The other day I was in my local animal feed store buying grain for my ducks. I got talking with a few locals who gently pulled my leg about Boris, el hermano pequeño of Donald Trump. How unbelievably mad he is, they all said. What can you do with a lunatic like that? Do English people have no respect at all for the law or the police? Why has England ended up in this terrible mess – the laughing stock of the world? Did I know that it now has the highest death rate per capita from coronavirus in Europe?
I won’t lie. I felt embarrassed. What is wrong with the English? What is the contagion – and I’m not talking about Covid-19 - that has swept the UK? Why can’t selfish Britons behave and stay indoors for the good of others? So many questions. I rarely look at mainstream headlines these days. I focus on travel news only which is where my pen lies but I feel increasing frustration every time I read about self-centred, disobedient cretins that flout government rules (admittedly wishy-washy and ever-changing) and care not a damn for the vulnerable.
I’m not sure what the current canker is in Britain but it is unpleasant and frightening. At least in London I always feel that there is a cosmopolitan and lively, inclusive atmosphere but setting foot out of the Capital is increasingly disappointing and frankly, scary. It’s becoming a no man’s land. The narrow-mindedness, the dislike of anything ‘foreign’, and the ‘we’re all right Jack’ attitude appall me. This has of course been brought into sharp relief by the latest crisis. Friends in rural towns and cities tell me horrific tales about the state of their ravaged supermarkets, the grabbing, aggressive attitude of some locals and how vicious yobs rule the streets, intimidating and heckling and reducing local coppers to mulch. What’s to be done? Bring in the army? Enforce heavy fines? It’s all too late for that. Much of the country is probably now infected with the virus and with the chaos reigning in parliament, who would know what’s going on out there in the UK wilderness, anyway?
I like to think I’m pretty liberated but in Boris Johnson’s position many weeks ago I would have carefully studied what my neighbours were doing in Europe and learnt from them. I would have immediately insisted on quarantine for those entering the UK from airports and ports, as soon as the crisis reared its head. Furthermore, I’d have offered the UK a week to follow the rules and if the public refused to buckle down, yes, I would have got the army on the streets with guns and issued big fines. Shock treatment appears to be the only likely way to get these disrespectful, dim mollusks to behave. What a shame that this wasn’t done from the outset.
My son is in lockdown in Hungary. If you flouted the rules in the initial six weeks, you could expect a prison sentence of up to four years. No one messes with the Hungarian police and frankly few would mess with the Guardia or National Police in Spain. One look at those guns, shades and uniforms has me shaking like a whippet. No one wants to live in fear of the authorities, but when a nation, nay, world, faces an unprecedented crisis everyone must muck in and work together. The UK bucked the trend. Shame, shame, shame on its government and shame too on its very un-British, unruly electorate.
Buffet Breakfast Ban
It’s been announced that hotel buffet breakfasts will be outlawed following the coronavirus outbreak. Shared dishes at a communal table will no longer be viable and guess what? I think it’s a great idea. I’ve reviewed hundreds of hotels in Majorca and overseas – countries such as South Korea, South Africa, and mainland Spain – and the thing I hate most? Buffet breakfasts.
In five-star establishments and some exemplary four-stars, I ‘ll admit that buffet offerings are a cut above the rest but so often, I turn up at a miserable looking table of messed up dishes, half the contents depleted and not replenished, hideous make-your-own tepid dishwater coffee or tea, and people milling about, filling their plates to resemble edible towers of Pisa just because they can. They don’t need to gorge so much but they just can’t stop themselves. Greed overtakes rational behaviour and a little voice tells them to eat, eat, eat!
Admittedly I’m lazy whenever I stay in a hotel for pleasure. Why the heck should I have to get up to serve myself breakfast when I’ve just sat down? Why am I paying to serve myself? What I want is a menu, a nice, smiley waiter bringing me a decent leaf tea in a pot or strong double espresso and a choice of quality cooked dishes. I want freshly squeezed juice and some kind of fruit. I don’t need anything else.
When I’m not reviewing, I’d never dream of booking a hotel breakfast for this very reason. How much more fun it is to take to the streets and eat what the locals do and get a properly brewed coffee to boot. So, time for change and time for a re-think. If imposing a no-buffet rule enhances standards and gets some below-par hotels to up their game, bring it on.
Love in the time of Corona
Whose heart didn’t melt at the sight of Ismael Fernandez in Malaga being reunited with his donkey after eight weeks of lockdown? As he calls out the donkey’s name, it rushes over to greet him, braying passionately and soulfully. Wow. Of anything that has made me shed a tear during this period of confinement it is that one moment. The unbreakable, unconditional love and trust between man and beast. We humans can never, ever stop learning from the natural world: now more than ever.
Anna Nicholas’s first Majorca based crime novel, The Devil’s Horn, is out now. It’s available at all good bookshops & via amazon.
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