Let Gin Be Unconfined

After a few rough months we were finally lifting our heads again…we had had a visitor, life was returning to normal…and then you all know what happened – Corona virus. So now, as we are both elderly and Leo is more than vulnerable, we are supposed to stay on the property, have no visitors, wash our hands to an extent which would alarm Lady Macbeth – well, you know the drill. Distinctly frustrating, but at least we are not shut up in a small flat in this baking weather.

And, once the sun is over the yardarm we can enjoy a gin and tonic and look out over the valley below.

Makes me think of the First World War song to the tune of ‘in and out the window’…

Breaking out of barracks’, not to speak of ‘parading all unbuttoned’….giving rise to fourteen days in barracks…’as we have done before.’ ‘Yes, and we can do it, yes and we can do it, yes and we can do it, as we have done before.’

No doubt that we can…we have been living in each other’s pockets 24/7 for many years as Leo has been too ill to work since in his forties and so far homicide has not been on the menu.

Thanks to having lived in France, at the first sign of problems we stocked up on essentials so were not taken by surprise by the Presidential address to the nation which sent the entirety of said nation out in search of rice, beans and toilet rolls.

Why toilet rolls? I suppose in this digital age there are less newspapers available to be cut into squares and placed on a hook in the loo. As children visiting an appallingly pious aunt – who was as tight as a duck’s arse, watertight – we used to be intrigued by the newspapers spread on the floor by her cleaner after mopping same – excerpts from ‘The News of the World’ – a scandal rag whose reporters always ‘made an excuse and left’ when in tight moral corners. Even the aunt did not use Bronco or Izal…disinfected glossy paper rolls which left more liquid on your hands than on their surface, so time in the loo could be well spent trying to match one square of the NOTW with the follow up of the reportage.

As my father – who detested this sister – said, where did the newspaper come from? The cleaner hardly brought it in herself. Furtive equiry at the newsagent revealed that she had it delivered – ‘for the staff’. As if ‘the staff’ would have had time to breath under the supervision of Aunt Ellen, let alone read a newspaper…

As things are quiet on the confirmed cases front in this area I did go out to the feria – the farmers’ market – on Saturday morning. All very well organised with one entry point, then down the ramp where a large lady in an overall squirted soap on your hands and directed you to the basin provided with running water. Another overalled lady then gave you one paper towel to dry your hands before releasing you into the market area. The number of stand holders was down – including the lady from whom I buy tomatoes – no kissing or hugging – and the clients were few.

It appeared that, as usual, I had missed the action. It all went off on the Friday evening.

As this weekend marks the end of the month, people have been paid. Having been paid they want to shop, thus lines of cars blocking the roads as the supermarkets limit access – and a crowd headed for the feria.

The local news service is usually at the feria, to promote it, but this time they produced film of people pressing to enter, and the aisles, if not crowded, at least somewhat busy with people not keeping a distance. The commentary criticised the organisers of the feria, emphasising the risk of contamination and the clip went out that evening.

The response was immediate. Someone associated with the feria announced that the maker of the film should be lynched for endangering the livelihoods of the stall holders, with which there was much agreement, among remarks that the news service was, as usual, trying to kick up a fuss to attract viewers.

The frontman for the news service – someone whom I find bombastic, to say the least – claimed that his work was essential and unbiased and that he would take those who proposed to lynch him to court.

He will be out of luck there….the courts are shut for all non urgent matters. I expect that his case may be put back until manana…and manana…and manana…

I find it interesting, however, that the film clip appears to have been removed, to be replaced by still pictures of the feria with the headline ‘The feria cares about your safety’…

As he cares about his, I suspect.

There has been a positive angle to the campaign to limit the spread of the virus…a curfew on use of the roads at night – 8.00 pm to 5.00 am on the weekends and 10.00pm to 5.00 am on weeknights. If you are not travelling to and fro your place of work, then you are not to be on the road. People in the centre are rejoicing, because the gangs of youths on unsilenced motorbikes no longer strut their stuff or, should they do so, a call brings the police down on them very rapidly. The silence in the evenings is most appreciated, it seems.

