From Rural New York
Sandy Connors, USA
As I am feeling a bit bored with more repetitive quite days I cannot bring myself to inflict another mundane report upon my fellow journalists about the past week in relative quarantine, so have snapped a few photos from the garden. (My mother used to tell us that only boring people get bored ~ ah me, that does feel true). Last week’s journal was full of wonderful interesting reports ~ Peter’s childhood garden memoir was delightful as was Marli Rose’s theatre scenes for her Nutcracker. I wondered if she had drawn all those lovely little figures herself ~ It looked like such fun. We hope everyone has a good coming week.
Words from Wood Lane
Susan Neave, Beverley
For meteorologists 1 September is the beginning of Autumn, season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Next week we are in charge of an allotment belonging to friends so will be picking/eating beans and raspberries. My tomatoes are still green. Glorious sunny day to start the month. A friend drove over from York to meet up for a walk on Westwood, where the hawthorn is heavy with berries. Tomorrow (Friday) the street is having an early Macmillan coffee morning, with book stalls, tombola etc. Unfortunately we won’t be here to take part, so just a donation without the benefit of cake or the temptation of acquiring yet more books.
No progress with Nationwide. Latest message advised me to phone the local branch which I did, only to get an automated message telling me to phone a different number for anything urgent. This turned out to be the national number I had phoned in the first place. More head banging. Have now sent my snail mail complaint. According to their website 'We care, we listen, we help'. Had to reward myself by buying a 1920s ‘Toy Rabbit’ design Wedgwood saucer on the internet.
Vie de château
Marie-Christine, Blois, France
Last week, my contribution was fairly pessimistic, probably due to too much work. Keynes is supposed to have said : "When things change, I change my mind". A French saying is:" Only the stupid never change his mind". Let's be a bit more positive.
Luckily, we have happy addictions: books, CDs, ceramics. So potters, old book and classical CD dealers will still have us as clients. Our contribution to economic recovery.
There is a famous line of the poet Lamartine, in my translation: "Inanimate objects, do you have a soul? A soul which attaches to our soul, and forces her to love?" It's not only love, it's also beauty, culture, memories, emotions, aesthetics, pleasure...
Second hand objects are UP.
Here is what "How to Spend it" in the FT says: "Second hand can be luxurious". It is "the mission to prove it" of stylist Bay Garnett who "is bringing Oxfam to Selfridges". I am doomed, I like second hand things precisely because they are not fashionable, and also because it takes me to a more imaginary comforting past. No more hunting in charity shops (sorry now it is "philanthropy shops"). Today "old things" are being captured by fashion-concious FT readers. This reminded me that one of my favorite shops in Norwich was RSPCA - it seems to me that people protecting the animals were either more motivated or richer than people in favor of protecting human beings, judging by the goods in the shop.
Second hand books:
Rob and I always had a taste for second hand bookshops, where we can find unexpected and unknown books. For Rob it is mainly because you can't find very old books in new bookshops. For me it is like meeting people from the past or from different cultures and becoming friends with them. My book of the week from Lionel's books ( our round-the-corner bookshop) is a French biography of Gertrude Bell. I love those nineteenth century enterprising English ladies who travelled around the world with such boldness and dignity. My favorite being Lady Macartney ("An English Lady in Chinese Turkestan"), I like the moment when during a revolution in the English embassy in Kashgar, she dresses herself and her children in impeccable white clothes in case they get killed. Great surprise this morning when I read about Gertrude Bell that she took part in the negotiations between the Allies over the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, which ended with the Sikes-Picot Agreement. She did not agree with it, she wanted more independence for the new countries created. Lebanon, as we know it today, was created exactly a century ago. And now President Macron is in Beirut with the idea of a new style of government for Lebanon and meanwhile President Erdogan is dreaming of a new caliphate. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
The Runaway Diaries
Now You Are Two
The last day of August brings your birthday, now you are two years old.
We have been celebrating for over a week; lots of little celebrations with friends and family rather than one big party – a Corona friendly approach that has resulted in us all totally exhausted and possibly still drunk.
Again Time has done a strange double pike somersault and I don’t know if I feel like you’ve been around forever or if it was only yesterday that we were bringing you home from the hospital.
