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Corona Diaries: the words I would least like to say at the end: you lied

July 13, 2020

Compared with jumping out of an aircraft with an aerodynamic Superman cloak for a parachute, or poking a cobra with a stick, attending a “COVID party” to prove that the virus is a hoax must have seemed like mild act of risk-taking to a bunch of people in Texas. When one of them died, it wasn’t such a laugh.

In a monumental act of stating the obvious, the 30-year-old man was reported as saying, just before he died: “I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.”

As last words go, that takes some beating. It’s hard not to feel sorry for a person who went to such lengths to prove a theory and paid the ultimate price. The rare example of an anti-hypochondriac, I guess, whose understatement ranks with that of the Dark Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail who, having lost his arm in battle, swore that “tis only a scratch”. Or the famous exchange between the Duke of Wellington and the Marquess of Anglesey, when the latter lost his leg at Waterloo: “By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg!” — which caused Wellington to reply, “By God, sir, so you have!” Sang froid par excellence, though in the poor Texan’s case it was probably all he could do to get his words out.

Hypochondriacs whose convictions are born out, on the other hand, are two a penny. Comedian Spike Milligan, for example, whose tombstone (above) bore the legend (in Irish): “I told you I was ill”. And Alan Clark, politician and diarist extraordinaire, who for decades was convinced he had a brain tumour, and died of a brain tumour.

I rank pretty low on the hypochondriac scale, though at various times I’ve been convinced I was having a heart attack, a stroke or some other mildly fatal condition. By the fact that I’m writing this, and holding on to my wooden garden table for dear life, you will gather that my predictions have not yet come to pass. But I only have to be right once.

Anyway, I prefer to err on the side of caution. The last thing I would want when lying on my death bed would be for my last words, addressed to all the politicians, nut jobs, TV pundits and pastors who kept pumping out the idea that the coronavirus was a hoax, to be: “you lied”.

From → History, Social, UK, USA

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