On Saturday night the dogs alerted me to traffic on the road…it sounded like three unsilenced motorbikes followed by a jallopy, to judge by the engine sounds, all going like the clappers up the steep hill to town. Collecting the dogs from the gate I saw that this assortment was being pursued by the local police dog van, complete with flashing lights, barking from within and, as the driver waved in passing, the siren. I think they were having fun.

This curfew, and the closure of the parks, is felt to be very unfair on the drug dealers….they’ll probably be asking for a rescue package shortly.

Any type of ‘flu is potentially fatal for Leo, so, over the years, with every ‘flu epidemic, we have become accustomed to shutting ourelves away. When in France I used to put a notice on the gate asking people to call on the telephone rather than entering if we were not expecting them, and this worked well.

I was telling a friend here that I must do the same and he said that I must be joking…one look at our pack of dogs belting to the gate would have anyone in their right mind legging it. So I did not put up a notice.

Yesterday I was washing the dogs. This needs careful preparation if one is to avoid having to hook dogs out from under beds, thus revealing more than I want to know about the fluff levels and have wet dogs dry themselves in our bedding after their ordeal. First close external doors – quietly so as not to alert them. Then close the gates to the swimming pool, as they can escape by running round its wall. Collect the gear on the table on the balcony. Close doors to the bedrooms. Entice dogs onto the balcony with a treat for Scruffy, who will be followed by all the others to ensure they don’t miss out. Close door to the house. Then grab first dog, pin against balustrade with knees and get to work…

I thought that they were kicking up more than usual…and as I cleared down the mess and let them out I saw that they had reason to do so.

Standing in my garage, sheltering from a shower, were two of the local God botherers.

There are notices everywhere telling people to stay at home, not to go visiting and there were these two, bold as brass, having opened the gate and walked all the way up the drive. To make matters worse, they knew that Leo was in poor health and at risk…but still they came.

Keeping them at a distance I asked what they wanted…oh, they had come to enquire about Leo’ s health…all with eyeballs rolling to the sky and the usual pious utterances…and while they were about it, could I give them the money to buy a gas cylinder?

Life in Costa Rica has softened me…when living in France they would have received a barrage of abuse and possibly a whack from a shovel in the posterior resgions. I contented myself with declining to assist them and shepherding them to the gates.

Once on the other side one of the ladies assured me, with a sugary smile, that Costa Rica would be safe.

Why is that, Senora?

The Virgen de los Angeles has flown over the country, giving it her protection.

The Virgen de los Angeles is the patron of Costa Rica…

and she has indeed flown from the national basilica in Cartago to cover the entire country, but not, you will be relieved to hear, under her own steam. The image was carried in a police force plane…it flew over us at about half past six in the morning last week.

The tempation was too severe.

A pity she did not drop you off a gas cylinder when she was passing.

Notices go up tomorrow…but for now – time for a tisue restorer.


50 thoughts on “Let Gin Be Unconfined”

  1. Ah, the God botherers. Here, they seem to think of themselves as God’s Squad.Haven’t been bothered quite a while, but when we lived on a rural property they’d turn up like one of those ball bearings in a pin ball machine. I can reliably report that banksia integrefolia seed cones on a bonfire go off with a sound not dissimilar to several shotguns. So, when they wanted to take me away from watching my bonfire and refused to leave I quietly tossed a banksia branch on the embers.Funniest thing I saw all day was their clapped-out olden Holden reversing down my long, bumpy farm track as fast as its little wheels could take it.

    rather nice “sundowner view” you have there. Cheers

    1. That made me laugh! Here we have the Jehovah’s Witnesses…I don’t mind them as they are pleasant and polite…there are Mormons but they don’t venture out into the badlands three kilometres from the town centre…these are R.C.s who collect for a family with a badly handicapped child so I’m happy to cough up for that, but the sanctimonious phrases and the eye rolling are not welcome.

