Madrid, which saved my life … well, OK, sort of

I’m very saddened by the state of affairs in Spain; and Madrid is having the worst of it.  The focus here is largely on the domestic situation, and that’s quite understandable, but let’s not lose sight of what’s happening elsewhere – partly as a warning to the idiots who don’t seem to realise how bad this could get, again, and partly just out of general humanity.   Spain lost 239 precious lives to this horrible virus last Thursday, and people in parts of Madrid are now forbidden to leave their own districts.  The US, India, Brazil, Argentina … it’s horrendous there too.  But I’m thinking about Spain just now.

Did Madrid save my life?  Well, sort of!   In 2013, I had a very severe bout of anxiety and depression, and I was so tensed up that I was in severe pain and I could hardly move my arms.  I’d had tests, scans, painkillers and physiotherapy, and tried moving all the office furniture around to help the “ergonomics”,  but none of it worked because it was mostly anxiety tension.  I only really got that during a Champions League match between United and Real Madrid.  It’s quite a well-known match – Nani was controversially sent off, and we conceded two goals after that, and lost.  And my right arm, which I’d hardly been able to move all day – I could hardly write or type, it was that bad – eased up, because I was so caught up in the football that, despite being a stressful match, things somehow relaxed.  Trapped nerves and all the other things which had been suggested don’t magically resolve themselves because of bad refereeing decisions.  After that, I rang in sick, and then I went to see the doctor.

Then, four months later, I went to Madrid.  Nothing to do with the match – I’d booked it months earlier.  But, for a long time, I’d thought I wouldn’t be able to go, and being able to go after all was such a wonderful boost.  I was so excited to be there that I made the rep who met me at the airport look at all the photos of Rafa on my phone.  He must have thought I was mad.  However, I’m not sure I’d have got through it if it the worst of it hadn’t coincided with the clay court season, and I hadn’t had Rafa to focus on. Maybe I should have put “How Madrid and a Mallorcan saved my life”.  I’m afraid that things aren’t going very well in Mallorca either, and that saddens and worries me too.  But Madrid seems to be having the worst of it.

I haven’t got the same romantic feeling for Madrid that I’ve got for some European cities.  Venice.  St Petersburg.  Prague.  For a kick off, Mancunians tend to identify with Barcelona.  We love the fact that the Catalans are always taking on what can sometimes seem like a rather overbearing capital city!  And I don’t think we tend to get romantic over Spain in general in the way that we do over Italy.  Well, OK, I cried buckets when the Spanish flag went up after the 2008 men’s singles Olympic tennis final, and I’ve got very worked up over Spanish Davis Cup matches, but that’s Rafa, not Spain in general 🙂 .

All that Black Legend stuff.  Then, after the Napoleonic Wars, Spain was pretty much isolated from international affairs for decades.  And, when it became a major tourist destination, it was more a sun and sand thing than a cultural thing – although, obviously, there are many wonderful places to visit to experience the cultures of the different parts of Spain.  I’ve been to some of them.  I want to go to many more.   But I do love Spain.  And I do love the city of Madrid.  And it’s heartbreaking to see any city suffering like this.

Parts of France aren’t far behind.  Bordeaux and Marseille seem to be particularly bad.   It’s all over.  Even places like the Czech Republic, which didn’t do too badly in the spring, are badly affected.  Israel’s back in lockdown.  And, as we know, the situation here is deteriorating rapidly – and we could do with a lot more compassion and a lot more sense of community, and a lot less nastiness and points-scoring.  But spare a few thoughts today for Madrid, and especially for the people who aren’t even going to be able to leave their own districts and say that they feel as if they’re being shut up in ghettos.  And reflect on the fact that we’re all in this together.

 

 

Early March 2020 – panic-buying, and more and more cases of the virus

Sunday, March 1st

There’s been a case of the virus in Bury now.  That’s only six miles away.  It’s the first one in the local area.  That’s a bit scary.  Meanwhile, everything else here goes on as normal.  I still haven’t managed to get to the Lake District this year, because of the rotten weather, but I went to Lyme Park this morning.  Rafa won Acapulco 🙂 .  And City won the Carabao Cup – suppose I should congratulate them, even though it rankles!

 

Monday, March 2nd

Mum and Dad have cancelled their summer holiday to Italy.  They were due to fly to Rome and then pick up a cruise, and were nervous because of all these poor people getting stuck on cruise ships where someone’s tested positive for the virus.  My holiday company’s cancelled all tours to Northern Italy for the time being.  The Swiss Football League’s been suspended for two weeks, the pre-season club football tournament in Asia’s been cancelled, and the Irish cricket tour of Thailand’s been called off.  Other than the Democratic primaries in America, there’s little other than coronavirus-related stuff on the news these days.

