31 March 2020


You may have heard something about a little bug called Coronavirus (or Covid-19, as it is grandly called) that is doing the rounds. It's not as if it has been mentioned much!! To be fair, you can't see it or smell it or taste it, but it can see you, makes a beeline for you, lays you very low and, if you survive, makes you lose your sense of smell and taste. It's incredible that such a tiny little organism can create so much chaos in the world and knows no boundaries. It has a whole Schengen zone of its own, except it covers the entire world. It has caused so much anxiety and panic, as well as changed all our lives in so many different ways. 

My own life has changed beyond recognition. Just at a time when I was beginning to branch out and find a life for myself, joining pilates classes, choir sessions and volunteering at food banks to name a few, these have all gradually come to a stop. Medical appointments and lunches have fallen by the wayside too. My diary is full of crossings out and nothing to do for the weeks and months stretching ahead. I have a new car, but nowhere to go with it, or at least I could try, but might get stopped by the police and asked whether my journey was necessary. It is sitting on my drive, gathering dust. So far I know two people who have caught the virus - my friend in Brighton and Kay's boyfriend. Both have been self-isolating and both have lost their sense of smell.

Kay was invited to four weddings this year - all very close friends of hers. So far three have been cancelled. The fourth is in October and hanging in the balance. The ceremony for Kay to receive her certificate from the Royal College of Physicians (which allows her to put MRCP behind her name) is also cancelled. More crossings out in the diary.

The whole coronavirus business has brought out the best and worst in people. By and large, people have come together in an almost wartime spirit to help one another in their need. Local groups have been emailing me or posting leaflets through my letterbox offering help with shopping, if I need it, or asking me to volunteer to shop, if I am able.  Fitness people have been posting free videos online to keep us fit and stop us going stir-crazy. NHS staff and the elderly are being given special shopping hours to shop at supermarkets before the mob of looters grab the entire stock off the shelves. An army of volunteers have signed up to do any of the much-needed jobs to support the NHS and other key workers required in this crisis. I even found a bouquet of flowers on my doorstep wrapped in newspaper with no card, so I have no idea whom to thank, but somebody obviously intended them for me or Kay.

There are a few people (there's always some) who do their worst. There's the ones that are buying 10 multipacks of toilet roll, no doubt to paper their walls with, as they cannot possibly use all that in a few weeks. I've heard of people snatching the last tin of beans from a frail old lady and even heard of how an old lady locally was mugged on her way home and her bag full of shopping stolen. Kay tells me of an NHS colleague who has a six-month-old baby, went into a supermarket after her shift, near to closing time, to get some tins of powdered formula milk for the baby. She found two tins left on the shelf and was just about to take both, when a man grabbed one out of her hand and said he needed it desperately, as his wife is Vegan and uses it in her coffee. Kay's colleague was so flabbergasted, she handed one of the tins over, but then wished she hadn't, when she thought of the cheek of it. Then there are the scams that are cashing in on people's vulnerability.

I can also report that the Alcoholic Daze household has been badly affected by this snivellin' little sh*t of a virus. Kay is a hospital doctor and working right on the frontline to use the analogy of war, which is so prevalent at the moment. Last week she was on-call, which meant she was going around the entire hospital dealing with emergencies that arose. She saw four patients diagnosed with Covid-19 with just a flimsy paper mask for protection. You don't need to be an expert to know that puts her very much at risk of getting it pretty soon. Because I am almost 70 (well a few months off, but that isn't going to stop a virus having fun beforehand) and have a very minor (but nevertheless) lung complaint called sarcoidosis, I have no idea how I would fare with this virus. I am generally very fit and healthy for my age, but the virus is indiscriminately killing people a quarter of my age. So Kay has decided she cannot risk bringing the virus home. The hospital had offered to provide free accommodation to any staff who live with a vulnerable person, so Kay has been allocated a  free room at a large chain hotel and she moved out from here yesterday morning with two large suitcases, a yoga mat, weights, sewing kits, food and her laptop. She is exhausted, Her colleagues are exhausted. They've had a few major problems at work over the last few months over certain issues with management and are weary of being taken for granted and weary from the long hours they put in. Morale is low. Now they are being used as cannon fodder to deal with this crisis, with no suitable protection and with forthcoming decisions that no human should have to make. Our parting yesterday morning was tearful, as we have no idea when we shall see one another again. It could be many months. If she catches the virus, as catch it she will, she will have to self-isolate in a lonely hotel room. I am really worried for her.

I am holed up in my house on my own, with nowhere to go and afraid to walk far, as joggers round here pay scant attention to social distancing and the 2-metre rule, as I have found to my cost. Instead, I plan to attack overflowing drawers and cupboards, tidy the garden and maybe even do a spot of decorating, if the whim takes me. I'm also taking advantage of free online pilates classes and phoning people I haven't spoken to in months. There is a wealth of memes doing the rounds and some are hilarious. Anything that makes you laugh is surely good. I leave you with one that had me crying with laughter.