  2. I shamefully laughted at too much of this post, with the exception of the flu being dangerous for Leo which is understandable. Stay well Leo. The drug dealers being kicked out of the park and asking for relief. Good one. Now we wait to see if they do. I couldn’t help from saying. Be well and safe you two.

  3. They know you two by name? That’s a little scary. You might have to pour yourself a double, just to get over the shock.

    I’d advise you to take care, but it looks like you already have that well in hand. What a beautiful view.

  4. Amazing, isn’t it, that ‘the faithful’ will praise the lord for deliverance from whatever pestilence the bastard has visited upon them/us but not for inflicting it on us in the first place! Meanwhile, the fascists of this world rejoice as the sheeple meekly submit to further draconian restrictions and loss of such liberties as remain to them. ‘The Rapture’ is revealed not as the second coming of some obscure holy man but as the ‘Love of Big Brother’! Meanwhile, stay safe and keep quaffing (are you making your own yet?).

    1. No…the b…ds made the necessary alcohol poisonous. Anything to keep the national liquor monopoly in action. It is currently producing handwash which is said by the cognoscenti to be better than the liquor…
      I cannot understand how people just do as they are told without using their brains and asking how it is that they are carrying the blame for government inadequacy. Clapping for NHS workers doesn’t do anything practical but I suppose it makes them think they have done their bit.

  5. British soldiers songs and Catholic saint botherers along with Aunt Ellen, Hmmm… Some collection.
    Nice to see the late night bikers herded together.
    Some car drivers here look to emulate them but keep running into sign posts and upsetting policemen.
    Love the dog washing, at least there is only five of them, or is there more now? I’m sure they are grateful!
    Great writing, brings Costa Rica into the house.
    Now, at 8:5 am I want a pink Gin and Tonic!

    1. Then you’ll have to make the trek to Tesco…though whether they have bitters I cannot tell.
      Five dogs! Eight and a half, the half being a tiny dog from across the road who is inserting himself into the fabric…..and I noticed no evident gratitude….

  6. All this rings so true to my life here, except for the husband susceptible to illness, mine having already suscepted, but written so much more entertainingly than I could manage.

  7. Lovely to see you posting again. I know that one about sneaking round behind the dogs shutting doors and getting towels and shampoo into the bathroom and then dragging reluctant dog into the shower. I’ve discovered it’s easiest to be in the shower with the dog in the nude! So as well it’s indoors and no God botherers to see. Stay safe, stay well.

    1. Leo had had such a rough time and we were looking forward to better times…but as long as no gas cylinders . descend from the heavens we should be all right.
      The shower method is out for us as their long hairs clog the drains, so it is the balcony, the hosepipe set to ‘shower; and smart work with whip and chair to try to herd them up and deal with each in term. As long as I can pin them against the balustrade with my knees i have hands free for the shampoo and rinse stuff, but would not want to believe just how much muck comes off them.

    1. And you two stay safe at hime…though I enjiyed your neighbourhood walk recently.
      The situation reveals all too clearly that our governments could not be trusted to run a whelk stall, let alone a country..

    1. Doing our best…not too sure about the sane though, that was always a problem.
      Tourism has taken a hit here too…apart from a mysterious bus with sixty American pensioners which turned up at the national basilica last week claiming total ignorance of the virus sitiation…

  8. Thank goodness for gin! I’m concerned about the poor drug dealers here. Was wondering if they get the soft touch from the cops because confined addicts without access to their fix might be more trouble than they’re worth.
    Glad to see you’re staying safe and well with a bunch of enthusastic guard dogs! 🙂

