Chit-chat from Imaginatorium Shop

Coronavirus and other matters

Blog entry for April 2020

Furano flowers puzzle

This blog entry all started in February. It was going to be titled something like "Hobbies": Do I enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles? What are my other interests? The answers in short are "Yes", and "Music". The puzzle on the right is a 2500-piece horror that I started at New Year, (with the help of some of the family!) and only finished sometime in February. I really had not realised that those slabs of colour were going to be quite a struggle. And music? Well, I play the piano (classical romantic and a bit of Bach), sing in a local choir, and also dabble in composition. So to celebrate our family's 30 years in Sano, I was to have my own concert (very small scale; a friend has a wonderful "salon" with two grand pianos and room for about 90 people) in March. We even printed flyers – in Japanese of course, but you can see one here. All this was swept away by the first wave of coronavirus infection...

So now here we are, in not-quite-lockdown. All across Asia the effect of the pandemic has been much lighter than the terrible effects in Europe and North America. No-one quite knows why, although I think it is obvious there is no single simple cause, but a combination of factors. Almost everyone wears a mask, because it is the normal thing to do if you have a cold; it means that if you sneeze you are not spraying other people with germs, virus-laden water droplets, or whatever. And there's the BCG strain, and so on and so on. The Japanese government has been somewhat shambolic as usual, gently calling for "restraint" rather than imposing draconian regulations. But as for everyone else, it is still very unclear how things will go.

We had quite a surge in sales in late March, and heard anecdotes of a sales boom from places as far apart as the Netherlands and Thailand; fairly clearly many people stuck indoors have turned to a puzzle to pass the time. But then crash!

On 1st April, the Post Office gave us a list of 150-something countries no longer accepting any airmail items, and some of them no surface mail either. And the SAL economy airmail service (most popular option at our checkout) has completely stopped; there was a warning of packages possibly being returned... And yesterday (17th April), a Post Office van came round with a mountain of our packages, back to square one. We hope to resend these eventually, and if you are one of the unlucky customers, I will be in touch within a few days.

Meanwhile, we tried following the list: this is not the clearest, because it only ever lists countries as not providing some service or services. We have sent a number of orders to the US, UK, and one or two other countries not listed, but checking the tracking information for these shows that in practice the whole system is clogged up, and nothing is moving. We will keep monitoring progress; perhaps services will resume country by country, but I rather expect we will be unable to send more until May.

Please bear with us: you can request puzzles using the checkout form, and we will try to be ready to send orders as soon as it is possible. Meanwhile, please stay safe, so we can all see this through.

Brian Chandler

"A kind of blog..." My sporadic comments, mostly topical, on shop matters. (Brian Chandler)