And so the PM has just extended our 'intelligent lockdown' till April 28, with the proviso that it may be necessary to push that date out further into May. Basically, 2020 is already a write-off.
So, what does an 'intelligent lockdown' look like? Well, the measures taken are slightly less draconian than the ones my Italian or Spanish friends have to deal with. We are allowed to go out, for the essential food or medicine shop. We can even go out for a walk, but we are not to do so with more than 3 people (and keeping 6 ft distance all the time) or crowd parks and public spaces. We can't go out otherwise, as for the last 2 weeks all no bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, markets, malls, hairdressers, nailbars, sun lounges have been closed. Gigs have been banned till further notice, but at least till June 1st. Which is a bummer as I was looking forward to going to see Queen again on May 28 and 29.
I'm in my third week working from home. Feels like three years. I don't mind, really, though I do miss 1) people 2) faster network connection 3) big monitor. Also, as off tomorrow, I'm conveying into GSK, who have bought Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. They've just couriered my new laptop over to me, so joy of joys, tomorrow, I can begin the day by figuring out how to set it up for GSK systems. 30 Days later, Pfizer will kick me off what systems of theirs I will still have access to, that are crucial to my work; and then the transition ought to be completed by July 31st.
They're calling it a Joint Venture, but really, it's just a takeover. And I don't know what it means for my prospects. My line manager has assured me my job is safe until at least September (when my contract expires -- Pfizer were going to offer me a permanent position after that, but GSK may have other ideas), and now, with the economy taking a hit because of the Rona, I may very well be looking for another job by the end of the year. Actually, she did say she'd understand if I started exploring job opportunities elsewhere immediately...but unfortunately, I like my job and so I'm still focused on doing it to the best of my abilities.
So, how about this coronavirus, eh?
We currently have 959 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Netherlands. 12 People so far have died, all elderly, with underlying health conditions. We have a total of 1,150 beds in ICU, 70% of which are usually taken.
At first, the government advised us to wash our hands, then to stop shaking hands. Halfway through last week, that changed to a recommendation to work from home as much as possible and to avoid large gatherings, until all venues with a crowd capacity larger than 100 were closed on Friday. Football matches and other sporting events, markets, theatre shows and gigs have been cancelled, and even big weddings and funerals have been banned. We'll have to wait and see if any of these measures will have the desired effect -- we are about 14 days behind on Italy so it's possible it'll turn out to have been too little, too late.
Meanwhile, I've been working from home since last Thursday, and will be doing so next week as well. I had tickets to go see a theatre show today, to which I had been looking forward since August last year, but alas!...and I've yet to find out whether these tickets will remain valid for another date, or whether I will be reimbursed. I also had a couple of gigs coming up in the next few weeks, all of which have been postponed 6 months or more. It's going to be a busy autumn! It's fine, though, I fully understand why it has to be this way for now.
What I can't understand though, is my countrymen stockpiling supplies. I was in the supermarket just now and there were no bananas or any kind of citrus fruit; no tinned and hardly any fresh vegetables, the dairy section had been raided; and don't even get me started on the toilet paper! I even saw a man make off with the bakery section's entire stash of baguettes -- he had to pay for 53 of these at the checkout! This despite government and branch officials coming on the telly almost every hour telling people there is no need for all this panic-buying, that the supply chains haven't been affected and there's plenty of everything to go around.
"I think I want to go into a care home."
These are the words Mum spoke this morning. She had locked herself out for the umpteenth time this month, prompting a neighbour to call me at work, and me to call everyone else on the very short list of people who have a key to Mum's, which solved the problem in the short term, but...
In recent months, I have had several calls from the police, informing me that they have encountered my mother in the streets, half-dressed, cold, and very confused; unable to tell them where she lived; and that they're making her comfortable at the station, or in a day centre, or have released her into the care of a neighbour who happened to be passing.
I have had calls from her carers, telling me she has gone AWOL, and nobody's seen her or has any idea where she might be, and can I call the police?
I have had calls from neighbours, telling me she's locked herself out AGAIN, and this really can't go on like this for much longer.
But up until now, Mum has resisted the idea of moving into residential care. Even though she can barely walk, can't read the clock, can't work out how to use the telephone, can't take care of herself, and complains of being lonely, the idea of going into a home was anathema to her.
Although it's entirely possible that by tomorrow she'll have forgotten what she's said, I'm going to start to set the wheels in motion on my mother's final house move.
The other day, LJ sent me a message, telling me it missed me. And so I resolved to show my face here again -- just as soon as I had something worth saying. I thought I had, earlier today, and spent hours writing a really long and somewhat rambling post, but LJ ate it. I guess it didn't really miss me, after all.