I think you’re entering a new phase and are enjoying every opportunity to do what you want and let me know with howls and tears if you are asked to do something you don’t want to do. This is new, you’ve been a very reasonable soul up til now, so we are having to have some serious conversations and I’m ashamed to say I have already resorted to bribes.
We need to get a passport photo of you so that you can apply for Austrian citizenship as part of an extraordinary scheme where descendants of persecuted Austrian Jews who fled the country are being invited to take up Austrian Citizenship. As Britain heads for a devastating Brexit, your Granny has decided to apply and enable you, your dad, cousins and aunt, the opportunity to have dual citizenship, and remain European. But we need to get a photo of you.
We enter Snappy Snaps and are met by extremely friendly mask wearing staff. Maybe they are too friendly, or the height of the stool you must sit on is intimidating, or you’re not happy that you have to take your hat off, you wail and sob and cling to me like a barnacle to a rock. After 10 minutes I decide to strike a deal. You listen intently, through sobs and clenched fists, you agree tentatively – an ice cream, and then we return for the photograph.
As soon as we leave the shop, your tears stop, you gleefully scoot down the traffic free Rye lane and consider the ice-cream offers like some sort of connoisseur. We settle on a malted milk and oat biscuit ice-cream sandwich dipped in milk chocolate. £5! I get approximately one mouthful. Of course, you have no intention of going back to have your photo taken. I have been royally played. Now you are two and I need to up my game.
David Horovitch, Twickenham
One of Anita Brookner's novels begins 'Dr Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.' Something like that.
Yesterday, having recorded a particularly thorny sonnet - 85 - in the morning, and had coffee and cakes with some friends round the corner, being determined not to end up like Dr Weiss, I decided to go to a shop I know in Whitton that repairs vacuum cleaners because mine needed a new battery. It's a cordless Dyson so I just had to take the head which I could easily carry with me in a bag on the bus. I'd been asked to record some audio books which would be my first paid work in a long time and the great joy was that I could make my own suggestions as long as the books were out of copyright. The producer and I were having an email correspondence about which books to do and, just before the 110 bus got to my stop, I had an email from her on my mobile agreeing to let me do Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, instead of his Keep the Aspidistra Flying which had been my original suggestion but which, on re-reading, seemed quaintly homophobic. She also sent me a new translation of Balzac's Old Goriot to look at, instead of my original suggestion of Eugenie Grandet. I might have dodged a bullet there because, as I remember, Anita Brookner's heroine is obsessed with Eugenie Grandet which is the particular novel that has ruined her life. Anyway the prospect of all this work put a spring in my step, though I will, of course, be exposing myself to an awful lot of life-ruining literature.
The shop - V.T. Electronics - turned out to be in Hanworth not in Whitton. I've only lived round here for just over a year and I can't sort out all that bit to the west which converges on Heathrow. It all seems rather the same to me but I like the shop very much. It's small and packed with second hand washing machines and reconditioned Henrys and shelves full of kettle descalers, and detergents you've never heard of. There's a smell of cumin and coriander - and Mr Vijay who runs it is kind and painstaking. Definitely worth a trip to Whitton, or even Hanworth on a desultory Friday afternoon in September. Yesterday I couldn't open the door as he'd just had a delivery and the shop was packed with cardboard boxes. I helped him move them into the back room and then he took apart my Dyson, diagnosed what I'd expected - a flat battery - and asked me to leave it with him and he'd give me a call. I was enjoying my outing enormously and decided to extend it by going to John Lewis in Kingston and seeing if I could buy some new bathroom scales. Mr Vijay told me the No 111 bus from just round the corner would take me there.
I had thought I was near to Kingston but I wasn't. The bus took over an hour but I didn't mind in the least. Signs to Feltham, Hounslow, Staines, Fulwell, Upper Halliford, an enticing glimpse of a park through which ran a surprisingly rapid river. And then at last the chimneys of Hampton Court where the traffic became pre-covid or post-covid perhaps and we crawled the last mile into Kingston, great parkland dotted with grazing deer on either side. I had my mask on which makes it impossible to read even if I'd wanted to. Do you know what I think I really enjoyed ? Not knowing where I was. Not naming where I was. I'm glad Mr Vijay couldn't repair my Dyson on the spot because now I can look forward to another little masked adventure. Perhaps I can find that rapid river in the park but, as soon as I name it'll be in danger of becoming literature and ruining my life.
