Fear and Loathing in North-West Espoo, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Granolavirus

Photo: Utsav Srestha (Unsplash)

Coronavirus, Koronavirus, Granolavirus… It seems to be everywhere but what about the other news?

Text by J.W.E. Scott

Being British and living in Finland, one of my favourite parts of this ongoing, deadly international pandemic is that people aren’t talking about Brexit any more. It’s quite incredible: nothing about the overall plan between now and December; what steps our politicians are taking to ensure a sensible deal; nothing, and it’s not just Brexit that’s silent. Koronavirus (or ’Granolavirus’, as a child at work calls it) is absolutely the only thing on the news these days. Back when the world was staring at their television screens in 2001 as passenger planes flew headlong into the World Trade Center buildings, a very cynical lady called it ’a good day to bury bad news’ (The Telegraph, 10.10.2001), and I just wonder, in this world of ever-increasing apathy, if that still doesn’t ring true.

I only have to glance at any British online newspaper, Yle, or Iltasanomat, to see wall-to-wall coverage. At the time of writing (18th March, 2020), I glance at Helsinki Times and see that every single article on the page is about Koronavirus. A mere four out of the 16 articles do not have the word ’Koronavirus’ in the name. The UK newspaper The Telegraph has a whopping 14 articles about Koronavirus in its top column. Scroll down, and all ten opinion pieces are about the Koronavirus. All I can say is, thank goodness for the two obituaries pages. That is, unless those gentlemen died of the Koronavirus – anything’s possible. The first 20 articles in The Guardian are indeed about Koronavirus. My first response to all of this would be to tell you “please, turn off the news, all you’re going to do is drive yourself mad with this stuff”. After all, I can’t be the only one who has gone into my lunch break only to hear my colleagues say “22 more cases in Finland since this morning”. Well, so what? Do we need to keep up with this abstract terror in a to-the-minute unending live newsfeed?

All I can say is, thank goodness for the BBC for giving us even a slightest of glimpses into the world outside of the pandemic. Because, are we keeping our authorities to account? A glance at the bottom corner of their front page:

  • A man clearly showing the early signs of dementia is edging ever closer to the US presidential ticket.
  • Russia are considering resetting term limits to allow their president’s tenure to continue until 2036.
  • The Chinese are planning to expel United States journalists from the country.
  • ’Samoan Chief guilty of slavery in New Zealand’ (BBC, 17.03.2020). I’m afraid even to open that one.

Sadly, those glimpses of the greater picture, the events taking place outside of this ever-tightening bubble, are vanishing. I worry, as much about the virus if not even more greatly, about the terrible things that are happening that we do not know about. We know the virus. We seem to know everything about the virus. But don’t you just feel you know a little bit less about the other events, the zeitgeist that you used to keep up with? As this pandemic slowly but surely creeps into our dailylives and our news feeds, I just hope with all my hopes that we do indeed know everything. Because if we don’t, then we risk every day the prospect that somebody somewhere is burying bad news.

Jeremy Scott is a graduate British expatriate who currently works at an international daycare in Espoo.





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