Welcome to Declassified, a weekly column looking at the lighter side of politics.
(Important note: I’m not a doctor, unlike Dr. Oetker, who decided the best use of his seven years of medical training was to make frozen pizza.)
“There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” goes the old saying. Well there is if you’re a tiger!
First, the world goes into lockdown just as Netflix drops the single craziest program ever made, “Tiger King,” in which the poor big cats are treated horribly (and if you haven’t seen the show, what on earth are you doing reading this? I can’t compete, although I do have a two-tone mullet, collection of genital piercings, animal print underwear and a gun). And then there’s poor Nadia, a four-year-old tiger at the Bronx Zoo who has contracted coronavirus.
Nadia, along with six other big cats at the zoo in New York, is thought to have been infected by an asymptomatic zookeeper. So remember, social distancing isn’t just for people, it’s also for wild animals (although if you’re not a zookeeper and need advice on social distancing from a tiger, then it’s just natural selection).
You have to feel for the poor tigers, whose PR agency is clearly run by their sworn enemy, lions. Not so much for the Frenchman who was so desperate for cigarettes this week that he climbed a mountain to get them.
The unnamed man tried to drive from his home in Perpignan to go to La Jonquera just across the border in Spain, but was stopped by police at a checkpoint and turned back.
Undeterred, our, er, hero decided to walk across the mountains that separate the two countries, but he fell into a stream, then tumbled into some brambles before getting lost and calling the emergency services.
Meanwhile, some countries have clearly had enough of this pesky lockdown business and are looking ahead.
Displaying a hitherto unseen sense of humor, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the country could expect some sort of “resurrection after Easter,” with nonessential shops allowed to reopen — with strict hygiene measures — starting on April 14. However, wearing face masks in public in Austria was made mandatory as of Monday. That’s a major change for a country that banned full-face coverings in 2017. Shortly after that ban came into force, police in Vienna forced a man dressed as a rabbit called Lesko, the official mascot of the Austrian parliament’s youth outreach scheme, to remove his bright-blue mask with furry ears.
“Which one of you lot ordered chicken korma, pilau rice and a garlic naan?”
Last week we gave you this photo:
Thanks for all the entries. Here’s the best from our post bag (there’s no prize except for the gift of laughter, which I think we can all agree is far more valuable than cash or booze).
“And these are for when the shit really hits the fan” by Clive Ponsonby
Paul Dallison is POLITICO‘s slot news editor.