Sunday, 8 March 2020

Journal of the Plague Year 2020 (Entry One: A Cough in the Box)


Entry One: A Cough in a Box
(22.2.20 - 28.2.20)

At first coronavirus was just one news story among many, mixed up with whatever political nuttiness was happening and an incoming week of storms. The thing that most impacted me was the installation of 14 CCTV cameras at the school I work, seemingly plotted to follow my every move. All talk at work was about the cameras. Year 4 were making maps of coverage, year 3 were looking up anti-camera burkhas and I was crossing my arms in a ‘hail Big Brother’ gesture as every lens.

S, the IT guy seemed rather excited by his new toys and was not keen on discussing the ethical ins and outs of plastering one small section of school in surveillance. Instead, he tried to distract me with talk about this new virus. He told me that he was suspicious of this new illness in China, that the one-child policy had fizzled out and that perhaps the Chinese government were trying to thin their population in other ways. As evidence, he cited its emergence in a busy transport hub in a densely populated city. I thought that it was less likely to be planned, coming from a dirty, dense city with transport links and it was the perfect place for a virus to emerge. He said he got the idea from a friend in American Intelligence, I was not convinced.

Another person at work showed me a video of a man looking at the back of an anti-bacterial bottle which included coronavirus, which proved that it wasn’t new and already existed. I was about to point out that the claim was not that it was a new illness but a new strain of an existing one but I didn’t have the energy to.

I first realised I might have soaked in more of the news and panic when I had a dream about it. In the dream, I and a large number of people were in a living room filled with comfy, brown, leather armchairs. Some of the people are very sick, one particular person from work was sweating very heavily and panting. I was going about helping these people as I could, putting damp towels on their head. It wasn’t a nightmare, people weren’t going to die but it wasn’t a particularly nice dream either. The only thing it revealed to me, was that I was thinking about it more than I realised.

The silliest thing I overheard was in a shop where a lady was picking up a package. She paused, and pushed the box back unopened declaring;
“I don’t want this anymore, some Chinese man might have coughed in the box and I ain’t opening it.” 

I wasn’t convinced.

Entry One: A Cough in a Box (22.2.20 - 28.2.20)
(Coronavirus is a rumble among other stories but silly stories start early.)



Entry Two: Eat More Garlic (29.2.20 - 6.3.20) 
(A song and a wash, rising paranoia.)

Entry Three: A Guilty Sigh (7.3.20-13.3.20) 

(Confusion at school, a new variation on 'it' and a new chat up line.)

Entry Four: A Week as Schrödinger's cat (14.3.20-20.3.20) 


(A week at school where it's open, closed then repurposed as something else.)

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