By the time you read this, Spain will have bravely stepped into the ‘New Normal’.
To be honest, I have had enough trouble adjusting to the ‘Old Normal’ since the mid-80s, but I blame that on moving from Stoke-on-Trent to Marbella without a suitable quarantine period.
Although the lockdown period did impose significant restrictions on each and every one of us, there were some lighter moments. I spent the past three months providing daily COVID-19 updates for Talk Radio Europe – and there were some stories that made me smile.
Monty Python had a famous sketch called ‘The Upper Class Twit of the Year’ and Belgian Prince Joachim proved that upper class twits are still alive and well and living in Brussels when he decided to visit Spain during the pandemic. Obviously deciding that Crown Heads of State were immune to coronavirus, he regally decided to disobey the quarantine requirements and, after landing in Madrid, caught a high speed train to Cordoba with is girlfriend. Unfortunately for the Prince and his beloved, they were in town to party and after subsequent social gathering, he awoke with not only (we imagine) a champagne induced hangover, but also having contracted the virus and a resultant fine of over €10,000.
Meanwhile, Spaniards were also coming up with creative ways to leave the house. One man was videoed by police taking out the rubbish dressed in a fancy dress T-Rex costume. I can only imagine that was his own version of PPE – Prehistoric Predator Equipment. While you were allowed to take your pets out for a walk, police also stopped people taking sheep, hens and in one case, a toy dog on wheels, for walkies. But the best of the lot was the genius in Logroño, who was discovered sitting on a bench with his pet goldfish – in its bowl.
With the absence of humanity on the streets, wild animals ventured back into Spanish cities. Wild boar were spotted in Madrid, lynx in an empty factory in Toledo, wild horses on the slopes of Sierra Nevada and even peacocks strutting in Ronda. As many of you know, I overlook a lake, and couldn’t resist the opportunity of putting up a scene from the dinosaur epic Jurassic Park – specifically the photo where Sam Elliot, Jeff Goldbum and the rest of the group get their first, awe inspiring view of the park, complete with brachiosaurus. It was meant as a joke, but my feed then started to get “Isn’t it wonderful how nature is coming back?” comments. Either people hadn’t spotted the huge dinosaurs in the lake, or some of you had started on the lockdown breakfast booze…
But the best story of all was the newscaster Alfonso Merlos who, like many of this media colleagues, was forced to broadcast live from his living room. The proverbial hit the fan when a half-naked woman casually sauntered by in the background.
If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, the young lady in question turned out to be fellow journalist Alexia Rivas, rather than his then high-profile girlfriend, Spanish Big Brother contestant Marta López. Rivas later claimed that Merlos had told her that he was newly single, a fact that was news to López. Not surprisingly the reality star swiftly dumped the caddish anchor man, but not after some very public mud-slinging.
Makes me glad that I work in radio. At least the public don’t get to see the half of what goes on in the background when I broadcast…
A version of this article appears in www.theolivepress.es