I got the bathroom scales without much difficulty and this morning, when I weighed myself, wished I hadn't.
I also picked up a copy of "Homage to Catalonia' at Waterstones and, after watching The Channel 4 News. settled down to re-read it for the first time in 40 years. There's nothing like curling up with a good book is there?
Hilary Q, North Norfolk
Sorted out the compost bins... very satisfying... I love seeing my husband in moleskin trousers with shirtsleeves rolled up carrying a fork!
Agreed to return to the bookshop for one day each week for the next four weeks. Both Claire and I have wobbled quite a bit about this return. My concern is less about infection control and more about the fact that the job is no longer the same. I don’t really want to wear a face mask and shield all day or spend part of it disinfecting baskets, door handles and bannister rails. In preparation I have just tried to buy a washable boilersuit on line but there are no large ones available at the moment! I had envisioned a white shiny one like a beekeeper’s suit with ‘I am not a robot’ spray painted on the back... or a snazzy black one with zips and ‘Sorry, we are now closed’ embroidered on the back. It seems, however, that no such creativy can be exercised!
Coincidentally, and chosen at random, I have been invited to participate in the Imperial College London Ipsos MORI NHS Covid Research Study. I received my test pack in the mail on Monday. I have to prebook a courier and THEN conduct the test before the end of this week. It will show if I MAY have the dreaded disease but will not indicate if I have already had it.
Great joy as my husband prepares for his first fishing trip since March. Little pockets of paraphernalia dotted about the house please me!
Last night we had pizza again... very delicious. Afterwards, as an experiment, we popped into the pizza oven freshly harvested beetroot wrapped in foil each with a teaspoonful of next door’s honey and left them to bake overnight... A delicious accompaniment to this lunchtime’s toasted cheese.
Saturday 5th September will be our 39th Step as in Wedding Anniversary. In 1981 we came to Norfolk for our honeymoon and I always remember hearing Martín say ‘my wife’ for the very first time! It still makes me tingle to recall it!
John Underwood, Norfolk
Too close to home.
Having spent the whole of lockdown rather distanced from the Covid pandemic, we now find ourselves living five miles away from Banham Poultry in Attleborough, with around 100 workers at the chicken factory testing positive for Covid. The men and women who work there are largely brought in from surrounding towns, Diss, Thetford, Great Yarmouth on the coast, and Attleborough itself. Town businesses are apparently noticing a fall-off of trade, as people vote with their feet and stay away. We have been shopping locally throughout the lockdown and so are not much affected, but we would be reluctant, I think to use the supermarkets .
My mother has her 96th birthday this Friday, and we are visiting her – a three and a half hour journey if we are lucky- for a couple of days. We know that we have been very careful, hardly going out in public at all, and so don’t feel overly concerned about the possibility of taking the virus to her. A relation and his family in Spain have all recently tested positive, and he has absolutely no idea where he might have picked it up, and there’s the rub; so many people who are infected with Covid have no apparent symptoms and can be infectious without knowing it. Can we trust our world beating testing and tracking? I don’t believe so. Not when the people in charge of it are apologising for sending folk 250 miles to get tested.
Our business is still limping along without Book Fairs. We miss our bookseller colleagues, and the excitement of finding hidden gems amongst the thousands of books. We have been buying where we can, and have turned up quite a few interesting things - goodness knows where we will sell them. We heard today that our nearest Book Fair at Bury St. Edmunds has been cancelled for October, another new Fair in Brighton has been cancelled, and we are wondering if we dare to attend a Fair in central London, one of our regular pre-pandemic haunts. It was the last Fair that we attended just before lockdown, when we were all jokingly bumping elbows for the first time, and when thousands of infected European travellers were allowed unhindered into the country, international football matches were still being held and there was a huge race meeting at Cheltenham attended by a quarter of a million people. Oh, and the Prime minister was still shaking hands.
That all seems ages ago, and we are all pretty Covid- savvy now. It might be just us, but Ally and I can’t get our heads around people flying abroad and then complaining if they have to go into isolation on their return, or end up catching Covid from their fellow travellers not wearing masks and wandering up and down the aeroplane aisles. Never have our flabbers been so ghasted.
