuine laughs and some great lines, and I am getting to enjoy spending 20 minutes or so with the characters, doomed and deranged as they are. Worth a look.
I gave I Think You Should Leave a go – a sketch show, around 15 minutes per episode, described in the Guardian as ‘staggering’. Whilst I found it entertaining, describing it as staggering is a stretch based on the 3 episodes I have watched so far. Perhaps it gets much better, but as yet it’s something I would put on if, say, I was having a quick sandwich between doing other things, rather than settling down to watch specifically. If you’re having a 15 minute break, try it.
I also watched Uncut Gems, a film (and a new release at that!) about a New York gem and jewellery dealer around whom the net is tightening. It was excellent, unrelenting and must have been a pretty intense experience in the cinema. I have never really been an Adam Sandler fan, but he was, along with everyone else, superb. It wasn’t a barrel of laughs, though. Mind you, my brother’s recommendation was Joker, so perhaps I got off lightly!
That’s about it from here for now. I’m off to write a couple more e-mails and probably watch something else – for your edification, naturally…
Stay safe, and don’t go thirsty!