• neil

Day 31 (17 April): Vive la différence

I was in a deep post-prandial sleep in my favourite chair when the blog siren resonated throughout the house. I leaped to my feet, slid down the shiny pole and landed here in front of my laptop. I hope you don’t mind me writing this in my underwear.

Yesterday evening, when other folk were watching Magic Roundabout or whatever they put on the television these days, I was participating in a Harvard University Zoom Conference entitled “Rebooting Transatlantic Dialogue”.

I mention this for two reasons:

Firstly, because I am concerned that over the course of my blog posts I have contrived to give the impression that I am a perfect fool. I am very far from perfect.

Secondly, because a recurrent theme during the conference was how differently we do things. American Presidents, for example, have a hard time understanding E.U. governance structures. Go figure. They approach things very differently. And it occurred to me that at the modest level of Neil’s World I have also been noticing the differences between peoples and their contrasting approaches to problems.

Take my previously mentioned daily confinement "to-do" lists.

I began today with my TV yoga practice under the guidance of the sexy Fiend-From-Hell who tortures me both mentally and physically.

The thing which has made it difficult until now, apart from the bits you do with your body, is the mystical approach and the impenetrable terminology. I am gradually getting that sorted. I now recognise three key instructions which I think of as:

The Goddess, The MasterChef and The Proselytiser .

The Goddess: "Come up on to your four arms". I had thought this must be a multi-membered Hindu thing. But she means the bits below my elbow.

The Master Chef : "Soften the mussels". My dog Alfie salivates when she hears this. I bought her from the Pavlov family. That’s what sent me down the wrong mental path. She means ‘chill'.

The Proselytiser: "Touch your temples": Where I come from we call them chapels . But now that I understand what she means I sprint down to the church on the corner and I’m back before you can say Savasana.

I’m sure the rest will drop into place before confinement is over and I’m looking forward to offering you the chance to attend my own mystic retreat. Fifteen percent off for blog subscribers who become disciples. Terms and Conditions apply.

Next were my Dutch and Spanish language lessons on Duolingo. The Duolongo owl is less sexy than my yoga teacher. When I find an owl equally sexy I will quit confinement whatever the risks.

Again, national characteristics and differences seem to shine through .

I spend my Spanish lessons eating roast chicken with spicy rice on sunny beaches and in parks, when not looking for the hotel with the best view and the finest wines.

My Dutch lessons are spent eating bread and salt, looking for the cheapest hotel and complaining about restaurant prices. I also seem to want to buy purple clogs. Lingerie, by the way is ‘ondergoed’ which approximates to “undergoods”. I am sharing this as I mentioned at the beginning that I am modelling my undergoods right now. And wearing purple clogs.

Last year, while preparing to walk across Sicily, I studied Duolingo Italian.

And for reasons which completely escape me I spent most of my Italian lessons asking if anybody had seen my penguin. When I got to Sicily nobody had.

It was then time for a break and over to the BBC news app for a 15 minute update.

Again, each nation seems to have a different approach to a problem which is biologically the same.

The director of a large health service trust in the U.K. has contacted the BBC for the phone numbers of Burberry and Barbour because he does not have enough gowns for his staff working on coronavirus wards. Having read that I was ready for something more uplifting.

I turned my attention to the continent.

And lo and behold!

Denmark, which has done an excellent job in keeping its virus figures down, has decided to allow beauty salons, hairdressers, massage parlours and tattoo joints to reopen on Monday.


Oh - and driving school instructors .

I would love to have a chat with the ministry official who came up with this. At a time when shops have put up Perspex barriers between employees and customers to maintain a minimum distance, this bold soul has decided to ease off on driving instructors and massage therapists.

As soon as details of the relaxation became clear, one of Denmark's biggest online hairdresser booking systems crashed. The Ekstra Bladet newspaper suggests that Danes desperate for a haircut had all tried to book at the same time.

Well, all of them who weren’t dashing to the car in search of a happy ending to confinement.

Seriously, just imagine there are four of you in your household. You the driving instructor, your wife the hairdresser, your daughter the apprentice tattooist and your aged granny “Sparkles” the masseuse.

Now try getting insurance.

In Sweden the pubs are still open but the government has barred visits to nursing homes. Scientists are divided on the government's approach but polls suggest it's popular with the public. Of course it is. People would pay good money for that.

“I’m sorry Gran, I’d love to pop round and talk about the war and your bunions but I’m busy working my way down a barrel. Stop phoning”.

And if you do get the virus you’ll be safely pickled.

Stay safe and reach out to your loved ones!



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