les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Meeting the anaesthetist

 I got my pool car at about 10 and headed off for my 11am appointment with the anaesthetist. Traffic was fluid. I found a parking space quite easily and headed into the building.

At reception I realised I couldn't find my way to the "Anaesthesia consultations" so I asked at the information desk. "You come here first", so I took a number and waited. A few minutes later I had shown my carte de séjour, my health card, my health insurance card and my appointment sheet and been given my sheet of sticky labels and directed to the department. 

There's another reception, so there I handed over the latest version of every health related document I possess - blood tests, etc. - and was told to wait. 

There were about four people waiting already and two doctors. I saw a kindly looking man whose badge said "Anésthetiste Réanimateur". After examining all my documents and pronouncing them satisfactory, he listened to my breathing, checked the back of my hand for veins and looked down my throat while I said "Aaah". 

"Alors, ça devrait aller ?" (So that should be ok?) I asked. Oh yes, no problems. But you need a covid test.

So now I wait for a date for the procedure, then follow a no-residue diet, get covid-tested, then the purge and off to the hospital.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Gaze and commit to memory - the drones are coming

A notice taped to the door of our block of flats warns us that photographic drones will be flying over the area Monday to Wednesday to take detailed photos that will allow the surveyors to plan the landscaping of the Jardins de l'Ars.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Choirs and covid-19

Whoever thought that choral singing would be a dangerous sport? 

Well it is now, thanks to the new coronavirus. 

"How so?" I hear you cry. 

The problem is that singers do various unhelpful things:

1) they breathe in deeply, thus taking in more air and, possibly, more droplets which could be carrying viruses. By this means they invite an infection and a bigger initial dose of the virus.

2) they breathe out deeply and project their breath, especially when they sing loudly, thus expelling droplet-laden breath into the air and, potentially, sharing their viruses generously with all in the room.

3) they insist on doing these activities in synchronised groups, thus providing an excellent substrate for the virus to propagate.

Yesterday, incidentally, I met with a colleague here who recovered from his covid infection just a couple of weeks ago. He's in his thirties and contracted the virus playing volleyball. Enough said for his state of fitness. Nevertheless he was very unwell, experiencing great difficulty breathing, extreme fatigue and still has odd symptoms now. This isn't a disease to fool around with.

Getting back to the point. Choir directors all over France have arranged online conferences to share warnings, regulations and best practice. The upshot is to distance your singers and to insist that all be masked.

Some choirs are forced to find alternative rehearsal rooms or just to rehearse in small groups. There has been some reaction, sometimes strong reaction, to the idea of singing masked because of the risk of brain damage from the effects of oxygen-depletion, excessive carbon-dioxide and the build-up of the toxins that we naturally breathe out each day. Since I've been regularly singing, praying and preaching in a mask since early July I will leave the reader to judge the state of my poor beleagured grey cell.

Of course, singing with a mask on is disagreeable and so someone has come up with a wonderful system involving a bent wire coat-hanger that your jam over your head before putting your mask on. This keeps the mask away from your mouth and allows a more normal singing and breathing experience, except for the hook at the back of your neck, of course.

Since I bent my best wire coat-hanger to make a stand for my laptop to raise up the webcam to a more natural angle for zoom calls I am waiting till I can ransack Pat's wardrobe for something suitable.

In other news researchers have declared that the disposable "surgical masks" that we see littering our streets now, and which are more effective than the cotton "anyone and everyone" masks when new, can be washed. Washing them does diminish their intial effectiveness but they are still better than cotton masks, even after 5 times of washing.

Since these masks are far less disagreeable to sing in than the thicker cotton masks, this is good news. 

And we need good news like that, do we not!

Friday, September 18, 2020

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Slowing the circulation of the virus

 On Monday the Prefect of Nouvelle Aquitaine spoke to introduce further measures to slow the epidemic in the Gironde. There was nothing that stopped the church meeting, especially in our new configuration os small groups at the church and in two homes.

However, our friends who planned to marry at the beginning of October with over 100 guests have had to cancel their wedding reception and plan quickly something much smaller in the satellite town of Libourne. They have reacted with admirable flexibility and resolve.

