We went into the city (Stockholm) last weekend – our first trip in for a month from virtual isolation on our island. (I say ‘our’ island, but of course only a bit of it is literally ours.) The ostensible reason for the trip was to have Harriet – the dog – put down, or ‘taken away’, as they say here. She was looking very ill, found it difficult to walk, and was hardly eating; clearly not enjoying even the pleasant doggy life we give her. I was alerted to this by the fact that she didn’t leap up and lick me all over when I arrived from Britain at the end of July.
So we took her along to the vet, who persuaded us that it wasn’t time yet. In the meantime she had suddenly got more lively, as if she’d been malingering before but now realised the danger she was in. Can they smell the fatal needle? Her only problems, said the vet, were old age and arthritis. It was our choice; but on their own these weren’t serious enough to end her life. – I was a bit relieved, as I suffer from the same two things.
What struck me about Stockholm was that no-one – no-one– was wearing a mask. I had plenty with me, brought from Britain; but if I’d put one on I’d have felt an idiot. I have no idea whether the much remarked-upon ‘Swedish way’ with the Coronavirus is better or worse than Britain’s – better in some respects, I would imagine, but worse for Oldies. The verdict on that, I guess, will have to wait. What does impress me, however, is the calm rational way the chap in charge of Sweden’s approach, an epidemiologist called Anders Tegnell (pic below), is explaining it to the public; and, in particular, communicating his uncertainty about it, and admitting to the inevitable mistakes. That’s because he’s a scientist. True scientists can’t afford to be as confident as politicians; it’s an essential aspect of the ‘scientific method’ to doubt. I find that far more reassuring than Boris’s bluster, even when Dr Tegnell turns out to be wrong.
In the meantime Harriet has gone back to malingering. A thought: perhaps she has coronavirus? Animals can get it too. Especially old ones.