  9. In gin we trust!
    There are two areas which are now dry…one, up on the Pacific coast because the surf and yoga community have snaffled the stock, the other, on the Caribbean coast, where the council have banned the sale of booze as it might encourage domestic violence…
    The small dealers have a problem…schools and colleges shut, so no point hanging about outside the gates going ‘Psst…’ the parks closed so no point creeping from bench to bench going ‘Psst…’ police stopping traffic at night…the poor dears will have to get up in the morning to transport their gear.
    People are still shopping, going to the bank etc…with special hours for the elderly, disabled, etc, which in effect means that if you go to the bank you will be behind a crowd of elderly people keen to have a chat with someone, any one…

  10. As always, although maybe a serious post it still makes me laugh you write so well. As for Jehovah’s Witnesses, my standard reply to them has always been that I am Jewish, they seem to take the hint and disappear, the fact that I might be lying does not seem to occur to them. If they turn up here at the moment my language would be a lot more blatant, to say the least of it. On the other hand, I do not think they would get as far as the door with 100,000 police out there fining everyone who travels far or who has not got a dated and timed permit on them. I have to say we are fine with the situation and life goes on pretty much as normal with less money being spent! Stay safe both of you, Diane

    1. The police here are quite low key…a patrol car outside one of the big supermarkets at peak times, but all good humoured. The control and the fines come in on the night time vehicle restrictions which seem to be a good thing all round!
      I don’t mind the JWs…they are always polite and sincere even if i don’t agree with them…but the eye rolling RC pious platitudes drive me potty.
      I think I would be tempted to outrage and rebellion with the restrictions in France…and some police in the U.K. could do with more respect for the public too…
      Still, spending less money is always welcome!
      Look after yourselves!

  11. Oh Helen! How I have missed your words. I was wheezing with laughter at several points (dogs, pious women, drug dealers asking for hand-outs) and soaking up the torrent of delight. Apart from Leo (who I hadn’t appreciated has been so fragile for so long) being so vulnerable I loved every second of this. Oh and loo roll! My husband said to his sister on the blower the other day – shame we aren’t in Liverpool, The Echo was always sufficient. And my father was a die-hard devotee of Bronco. Mother always stocked the loo with soft rolls for the rest of us and bronco for him in a special dispenser. I adored my father but never ever understood that foible. Long may you ride, Helen!

    1. I do wondered about havinga trio of flying virgins on the wall, on the lines of those ducks people used to put up…but don’t know anyone both blasphemous and talented enough to make them for me….and who here would get the allusion anyway…

  12. I am so glad, Helen, that you are more cognizant of local happenings than your paltry news paper reporters, and spill the beans so blatantly. You are a delightful hours read and reread. That said, you stay safe. You are damn important to us.

    1. Let me just say that you are an inspiration to both of us. The going gets hard? You go harder.
      My grapevine here is nowhere near as efficient as it was in France…but, you know…for round here it is not too bad.
      Look after yourself. ..and Remember Limerick!

  13. I had missed you and was wondering how you both are. Sorry about Leo’s precarious health, I know what it’s like to be the carer of someone who’s seriously ill.
    This plague is threatening all of us, those of us fortunate enough to have adequate living space and an outdoor area
    should not gripe too much.

    Equally, nobody should try and exploit the situation like your god-botherers. I am glad you (almost) set the dogs on them.

    Your market looks fairly empty, a good time to shop. I hear that all supermarkets have long queues here. I have been a longterm home delivery customer, which often has its drawbacks, but at times like these is of great benefit to me.

    1. Infuriatingly I have not been able to comment on some Blogger sites for ages, though I have enjoyed keeping up with your news.
      Dogs, now washed and unrecognisable, are back on duty and a notice is going on the gates today.
      Shops here have an OAP’s hour for shopping and have set up handwashing facilities as you go in and for those who provide them there is someone to wipe the trolley handles before you touch them.
      There are delivery services for those who require them, ranging from the supermarket’s own van to men on motorcycles, but as we stocked up before the panic set in we are well supplied. It is just fresh veg which is a problem but, as you say, the market is fairly quiet and empty so I may go again on Saturday.