From St Just
Jane G, St Just, Cornwall
Since being freed from the immediate concerns of house collapse and feline illness, I've been taking stock of how people I know have been affected by the virus and by lockdown. A colleague's brother has died and another colleague has been very unwell indeed, although he's now recovering. One of my neighbours has been made redundant (and, disgracefully, is being given two years' redundancy pay although she will have worked for the company for 2 years, 51 weeks and 3 days). And something that keeps coming back to me is how another neighbour was keeping track of who she'd seen recently and who she hadn't, obviously in the very real expectation that some people in the street might have died. A lot of other, routine conversations have broken off with one person or the other looking confused and saying 'sorry - I'm completely exhausted', with an air of surprise as if they'd only just taken it in.
But a lot of students and some colleagues have had the thing with relatively minor effects, or none at all (one of them in early February, which seems distinguished). And the friends I was most worried about have thankfully been all right - for the vulnerable ones, shielding (or creative variants on it) have worked; the ones who run a theatre company have survived partly through sheer determination and the hard work of the last decade that put them financially in a reasonably viable situation, partly through being asked as early as July to start making Covid-secure shows. And another friend who owns a garage and whose leisure time is nothing but sport I feared would have had his entire life taken out from under him - but he said, no, he sent everyone else off on furlough, shut all the doors and got on with an extraordinary amount of welding.
Signs of near-normal life here include the Jubilee Pool re-opening - for pre-bookings only, with gaps between sessions for cleaning, and with red and green traffic cones outside changing rooms to signal their Covid status, but with no impact on the pool, which is salty and bracing as ever. It seems odd to be charged the same for an hour as it used to be for a full day - but since I never went for much more than 30 minutes, it's a theoretical oddity.
Another very cheering thing was visiting Open Studios, postponed from May, and with a lot of people open by appointment only. Apparently visitor numbers are a fraction of what they'd normally be - but that allowed for some good conversations, though not with the hearing-impaired who'd normally lip-read. Other mask moments were daft rather than distressing - trying to work out the etiquette (& legality or otherwise) of offering and drinking a cup of tea, and a friend who gave me a lift saying in exasperation that she'd have to take her mask off as her glasses were so steamed up she couldn't see the road.
Consensus is that it's beginning to get quieter here - though I did have an encounter with a herd of humans yesterday in the lane from Carn Gloose back to town. There were about 25 of them, mostly male, all over 6 foot, all kitted out in identical blue sweatshirts and identical boots with a white stripe, and walking very nearly in formation, followed by three girls in pale grey sweatshirts with long dark hair tied back in pony-tails. I realised a bit late that I've completely forgotten how to greet a large group of people, and later still that there surely shouldn't have been that many of them - unless they were six sets of identical quadruplets, which given their clone-like appearance seems barely less likely than that they weren't.
Today the presenter of Radio 4's More or Less was on the news apologising for having said that the risk of dying of Covid is about the same as the risk of dying in the bath: apparently he'd lost track of the difference between a year and a day. But at one in two million (if you're 60), he insisted it is the same as the risk of taking a short ride on a motorbike, going skiing, or riding a horse.
Thoughts from the Suffolk coast
Harris G, Suffolk
Not a lot to report, folks, but I hope you’re all staying well.
I have continued with my travels over the past week. Local journeying. Mostly alone. Mostly enjoyable. Norwich one day - for a full day. By bus. I carry with me a jute bag that was given to me in the days when we all worried about the environmental dangers of disposable goods and plastic bags. My ‘enviro-friendly’ bag now contains disposable gloves, disposable face masks, paper for letter writing, a book by Ruth Rendell (it’s really good), hand sanitizer in its hard plastic bottle and a packet of extra strong mints in case I need to sneak a sweet under my mask (everything is now just in case).
Witnessed an awful incident on the way home. At the bus doorway there was a slow moving queue. In front of me stood an elderly couple and in front of them a young man. As we neared entry, the young man suddenly turned on the older couple -
“Haven’t you heard of the f’ng two metre rule? You’re too close. You got f’ing Alzheimer’s?”.
“Watch your language, you idiot” retorted the elderly man, “For God’s sake, just get on and shut up”.
