Living in Interesting Times

The emergence of the Coronavirus Covid-19 has given us all something else to worry about besides climate change, Brexit and Trump. 

For months now I’ve been leading a workgroup planning two events in our village to celebrate the 75 years since the liberation of the Netherlands.

We were going to have two events in our village hall. On the 3rd April – an evening of drama, song and stories (Freedom Then & Now), with an exhibition of photos, documents, objects, and clothing from 1945 plus drawings, poems, essays from the children in the village school about what Freedom means to them now. On the 4th April: a “Liberation Brunch” with an exhibition of wartime vehicles, and all the children would get a kite and be challenged to draw their symbol of Freedom on it before flying it from the field next to the hall.

Last week, the Dutch government ruled that all events of more than 100 people were forbidden in the Netherlands until at least 31 March – and the Village Hall committee decided to shut the Hall until further notice.

Then yesterday, the government strengthened the rules further. They announced that all schools, children’s day-care, restaurants, pubs, sports clubs, saunas, sexclubs and coffeeshops (this is the Netherlands, after all!) are to shut until the 6th April. Everybody is being asked to keep 1.5m distance from each other – including while shopping. Only children with parents who work in Healthcare, Police, Public Transport or Fire Services are being allowed to go to school or day-care.

Buggeration. So everything has had to be cancelled, and I have no idea when or even if we can resurrect the events… Still, if it helps to stem the spread of the virus, it will be worth it in the end.

As the apocryphal Chinese Curse has it: may you live in interesting times.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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5 Responses to Living in Interesting Times

  1. Ludwig says:

    A colleague tweeted: Blessed are the social distant for they shall inherit the earth. So stay apart, be safe, be well!

  2. Mike Tremoulet says:

    Beyond interesting. Houston is under “stay at home” orders, because we reserve “shelter in place” language for hurricanes and refinery explosions/leaks. On the list of essential businesses to stay open is grocery stores, liquor stores, and furniture retailers…

    (Stay safe, my friend!)

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Hi Mike – I take it that you will be able to work from home? Even in my days at Shell I was able to do that when necessary. As for the list of essential businesses, here in Yoorop we’re hearing that gun stores are also on the list… Good luck with Trump and Pence leading the response to Covid-19 – I fear that you’re going to need it.

      • Mike Tremoulet says:

        Very much able to work from home – give me electricity and an IP address and I’m unstoppable. 🙂 It’s been a pretty smooth transition for me to be working from home, thankfully.

        As for our national response, this is yet another test of modern American politics. I see cities and states stepping in where the federal government is not, so there are silver linings to be found among the clouds, but this will be a telling journey.

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