  14. I hope Leo’s health survives the pandemic. Very worrying times for anyone already with a serious medical condition.
    I doubt if the Virgen de los Angeles will be enough to keep Costa Rica safe from the virus. I would prefer to put my faith in the latest medical knowledge and advice myself.
    I’m still astonished by people who blatantly disregard the social distancing rule as if it’s just some communist plot to destabilise the country. People here are very rigorously distancing and anyone who doesn’t bother gets filthy looks from other people. Which may be why the number of known cases in Northern Ireland is still comparatively low.

  15. It is good to know that we are all in it together as we keep being told, but it still seems that some of us are more in it than others – ie your unwanted visitors. We are quite isolated being on the edge of the village and I can not remember when we last had a visit from the likes of the Jehovahs Witness squad. There are some benefits. However, the downside is that nothing is delivered here, not even a newspaper. So whether we should or not we are going out to buy one. Even in isolation we need to know what is going on.

  16. I have a friend in London who has to go out every day for her newspaper as the corner shop has closed down and the newspaper delivery with it…all her neighbours are of a similar age to her, i.e. getting on….so she buys papers for quite a few of them at the same time. She refuses, as do they, to rely solely on the box for their news. She says that the shop she uses is quite sensible…priority for the elderly and a young man on the door to control admittance…but, and this is something common in Costa Rica but not, it seems, in London, chairs for those waiting! Spaced out at the appropriate distance. I suppose the police will be along at some point to put a stop to it…

  17. It looks as if you have a pretty nice place to be isolated in. It sounds as if the TV presenter has had his wish and everyone has listened – including, thankfully, the feria. I daresay the godbotherers think that it’s even more urgent to get their message out NOW since everyone, including (or thanks to) them, might be destined for the next world sooner than they’d hoped. Stay well, write another post soon. I am subscribed so always read them.

    1. Given Leo’s health we are used to shutting ourselves away so it is a nuisance rather than a disaster.
      I expect the God botherers thought they’d better try to touch me for a few quid before we dropped dead!

  18. I remember Izal. Has to be the most ineffective substance ever developed for posterior swabbing. It’s non-stick properties would have made it ideal for baking parchment. Hmm…maybe I shouldn’t have gone down that route…never mind. We don’t suffer much from God botherers here…just the occasional, futile, note from the local church suggesting that I might quite like to be saved. I suspect the lack of perseverance on the doorstep is due to my large threatening sign – “Beware of the Sociopath” Thoroughly enjoyed the post Helen…stay safe both of you.

    1. If I put up a sign saying ‘Beware of the Sociopath’ I would be inundated with callers asking what a sociopath was…but living where you do it’s a great way of keeping yourself isolated.
      I’m afraid that the notion of Izal as baking parchment is going to be very hard to eradicate from my mind…

  19. Good to hear that you and Leo have hunkered down and are practicing isolation in a civilized manner; namely, with gin and hopefully copious amounts of it. That’s a great view and a nice perch to sip your libation. I think you need to train your new 1/2 dog (until he takes up permanent residency, probably in a week or two) to be a guard pup who can protect you from both local low lifes and God botherers. As for trusting the Virgen de Los Angeles for anything, I can only say that I don’t even trust our Mayor of Los Angeles anymore. We are now required to wear masks anytime we are of of doors, even when in a car, lest we face a $1,000 fine.

  20. Thanks for your kind wishes…
    Your local authorities seem to have the same idea as Costa Rica…that this is a great opportunity to refill the government coffers……
    On the weekend in our little town they made over 5000 dollars equivalent in fines….yes, there were a few people who should not have been out, but they took the opportunity to do a sweep on badly parked cars and other trivia…a good example of how to lose hearts and minds.
    Mark you, the local view is that if they extend the shutdown after Easter the country has quite a chance of covering its fiscal deficit.

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