AY 28: Good Friday 2020

DAY 28: Good Friday

More shocking news from around the world, and Britain

I must begin today where I should have ended last night – with a tribute to my house guest’s AMAZING DOUGHNUTS, dusted with cinnamon sugar. I had to have two, hot from the oven, before I went to bed. Sorry to make you jealous, but they were ace,

I had to be up early today because the tree surgeon was coming. He instructed me to “open the back passage and stay inside” which was an odd sort of introduction. 

On Al Jazeera I learned that Indonesia is now facing horrendous problems having been quite cavalier when the coronavirus first made its appearance. Instead of preparing its population and its hospitals for what was to come, the focus was on boosting its tourism industry! Now Jakarta is under threat of being overwhelmed while richer residents have hightailed it to the hundreds of islands that make up the archipelago taking the virus with them. The government’s response is to threaten swingeing fines or hefty gaol sentences for those who ignore its belated social distancing instructions. Once again the citizenry bear the brunt of a government’s failings.

Meanwhile Trump pal Bolsonaro in Brazil is on a warning from the military for wanting to sack his chief medical officer who is flying in the face of the President’s stupidity by trying to apply WHO guidance to keep the population safe. Bolsonaro has been flouting them and wants the people to boost the economy rather than their immune systems.

Meanwhile the virus may be heading for space as two Russians make their way to the space station…

In the Philippines where Duterte has ordered quarantine violators to be shot, a very special man offers a powerful meditation for Good Friday: ‘We all want to live’ <https://www.preda.org/2020/we-all-want-to-live/>

MediaWise worked with Fr Shay Cullen some years ago. He is an Irish priest who has devoted his life to the down trodden, rescuing youthful victims of drug abuse and sex tourism, and backing self-help projects, through the PREDA Foundation. He invited us to run some training with Filipino journalists on children’s rights. Quite apart for the fact that all our luggage was lost by Thai Airlines, our opening sessions up in Subic Bay, were invaded by a team of local journalists making false claims against Fr. Cullen. It turned out they were in the pay of local dignitaries who disliked his campaigning against their corrupt practices.

We saw for ourselves the evidence of sex tourism at licence bars, and visited a village of Muslim fishing families who lived on was was effectively living on a sandbar tucked away out of sight behind a holiday complex. Children played in sand that oozed with sewage. It came as no surprise that the tiny store beside the tin mosque at the centre of the village was selling 80 percent rum is Orangina bottles. Fr Cullen was one of their only advocates in a municipality that would have preferred they did not exist. He has been been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Sheen.

“Unexpected package in the bagging area” A ring at the front door bell and suddenly there are Easter eggs on the doorstep. Aldi ‘sharing the love’ with Bristol’s destitute asylum-seekers, had donated some 50 ‘spare eggs’ to Bristol Hospitality Network (BHN) who passed them on their members – refugees and their hosts. This was our share. Hope they don’l mind if I donate mine to my grandsons.

Some of BHN’s members have had to be relocated as their hosts are having to self-isolate. Bristol City Council is trying to rehouse the many homeless people in the city – which should not be a problem given the number of empty office blocks and hotels there are – but as a City of Sanctuary they will also have to help destitute asylum-seekers who have nowhere to go. These refugees have the dubious assurance that Priti Patel’s Home Office is unlikely to resolve their cases anytime soon, and they cannot be deported anyway in the days of a global pandemic.

The tree surgeon has come, alone, and been ruthlessly efficient. The eucalyptus was almost no more in next to no time, reduced from 60 foot to 8. He turned the thickest segments into logs, and put the rest through his chipper. Job done. All I had to do was a bit of tidying up, and getting used to the amount of sunlight than now floods the back door and the patio. 

When I then let the chickens out they seemed distinctly unimpressed and carried on as if nothing had happened. They evidently want to see how the other half lives; leave the back door open and they’re in the living room before you can say “Sunday Roast”. They don’t take too kindly to being ushered out, and sometime leave a wet reminder on the doormat.

A rather more shocking matter was drawn to my attention today. Apparently there is a Facebook site which allows AirB&B owners to offer rooms to frontline NHS and care workers who need either to self-isolate or to live away from a family which is in quarantine. One person had received death threats and insults simply because he was offering his rooms at cost, to cover the mortgage. Such abuse is rather harsh at a time when many people not in essential services are finding it difficult to earn a living.

I was told the story of one woman who had to come to Bristol with her young child who needed hospital treatment. She could not stay with her child so slept in her car until she learned about the site, and was put up for free until she could take her child home.

Some of the inhabitants of a nearby ‘student house’ left for home weeks ago, but there seem to be more people there than heretofore and the music is louder than normal. A barbecue is on the go in the garden and thr artsy is raising alarms among neighbours, especially one whose family includes a health worker struck down by the virus. I warn them from a safe distance that the police are likely to be called and am assured that everyone at the party actually lives ain the house. Pull the other one. They do get a visit forth police. They may be young and free from studies but they should know they maybe putting more people at risk. 

I doubt they were watching the No 10  press conference at 5pm, when we learn that almost 1,000 people died in hospital in the last 24 hours. [It really comes to something when COVID19 deaths are running at such an horrendous level yet the country’s biggest selling tabloid leads with ‘BORIS IS OUT (Now that really is a Good Friday)’.]  

Health Minister Matt Hancock also announces that at long last he’s devised a 3-pronged strategy to ensure that ‘frontline staff’ will get the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) they have been waiting for since the coronavirus broke out more than two months ago. What took them so long? And why, oh why, can’t Hancock ad his mates answer a direct question with a simple answer. His prevarication further damages his credibility. Why can’t he just say “Yes, we need to stay indoors at least until the end of April”? We would all feel better to hear being said what we all expect to be the case, anyway. What is their problem?

Time for more of ‘The Master’ where the plot thickens and the kidnapped children take a look around the strange environment inside Rockall. And after the asks of the the stew and a glass go Green Gecko, it’s time for the shot in the arm for humanity that is Gogglebox. Then I shall find a MUBI film to go to bed with. 

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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