paremos los bulos de la derecha illustration by Mr Ze

Dispatch from a Spanish Lock-Down Episode 10 by John Miskelly

Apr 23, 2020

Curve stagnation; Lockdown Extension; Spanish Covid-19 Vocab Lesson

Thanks to Spanish artist Felix Rodriguez Fernandez aka Mr Zé for the above illustration. More of this series and other pieces can be found at

Spain: 200,210 cases
Asturias: 2,348 cases

May 9. That’s the new frontier as set by Prime Minister Sanchez as of Saturday. Considering how the five days before last weekend panned out it was a predictable move.

Last week deserves its own name. The Barren Plateau of Hopeless Fuckery.
Last week deserves its own name. The Barren Plateau of Hopeless Fuckery. The Plateau of Pointless Endeavor. La Semana del Shit. La Mesa del Por Qué Coño Nos Molestamos con Esta Mierda. La Puta Plateau de Desesperanza. 510 dead on Saturday 11 April. 619 on Sunday. On Wednesday 523 died. By Saturday 18 it was back up to 565.

We said we needed to flatten the curve and it duly obliged, a nice horizontal line of “fuck you” wobbling along the Y axis between 500 and 600 deaths a day like a resolute snail pressing on forever and ever into the Promethean abyss.

We said we needed to flatten the curve and it duly obliged, a nice horizontal line of “fuck you”
At the risk of invoking certain cheap stereotypes about the Mediterranean work ethic—by which I mean I am about to invoke a cheap stereotype about the Mediterranean work ethic—this really does look like a job half done. “Oh, you wanted it flat at zero, like all the way down. Oh you wanted the surgery done and the wound sewn up? Can’t you just walk around with your guts bumping against your legs for the rest of your life like a walking butchers shop front? Can’t you just be in lockdown forever while 500 odd people die a day and octogenarians become a nostalgic conversation piece like sixteen-bit consoles and white dogshit?”

The other curve, the one measuring contagions was at one point going in reverse, the snail hitting an incline and sliding back down on its own mucus trail. This blip in the descent has been credited on increased testing across the country and a subsequent rise in positive results. These carriers that have now been identified can self-isolate and prevent themselves unwittingly infecting anyone else. A good thing in the long run but it does nothing for the short-term morale. I know I’m essentially looking out the window on a chillier than average spring day and saying, “So much for climate change, ’ey?”, albeit with grimace of doom instead of the self-satisfied smirk of a MAGA-hatted idiot, and I get it: I know there is a longer-term game being played than what happens in any one week. But last week was the reality I was living through and my brain needed some good news—and not as an imaginary forecast that always seems to be two weeks in the future. And to think containment isn’t even really a solution, it’s a defensive holding pattern, hiding in our shells (snails again) while a bird pecks away at us and we wait for it to get tired or bored or distracted by something shiny (it’s a magpie, the bird) until we can develop a vaccine (imagine a kind of snail helmet that administers poison to the bird or something?) and actually go on the counter attack.

containment isn’t even really a solution, it’s a defensive holding pattern
I’ll leave the highfalutin science talk there for this dispatch, because there is actually a bit of good news: kids will be allowed out for a period of time a day from April 27. It turns out not being allowed to go outside and run around a bit is having some seriously adverse effects on their mental health, and there’s increasing pressure to let them out for an hour or so to roam around like chickens in one of those less horrendous battery farms. It’s probably not the toughest decision the government’s had to take recently; a minor increase in the danger of infections vs. the possibility of a whole generation of maladjusted future psychopaths.

Despite last week’s stagnation there is still talk of a relaxation of the lockdown. The governor of Asturias, some guy called Adrián Barbón who’s name I definitely didn’t just learn this minute, has joined in a call from other regions for the de-escalation of confinement measures to be reduced according to the status of individual regions, so Asturians can do and play sports and “attend to their flowerbeds, something very typical of Asturias.” Is it? Attending flowerbeds? Something very typically identifiable to Asturias? That’s new to me after four years of living here. He does have a point though. Despite having the oldest population in the country Asturias has suffered one of the less severe outbreaks of Coronavirus—151 cases per 100,000 citizens. Lower than our octopus murdering neighbors in the west (Galicia 237/100,000) and in the east (Cantabria 224/100,000). Some of this might have something to do with a large proportion of the Asturian population being cows and living in fields where social distancing is easier. Being of historically mining/shepherding/fisherman/hard-fucker stock might also have had an impact, likewise being in a region no one outside the country’s heard of resulting in less foreign tourists—who knows? Fingers crossed though Pedro Sanchez has a soft spot for Asturian horticulturalists and takes Barbón’s plea seriously. 

In lieu of anything else to write here are some useful Coronavirus-themed English—Spanish translations:





Toilet roll—papel higénico

Face masks—mascarillas



Health workers—Sanitarios

Essential workers—Trabajadores essenciales



The Spread—La propagación

To spread—Defundir








Stay at home!—Quedate En Casa!

To flatten the curve—Aplanear the curve

The curve is rising/falling/stagnant—La curva está subiendo/bajando/estancada




To break lockdown—Saltar el confinamiento

Fine (noun)/To fine (verb)—multa/multar

There’s nothing left to watch on Neflix—No se queda nada más para ver en Netflix

Fuck Netflix anyway—A la mierda con Netflix de todos modos

I’m sick of this fucking shit—Estoy harto/a de esta puta mierda

I’m sick of the fucking sight of you—Estoy harto de la puta vista de ti

I think I’m going nuts—Creo que me estoy volviendo loco/a

I can’t believe the Brits can go outside to exercise, fuck them—No puedo creer que los británicos puedan salir a hacer el ejercicio, que les den

At least we’re not in America with that dickhead Trump—Al menos no estamos en Los Estados Unidos con este gillipollas Trump
At least we’re not in America with that dickhead Trump—Al menos no estamos en Los Estados Unidos con este gillipollas Trump

I told you we should have gotten a dog, fucking moron—Te dije que deberíamos tenido un perro, maldito imbécil

Universal basic income—Renta mínima

To be unemployed—En el paro

Unemployment benefits—El paro

To claim unemployment—Cobrar el paro

How are we going to pay the rent/this bill?—Cómo vamos pagar el aquiler/esta factura?

To evict, Eviction—Desahuciar, Desahucio

Fuck all landlords—Al mierda con todos los caseros

Sacked (adj), Sackings (noun)—Despedido, Despidos

Welfare benefits—Prestaciónes sociales/asistencia social

That’s it for now. Get studying. There will be a test.

¡Solidaridad para siempre!

John Miskelly lives in Asturias, Spain. He is 34 years old and is symptom free.