So, the government has decided only to test people who are hospitalised. Now, I know the advice from the NHS, the Scottish Government, Boris and his shower, the United Nations, President Trump and your Auntie Lil (after a sweet sherry) changes every fifteen minutes and contradicts all previous statements, but I can’t help but feel that if Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organisation, whose name can provide hours of fun in self-isolation, as we work out what exactly it’s an anagram of, if he’s saying ‘Test Test Test’ then presumably we should be thinking about testing? I mean, what’s the point of testing all the people in the hospital? These poor buggers are sick, so and my guess is that they’ve got it and they need treated. Don’t we need to know about the people who might become that ill before they do, and doesn’t that involve testing?
Here’s the thing. If someone gets the virus – let’s call it Stan – so if someone gets Stan, don’t they have to become a statistic? When we say there are ‘2,657 confirmed cases in Scotland’ does that just mean there are 2,657 people so ill they have been granted the holy test? When in fact there are 235,890 people who have Stan but haven’t been tested, who, if they are responsible citizens (particularly those young people who have benefited from CfE) will be coughing away in self-isolation without telling anyone, except presumably the immediate people they stay with, who will listen to them coughing away in the spare bedroom and be wracked with guilt for not making nourishing soup rather than doing what they will do, which is hide in the cupboard spraying themselves with precious Dettol.
And here’s another thing. Don’t we need to know that we’ve got it, so that when it’s over, we know we’ve had it? Take me (yes, take me, preferably to the Maldives) – I am a man of 62, with a history of fairly mild chest trouble, so I feel a bit chesty quite a lot of the time (including yesterday). I could get a cough and a temperature and, without access to a test, be deceived into thinking that Stan has joined me when in fact, it’s just my old friend Ethel the chest infection, Ethel who has bedded down with me any number of times. But now, what with Stan getting all the soundbites, I would think ‘that’s got to be Stan’ and sort of embrace him until I was better. If you get my drift. Then, being a responsible citizen, now immune to the disease, I go about being helpful, delivering food parcels to the older, at risk population and feeling so so good about my social conscience and my Stan free life, until, of course, Stan comes up a dark alley and slams me on the head, because I have never been tested.
Self-isolation – a slow torture
My god, what’ll I do?
Those of you who know me personally will know I am a social creature. In this respect and this respect alone I resemble my maternal grandmother Jenny, who was known by those in the family who treated her with affection as ‘Mrs Nivir-In’, the implication being that she was always out. What she was known as by the rest of the family is not immediately relevant.
Jenny’s genes circulate in my chesty body, and I watch, agonised, as my social diary falls apart: goodbye dinner with Nick, goodbye lunch with Linda, goodbye more lunch with Fiona and David (and somewhere I really really wanted to try), goodbye holiday in Spain, goodbye drinks with Dave goodbye gallons of coffee with tens of people, goodbye Beach House, goodbye birthday. Sigh. My social life is spent largely with women over 70 and boys and girls I have taught. So I am sending caring messages to the old ladies, and the young people are telling me to stay indoors, and, kindly, suggesting things they can attach to my outside door handle if I need them. I have taken the precaution of buying two crates of wine, and there is my late father’s collection of whisky to get through, and there’s Netflix, and literally hundreds of books I should have read, not to mention the book I am writing. The garden can be done with even more care than usual, though I will so miss Dobbies, where my special offers are running out: there is also the programme of spring cleaning I have intended to do since the spring of 1988 (other things came up). The paintwork can be touched up. I can sell my singles on Amazon. But still, I fear ‘stir crazy’ won’t cover it. When we are free, I expect to be madly grateful to go to the dental hygienist .
So, friends, stay safe; may your self-isolation, when and if it comes, be a kind one; may you prove to be tolerant of your loved ones. I will not be alone, I think, in appreciating my friends even more when I can breathe on them again. Lots of love. I am off to the wine cellar to be by myself.