Notes From the Northern Colony

plaguediary

In the weeks since the Scottish government decided to pretend the pandemic is no longer happening, daily infections have been in the thousands, and, accordingly, there have been deaths from the plague.

The TRNSMT music festival went ahead, and it lived up to its name, causing 551 infections. As the Gaelic poet Babs Nicgriogair remarked, “It does what it says on the tin.”

#PlagueDiary #Scotland #Covid19 #EndOfLockdown #ScottishBlogs #trnsmt #BabsNicriogair

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On Wednesday I was forced to pay money to enter my country.

I was travelling home from France, where I had been for six days and had won the Prix Marianne at the Pau literary festival Un aller-retour dans le noir. I flew from Paris to Amsterdam and from Amsterdam to Glasgow. When I tried to board the flight to Glasgow, I was told I had to pay, in advance, to Rainbow Labs, a private company, £54 for two Covid tests that would be mailed to me. I had to pay by card, not cash, and if I did not then I would not be allowed on the plane.

Never mind that I had lateral flow tests awaiting me at home. Never mind that I could get tested by the NHS. Never mind that France has far lower infection rates than Scotland, which last month had the highest in the world. Never mind that I could legally go straight from Glasgow airport to a crowded club and dance unmasked.

I asked one of the airline officials what would happen if a person did not have a credit or debit card, or enough money in their account to pay. The answer: “Hmmm… that’s a good question.”

I was tempted to ask what would happen if I refused to pay and was not allowed on the plane. Would I be stranded in Amsterdam? As I am no longer a European citizen, would the Netherlands deport me home, where I was trying to go anyway? I only refrained from asking because the official, a young black woman, was being shouted at and argued with by white male passengers who seemed to think she was responsible for the UK’s stupid, classist rules, and I did not want to add to her stress. She helped me and others fill out the required forms on our phones (it took nearly an hour), and I wondered what people who do not own smart phones are supposed to do.

My first of two tests is to be delivered today, and I feel tempted to refuse to share the result, but I do not want to cause the NHS any hassle. But the UK government’s business deal with a profiteer is another form of sickness.

#RainbowLabs #UKCovidProfiteering #PlagueDiary #classism #exploitation

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Pilate Washes His Hands, painting by Duccio

The Scottish government’s current handling (or absence of handling) of the pandemic has created a terrifying cognitive dissonance.

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Today, a walk downtown from Maryhill baffled but did not surprise me. The outdoor seatings of restaurants and cafés along Great Western Road were packed; no masks, no social distancing, patrons and staff alike. Most people walking the pavement in groups behaved the same. There was a smattering of people wearing masks and dodging others to maintain a safe distance, but they were the minority.

The pedestrian corridor of Sauchiehall Street was reminiscent of holiday shopping: throngs of people walking close together, few wearing masks.

Most did not seem concerned about the record number of Covid infections from yesterday, or today’s announcement of almost 5000 new cases and 14 new deaths, or that Glasgow is now the number 8 European Covid hotspot.

I predict we will rise in the rankings soon, beating our Scottish rival Dumfries and Galloway, which is currently number 6.

#PlagueDiary #Scotland #Covid19 #EndOfLockdown #ScottishBlogs

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Scotland recorded 5021 new Covid cases in the last 24 hours. And there are no plans to resume restrictions.

Nicola Sturgeon “urges” us to get vaccinated, wear face coverings, keep to hygiene measures, stay a safe distance away from others, stay outdoors if possible and ventilate spaces.

But only if we want to.

This reminds me of how, last December, she asked us to “perhaps think about” not killing people.

#PlagueDiary #Scotland #Covid19 #EndOfLockdown #ScottishBlogs

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Pieter Bruegel's The Triumph of Death reflects the social upheaval and terror that followed plague, which devastated medieval Europe

In Scotland, who is winning the battle between magical thinking and reality?

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Today, Scotland moves beyond level 0.

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The latest reminder that Scottish devolution is only symbolic:

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Discarded face mask on the ground

Throughout the pandemic, it has been common to see disposable masks littering the streets of Glasgow, but in the last few weeks it has become almost as common to find reusable masks in the same state.

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Santa Muerte

When I wrote this in April, I hoped to be wrong. I was not.

#covid19 #plaguediary #pandemic #lockdown #level3 #scotland #scottishblogs

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