Tuesday, September 28, 2021
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Testing times for an Alien

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ALIEN: Greetings, Earthling! Before arriving here, I had been led to understand that the UK was a freedom-loving nation. However, when you mentioned all the restrictions you’ve been subject to, I thought I’d landed in North Korea. You’ve been sold into slavery on Freedom Day with the prospect of these vaccine passports! Let’s escape to Florida, where people can live freely and civil liberties are protected for all.

Me: Yes, that’s a great idea – but before we go, you should probably take a test.

Alien: A test for the seasonal virus that’s hardly killing anyone at the moment? But it’s the middle of July!

Me: That’s right, it’s all the rage. Now tilt your head back – this won’t hurt. Well, not too much, anyway.

Alien: Arrgghh!!! You went right up my nostril with that invasive device!

Me: Yes, that’s how we test. It’s as if we’re collecting your DNA – which some people think we are.

Alien: You almost poked my eye out from the inside!

Me: Oops! Sorry about that. Does your species have more than one eyeball?

Alien: No we don’t – and now my brain’s got pins and needles. This is one of the most intrusive tests I’ve ever taken. Perhaps you could explain something to me.

Me: What’s that?

Alien: How come this virus you keep banging on about is so dangerous you need to cover your mouth at all times and keep your distance from each other – but you can only test for it by poking away at my nasal cavities like a hyperactive chimney sweep?

Me: I hadn’t thought about that. You’d have thought some spit in a plastic cup would do the trick.

Alien: Yes you would. So how accurate are these tests?

Me: Well the inventor of the PCR test stated that they’re not to be deployed as a diagnostic tool.

Alien: Why hasn’t he spread the word? That could have saved my nostrils a lot of bother. My brain’s still got an ice-cream headache.

Me: He died just before the pandemic struck, but nobody found this in the least bit suspicious. Instead we’re led to believe the PCR is the ‘Gold Standard’ test and is practically infallible.

Alien: I see. How does the test work?

Me: According to Patrick Vallance, it’s so sensitive that (and I quote) ‘it can pick up very low levels of virus – which may not even be infectious’. Then we put these old, dead fragments of virus through an extremely high series of cycles.

Alien: What do the cycles do?

Me: They amplify, enlarge and exaggerate the dead fragments, giving the impression that your body is packed full of a lethal pathogen and you’re a walking biohazard to be avoided at all costs. When the truth is you probably got the sniffles months ago from snogging someone you probably shouldn’t – a bit like Matt Hancock getting frisky in the office.

Alien: So to put it in layman’s terms, you could test a tiny pipette-drop of wine with this PCR test and if it’s put through enough cycles, you could end up with a brimming bucket of Beaujolais?

Me: That’s right. We should do this with wine! I hadn’t thought of that. Or prosecco! What better way to toast our escape to Florida?

Both: Cheers!

Me: Hic!

Alien: And where does most of the testing take place?

Me: In hospitals and care homes mainly.

Alien: And where do most infections take place?

Me: In hospitals and care homes. We call it nosocomial infection.

Alien: So if I rushed to hospital after getting hit by a bus and needed treatment for several days . . .

Me: We’d test you until you got a positive result. It’d be bound to happen at some stage.

Alien: And if I subsequently died of my injuries . . .

Me: It’d be entirely the fault of the virus.

Alien: <o> <//-> <o> Quibble Quibble <o> <\\-> <o>

Me: What was that?

Alien: It was an expression of surprise.

Me: Well, can you warn me next time? I nearly choked on my glass of bubbly.

Alien: I’m sorry. My antennae are still swivelling from the shock.

Me: I can tell. Anyway, we also do lots of testing in schools.

Alien: Are children particularly susceptible to the virus?

Me: Not at all, no. But the government likes to keep them scared so they test them all regularly anyway. It’s probably got something to do with indoctrinating them into a culture of fear and suspicion, which will make them easier to control in the future. The kids are fighting back by using lemon juice to fake the tests and that gets them lots of free time to play games such as Fortnite – which is ironic, as that’s precisely the amount of time most of them have spent at school in the last 12 months.

Alien: Whoever designed and sells these tests must be making an absolute killing!

Me: In more ways than one, yes. It’s certainly killing off most people’s concept of education.

Alien: So now I’ve taken this ‘Gold Standard’ test, and done some damage to my retina in the process, what happens next?

Me: Now we wait. If you die within 28 days, then we assume it’s down to the virus.

Alien: I’m sorry, is this some sort of Earthling joke?

Me: No, that’s part of the process. We have to wait 28 days. Possibly in homage to the zombie film where London’s turned into a spooky derelict ghost town. Have you seen it?

Alien: No.

Me: Well, you should have been here in 2020. It turned out to be extremely prophetic. The place looked identical, although the brain-dead zombies were the bug-eyed ones scuttling around wearing face masks.

Alien: We wait 28 days? But anything could happen to me in the next 28 days!

Me: I know.

Alien: I mean, I could be shot at by a Snargle-Blaster.

Me: What’s that?

Alien: You don’t want to know.

Me: It can’t possibly be worse than this virus.

Alien: You mean this seasonal virus with a low fatality rate that stopped killing people back in February? Don’t make me laugh. The Snargle-Blaster’s a special sort of gun that gives you a fever, lots of bodily convulsions and a nasty hacking cough.

Me: Aha! All symptoms of this virus, you see?

Alien: And then two weeks later your head explodes.

Me: So you lose all sense of taste and smell?

Alien: Well, naturally, because your head drops off.

Me: Another one of the symptoms! See, we’d put that down to a Covid death for sure.

Alien: And what part does the Snargle-Blaster play?

Me: None whatsoever. It’d be dismissed as an entirely irrelevant coincidence.

Alien: So it’d be seen as a secondary source of death?

Me: That’s correct. The Snargle-Blaster would hardly be worth mentioning. The virus takes precedent over all. You’re not going to do one of your ‘expressions of surprise’ things again, are you?

Alien: I don’t think I’ve got the energy this time. Do you know what, after this conversation, I’d quite like to do some testing of my own.

Me: What’s that?

Alien: I’d like to examine the heads of you Earthlings, with particular focus on your cerebellum. I’m curious to know if there are any brain cells rattling around in there at all. If there are, they must get a bit lonely.

Me: It’s in Florida where you’ll find some common sense. The British Bulldog’s lost its balls. Freedom from Faucism, remember?

Both: Rock on!

Me: The prosecco’s on me.

Both: Cheers!

Me: Hic!

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Sceptic Brit
The writer is a secondary school teacher.

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