DUBLIN, IRELAND – A heatwave has arrived in Ireland.
“Another hot one,” said our neighbor on Sunday, wiping his brow.
It was the hottest day of the summer, with the temperature reaching 78 degrees.
“I hope it ends soon,” he continued.
Meanwhile… today is “Freedom Day” in England. COVID-19 cases are soaring. Nevertheless, the country has decided to throw off its winter masks of fear and repentance… and return to full summer normality. “If we don’t do it now, we have to ask ourselves, when will we ever do it?” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the move.
Naturally, the usual killjoys are out in force, warning that “it’s not going to be freedom day; it’s going to be disaster day.”
Disaster day, we reckon, will come in its own good time… but not as a result of freedom… or the COVID-19 bug.
After all, dying is no disaster; we all have to do it, sooner or later. Whether lockdowns, masks, social distancing, and shelter-in-place orders make it sooner or later is unclear.
Some studies suggest that by lowering GDP, the lockdowns et al. may actually have shortened more lives than they prolonged.
We don’t know. We only know that we don’t like other people telling us what to do.
On the Move
And today, we’re on the move… enjoying our freedom, while we can. We’re setting sail for the continent.
In a few minutes, we’ll drive aboard the ferry for the trip to France… where we will visit a son, who lives in Paris… see old friends… and take care of business, as necessary.
The crossing – an overnight cruise – is usually agreeable… unless the seas are rough. Then, it is miserable.
We recall an early crossing when the children were young. The ship had left port and headed out into the English Channel… this time sailing from Cherbourg in France to Dublin. It was our first trip to Ireland.
Smooth sailing at first, we all sat down in the restaurant for an evening meal.
Then, as we got out into the Atlantic, the waves got bigger. We all began to feel a little uneasy. Still, we decided to act “normal”… and go on with our dinner as usual.
We were halfway through the main course… trying to keep up a pleasant conversation… when one of the boys suddenly threw up on the table.
No problem. The restaurant staff were used to this kind of thing. The table was quickly put in order… and our son went to lie down in the cabin.
Minutes later, another geyser exploded…
Again, the mess was cleaned up… and another child went off to the cabin with his mother.
Dad stayed at the table with the remaining two children. It looked for a while as though the crisis was “contained.”
But the further out in the Atlantic we went, the rougher the seas became.
“A storm coming in,” was the waiter’s nonchalant analysis.
But the stalwarts remaining at the table continued eating, pretending that nature had endowed them with sea legs. We ordered another glass of wine, hoping that would make us more relaxed.
And then… another vomit. It was time to give up on dinner.
Now, all were sick, except our youngest… then, about 8 years old. He continued to eat heartily… and then settled into the ship’s theatre to watch a movie.
The rest of us, however, lay in our bunks… feeling nauseous, but trying not to be violently ill.
And so the evening passed.
And when the morning came, like seaborne travelers throughout the ages, we looked out and rejoiced. Land! Terra firma. Ireland.
We arrived safely and quickly recovered our good humor.
This time, however, we are going the other way, from Dublin to Cherbourg, passing by the south coast of England.
And while England opens up, France recently announced that it would require a “sanitary pass” – including data on your vaccination status and COVID-19 test result(s) – for access to restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and almost every sort of collective entertainment, as well as hospitals and shopping centers. This set off a wave of protests over the weekend.
“We’re Free French!” proclaimed the banners.
“I packed my bag already,” said a handwritten sign in the window of a bistro. “I’m ready to go to prison. No Sanitary Pass.”
So loud was the ruckus that the French government seems to have backed off. A rumor… or news?… A report this morning told us that the pass will only be required for public buildings.
Even More Abnormal
Emmanuel Macron (French president) and Christine Lagarde (head of the European Central Bank) have said that they intend to react to the present crisis – such as it is – not just by trying to bring things back to normal, but to make them even more abnormal.
That is, they say they aim to use the crisis to change the way people live. They will “transform” the economy, so as to make people behave the way they want them to.
Citizens will get the vaccine, whether they need it or not. They will drive electric cars and eat only vegetable protein. They will get their money directly from the central bank, so the authorities can control it.
They will address each other as “Comrade” and wear face masks for life… even at home.
Most importantly, they will do as they are told… whether it makes any sense or not.
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