The path of a 355

This one’s serious then, is it?

Serious enough for politicians to admit that a few people might have to work from home for a while. The devastating effect this’ll have on the boss class – oh fuck, if they don’t need to be here to do these jobs, what’s the point of me? – was conveyed in the twitchy demeanour of Britain’s buffoon in chief, flanked by the experts he’s so recently branded as bogeymen. If staring about a podium wildly for help is ever a paying position, he’ll be fine, even as everyone who does a non-computer job is handed their last meagre pay slip and told to make it last because paper doesn’t grow on trees.

Before boffins had had the chance to give it the catchy sci-fi name Covid-19, red-top comics read by builders had planted ‘coronavirus’ into simple minds and that’s what we’re stuck with. How many of us are stuck with it, God only knows.

I heard some figures yesterday: the absolute worst scenario for people in the UK getting this virus is 80%. It kills roughly one in every hundred people who get it. Given the UK’s population of nearly 67 million, that would mean that the top projection of deaths from this is a bit over half a million.

A proper cull!

As others have noted, it’s bloody typical that this all happens just after an election. Coffin dodgers have spent the last few years ruining the future for everyone else, and then a bloody virus shows up to wipe a load of them out? Assuming the virus came via rats or bats or some other hairy bastard, it’s safe to assume they’ve been the masterminds behind Brexit and the rise of Johnson all along. Of all the people you’d have thought might have an army of brown creatures backing them, it’s not him.

This is more confusing than previous hyperbolic health scares for one main reason: where are our trusty skeptics? Usually when something new poses the slightest threat to the Glorious Twelfth, a huge army of pork-based wallies surge forth to decry it as scaremongering, conjured up by the far-from-power left who are somehow also the mainstream, to force bacon made of bark on us or whatever’s annoying Maggie on the other side this week. But where are they for this virus? Where’s David Bellamy when you need h- oh.

Instead there’s an eerie solidarity, where we all peer at each other warily, wondering who’ll kill who. Nobody yet knows if this really is going to kick off and slaughter tens of thousands on this island alone, or if it’s Gen Y’s Y2K moment. A man on Oxford Street says he’s not really concerned about it, through a face mask. People calling themselves Chief Medical Officer are asked point blank if we should all be more concerned than we are, and their chief medical response is an elevation of the scapulae, curvature of the supraorbital ridge and protrusion of the labium inferius oris, which isn’t as fun as it sounds.

But it’s still easy to let life just plough on. While bodies pile up in faraway, irrelevant lands, we get news headlines like ‘Coronavirus hits Nintendo Switch production’. If you type ‘corona’ into Google, here anyway, the top five results are still about Ken Barlow, and not because of a daring if topical storyline where he divides public opinion by kicking an Asian tourist to death outside the Rovers.

It is at least pleasing that it started in China. I have the same view as a lot of people on China and that’s pretty much ‘Oh well’. They’re going to dominate the world for the next couple of centuries by insidiously spreading into cybersystems and building and owning virtually every new infrastructure project on the globe, but it’s hard to get past that ‘Oh well’. Fact is I’ll be dead before they make any serious effort to wash my brain, and it’s no sweat to ignore the little voice in your head nagging that there’s probably some really evil shit going on over there. They came for the…but I wasn’t a…and all that.

But I’ve been to China. I’ve seen these markets where they sell live animals: cages and cages of creatures jammed up against each other, screaming in misery or limp in defeat. It’s not for me to tell the Chinese they shouldn’t carry on this centuries-old custom, much as it abhors me. But when the animals respond by transmitting a sickness that can cause fat British tourists to miss their Costa del Breakfast over 7,000 miles away, it’s tricky to blame those animals. Maybe it’s time we were a bit more wary of pretending all of nature belongs to us.

My instinct is to find all this highly amusing. If only they could find a way to transmit the thing via smartphone, all the better. I don’t have anything in particular against 23-year-old marketing assistant Jordan from Tooting, but as he bundles down the pavement staring at TikTok – no, not a fucking clue – it’d prove the evolution of Darwinism itself if his device made him sneeze himself into the path of a 355. Meta indeed.

But we may finally have reached my personal moment of comeuppance. Having spent some years punting various views on how many people deserve nothing better than a ghastly, gurgling demise, if I catch this bloody virus there’s a higher-than-average chance I’ll end up in the box next to Jordan’s. These days my immune system is only slightly more robust than David Vetter’s, and the specific part of the body this virus affects most is the specific part of my body that’s lately been as well-kept and orderly as the Steptoes’ yard.

I can confirm I’m typing this from bed, with a cough. This is a small step up from last Saturday, which I spent in bed all day fully clothed, shaking like a shitting dog, or my Sunday night sweating like a glassblower’s arse with incomprehensible gobshites rattling round my head like I’d gone to an app development conference by mistake.

Obviously it didn’t help that I got comedy drunk on Friday night and ate a kebab from Edinburgh’s only takeaway with a picture of Pennywise where the hygiene rating should be. But all that goes to prove is that I’m taking my health as seriously as ever. Once every few months I have a couple of days of eating nothing but vegetables and assume that makes me invincible.

And I suppose I deserve my fate as much as the rest of you. Still I’d prefer you didn’t cough lung butter straight at me nor rub your soiled fingers on my eyeballs to test my Bubble Boy mettle. No tongues, Dave. Just make sure you don’t try to use this as yet another excuse not to get your round in and it’ll all be fine, until the sirens sound and we’re all herded to our pods to eat Fray Bentos alone for eternity. One of their pies is called ‘Just Chicken’, which seems like a promise they’ll struggle to keep in the coming months.

Coronavirus is just the latest in a black parade of issues that want me to change how I live. But I’m sorry, it’s too late to change me now. Drink, drink, yap yap yap, stumble, ‘meat’ please, where am I? I’ll continue to shake hands with sweating men I’ve just met because civilisation folds without a stranger’s dubious juice on your palms. When they try to stop us congregating for our own good, I’ll see you in the pub, comrade.

Now pass me that dog, I think it wants to lick my face.

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