 

Tuesday, March 3rd

There are now 51 cases in the UK.  The news channels and websites flash up every new case at the bottom of the screen, like a goal in a football match, which is very odd.  A graduation ceremony at one of the London universities has been cancelled.  There are panicky reports that 20% of the British workforce could be off sick at any one time.

 

Wednesday, March 4th

There’ve now been 107 deaths in Italy, because of the virus, and there’ve been 73 new cases diagnosed in France today alone.  A lot of flights are being cancelled.    Sport in Italy’s now got to be played behind closed doors, and schools, colleges and universities are being closed, like they were in China.  The Olympic relay’s going ahead, but the London Book Fair’s been called off, and the release of the new James Bond film’s been delayed.  And, bizarrely, people are stocking up on toilet paper!!  The virus doesn’t cause stomach upsets, but there seem to have been reports in Australia that most toilet paper there was imported from China and supplies were going to run short, so people started panic-buying, and then the pictures went viral and now it’s happening here and in other countries too!!

 

Thursday, March 5th

The first virus-related death in the UK.  An woman in her 70s, with underlying health conditions, has died in Berkshire.  Very, very sad.

My sister has succumbed to the Great Toilet Roll Panic and bought a load of toilet rolls.   And other stuff.  I do my big Tesco and M&S shop on a Friday, but I had to go into the Sainsbury’s Local near work for a couple of bits today, and found myself getting caught up in it all and buying some toilet rolls and Dettol.  You don’t want to panic, but nor do you want to be the person who’s left without.  People have even nicked toilet rolls from public toilets in Australia, because shops are selling out of it!!  Hand sanitiser’s running short too, because we keep being told it’s important to wash our hands more often – although Sainsbury’s Local did have some.  Mine are getting quite sore from all this extra washing.  It’s not like I don’t wash my hands normally, but not this much!

The Premier League’s banned handshakes between players.  And the Six Nations matches in Italy have been called off.  I can’t see how the Six Nations can be finished now – unless it’s left for months.  And what about the Champions League and the Europa League?  There are quite a few Italian clubs involved.

And now Flybe’s collapsed – the cancellation of flights due to coronavirus has been the final straw.  Oh, what a nightmare this all is!

 

Friday, March 6th

There’s been a second virus-related death in the UK, this time in Milton Keynes.  Things in Italy are getting worse and worse, and Iran’s suffering too.  This is just all awful.  The Scotland v France women’s Six Nations match is off, because a Scotland player tested positive for the virus.

There was toilet roll in Tesco tonight, but only white toilet roll, and I wanted cream!  Why have panic-buyers bought up all the cream toilet roll but left the white?!  Not a single bottle of hand sanitiser to be had, though.  Someone at my office bought two bottles on Amazon for £109 each.  Can you believe that?!  I wouldn’t mind, but Sainsbury’s Local near the office had some, and their bottles were only £3 each!  This panic-buying is really getting very silly.

The weather forecast for the Lakes for the weekend is awful.  Again.  Gah!!

 

Saturday, March 7th

The family of the man yesterday have been saying how they weren’t even allowed to be with him, for fear of infection.  This virus is just horrendous.  There’s now talk of “social detachment” for the over-70s.  How’s that going to work.  Am I not supposed to see Mum and Dad?  Or my uncle, who lives on his own?  Or my brother-in-law’s parents?   So many rumours.   And now 3,500 people are stuck on a cruise ship off the coast of California, because of the virus.

It’s like there are now two groups of people.  Those of us trying to “Keep Calm and Carry On”, and those who are panic-buying.  I’m not criticising anyone: it’s scary.  Some people have cancelled restaurant bookings.

Went to Speke Hall today.  The daffodils there are always early, but they’re particularly early this year.  Then to Newbank Garden Centre.  Getting my garden ready for spring!

 

Sunday, March 8th

What a strange day.  It should have been a wonderful day, because we beat City, 2-0!  Old Trafford was packed – no viruses were keeping people away from the derby!   It was a really manic last few minutes.  Amazing atmosphere.  I came out absolutely buzzing!   Even Liverpool must be pleased that we won, because they’re very, very close to the title now.

But … later on, it was announced that a man had died from the virus (although I think we’re meant to say “with” the virus – it’s all a bit confusing, especially as it mainly seems to affect people with underlying health conditions) at Crumpsall Hospital, North Manchester General.  That’s my local hospital.  Whew.  That really hit me.  This is here – it’s here, amongst us.  That poor man, and his poor family and friends.  64 new cases in the UK today.

Fans have been banned from the Bahrain Grand Prix now.

This morning, I went to Ilkley, as I always do at this time of year – there’s a nice riverside walk there, and I like to see the Easter eggs and simnel cakes in Betty’s.  It was the first time I’d ever got a table in Betty’s without having to queue.  It may just have been because I was so early, because of needing to get home in time to go to the match, but it does seem that people are getting a bit nervous about going out, because of this virus.

Where on earth will all this end?