The elderly woman started moving away, the man moved forward. Then, from the back of the queue - two men walked by everyone, pushed the aggressive young man out of the way and got on the bus. The young man’s eyes flashed with outrage. He didn’t challenge the younger men. He just got on, showed the driver his ticket and went upstairs. Ridiculous. Cowardly. The elderly couple sat downstairs but in separated seats. She was tearful. The driver got out from behind his screen and went over. He reassured them. I sat downstairs too - but at the back - trying to read a book. Will I bother using the bus again? Not for a while.
Another day - and it was a visit to a friend - Mrs Y. Good to see her and hear her cheerfulness. We walked around her beautiful garden. We drank strong tea and ate delicious chocolate biscuits. All low in calories I tell myself. She is so reasonable about the general situation across the world. Philosophical. Resigned but not unquestioning. Thank Heavens. Thank Heavens for common sense. For understanding. For wit and intelligence. We spoke at length about face masks. She has made lots - different colours to match her different outfits. Industrious and creative.
I’m not sure why people wear face masks when they’re alone in their cars. Although I comply with the rules, I'm not actually sure about many of the new “safety measures”. Washing our hands thoroughly, staying away from crowds and eating a healthy diet - yes, yes, yes, very logical and very sensible. But does the application of a spot of antibacterial gel from some overused and often grubby dispenser offer us any real protection? I see discarded blue paper towels all over the floor by the “cleaning stations” in the supermarkets and shops. Hmmm. Doesn’t wet paper on dirty floors encourage bacterial growth? Overflowing bins? And what of masks in the street? Is the air so polluted that we need face masks in the open? Have scientists invented a filter that can stop the microscopic bugs from getting at us? Coughs and sneezes spread diseases. But fear and ignorance are enemies too.
I went to Holt in Norfolk last Saturday. Parked miles out of town (good walk for my lockdown belly). The town was seriously too busy for me! Crowds! Didn’t stay long. Did wave at lovely Annabel through the glass of her shop window and we put up our thumbs in mutual acknowledgement. Drove home along the coast. Dark skies and glimpses of a choppy sea. Stopped a couple of times. Villages and towns with people wearing what someone once called our national uniform - rain coats and umbrellas. Almost lit a fire when I eventually got home! Sat down to watch an episode of the Cedar Tree from a box set. A 1970s production. Full of non PC paternalism reflecting social mores between the wars.
According to the news - nearly a third of the employees at the Norfolk chicken factory have tested positive for the virus. Poor people trying to earn a living. President Trump is in the news a lot. So much immaturity. Every time I see him I think “nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I’m going out to eat worms”. There was an interesting news item on the wireless. A woman who lives at the Barbican in London spoke about life in the city. She said everywhere around her seems shut, bolted up, padlocked. She said parts of London are weirdly unpeopled - still. Cafes closed. Restaurants shut down. Some places are even boarded up. Bleak imagery. She made a comment about Boris Johnson that I thought worth repeating. “Look at his face”, she said, “he is taking too many chances with us all and we all know it. We all know he is not convinced by anything that he says. He’s not a good actor, he’s just not convincing”.
“Everybody knows the boat is leaking
Everybody knows the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died...
Everybody knows the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost...
Everybody knows the fight is fixed
The poor stay poor and the rich get rich
That's how it goes
And everybody knows...”
L Cohen, 1988
Susan, Country Victoria, Australia
I see you Brits were treated to a dose of the most destructive and negative human being Australian politics has ever produced. Boris is poised to give him an appointment to the UK Board of Trade. Run for your lives. Tony Abbott is more likely to begin a trade war. His comments about the “health dictatorship” we apparently have here, advocating letting the virus run and allowing the elderly die struggling for their last breath, sink the man to lows he has reached so many times before. His Mother didn’t help his ego, telling anyone who would listen that he would either be the Pope or the Prime Minister. Alas for Australia it was the latter. I wish someone would explain to people who mount the argument about letting the virus run, about the limited capacity for a health system to deal with everything. If thousands of people have the virus then heart attacks, car accidents, premature babies are not going to receive care and attention. I don’t think I would want to be coming out of transplant or cancer surgery knowing the hospital was treating an overflow of Covid patients. The stubborn tail of Victorian Covid cases are largely made up of health workers and their close contacts. If the virus was free to run who would there be to take up the slack and leave a functional health care system?
