Berlin - There are sayings that journalists love to trot out and that I avoid because journalists are supposed to avoid cliches, but I’ve been expecting one to resurface all week and it hasn’t: Covid-19 is a marathon, not a sprint. And for once I think the saying is apt and important.
With two vaccines approved in Europe and an ongoing lockdown, corona to me feels about like kilometre 35 or 36 of a marathon (to look at me, you wouldn’t think I’ve completed two). Misery -the finish seems impossibly far away and the lazy you is saying there’s no harm in quitting now – you’ve completed the first half and most people don’t even get that far. You also question your own decision-making abilities. But you also know that within an hour or so, it will all be over.
And that’s how corona feels to me right now. Everything's miserable. There’s an impossible reply-all battle being waged among the parents of one of my kids’ classes about school re-opening on 18 January and every newspaper is full of never-ending criticism about the EU’s vaccine-buying strategy.
Everyone is questioning everyone’s decision-making abilities.
But it seems to me – I have a bachelor’s in literature and barely understood biology let alone epidemiology – we just need to be patient for a few weeks or, tops, months, and life should be getting back to normal. I was already thinking this when German health minister Jens Spahn last week said everyone will be able to get a corona jab in the second quarter.
Life sucks right now, even worse than during the first lockdown, but with a second vaccine approved and a third warming up, and with Biontech and Pfizer ramping up their production, the world should soon be awash in the stuff.
And then those testing centres popping up everywhere and possibly even the vaccination centres will become the latest fidget spinner – an intriguing idea that first seemed like a necessity then became a novelty and is now just laying about next to the cash register at your Späti. Ask nice enough and you might get it for free. The finish line is closer than it’s ever been. Let’s get some band-aids on the day-to-day blisters like schools and vaccine orders and worry about the bigger issues once we’ve collected the medal and are laying about in the Tiergarten swearing to never do another marathon.
But corona isn’t the only marathon these days. Brexit felt a lot like my second marathon did – a never-ending bad idea. The EU and the UK finally made it across that finish line and my colleague Elizabeth Rushton, culturally British but officially now Irish, had some thoughts on the end of that race.
German bureaucracy can also feel like a marathon even though it’s usually more of a sweaty, anxiety-filled sprint. An article detailing what all changes next year in things like taxes and child benefits was our most popular story in the past week.
Though there’s no article on the city’s athletic history in our series about Berlin history (which is collected in a spiffy magazine you could spend some euros on), Berlin’s annual marathon comes near a number of the sites about historical places that are no longer detailed in this piece. There’s also a quiz to see how well you’ve been paying attention.
Finally, the Exberliner has played a role in the Berlin marathon of most journalists and artists here and we would be remiss if we didn't congratulate our editor-in-chief Maurice Frank on the sale of the magazine to Tip, the German-language arts and culture guide, announced this past week. Maurice founded the magazine with Exberliner editor Nadja Vancauwenberghe and another friend in 2002.
Ze newsletter is a day late this week but we got it across the finish line at least. It’s because it was my turn and I was busy writing about the kerfuffle in Washington Wednesday. To be honest, I’m still having trouble concentrating.
Have a good weekend. Try a 5k recovery run.