Concert tonight/We Were Beautiful

It’s another Rite of Passage moment this evening as we take Scoop to her first “real” concert. She’s done several local acts at local places…

…but this evening’s Bastille concert at Grand West will be her first international one.

Thus, I thought it would be appropriate to stick a Bastille tune on here. However, having gone to their Youtube, I then spotted the new Belle and Sebastian video that I’ve been wanting to share for ages. And given that I’m going to see the real thing later, I felt that I might as well forgo a Bastille video and give you that instead.

Really good song. Really simple video. A Saturday morning in Glasgow. And a trumpet.

Concert review tomorrow (maybe).

Plague in Madagascar: not good, but not unusual either

Microbiology in the news again. This time it’s an outbreak of the plague in Madagascar, and it’s causing a bit of a stir.
Now, don’t get me wrong – an outbreak of plague is never a good thing – but once again, a little perspective is called for here. Surprise (and if I may be so bold) “surprise”.

Plague is one of those diseases which captures the public’s imagination, with historical tales about the Black Death sweeping across Europe in the Middle Ages and killing an awful lot of people in its path. And because of that history, plague has a cool nickname and a “superstar” disease status, and news outlets – desperate for clicks – are getting overly excited about it, just like they did with Ebola.

But the fact is that plague is not just a historical disease: yes, it was infamously around a few hundred years ago, but it never really went away. As with many diseases, its prevalence has merely declined due to better hygiene, better education, better pest control and better medical treatment. But even in (supposedly) developed countries like the USA, there are still up to 20 documented cases of plague each year. Worldwide, there are a few hundred reported cases each year, with a mortality rate of around 25%. However, it’s likely that there are many more unreported cases, given that it is now primarily a disease found in rural areas of less developed countries.

The bad news is that Madagascar is a less developed country than the USA (albeit that its gun control laws are somewhat better), and this makes outbreaks of plague (or any other infectious disease) more likely to occur there and more difficult to control once they do.

The better news is that while this is a terrible and potentially disastrous situation, at this point, it’s certainly not unusual. Madagascar is the plague capital of the world (look, it’s not a claim that they stick on their tourism posters) with around 80% of the world’s cases each year, and outbreaks occur almost annually around this time of year, as the temperatures start to rise and the rat and flea populations – vectors of the disease – start to increase.
Additionally, because of this recent history, the authorities will be better set up to deal with the outbreak, despite the challenges mentioned above. And as we saw with Ebola in West Africa in 2014, that’s really important. Also, as long as you can get treated promptly, as a bacterial disease, plague is eminently treatable with simple, basic, cheap antibiotics.

I’m in no way belittling a very serious situation, but if you didn’t get all panicky and excited about the plague outbreaks in Madagascar in, say, 2014 and 2015, then right now there’s really no reason to get carried away about this one either.

The DXB connection

We have returned to real life, work and 6am wake-up calls. The kids went back to school this morning (yes, I know everywhere else is off this week – don’t @ me), but I very much doubt that they’ll make it successfully through to second break without dozing off. It was 25 hours and 25 minutes from door to door. It would have been a bit quicker, but for the Cape Town flight being delayed by an individual being removed from the plane (no idea why) and their luggage being difficult to find.

And it would have been so much more pleasant at DXB if only we could have bent the rules a bit. Let me explain:

We had about 1 hour and 40 minutes from first plane landing to second one taking off – just security to get through in between. Tight, but manageable. I’ve done it before in under an hour, and in fact, as an example, this same process only took us about 25 minutes on the way out (albeit that we got lucky in that the arrival and departure gates were very close together).

Pretty exhausted after an overnight flight from the UK, we were rather annoyed when our A380 from Manchester didn’t go to the terminal, instead parking right down at the bottom end of the runway, well away from all the airport buildings and meaning that we had to bus to the terminal. Even just after dawn, the air in Dubai is sticky and in the mid-30s. You’d rather be inside.

So it was a bit irritating, but these things happen (though not very often with A380s, to be honest). And with 500+ passengers to unload, followed by a long journey across the airport, it meant that it took 50 minutes from touchdown to actually getting to the terminal. Crazy.
However, when we did get there, we were met at gate by an Emirates guy holding a very reassuring ‘CAPE TOWN EK770’ board to personally take us to our flight, so there were no worries about missing it from that moment forward.
A very rudimentary x-ray of our bags, then another 15 minutes through the terminal on foot to gate C43 – just about as far from where we’d parked up as you can be.
And then – guess what? Back on a bus to get to our 777. Another 20-something minute journey back to the aircraft parking lot.
And when we got there, while we queued to get up the steps, I took this quick and dirty phone pic…

There, in the foreground, our 777 for the Cape Town flight. And in the background, all of about 100m away, the very same A380 that we disembarked from well over an hour earlier.

Nooooooooooooooooo!

Travel Saver rates do not apply

Hello. I’m somewhere over Iran. And I’ve just got this message on my cellphone:

Network On Air (Aerospace) is a satellite. Travel Saver rates do not apply. We encourage you to make calls at R23/min for int’l calls rather than receive calls at R150/min, R2.75/SMS & R128.00/MB for data. For T&Cs and rates visit www.vodacom.co.za/roam

I’ve already checked that my mobile data is switched off, but if you could all avoid calling me for the foreseeable future, that would be just great. Thanks.

Memories

I’m not about to leave Sheffield without some mementos of last weekend’s events.
A quick visit to Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane sorted that out.

I got a mug as well.
Happy days.