We travelled into Melbourne yesterday for medical appointments. It was beautiful warm day and it was lovely seeing people out get their permitted exercise or time just sitting in the sun with their takeaway coffees and muffins. “The Tan”, the walking and running track that circles the Botanic gardens was filled with people, mask wearing and distancing being observed. Melbourne just making the best of the situation. Our lovely GP, who is a youthful mid 70s was too nervous to get too close. I’m slightly unsure about his diagnosis of the allergic reaction to something on my face, and am yet to use the cream he prescribed (having looked at common side effects). He made me laugh out loud at the description of zoom consultations with patients exposing their private bibs and bobs “I don’t even see them in real life so closely Susan”. We had to go through a police road block on the way home to explain the reason for our visit. The lovely policeman greeted us “Flash car, flash couple”, neither true I might say. Licence check and we were quickly on our way.
We have had some beautiful warm days this week and the days are noticeably longer. I had some lovely afternoons in the garden bringing my dahlias out of hibernation into their new permanent beds. I will go to my nursery “The Garden Tap” to buy some very vulgar Pom Poms that Meg and I spied on our way past walking today.
Our local provedore makes divine fish pies on Friday, one came home with me today. Time to pour a glass of wine and prep some purple Brussel sprouts while the pie warms.
Have a beautiful weekend diarists.
Nicky, Vermont, USA
I read in one of our news sources (I’m so grateful for the NY Times and the Washington Post) that there’s a move afoot in England to defund the BBC and make room for a Fox News (or close relation) news channel. Walking the dog, I find myself walking worrying about this. I would say the most destructive thing that has happened in America in the last twenty years or so has been the predominance of Fox as a television channel. Something like fifty percent of the country gets its information from Fox, but the commentators on Fox lie… and the news can’t be relied on for accuracy. Which is a serious understatement. But nevertheless people believe what is broadcast on Fox. This has paved the way for a cascade of right wing and far right activism culminating (so far) in Trump’s election. I can’t say strongly enough how destructive it has been to America. (I’m not remotely original in this analysis of course)… anyway, I don’t know quite what to do to protect the BBC, but I wish (like I do about many issues at the moment) that I could have some influence. Which of course I don’t.
Speaking of influence, we don’t have much money to donate to the upcoming election, and in general do not give to political parties or candidates, but now I’m scanning the possible Senate seats up for grabs, trying to see where our paltry donations could help make a difference.
One of the gifts (perhaps the only one) of Trump’s ascendance to power has been just how much more I’ve learned about the U.S. government and how it works (or doesn’t) and what I can do and (mostly) not do.
On a much more local level we are at the end of summer, some of the mornings are a little chilly, and some of the leaves on the trees are starting to turn. Vermont is famous for its colorful foliage displays, often quite psychedelic, and leaf peepers, as they are called here, come from all over the world. Not this year of course, and I’m wondering if people will even drive up from surrounding states. It’s always hard to predict exactly when it would happen. A few years ago my cousin and her guy came from New Zealand and missed the display by about a day. But it was such a pleasure to see them anyway. They had planned to come this year, the timing works with her school vacation, but the best laid plans…
A View from Crazy Town
Chris Dell, Washington, D.C.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for any sane person to keep track of all the Crazy. Which is why Your Intrepid Reporter willingly sacrifices his own marbles for you, Gentle Reader, bringing you all the crazy that's fit to print.
Dear Leader used the Republican National Convention to portray an alternative America in which - thanks to Him and Him alone - COVID-19 is gone, no one is dying, our cities are or are not burning and the economy is on the verge of the greatest recovery ever. The Most Significant Other, Ever, of Dear Number One Son set the tone with a pre-recorded high volume rant in front of an empty room, culminating in a series of dramatic arm-waving gestures last seen publicly in Nuremberg in 1936. She warned the Faithful that "They" want "TO STEAL YOUR LIBERTY!!, YOUR FREEDOM!!!...TO ENSLAVE YOU TO THE WEAK, INDEPENDENT, LIBERAL, VICTIM IDEOLOGY!!!!." The Most Significant Other, Ever also explained that she was an immigrant herself, since she was born in America to immigrant parents, one of whom is from Puerto Rico [small detail: Puerto Rico is part of the United States], while the other is Irish. This left some perplexed but it did clear up one previous misunderstanding. The Gentle Readers may recall that some months ago Dear Leader proposed swapping Puerto Rico for Greenland. It is now clear that due to The Most Significant Other, Ever's complicated heritage, he merely confused Greenland for the Emerald Isle. An honest mistake. Could happen to anyone. The important thing is to lose Puerto Rico, and remove the stain of foreign birth from The Most Significant Other, Ever by making sure that she was born to a good, white, English speaking 'Murican father. He has plans for Her, and Dear Number One Son, you see. (Ed. Note: there is no truth to the rumor that Dear Number One Daughter was overheard swearing She'd have that Puerto Rican hussy's guts for garters. Fake News!)
