We thought, and hoped, that TV news had stopped showing interminable pictures of people having swabs poked up their noses and substituted ones of needles being thrust into bare arms. But no. It was a bad mistake eating supper in front of the TV at 8pm tonight. No less than eight shots were shown of swabs being shoved up slimy nostrils. We are treated to incomprehensible images of microscope slides show wriggling cells that only microbiologists can comprehend. The UK has ‘won’ the race to produce a vaccine, much to the chagrin of other countries, some of whom have expressed doubts about the speed at which it has been introduced. Meanwhile, the rest of us wait patiently for our turn. France is in no hurry; its problem is that the decision about which vaccine to use has to be decided by committee i.e. the 27 paid-up members of the EU, not renowned for speedy decisions.
Church restarted last weekend. The word cultes has sinister connotations; the translation, ‘worship’, is much more acceptable. Note the limit.
But how do you limit the number of worshippers to 30? Today the clouds were throwing down buckets of rain and the temperature couldn’t climb into double figures. Some parishioners have already exceeded their threescore years and ten and can’t be expected to queue. Maybe shops have the answer but when does the countdown begin? Half an hour before the doors open? Will worshippers camp overnight to be first in the queue?
These days you can book most appointments on the internet; that’s if you have a computer. In this corner of France many don’t and even paying a bill by cheque is commonplace. We watched an old lady in the market try to pay for a bunch of grapes by cheque. The stallholder told her not bother and gave them to her. Perhaps she tried that trick regularly and ended up with a week’s free groceries.
Président Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, who died recently, was keen to nudge France into the modern age and the Minitel was born. The little beige box, given away free, was the pride and joy of France for 30 years. If you had a telephone line you simply plugged it in and you were away. You could book tickets, check your bank account and visit chat rooms, if so inclined. Only problem at the start was that France had the worst telephone service in the industrialised world. Eventually the internet took over and Minitel was retired.
A 90-year-old UK grandmother has become the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. Her picture will be publicised around the globe, probably with that of the Health Secretary, Matt (what’s wrong with Matthew? Not blokey enough?) Hancock, who shed a tear or two when he announced the news.
Is the end really in sight? With 14,595 new cases in France yesterday the answer is’ not yet’ and we must wait for the results of the vaccine. France will eventually announce a programme for vaccinating. When the restaurants reopen we’ll know that the war is being won. The uninspiring prime minister has just announced that the curfew will commence at 8pm and will continue over Christmas and the New Year. Not much festive spirit there then.
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