Pandemic news from Britain: conspiracies, opera, and where the flour went

Unemployed air crews have opened a first class lounge in several hospitals so they can give National Health Service staff a break. One of the organizers, Dave Fielding, says the crews offer tea, coffee, snacks, and “fifteen to twenty minutes of escape from the decisions they have to take everyday, because coronavirus has increased the pressure on them so much.” 

In spite of what the lounges called–and to everyone’s credit–they’re open to doctors, nurses, and support staff equally.

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The conspiracy theory du jour links Covid-19 to 5G masts. At least 20 masts have been attacked in the UK since the crisis started, including one serving a hospital. 

As far as I’ve been able to figure out without doing a deep dive into this particular swamp, the idea is that Wuhan was the first place 5G technology was tried, it weakened people’s immune systems, and that boosted the virulence of the common cold, creating Covid-19.

The fact-checking site FullFact reports that Wuhan seems to have been one of the early cities where 5G was rolled out, but not the only one. There’s no evidence that 5G has any effect on the immune system. It’s carried by radio waves, which are non-ionising–in other words, unlike x-rays and UV rays, they don’t affect our DNA. And Covid-19 isn’t a variant on the common cold anyway. 

Other than that, though, the theory’s solid.

You don’t have to dive very deep before you find claims about a link between 5G and mind control. I found them while I was looking for something else, but my mind was being controlled by outside forces and I didn’t click the link although I so wanted to. 

According to newspaper stories, if you dive deeper than I did you’ll find claims that the Jews are behind it all. The far right, apparently, just hates 5G–and, of course, Jews. 

Which brings me to what I want to know about all these Jewish conspiracies: How come no one ever lets me in on them? I’m Jewish. I can keep a secret. And who’d listen to me if I did tell?

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South Korea has reported that a group of people who recovered from Covid-19 later tested positive again. Some had no symptoms, others got sick. It’s not clear if they were reinfected or if the virus stayed active in their systems, but either way it raises troubling questions about immunity. And a vaccine.

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A hospital in Wales is injecting blood plasma from patients who recovered from the virus into patients who are struggling with it. It’s the first trial. If you don’t hear any more about it, assume it didn’t work. 

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One of the mysteries of these Covid months is where all the flour went

The answer is that it didn’t go anywhere. It’s still out there, but it’s not on your supermarket shelves. With so many people stuck at home, the retail demand for flour almost doubled (that’s in the four weeks before March 22 in case you care). The problem is that suppliers can’t move easily from selling it in bulk to selling it in small bags. That involves production lines and machinery and packaging. And, inevitably, money. If you want a tankerful of the stuff, you can probably arrange for a truck to pull up in front of your house. The problem’s going to be storage. 

It’s also easily available in bags, but we’re talking about the kind of bags that weigh 16 kilos or more. In pounds, that’s 16 x 2.2, which equals more than your back’s going to be happy with since it comes in an awkwardly shaped, and possibly floppy, package. Flour mills may not be quite as happy to send a truck out with a single bag, and it won’t amuse your neighbors for nearly as long as a tanker.

Have I mentioned that flour’s flammable? Or not just flammable: explosive. If you decide you need that tankerful, do be careful. I don’t have so many readers that I can afford to lose any.

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A doctor who changed careers and became an opera singer has returned to medicine to help out during the crisis. (What the hell–who’s staging operas these days anyway?) In quieter moments, he sings to the staff–through a mask. A co-worker filmed him

He’s a tenor. And only drawn to careers that take years of training.

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Have I mentioned lately that humans are a difficult species? So who-all’s getting blamed for Covid-19? In China, African students and expatriates are getting tested repeatedly–not to mention evicted and turned away by food stores because they’re assumed to be carrying the virus. 

Incidents of online, off line, and presidential blaming of Asians who just might be Chinese are too numerous to count in both the UK and the US–and for all I know elsewhere.

In India, Hindu extremist groups blame Muslims. 

And of course there are 5G masts, Jews, and the Chinese government–a natural alliance if there ever was one. 

As long as we have someone to blame, we can face anything.

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I wrote last week about Britain’s shortage of protective gear for medical and social care workers, and of course you memorize every word I write. It’s the shortage that lovely and creative volunteers are moving mountains to make up for. The shortage that’s helping spread the disease, especially to health and care workers and the people they treat.

That shortage. 

It turns out that Britain had three chances to buy masks, gowns, and gloves in bulk. But it would have meant buying them along with the European Union, so the government didn’t do it. Because, hey we’re leaving the EU. And what really matters, after all?

