Today we head back towards the UK in the midst of a Coronavirus storm. Back to the mythical land of rainstorms and tea. From royalty down to the average citizen, a land of disunity. But fear not, the pandemic has brought us something to unite against. Expect the good old British wartime spirit to emerge, minus the mortal combat, of course.
As we drifted northwards I was staring out Barri’s passenger window, aimlessly counting magpies.
One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl and Four for a boy, Five for silver and Six for gold, Seven for a secret never to be told. Eight for a wish, Nine for a kiss and Ten for a bird you must not miss. MA-A-A-AGPIE!!!
Ah, ten, surely a good omen, I mused, the bird of good fortune. With Covid 19 closing in with zombie like persistence we might need some folkloric protection. Having seen ten magpies, and avoiding the sorrowful number one position this leaves me trying to evade further encounters. Luckily no more magpies. Phew! Coincidently it’s Friday the thirteenth, it’s a good job I’m not superstitious.
Who knew that the whole of Europe and us, the UK, it’s stiff, upright, tiny neighbour, would begin to close down all fun? Our drive back has to take into account that whole areas of Spain are closed to itinerants passing through: actually it is two areas of the country and four villages relatively close to our Friday 13th campsite. Both of the locked down areas are on our route to the north. Like the entire human race, we have spent our lives navigating a path through this life; so, how hard can it be to do it now?
I glance out of Barri’s window and catch a glimpse of an ancient fort, high atop a rocky hill. Over the centuries, terrified communities have retreated up into these bastions until all danger has either passed, or been fought off, or they all die. Which ever comes first.
With Coronavirus closing in from every quarter, we are in the same situation. No castle to huddle in, to share our meagre resources, or our weapons. We have our homes, some have freezers and our weapons are soap and water. Vats of boiling oil wont cut it this time, but strategic thinking always comes in handy, I am reliably informed by Radio 4 and it’s never ending stream of experts. Well, we all need to be experts now. It really is do or die.
At our first overnight stop on the way north, we are greeted by a young man in reception, who wears a hygiene glove and tells us that we can stay for tonight. We had pre-booked for two, with an option for a third. He has no idea if we can stay more than one night, or if we will need to stay for two weeks. The Spanish president had just made a speech on national TV saying that he will announce his intended measures tomorrow. He is considering locking down the whole country for two weeks meaning that we may have to stay here, in Ampolla, on a decent campsite, whether we like it or not. We like it. It has FLAMINGOS!
On the flip side? The campsite might be closed down for the two weeks and then …… what?
It is Friday the thirteenth
It is Friday the thirteenth I have now seen eleven Magpies – Sorrow! And a whole host of Castles on hilltops We are in a little red van. We have no freezer We need our oil for food – not for warding off the enemy.
How hard can this be?
The original version, as published 1846:
One for sorrow Two for mirth Three for a funeral Four for birth Five for heaven Six for hell Seven for the Devil, his own self.