Monday 9 March 2020

Journal of the Plague Year 2020 (Entry Two: Eat More Garlic)

Entry Two: Eat More Garlic
(29.2.20 - 6.3.20)

It’s been over this week that coronavirus has really come to the forefront of people’s mind. There are statistics everywhere; 1% death rate, possibly 3.5. That all the residents of London have a 50% chance of catching it, possibly a 75% chance. Even 1% of 50% of 9 million is a lot.

On Tuesday, a friend was telling me how her graduation had been cancelled and that she was worried. Worried about the virus but also worried about her Easter wedding being cancelled, or a dud which no-one would come to. They’ve cut back the release of the new Bond film till November for similar realise, that film can’t catch a break. The new Bond song has already been released, it doesn’t really start until the last thirty seconds.

There’s no official word at the school about what will happen if the virus hits us. There’s no official notification (or consent) about all the cameras yet, so I’m not surprised. The rumour is that the Head has said we’ll carry on regardless, teaching whichever kids turn up with whatever teachers are left.

The biggest change in the school is that we actually have soap now. The government’s recommendation is that everyone gets in the habit of washing their hands more than five times a day, for twenty seconds a time, roughly how long it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice. I’ve acquired a veritable jukebox of songs, mostly bits of The Beggar’s Opera and other old songs. Belting out a bit of ‘Mirie it is’ whilst washing my hands has become something of a highlight of my day. This does mean I’ve thrice forgotten to do up my flies and all this washing is making my hands feel pretty rotten.

Apparently, the government are at a stage of their plan called delaying. The hope is not to prevent a mass outbreak but to push back the inevitable until the summer. This gives more time for research and preparation but also separates the cases of normal winter flu from the coronavirus. I can’t help having the selfish hope that it hits sooner and that I get some time off work. It’d be so dispiriting to have to put up with a stressful year of work and then spend my time off sick or in quarantine.

One of the weirdest theories I’ve yet heard was expressed to me on Wednesday by someone at work. In their view, this strain of virus didn’t come from China but has been in London all this year. Her evidence for this is the fact that she had a winter cold at the beginning of February. I’m not convinced. Possibly weirder than that is the theory that coronavirus has been purposely created to kill old people and give governments cash boosts from death duty. I’m not convinced of that either. 

A friend told me that her friends would not go to an Italian restaurant because the virus has spread to Italy. How do people think illnesses are spread, through words and thoughts?

In a slight detour from coronavirus news, on Tuesday I saw a strange van on the way home from work. It looked like a police van but was labelled ‘immigration’. On Wednesday, four of these vans lurked at the end of my road. Perhaps I’m growing paranoid, what with these vans and the CCTV at work, I’m feeling watched. It’s not that I see dark forces manoeuvring against me so much as dark forces manoeuvring against someone. 

What’s more, I’ve become hyper-aware of my body. Every premonition of a headache, every slight raise in my temperature, every heaviness of limb obtains a greater significance. Am I getting sick? Have I ever been well?

There hasn’t been any panic buying as far as I’ve seen but when I went to my local chemist/health-food shop to get some interesting tea, the weird lady over the counter was speaking in hushed voices to a customer. They had no big pots of hand sanitiser themselves, but the weird lady over the counter had whipped up some of her own. She also recommended eating as much garlic as possible.

Garlic, yeah, that’ll do it.

I’m not 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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