Thursday, October 21, 2021
HomeCOVID-19Hell is other people (or why I’ll miss my Covid cocoon)

Hell is other people (or why I’ll miss my Covid cocoon)

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MY God … I’m getting hot under the collar. Not too long ago I was confident that Covid had caused a seismic shift in people’s behaviour. Shop staff fully masked up. Customers ditto. And the wonderful social distancing that kept folk apart from one another. 

How I had waited for just this. Not having to be so close as to get a whiff of BO. No pressure to shake hands or touch in any way. And, thankfully, the mask to cover my facial expressions. I didn’t have to force a smile any more.  

And wasn’t it a dream come true when they said I had to work from home? Not having to put on a front and pretend that I enjoyed being part of a team – I hate teams. 

My company was in the process of organising a ‘team weekend’, the idea being to create ‘bonding’. I felt sick at the thought of it. Getting out of bed when it suited me was something I never thought I could achieve this side of a lottery win. And the company even set me up with a new computer and other office equipment. I had to pinch myself to make sure this was really happening! 

Not speaking to my neighbours saved me the energy of making an effort and not having to bother with relatives who, quite frankly, give me nothing but grief, was an unexpected bonus. 

I really appreciated the lengths to which supermarkets went to make us all safe. The floor spacers and the directional arrows outlining the one-way system. The antiseptic thoughtfully stationed at entrances. The limits on numbers allowed in at any one time. And the loudspeaker announcements urging us all to be kind and thoughtful to one another was a nice touch.  

In fact, I never thought that shopping could be so pleasurable. I now know what made my life so damn miserable these past many years – the close proximity of other people!  

When we were first instructed to stay in our homes for ‘three weeks to flatten the curve’ I hadn’t the foggiest idea what the curve was, where it was, or why we had to flatten it.   

I gathered it was all about a so-called ‘pandemic’, but the thought of three weeks at home with my TV, plenty to eat and drink and a chance to have a break from my dreary, humdrum routine was like a dream come true.  

Why would I question the bearers of such good news? If my government thought I was at risk, why should I query its benevolent actions? Apparently it was all about some strange virus or other. It had escaped from a Chinese lab, possibly mutated form a monkey’s brain cell, or simply appeared from nowhere to threaten humanity. Whatever. It gave me the chance to change my life for the better. Who would argue? 

My birthdays all came at once when the three weeks didn’t come to an end. The curve, which was intended to be flattened, not only wasn’t, but seemed to disappear altogether, overtaken by what the BBC called ‘cases’.  

I didn’t quite get the hang of this new method of measuring what we couldn’t see, feel or suffer from, but we were assured that you didn’t need to have any detectable symptoms to be very near death’s door.  

The experience of feeling fit, well and rarin’ to go within minutes of heading for the mortuary was, to put it mildly, unusual. But, who am I to doubt the experts from Imperial College London? After all, to paraphrase the great poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson: ‘Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die.’  

But the wonders of modern science came to our rescue. ‘Follow the science’ we were all told, as if I needed any telling. And after just a few months, the pharmaceutical companies had pulled out all the stops and had developed a ‘vaccine’ which under normal circumstances would have taken many years to bring to fruition.  

Aren’t they wonderful? Who could doubt their genuine concern for humanity? And to think there are those who think these companies are just interested in huge profits and would knowingly risk people’s health and welfare. Shame on them! 

But one of the biggest brain-teasers I have is why there are so many people who are against the jab, and for that matter are suspicious of the whole Covid narrative?  

Indeed, why are there millions who search the Web for knowledge and information about Covid-19 when everything you need to know is provided by the ever-dependable BBC and the mainstream newspapers? It’s as if these people are looking for trouble. Well, they’ll get it from me if they come within two meters, especially if they’re not wearing a mask! 

I started this by saying I was getting hot under the collar and I am. It would seem that my ‘new normal’ is under threat and I’m losing sleep over it. The supermarkets, such staunch supporters of everything Covid, are now showing signs of returning to life pre-pandemic.  

Gone are the floor markers and the loudspeaker announcements. I can’t remember the last time I saw the hand gunk and – believe it or not – the staff are no longer wearing masks en masse. Even that erstwhile bastion of the High Street, Marks & Spencer, has a sign outside its stores saying: ‘Masks – your choice’.  

Not to mention that people everywhere are beginning to behave in a way that smacks of days of yore. Where is the Covid swerve? What happened to social distancing and limited numbers in shops? Why are masks being discarded by more and more folk and how come shaking hands and close contact are making a comeback? Hell, I even boarded a bus the other day and not one person was wearing a face covering.  My arms went numb and I nearly had a panic attack! 

If this goes on, I shall not be surprised if my employers call me back into the office and my stint at working from home will be a distant memory. And then, God forbid, I shall have to exercise those facial muscles and may have to SMILE again!   

This will only be outdone by the misery of resuming relations with my relatives and the backlog of grief they will undoubtedly inflict on me. 

Going back to the office will be done on sufferance, but I live with the confidence that all our political parties have established lockdowns as a first line of defence against all ills and they will introduce them again when we are next threatened.  

It’s so comforting to have this protective blanket, ready and waiting here in the UK – British democracy writ large. And aren’t we all safe, secure and all the better for it? 

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Harry Hopkins
Harry Hopkins is a furniture designer/maker who loves to write.

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