A few things have happened since last time we spoke; the most glaringly obvious one being that I'm back in work, and have been for about 6 months. I have just had my first evaluation, and it's all good -- excellent, even. They said they were particularly impressed by my leadership qualities, which I didn't know had been on show, but there you have it, and it's nice feedback to be given. Especially since I came to this job and this industry as a complete novice, and have been on a steep learning curve. I'm currently employed as the PCH Customer Engagement Program Coordinator for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and acting in the same role for Asia-Pacific including Hong Kong and Taiwan, but excluding China for a big pharmaceutical company. The position is in pharmaco-vigilance, or safety; and basically means that I am tasked with keeping tabs on all primary market research or branded promotional programs that offer the possibility of two-way communication to our customers (i.e., patients, healthcare professionals, and consumers), and (are intended to) run in those regions; making sure all regulations are met and the proper processes and procedures followed and that all monitoring is carried out according to the highest standards and according to the national and supranational requirements. That's quite a broad sweep, but the PCH in my job title narrows it down somewhat to Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, which is the entity I work with: over-the-counter medicine and nutritional supplements. I know it sounds quite dry, but I like it!
My own health has steadily improved over the last year; but alas! Mum's has declined. She is now virtually immobile and her Alzheimer's has fully extended its grip on her brain. Most days, she mistakes me for one of her sisters, and gets upset when I don't 'remember' certain events that happened in her and her siblings' childhood; old petty jealousies coming to the fore, like "Daddy gave you a bicycle while he fobbed me off with a scooter -- well, I showed him, I took that bloody bicycle apart!"
As to the kitties: Manasse finally stopped over-grooming himself after I put him in the Cone of Shame for a month (I should have thought of it before; it would have saved me a fortune in vet's bills), and is back to being a beautiful, somewhat rotund, tom. But Clio passed away on the 1st of February, after somehow suffering a very bad fracture to her tail. She was 2 months shy of her 19th birthday.
Now, fingers crossed this'll post this time!
I seem to remember that back in the day, I used to get notifications when someone commented on my entries...I wonder if they're going to the correct email address...I'll have to have a look.
The weather today looks to be glorious, and I'm stuck indoors :-(. I'm awaiting a delivery -- the hoover gave up the ghost a couple of weeks ago, and I've only gotten around to ordering a new one when the dust build-up got too much even for me to ignore. I need the place ship-shape before too long, because I have plans: to rip out the kitchen and replace it with a brand new one. I want it to be beautiful. I've been living with the kitchen that was in my property when I bought it, and come July, I will have lived here 21 years. That means it must have been in here for 30 at least; and it is dire! No really, it is the worst kitchen you ever saw. The doors to the units are all uneven. The fronts of the drawers have come off in places. So have he handles. The units used to be white, but...well, I'm not a housewife, am I? To cut a long story short: I need a new kitchen. But I can't have workmen over until the rest of the flat looks remotely presentable. Hence the stuck-indoors-waiting-for-the-new-hoover-to-be-delivered-thing. I do hope they deliver soon...First ray of sunshine in bloody ages and I can't go out and take advantage of it!
Obviously, today's Valentine's Day. That date in itself doesn't mean anything to me as a dyed-in-the-wool singleton, except that this year, it marks a month since my diagnosis. I still don't know how I feel about having blood clots, or blood that has a tendency to clot, and that has to be treated with anti-coagulants. I know that I'm a very bad, impatient patient -- this is nothing new. The doctors told me to take it easy, but I have neither the time nor the inclination to. It's a stressful enough situation I find myself in even without being ill: I have a mother who's lost her mobility and is slowly losing her marbles to boot. I'm unemployed and need to find a job. I can't be ill! I just can't be! But then I keep running around, after my mum; pushing myself to go to interviews where I end up wheezing my way through them (no wonder I can't get hired); and it's enough to sap most of my strength and almost all of my enjoyment out of life. I say 'almost' because there's plenty of enjoyment still around, if I'm honest. Take this weekend: my friend David Berkeley is playing in Rotterdam this Sunday, as one half of the Son of Town Hall project with his mate Ben Parker; and I think it's been 3 years since I last saw them.
Actually, speaking of gigs: I've been going to quite a few in recent years. The usual suspects: Paul Weller, Depeche Mode...as well as my childhood heroes Queen, and Sweet. But also quite a few I only saw the once (so far): Paul Simon, Santana, The Decemberists, Rick Astley, OMD, Bryan Ferry...the list goes on. Next up: Tears for Fears, Chic, and Stray Cats :-).
Common Rotation are on hiatus; have been for a number of years. I don't know if they'll ever get together again. And my cat Leila died 2 1/2 years ago.