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Corona Diaries – Keep calm and carry on, as the ancients would say

March 13, 2020

So here we are in leafy Surrey, the epicentre of the coronavirus (because everywhere is the epicentre, or is likely to be shortly). As always, we’re on the alert for the dreaded dry cough and raised temperature. At least I don’t have to set off for work in a packed train full of grey-faced commuters, or take my kids to school, or tootle down to Cheltenham for the great equine virus exchange festival.

I don’t actually have to do anything except perform my daily Alzheimer’s test of bringing my beloved her morning cup of tea without spilling it on the stair carpet. But plenty to catch up on. Trump’s mogadon-fuelled address to the nation, suspicions on Twitter that Boris Johnson is preparing us for the abandonment of the oldest generation and news of the latest footballer, politician or movie star who has fallen victim to Covid-19.

One bit of good news raises the spirits. A kitchen fitter arrived yesterday to fix the kitchen cabinets that keep collapsing every time we open them. He’s a lovely guy called Attila. A very appropriate name given that the other day the malfunctioning kitchen caused me to wreak Hunnic destruction on a plastic spatula that proceeded to take its revenge by breaking a pane of glass in a nearby door.

This Attila (a common name in Hungary) has been in the UK for sixteen years. His son was born here. He has no desire to return home, because he’s already at home. He’s bloody good at his job, and much in demand from the Surrey bourgeoisie who like to change their kitchens every three years. Which causes me to ask: what kind of stupid country encourages decent, skilled, hardworking tax-payers like Attila with a son who is bilingual and loves playing chess to ply their trade elsewhere?

Only the madness of the plague trumps the insanity of Brexit in these interesting times.

Back in our pit of pestilence, I have it on good authority that our local Waitrose has run out of quinoa, olives and black truffle paste. No doubt the matronage is planning a raid coordinated with an insider at Waitrose to snaffle up supplies for their lunch collective as soon as these much-needed essentials return to the shelves.

Zooming up to the situation nationwide, Twitter this morning is full of Brits asking why when neighbouring countries are locking down every conceivable group activity, we are locking down precisely nothing. Does our government know something that the Irish, Germans, Italians, French and even, God help them, the Americans don’t? Perhaps our magic formula for keeping nature at bay is our endless repletion of the national mantra – keep calm and carry on. Before long someone will no doubt claim that we inherited it from the Druids, who knew a thing or two about magic.

At home we have other problems to worry about. Our two-year-old grandson has suddenly learned how to copy the words we temperate adults say. A couple of days ago he heard an expression of annoyance from one of us. I won’t embarrass my wife by letting on which of us came out with it. Anyway, he immediately came back with same word, flashing a wicked grin.

We then set about convincing him that the offending word was shoot, and tried by repetition to implant the alternative into his memory. The result was that every time we said shoot, he went sssh, and collapsed with helpless laughter. A child that is able to detect a naughty word at his age is clearly destined for great things. And if we’re not careful about what we say from now onwards, we face stern disapproval from his parents, not to mention death stares from the matronage at Waitrose.

But dang, ain’t things moving fast at the moment? Every time I go online, I expect to discover some new member of the great and the good who has succumbed to the bug. A wicked thought occurs to me. If, God forbid, Her Majesty contracts the virus, you can bet your life that we will do everything in our power to help her get through the disease. Which goes to show that Boris Johnson’s remark about us having to face the fact that we will be losing our loved ones doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone.

Knowing the Queen, which I don’t, I suspect that she would insist on getting no better or worse treatment than anyone else, just as the Queen Mother insisted on staying in Buckingham Palace during the blitz. But I comfort myself with the knowledge that a 103-year old lady has just become the oldest person in China to survive the virus. Her Majesty, by all accounts, is a healthy woman, and I’m sure she would be fine.

Hi ho. It’s been at least an hour since the last bit of bombshell news, so I’m going to stop here while the going’s good, which no doubt it still is at Cheltenham.

Oh, almost forgot. The loo paper hasn’t arrived. I suspect the delivery driver left it outside and some sneaky neighbour snaffled it. In Surrey?

More when I have it, and as always, stay safe.

From → Politics, Social, Travel, UK

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