Never one to rest on His laurels, however, Dear Leader has been busy since the convention highlighting His reassuring message that no one would be safe in He Who Shall Not Be Named's America - a liberal, socialist hellhole in which riots are a daily occurrence, the twin pandemics of opioids and viruses claim thousands of lives and record numbers of people are without health insurance and cannot find work. To make certain that His message was clear to one and all, Dear Leader spared no effort to ensure that His Own America is a hellhole in which riots and pandemics are stoked or ignored, and record numbers of people lose their jobs and health insurance. Sure, it's painful, but it's for their own good; there's no message more powerful than giving 'em a little taste of what's to come, eh? Dear Leader was also at pains to underscore The Threat to The American Way of Life represented by mail in ballots (which should under no circumstances be confused with absentee voting by mail). In yet another wicked Democrat/Socialist plot, uncovered only thanks to the unblinking vigilance of Dear Leader and his trusty lap dog, the Attorney General, leaders in "Democrat" states have been urging voters to use such methods and avoid the risk to themselves and poll workers of voting in person. Why this would open the floodgates and allow millions of illegal immigrants to vote, thereby undoing all the good work done on behalf of Dear Leader by the Good Americans at the Internet Research Institute in Moscow. And just to be sure that there could be no room for doubt where he stood on the matter, Dear Leader this week suggested to the Faithful of North Carolina that they vote twice, once by mail and once in person.
Since this is a Journal dedicated to the era of COVID, Your Intrepid Reporter would be remiss if he did not highlight for Gentle Readers the crazy good groundbreaking work of Dr. Atlas, who made his initial appearance in these lines some weeks back. He too has been working tirelessly to soothe a worried nation. Poo-pooing the namby pamby worries of the Libtard Deep State renegades who previously advised Dear Leader (threatening thereby to mar the color of His greatness), the good Dr. Atlas has come out four square in favor of saving the nation by building up herd immunity. Some of you may be unfamiliar with the concept. More familiar will be the Darwinian version: survival of the fittest. In previous eras this was also known as "letting the disease burn itself out" by killing everyone in sight. The Center for Disease Control added its voice to the litany of calming voices, telling us that we should all relax, since fewer than 10,000 patients had died of COVID-19. The other 170,000 dead are all guilty of having underlying conditions or co-morbidities, which, of course, is all a dastardly plot by Lamestream Media to undermine His Good Works. Anyway, there's no reason to worry. If you're fit and have no other health problems, you're sorted. And it is a well-established Truth that Dear Leader has only Best People, whether is His administration or His nation (c.f. the complicated matter of The Most Significant Other, Ever cited above).
As we learned just this week, in Dear Leader's Vision Only The Best People does not include soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen (I don't know that "Airpersons" is yet sanctioned by the New York Times style and usage guide) or space cadets, all of whom, living or dead, Dear Leader in His Wisdom labeled as "losers" and "suckers" for choosing to serve their country rather than their purse. Worse yet, some super losers have even gone so far as to actually die, and the Ungrateful Unfaithful actually have the temerity to expect Dear Leader to show concern or empathy by visiting the cemeteries where they lie (although we were told repeatedly during the convention that He is in fact a veritable seething bundle of empathy in private, when not required to wear a Stern Visage in public for The Greater Good). In Be Best America, putting country before self is not allowed to happen, which is why He has asked that wounded veterans, especially amputees, not be invited to public events honoring Losers Who Serve. They are an unworthy reminder of what might happen if He were not our Dear Leader. Or if He is. Or something crazy like that.