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Edited by Geoff Cooper, Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020, 10:20

The injection site needs to be prepared before the needle goes in. A diabetic speaks, talking of using life saving insulin. Not a drug addict. There is sufficient insulin in the fridge to last over the immediate emergency but not enough rubbing alcohol to prepare the site. As a result, the local ghost town has been visited. There is a small pharmacy there.

Ghost town is not very far. Just across the road. Given Spain is in lock down, there is a surprising amount of traffic. At the pedestrian crossing, wait and watch. Not all drivers observe the crossing. The men building the house opposite are there. Six of them this morning. Two laying bricks, one with plans in his hand and three others having a discussion but not actually building anything. A tall house, but not tall enough to obscure the view of the mountains.

A woman in the clothes shop smiles at the dog as the diabetic and his wife walk by. Her shop is securely locked but she is still tidying her display of fashionable dresses, her racks of modish sweaters.

Two delivery vans still operate. Apparently delivering to closed businesses. Otherwise the place is deserted, except for dog walkers. Several of them. Dog walking is allowed. 

And the odd gossip monger.

There is a great deal of gossip.

‘Down in the village they are queuing at the butcher’s shop.’

‘Right down the Main Street and around the corner.’

‘And at the village pharmacy.’

The diabetic, his wife and the dog visit the little pharmacy, not the one down in the village where there is a queue. Someone is at the counter, so they wait outside. Only one customer inside at a time is allowed. The dog has to wait outside, anyway. In the window, along with the Father’s Day display, there is a notice ‘Perros No’ and a picture of a crossed out dog. Inside, the wife finds very little of use. The pharmacist offers an expensive alternative to rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol would have been preferred. It is what they are used to. The hospitals have it all.

What happens now to Spanish Father’s Day?

‘Madrid residents desert the city for the coast.’

This is the coast. Facebook had this piece of gossip first. Then the local paper.

‘Madrid man with Covid19 comes to his Murcia holiday home and visits local supermarket.’

Local newspapers publish parish pump news. This could be fake news.

Meanwhile on television, a film clip of the clogged motor way south from Madrid, city dwellers desperate to flee the plague, ready and able to spread it to some new site. The news goes on to report that the former president of Spain, his wife and the former mayor of Madrid are safe, having arrived with their security staff at his luxury villa in Marbella in the Deep South of Spain. On the same news programme, other city dwellers, remaining holed up in apartments, applauding from balconies to show their appreciation of health workers down below. 

‘You’re not allowed to use cash. Card only. Money spreads the virus. Bank cards can be disinfected. Wash your hands for twenty minutes.’

Or was it twenty seconds? The elderly are easily confused.

Our hands have never been so clean.

Frustrated by the lack of alcohol, the diabetic, his wife and dog visit the tiny supermarket that is allowed to stay open. The old man and the dog, weary from the walk, sit down on a chair outside the property next door to the supermarket. When it is open, this property is the Indian restaurant but given the current directive, it is securely shut up. Outside, two or three tables and sufficient chairs for customers who wish to drink and smoke. No smoking inside, of course. From next door, from the supermarket, out pops the assistant.

‘You’re not allowed to sit down there.’

No introduction. No pleasantries. No apology. No consideration for other. Just:

‘You’re not allowed to sit down there.’

Now, if the seat had belonged to the supermarket, it might have been reasonable. Almost. To the weary old man and his dog it was Iike a wounding thrust in the side. So he heaved himself up and propped his body into a corner of the railings until his wife had found what she wanted inside the shop. No ordinary bread. No milk. No tissues. No toilet roll. Washing up liquid available. A loaf of currant bread. 

If those tables and chairs are not to be used - by official directive - should they not be stacked away somewhere, instead of being left invitingly available.

‘Good job we did a big shop last week.’

The walk back home. Whatever else is happening in the world, dogs still need to be walked. Dogs are still interested in each other, even if owners are not supposed to mix and associate. The birds still sing. Because the world is quieter, the birds are even more noticeable. The flowers still bloom. So many tiny spring flowers star the waste ground, almost but not quite hiding the cigarette packets, the discarded tin cans and the broken shards of glass. Despite much of the world coming to a halt, ants are as busy as ever. Super-human strength moving burdens much larger than they are. No virus there, then.

Meanwhile on the building site, two men still build and four discuss plans.

‘Have we got enough coffee?’

‘Where did you leave the keys? You might have left them where I could find them.’

Despite the eerie calm, there is tension in the air.

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