Now the Health Minister is speaking. His tone is so good. It is hard to get tested just now because the government promised a free test for anyone who wanted one. This has led, understandably, to bottlenecks in the laboratories. So after thanking French people for their patience and their understanding, he has introduced a system of priority testing for people who show symptoms or who havebeen alerted that they have been in contact with the virus. Other people who just want to be tested, he explained, will face a wait. He explained, too, that a test does not prevent infection.

Here's the rules for a week's quarantine:

Seven days from the appearance of the symptoms if you're ill.

Seven days from a positive test if you are asymptomatic.

Seven days from being alerted that you have been in contact - then get tested.

There is some push-back to the masks in France because it is believed that if you breathe in your own carbon-dioxide then you will suffer health problems, in addition to the moxious toxins which you breathe out all the time. It's a wonder surgeons don't all drop dead, no?

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Friday, September 11, 2020

Things have been relatively quiet in Bordeaux

 Just the usual combats :

Vampire flies : attacking my arms and feet. I got some cream from the chemist to help with the inflammation following their attacks.

Covid-19 : two men in the French church have become ill following a volleyball match with their club. Both are youngish, fit and well, but the virus is vicious.

We have implemented our multi-site micro-church plan, dividing up into three groups. Two will meet in homes and cosist of up to 10 people. The third will meet in the church room and can accommodate up to 30.

For this we have to pre-record our sermon and generally organise the whole thing well in advance. I gabble even more when preaching to my smartphone. Oh well.

Meanwhile the town hall has announced that there will be no more Christmas Tree in Bordeaux. This is what we must expect when the Narnian Party has taken over the town hall, I suppose. I am hoping for free turkish delight for every household, but I fear I may hope in vain.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

The train wreck - I mean the audition

The saga of trying to find a practicable choir continues, this time with me seeing a notice that a chamber choir needs men. The choir rehearses not so far from where we live: about 20 mins by bike, 30 by bus and tram or 45 mins' walk. I replied to the notice and got a respone from someone I know from another choir urging me to contact the musical director. I did so and he phoned straight away to arrange to come and do an audition.

Then begins the mental wrangling. What could I sing? I decided on a rather awkward but beautiful piece of Poulenc but each time I worked it through (without accompaniment - I'm not good enough on piano) I messed up a tricky chromatic section in the middle. I decided to go with something else. Anyway, as I was still warming up he phoned to say he'd arrived. Oh help! What a disaster!

We did some vocalises to establish my range. We did the bass line of "The silver swan", which we'd sung at the gîte. He brought out a Fauré test vocalise for entry to the Paris conservatoire in 1910. I incorrectly identified the key as the relative minor and made a complete hash of sight-singing it. 

"No conservatoire for me", I said.

"Well that all seems fine. I'll put you on the lower bass line."

"Really? But I lack volume in the low register."

"That's normal, everyone does."

"Oh. OK."

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

They're all after my blood

 So now I have a bruise from my blood test and several lumps, bumps and scabs from the attentions of the mosquitos that have decided to add their plague to the season's pestilence. I must dramatically increase my garlic intake.

Back to school today

 Our flat overlooks a primary school and today it's back to school day.

I first noticed a tall guy walking with a small boy beneath our window, chatting as they loped and trotted along. They crossed the future gardens to get the the school. Halfway across the man slipped a mask onto his face.

We're outside the area where you have to wear a mask in the street in Bordeaux. It stretches from the station, about 8 minutes walk away, to just before where the church meets, but doesn't include our immediate area! You're also exempted if you're running or riding a bike. You do, however, have to have a mask on in the immediate vicinity of the school gates.

Meanwhile small groups of parents and children appeared at the far end of the car park and followed the same route. A little procession left the flats further down, each mother masked, the children scuttling cheerfully.

A flotilla of bikes came round the corner and crossed the future gardens, adult and child gliding along, all unmasked. Oh the joys of bicycles in these pestilent days. 

Leter we'll hear the children playing in the school yard.