Union Y Disciplina illustration by Mr. Ze

Dispatch from a Spanish Lock-Down Episode 6 by John Miskelly

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 www.mrzethecreator.com

Inertia takes its toll; Podemos do what they exist to do; Europe dissolves; armchair philosophy

Spain: 110,238 cases
Asturias: 1,384 cases

I’ll believe the curve’s flattening when the curve is fucking flat.
Day 17 and it’s safe to say any novelty has well and truly worn off at this point. Even the relentless tide of more or less exclusively bad news is less horrifying and gut-churning and more just bothersome, like a pain you learn to live with that only really registers when you focus on it properly. Shopping isn’t weird anymore, it’s just the same drag it was before but it takes longer and is twice as dangerous. I for one have stopped kidding myself that the numerous graphs I’ve developed a habit of checking several times a day are any measurements of anything at all. Much like the stories in the press and Twitter in those first days of the crisis that hyped the development of a vaccine—before it became abundantly clear the checks and tests any vaccine must go through will mean a minimum wait of probably twelve months—I’ve gradually unlearned to invest any faith in the suggestion of a flattening of a curve. The curve’s an asshole, a tease, and a sadist, with the sense of humor of a drill sergeant raised by a pack of frat house dickheads. Just when it looks to be flattening out it gives another lurch upwards. I’ll believe the curve’s flattening when the curve is fucking flat. Until then it can’t be trusted.

Home evictions have been banned for six months(!)
There is some good news though. After testing positive for the virus a couple of weeks back Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias is up and about again, just in time to pass comment on a new set of measures to protect people against the economic shitstorm the nation’s about to endure. Home evictions have been banned for six months(!) and utilities companies have been forbidden from cutting anyone off should they fall behind on their bill payments. A microloan scheme at zero percent interest has also been set up for people struggling to pay their rents, to be paid off over six to ten years. Officially it’s come from the current left-wing coalition government, but this has Podemos written all over it. It’s measures like these that’ll make a difference to people’s lives in the long and the short term and will save families and individuals from all sorts of financially induced stress, depression, and hardship. For all the shit Podemos catch for demanding “unrealistic” and pie-in-the-sky social reforms I hope these measures don’t get buried or written out of future accounts of all this. They deserve recognition.

This morning “Turqía” is trending on Spanish Twitter, meaning either there’s an illicit international football match being played or something else to do with Turkey is happening. It turns out Spain’s received a shipment of supplies from our Ottoman brethren from the East. A whole load of Spaniards are sending their gratitude, and a load more are sending their contempt to Northern European countries—specifically The Netherlands and Germany—for blocking the passing of an economic rescue package for the likes of Spain and Italy. Aside from the obvious this could be another significant factor in the Corona fallout, international relations crumbling and realigning; who’s selling out who and which countries are coming through for others.

From a European point of view it’s beefs like this that expose The European Union as less—well, a union based on shared burdens and solidarity—and more a clique of mean bitches out for their own ends and carrying all kinds of repressed prejudices about the “productivity” (read: “laziness”) of the Mediterranean south. It may also serve as a jolt of reality for Brits who developed something of a happy-clappy rose-tinted image of the EU project during their (rightful and correct) campaign for Britain to stay in the Union. Take goings on in France for example where President Macron—he of the married his old high school teacher shenanigans—requisitioned all stocks of PPE on French soil and banned their exports, despite a large quantity of them belonging to a Swedish distribution company based in Lyon and destined for Southern Europe. I’m not sensing a whole lot of European fraternité in that decision. A danger in all this is that by refusing help to the less solvent nations the larger countries in Europe push the likes of Spain and Italy towards shady deals with undesirable nationalists like Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. One hopes there were no backroom under-the-table conditions attached to that shipment of medical supplies.

Today to “do my bit” I’ll sit about and do more or less fuck all
Meanwhile everyone outside the frenetic world of back-stabbing politics, frontline health-care heroism, and essential service work continues to get nothing done. That seems to be an emerging trend across societies: a realization that things to do plus time to do them does not actually translate into things getting done. Coronavirus has split the world into two broad types of very opposing experiences: 80% of us sitting and stewing and scrolling through our phones for fifteen hours a day only getting up to graze from the fridge, while another whole section of society is living through a whirlwind of trauma in hospitals and nursing homes across the world. Today to “do my bit” I’ll sit about and do more or less fuck all while someone a few miles away is trying to keep alive another person with lungs riddled with muck. Inertia and commotion; banality and horror born from the same seed. Cause and effect. Weird.

banality and horror born from the same seed.
I’ll end now on a bit of Corona-related Spanish history and dedicate this dispatch to the life of Rafael Gómez Nieto, who died of Coronavirus on Tuesday aged ninety-nine. Rafael was the last surviving member of the lesser known La Nueva company of the French resistance movement. Made up almost wholly of Spanish Republican veterans of the Spanish Civil War but commanded by French officers, La Nueva are now credited as the first soldiers on the allied side to enter Nazi occupied Paris in August 1944. Rafael contracted and died of the virus in a nursing home in Strasbourg.

¡Solidaridad para siempre! #EsteVirusLoParamosUnidos

Bonus pic! Here’s the cover of weekly Spanish satirical magazine El Jueves (“The magazine that comes out on Wednesdays!”) It caused a stir on Twitter this week. I think it captures a certain no sé que.

El Jueves magazine cover
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John Miskelly lives in Gijón/Xixón, Asturias, Spain. He is 34 years old and is
exploring suspended chords, symptom free again!