Brexit. That’s what matters.

Or possibly it was because they forgot to read the email. Or because the dog ate their homework.

And, what the hell, as long as I’ve depressed us all, I’ll toss this in: Some hospitals are so short on equipment that they’ve stopped using the usual way of checking staff members’ masks to see if they fit safely. It involves a chemical spray and they’re having trouble getting hold of it.

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We’re going to skip lightly over some pandemic stories because they’re either too heartbreaking or too frustrating, but I do want to mention a few very briefly. The one about the Home Office refusing to take unaccompanied child refugees from the Greek camps, which are overcrowded, undersanitized, and disasters in the making. The one about foreign doctors living in Britain who aren’t allowed to work here because the General Medical Council is too busy doing whatever it’s doing to register them. One particular group were at the final stage of accreditation when their final exams were canceled. Because, of course, of the virus.

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After Boris Johnson recovered from the coronavirus and left the hospital, he had high praise for the NHS, mentioning two nurses by name. He didn’t mention that he voted against listing a long-standing cap that had kept nurses’ pay from going up.  

One of the nurses he mentioned is from New Zealand and the other from Portugal. Anyone from the EU working in Britain pays £400 for the privilege. For every member of the family. Per year. After Brexit, that’s due to go up to £625. I believe that’s the amount non-EU workers pay, but I haven’t verified that. 

But hey, we are grateful to them. What, they want better pay too?

Britain has a shortage of 40,000 nurses. 

None of those figures are connected in any way.

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Britain’s on track to test 100,000 people a day for Covid-19 by the end of the month. The fact that halfway through the month we were only testing 18,000 a day has no bearing on anything. 

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Sorry–we’re getting a bit grim here. Let’s lighten things up. A ninety-nine-year-old World War II veteran decided to raise £1,000 for the NHS–the National Health Service–by walking laps around his back garden, which is what Americans would call a yard, but a yard in Britain is someplace junky, so he was in a garden. Last I checked, he’d raised £3 million. He uses a walker and is doing ten laps a day.

Britain does have a national religion: It’s the NHS.

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In London, a couple of actors staged the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet from their  windows. A neighbor played the sax, flute, and cymbals. Probably not all at the same time. 

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Someone who was missing his regular pub quiz set one up on Facebook and accidentally made it public. Again, it was a fundraiser for the NHS. The next thing he knew 30,000 people had signed up. 

It’s become a regular thing, with 150,000 people involved, and it’s raised £93,000.

Pub quizzes? No, I don’t understand them either. They’re a British thing and people here just love them. Or people who aren’t me do.

88 thoughts on “Pandemic news from Britain: conspiracies, opera, and where the flour went

  1. Have you heard the one about deaths caused by the pandemic being linked to glyphosate? I was reading about it yesterday. It’s a long essay by a prof from MIT who has made a twenty year study of glyphosate and the connection she believes she has found with autism (be patient). Her theory wrt Covid-19 is based on the fact that clusters of CV19 deaths are found near airports and highways. Bear with me, this is where it gets a bit complicated. Aircraft and HGVs have converted to using bio-fuels. Those bio-fuels are made from the waste from growing maize and wheat. Such crops are regularly sprayed with glyphosate just before they’re harvested. So, her theory has it, the bio-fuel is laced with glyphosate and the exhaust from this is concentrated in the atmosphere around airpoprts and major highways. So what? you ask. Ah well, here’s the second part of the theory: there is evidence that inhaling glyphosate compromises the immune system and damages the linings of the lungs making them susceptable to attack by the virus. Seems a bit tenuous to me but less plausible than the one about 5G (except she does not entirely exclude the possibility of such a link either!)
    If you want more, here’s a link: https://jennifermargulis.net/glyphosate-and-covid-19-connection/

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I hope that you are regularly walking to the bottom of your garden and are letting out some of the more choice words about the UK Government ineptitude that haven’t *quite* made the edit onto the page. I’m doing it about three times a day at the moment.

    Liked by 4 people

    • There isn’t a lot of distance between our back door and the bottom of the garden and–

      Okay, I’ve never really understood what people mean when they say the bottom of the garden. Ours is pretty much level. All of which may explain why I don’t save those choice words for distant locations, I just let ’em off anywhere.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Well, over here windmills (the kind for alternative power) have been blamed by Dear Leader for causing cancer. Apparently no connection to COVID019. YET.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Viruses (?) are mysterious little things. I have apparently had herpes since high school sixty years ago.
    In college it would break out on my nose. Very embarrassing. Later it would be on my lip. Better but still bad. No breakout for years until six weeks ago. I had been sick for a few days with s cough, headache, fatigue snd chills. I just thought it was some kind of virus and nothing to worry about. But it did cause a cold sore on my bottom lip that my wife thought was gross looking.

