Hang on a minute. Did I touch that door handle? Must have, but just to be sure I’ll wash my hands, the way the specialists in hand-washing told us. But now that I’ve slid my other hand down the banister should I do it again with an antiseptic wipe? And the car! What if the steering and handbrake were contaminated after I touched them? Up the stairs again to get some wipes to remove any possibility of COVID-19.  We remember what the doctor said, but can’t rely on memories of what you’ve just infected in that most familiar place – home. Time to surrender, time to remember the days when you touched all things without a second thought.

Visa discrimination

It felt like Groundhog Day. I was astounded watching a TV One news item about New Zealand Immigration refusing visas to two young Ethiopians who were to be sponsored here by a group of retired professionals. It was two years (almost to the day) that I’d written a very emotional and indignant piece about the humiliation and disappointment my family had experienced when we wanted to host relatives from Egypt for a special holiday.

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Max’s Dogs – Kublai Khan’s dogs

In the 13th  century Marco Polo reported from China that Kublai Khan of Cathay had two kivichi  or Masters of the Chase, each commanding 10,000 men assisting the Khan to command a total of  5,000 dogs in tracking, hunting, and killing  wildlife. Marco Polo didn’t mention how big the kennels must have been.

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King Henry III of France (1575) was a devoted dog lover – perhaps a bit too devoted. He owned 2,000 dogs, so perhaps it is just as well that he had several palaces. He liked to have 100 dogs within patting distance, and he went walkabout with 20 at a time.

Popcorn

My daughter named him Popcorn, a cockatiel that came into my possession as a present some years ago. There are many things that come into the unwise-present category, and animals come near the top of the list.

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Memorial

Last November I went to a memorial service for those whose relations or friends had died during the previous 12 months. It was organised by the funeral directors with whom my mother had arranged her prepaid funeral and who had efficiently, calmly and professionally helped us organise her obsequies in early December, 2018.

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Miscellany – February

Bushfires still burn in Oz; Brexit vexited the Brits, and in America a new King was  crowned   by Republican Senators.  You could sense an uprising to  the elevation of  President Donald to King Donald. Tears flowed and jeers echoed on both sides of  the Atlantic, courtesy of  television. These were passionate  issues and sometimes you had to pause to  wonder who, or what, lay behind them.

But no worries,  because Down Under the Aussies showed that their sense of humour couldn’t be extinguished….

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High noon

High Noon, informally, is the when time the sun reaches its highest point in the sky.  It is traditionally regarded as a time for high drama, as in the 1952 movie High Noon.  At High Noon in New Zealand on Saturday, 1st February 2020, it will be 23:00 GMT.  It will be the moment the UK inflicts upon itself, perhaps the greatest self-harm in its long history.  It will break its 46 year membership of the EU.

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