Coronavirus Blues

By Barry Hill


I was going to post an amusing blog about wind, but there’s the elephant in the room to address – Coronavirus.  My wind?  That can wait until next month.  Bet you can’t wait.


My partner and I live in a little one-bedroom terrace.  There’s less to clean.  We made a pact last week that if either of us catch the virus, then they get the bed and the other sleeps on the floor “to be on hand for the other one” that I believe translates as ‘Dogs body’, two metres away of course.  Personally, I think she’s hedging her bets for her to get the bed to herself.  She was laid off yesterday, so doesn’t have the commitment to go to work.  I reckon that if she coughs once or feels a little peaky, she’s going to get to grips with the Alexa intercom system, will hibernate in her bed (not our bed) for the time she is laid off work, and is probably measuring me up for the sleeping bag right now.


This highlights one of the problems with this virus.  How do you know you’ve got it until it’s really coughing bits of lung up and frying an egg on your forehead obvious? On one hand, there’s still the usual seasonal flu’s and cold’s making their annual rounds.  Still, now that the snot monsters aren’t at school, there won’t be as much of these being passed from the little darlings to parents, and from them to everyone else.  One silver lining from this pandemic is that people might, just might, stop going to work, the pub and cafes with a damned cold once the covid 19 thing is over, well, for a little while at least. 


On the other hand (Keep up – there was one hand in the last paragraph), it’s evident that we can have the damned virus with little or no symptoms!  That’s sneakier than the selfish pig following the cage with the re-stock of ready meals and taking all of them out of the fridge as quick as the staff are loading them in. 


It is because of its sneakiness that we are meticulously cleaning everything that comes into the house from junk mail to the doggy’s paws after a walk around the block (it’s a big block so a good walk) like an anxious mother with her first baby.  Ok, not all new mothers do the ‘don’t come near the baby until you’ve been through the decontamination chamber’ paranoia, but you do get some who want to wrap them up in surgical cotton wool.  These are the same ones who, by the third child, are pretty much at the level of “letting the dog lick the Farley’s rusk off his face. 


This meticulous cleaning isn’t to protect me as much as it is to protect my mum.  She’s got underlying conditions and is over 70, and we are getting their essentials in.  Well, when I say ‘we’, I mean Angie for as long as she’s not decided to nest up, and when I say ‘essentials, I’m not sure that lemon cheese is absolutely necessary.  Actually, my ma and pa are being really good about it, but that’s not entertaining enough for a blog.


Hey, speaking of cleaning, what are you doing to time washing your hands for 20 seconds?  Happy birthday twice? First verse of the National Anthem? Rude limericks? Made up your own ditty? Me, I’m doing something really radical.  I’m slowly counting to 20.  I know, mad, eh?


I’ve got a confession.  I went to Tesco’s on my own with doggy last week.  My usual methodology in there is to loiter near the cigarette/lottery/ helpdesk counter looking helpless and the lovely staff call for a member of staff to help me do my shopping.  I can do this loitering thing because most of the staff there know and love me.  Well, in my head they love me.  Of course, this method breaks the two meters rule, and is as dodgy as juggling with dynamite.  Instead, I printed out a detailed shopping list and asked the prospective assistant to do my shopping for me.  They were only too glad to do so.  Gold star and extra toilet roll rations for Tesco’s staff.


Why did I break curfew to go shopping? Well, I did try to do the on-line shopping thing but those slots go quicker than ready meals.  I tried playing the poor blind man card by ringing the various supermarket helplines.  My phone went dead before the first one answered, so I plugged it into the charger and tried another only to find that it was engaged all day, then closed.  The next day, I was ready for them.  I found the telephone number of the CEO’s office and got ready for the long-haul.  I plugged my mobile into the charger, got my talking book, laid on the bed and called hand’s-free.  Three and a half hours I was on hold for.  I could have gone on all day if it wasn’t for the just irritating enough at first to soon become Chinese water torture hold music interrupted by the ironic “You’re important to us” message every 30 seconds that reset the hold music to the beginning.  In three and a half hours, I figured that I listened to that message 420 times before screaming, “I give in.  I’ll tell you everything!” and hanging up.


I learned about a government website that could give me priority on-line shopping slots at Sainsbury’s.  It’s:

If you live in Scotland, Ireland or Wales, take no notice of the ‘Do you live in England’ bit of that link.  It’s just the first question.    You go through three pages filling in details to register as vulnerable.  On the third page is a series of questions to determine if, in their view, you are actually vulnerable.  By the end of it, I discovered that a miracle had happened since the virus kicked in.  Most physically, mentally and all sensory disabled people are no longer vulnerable.  It doesn’t matter if you are incapable of going out to shop or the only way to do so puts you at risk of catching covid19, you ain’t vulnerable.  Ok, they are actually looking at extremely vulnerable, but, personally, I think it is a ploy to cut down the disability benefit bill.


Speaking of killing off disabled people, did you see the NICE’ policy that they had to do a massive amendment to?  Their guidance for the NHS advised doctors on how to choose who gets life-saving intensive care treatment if critical care services are overwhelmed during a surge of patients with Covid-19.  It originally included a frailty score that pretty much screwed disabled people, particularly those with severe mental health conditions like autism.  But this is the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.  Note that last word in the name.  Rather Orwellian doublespeak, me thinks.  For those of you who haven’t read 1984, why not?  It’s an excellent book, and that’s the proper use of the word.  Doublespeak is a phrase that says one thing but means the opposite, such as the Ministry of Peace that deals with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation.  Could Institute of Excellence deal with euthanasia? It’s the same acronym. 


This NICE policy was about as excellent as the decision to put Michael Gove up there on the Friday evening Briefing podium in place of Boris.  I mean, could you get a more insincere Party-Political Broadcast opening statement? And did he actually answer any of the questions at the end? Thankfully, NICE have done a U-turn and now do not include severe mental health in their assessment recommendation.  Maybe whoever made the decision to put Gove up there will do likewise.


Right, I’m going to come down off my virtual podium now.  Stay safe, all, and best of luck with your shopping.






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