    And the chicken pox virus lives in you forever also, possibly breaking out in hives. Painful. My moth in law had terrible hives. Not even she deserved that.

    Maybe Jews are like the mafia and the government. They only share the real info with the top leaders. All the ordinary guys are left in the dark.

    All that news was depressing. But then we live in depressing times. It is hard not to be sad, depressed or worried. But then as you mentioned a lot people are doing good things too, Exceptionally good things.

    Liked by 4 people

      • Joking. Yes I am. It it is hard to express inflections in text. Best to avoid sarcasm and whatever you call what I was doing (joking). But joking it was.

        By the way, where does the word joking cone from. Strange word. Never thought of it before..

        Liked by 3 people

        • Latin, jocus. The word joke comes from the seventeenth century and was originally slang–and no doubt you could’ve found a truckload of people to tell you the language was going to hell in a handbasket because of usages exactly like that. Although trucks hadn’t been invented. And handbaskets had.

          And no, I didn’t know any of that (except for the trucks and the handbaskets). I had to go a-hunting, something I’m generally happy to do for word origins. https://www.etymonline.com/word/joke

          I think I spent too much time digging around in conspiracy theorist sites or I wouldn’t have had to ask if we agree we were joking. It can do a person’s brain in. Apologies.

          Liked by 3 people

    • Basically, the same amount’s getting used–more by home bakers who are bored out of their skulls but less by the commercial bakeries that cater to the restaurant trade. So sure, you can get it, but can you really manage 16 kilos?

      Liked by 3 people

        • If we lived closer together, I’d suggest going in together on a delivery. But so far, our local health food store is getting some in. They limit it to two bags per customer a week, which means one for us and one for a friend down the hill who’s being even more cautious about going out than we are (and has good reason to be).

          Liked by 2 people

  5. You’ve outdone yourself today, Ellen. My tummy hurts while laughing and reading. How is that possible? This post arrived at the perfect time. My old iphone died two nights ago, leaving me without a way to even call 911 (your 999). My sons and I have spent most of the last two days reviviing my really old phone to act as just a phone, none of that other stuff, like looking up a location in google maps while watching Escape to the Country on YouTube. I’m exhausted and tired of talking to Virtual Assistants at big phone companies and retail stores. So, thanks for the laughs and the info.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. More, more, more please! I don’t like pub quizzes either but that’s because I have a terrible memory and don’t listen to music. I’m quite good on gardening questions though. As for flour, yes, it’s explosive … very. It’s been known to blow half a roof off! Lovely post as ever. Katie

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Meanwhile, in the Looney Bin Southeast of England across a bunch of water, we are all on pins and needles awaiting our stimulus checks which are on hold until Trump is able to get all 100 million or thereabouts signed.
    I’m naive which explains why I for the life of me am unable to figure out how anyone is so adept at nationalities they are able to sort out Muslims, Christians, Atheists, Pagans, Jews, and thousands of other people from one another. But above that why in the world could it possibly matter?

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I have flour!! Just can’t get any bliddy yeast!! Also, all this money raised by people, who’s in charge of it? How is it being distributed and used? If it went to a govt department the NHS won’t see any of it. Also, great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I called an ex this past week (Pretty encouraged me to check in on her since she lives alone and Pretty is a very kind person). The ex said she was doing fine but knew the problem for the Covid-19 virus in the US was we had too many Chinese people living here. Seriously. I then told her to never repeat that to anyone ever again. This is the kind of ignorance more than half of our population in the Colonies believes. Nothing surprises me anymore. It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world.
    Say it ain’t so, sister.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. I remember my mother worked at Poplar Hospital in the 1960s when the local flour mill exploded and they had scores of injured people. Mobile phone masts have been linked to several cancers, and there was uproar in our village when rumours abounded that one was going to be sited near the churchyard. People power won in the end.

    Liked by 3 people

    • There was a huge uproar in Minnesota about high-power electric lines of some sort–I can’t remember what they were called. After a while it died down and they stayed where they were. I haven’t seen any follow-up on whether they caused any of the things people were afraid they would. It’s hard to tell the difference between reasonable fears (we’re all lied to so often by so many governments and corporations that you’d be crazy not to be suspicious) and plain ol’ lunacy.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I thought the first class lounge was a lovely idea. If anyone needs pampering its the staff of the NHS. Having recently been in hospital I can vouch for the all round fab-ness of the staff. If you had an ambulance & firefighter crew rescue you, spent 10 days in hospital with a broken leg, an operation and no one asked you for single penny (just your name and date of birth, again and again) you’d sign up for the religion of the NHS! It’s a bloomin’ marvel!

