Tick tock, change the clock (43.2021)

I mentioned the malaria vaccine a few weeks ago, pondering why this wasn’t making a bigger noise in the media. I read an article this week that helped put the benefits of this vaccine into context. In the region of Busia, near Lake Victoria, over 70% of the population is at risk of malaria. It’s not very well connected by road to health centres, and families may struggle to find the cost of a motorbike taxi to take a child to the hospital if an episode of malaria takes a turn for the worse. The Mosquirix vaccine has been 30 years in the making, and will make a dramatic impact on the lives of children living in this high-risk area. Four in ten vaccinated children won’t get malaria. Three in ten may still develop malaria but a less severe form, not requiring hospitalisation. Of those remaining three who may still develop severe malaria, more than half will not require a blood transfusion. In an area where medical resources are scarce and overstretched, a vaccine that will keep children healthy and/or out of hospital will make a huge impact. Vaccinated children who contract malaria also have fewer repeat episodes – only two per year compared to five per year for unvaccinated children. This will mean children grow up healthier, with reduced risk of anaemia and stunted growth that repeated malarial episodes in childhood can cause. Perhaps with Covid-19 and the vaccination programme against that taking up so much of people’s minds in the past year, diseases like malaria have slipped from public view. But this malaria vaccine is big news, malaria has been with us for much longer than Covid-19, and I am happy to know that this vaccine will make a huge difference for children’s health.

In the competitive world of professional sport, any advantage must be capitalised on. Some advantages are legal, some illegal. We are all familiar with doing scandals in sport at the highest level, competitors stripped of their medals, athletes insisting that it was only cough medicine, they didn’t know there was a banned/performance enhancing substance in it. It seems the international doing scandals have now expanded to… Venetian gondola racing.

Yes, the beautiful city of Venice, famous for its canals, very expensive coffee and gondolas, has been rocked by the news that a competitor in this years’ gondola regatta has tested positive for drugs. But not exactly performance enhancing drugs.

Renato Busetto tested positive for marijuana after coming second in the twin-oared gondolini event where he competed with his brother. He has had his award taken away and faces a 13 month ban from competing. There is some potential legal comeback on this as apparently the Regatta rules do not contain anti-doping regulations. If I hear any more on this important sporting controversy I will let you know.

Do you fancy the idea of moving to the country? Somewhere with wide open spaces, lots of sunshine? Perhaps the town of Quilpie in far west Queensland, Australia, is for you.

This small outback town is experiencing something of a housing crisis, with more people and job vacancies than there are houses to go around, so the town mayor had an idea: offer grants that would cover the purchase price of a piece of land on condition the purchasers build a new house on it.

But what does Quilpie have to offer in comers? Apparently “a free pool facility offered by the council, a 24-hour gym, golf and bowls clubs, post office and pub.” There even seems to be a coffee shop! Not to mention those job vacancies!

Quilpie Main Street, photo from Queensland.com

You can read about the attractions of Quilpie here and here, and decide if you fancy starting a new life in a country town with a population of less than 600. (Although that may well be on the increase shortly!)

Enticing as the offer is, Quilpie is probably not for me. I’ve just finished reading Jane Harper’s The Dry for International Book Club. It’s a murder mystery set in a small, drought-crippled outback town, and it doesn’t paint the rosiest picture of small-town country living. But hey – Quilpie is Queensland and The Dry is Victoria (and also a work of fiction).

On the subject of books, good reading news is I’ve read all the books for my three book clubs in November (The Dry; The Pear Field; Girl, Woman, Other) and I have passed my Goodreads reading challenge for 2021 (33 books).

Today we put the clocks back – it’s the end of British Summer Time (which exists in words if not in temperature). The nights will now creep in faster and the mornings will be temporarily brighter before they also darken away. I always feel a small sense of panic at this time of year, a kind of fear of the dark, that as we lose daylight I’m losing productive time from my day, worry that the end of the year is coming and I haven’t done A and B and C. Yes, I know that there are still 24 hours in every day, and this is all in my mind, but the start of November is really the countdown to year end.

We’ve continued to watch the Squid Game since getting back from our Switzerland trip – still two episodes to go. We are stretching them out because they are quite stressful to watch (this really is not a show to binge watch).

Last night we scanned through Netflix for a movie to watch (there is little/no overlap on my/Husband’s Netflix movie list) and decided to watch The Dead Don’t Die. It’s billed as comedy horror. It wasn’t very scary horror, and although it was funny, it was a kind of slow, dry humour, not laugh out loud at jokes humour. It also broke the fourth wall, in a way, acknowledging this was a movie but without the characters talking directly to camera.

Police Chief Cliff Robertson (Bill Murray): Why do you keep saying this isn’t going to end well?

Officer Ronnie Petersen (Adam Driver): Because I’ve read the script.

My other TV for the week includes the Rob-Lowe-hosted one-off programme, Attack of the Hollywood cliches. This was a bit of silliness, outlining all those things you see repeated in movie after movie (in fact the next thing we watched after this included a scene with the Arrogant Apple which made us laugh). I didn’t know about the Wilhelm scream – recorded for a film in 1951, this scream is still being used as a sound effect in films today. When you see three or four scenes rolled after each other with the same scream used it does seem a little ridiculous. (“Can’t we get a new scream?” asks one of the cinema experts.)

I hope nothing makes you need to scream this week, readers.

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