    Liked by 3 people

      • Absolutely.I was reading an article on the politico website about the lack of healthcare (and other) infrastructure in rural US and I had to stop reading because it upset me so much, The virus is going to devastate rural US and its not even going to get reported on. It’s heartbreaking. I have nothing but utter contempt for the man who lives in the White House.

        Liked by 3 people

          • Yes. He is just the shiny object distracting us from the handlers (Jeff Sharlet’s The Family explains that) and the followers, such as those folks with their weaponry protesting the stay home orders in Wisconsin or was it Michigan. I’m in California so those states are a bit blurry to me. I’ve been to England at least ten times but never to any part of the Midwest so they are genuinely flyover states for me although the plane always leaves the US via Montana.

            Liked by 2 people

  12. Here in the land of the frequently delivered casual slurs things are just jolly. We are getting ready to reopen the economy because that is what we just live or die for. Hey its what we do. Abbot and Costello are suing his slurryness because WHO is on first so they could not be available to cause the covid-19 event. And since Nancy is closer to the fray we will blame her instead of Hillary. Oh heck we will blame anybody who is around. Or is on the other side of the planet. And by the way stay calm we are reopening the economy. Does that work with sick, hospitalized, dying, and dead people ? We are going to start in states where there is no covid-19. You know like South Dakota where the fake news said that the large meat processing plant had to shut down. And they are suddenly finding many of the residents of Sioux Falls have that virus thingy. Fortunately the governor does not see a problem so there will be no stay at home order. Oh and there is a new shortage of sunscreen. Untold millions of people are using it to protect themselves from sunshine being forcefully injected into nether regions. Not to be confused with the bottom of the garden. Do stay away from the news. And do drop in to see our sparkly new economy. Sorry that was a very nasty bit of misplaced optimism.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I just unfriended someone (after many months of putting up with her anti-vaccine nonsense) for posting a video which claimed that Donald Trump was cleverly using the pandemic so that he could mount secret sting operations against a pedophile ring run by the Bill Clinton foundation. She was like “Watch this with an open mind and learn the truth” and I was like “See you, conspiracy nutcase”. Honestly!

    Liked by 3 people

      • That’s the question, isn’t it along with how do we drag these people back to reality. It seems to me that they are getting more violent and organized. Being here on the Pacific Rim, both of my daughters-in-law are Asian and thus both grandkids, too. I know that my sons will keep their families here in California. A 5-year experience in Texas a few years ago was shocking, scary, infuriating and simply appalling. My son said it is was a little risky leaving Houston for just a weekend trip except to go to Austin. The stories I could write about that DIL and I driving her car from SoCal to Houston. Had a friend consider moving to Arizona until she went in a market there and saw people packing sidearms. She left the market, left Arizona and moved to Astoria, Oregon. Despite that, happy morning! Gonna figure out how to get some pots, planting mix and seeds to grow some cheery stuff here in corona time today.

        Liked by 2 people

  14. Oh there are so many conspiracies on this side of the pond too that I can’t even begin to keep track of them! And lots of speculation about foods shortages of all sorts.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. My favorite virus story is from New Jersey (I think). A local government had to request that people wear pants when they go to their curb-side mailbox. Apparently there had been some complaints that people were a little too casual when going out

    Liked by 2 people

  16. The no flour situation is frustrating as I love to bake twice a week. Then add that there is no yeast, followed by no eggs! After a few trips to different supermarkets i managed to get eggs. So, I then looked on Amazon for flour, no flour! I nearly paid £18 for pre mixed of scones, chocolate brownies, pizza and muffins before realising I’m better to just go without. £18 🤯😳😲

    Liked by 2 people

    • £18? Insane.

      I’ve been able to get flour here and there–the local health food store gets some in; a neighbor works an overnight shift at Morrison’s and can usually pick some up. I use half and bring half down the hill to a friend who’s in deeper hiding than we are. (She has a longstanding lung condition.) It’s a little less than either of us would like but a little more than most people find. For what it’s worth, the neighbor says Morrison’s is getting it in but it disappears off the shelves quickly. I assume it’s the same for other big stores. You might see if anyone can tell you what day(s) it comes in.

      What strange, crazy times these are.

      Liked by 1 person

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