GOD sat in his office, cowboy boot clad feet on his desk, fuming.
Christmas had been cancelled for the first time since Herod had ordered the Massacre of the Innocents.
There was a knock at the door.
‘Come,’ GOD boomed.
Pestilence entered, haggard-faced and weary-eyed from sleepless nights spent scouring the Internet for Christmas decriers.
‘I think I’ve found what you’re looking for, sir.’
Pestilence projected the URL onto the screen on GOD’s desk.
‘Maverick Writer … Saving Christmas … Feedback. Ugh! What blasphemy! Good work, Pestilence. This is certainly a prima facie of taking my name in vain. Time for payback, I think.’
GOD pulled a sheet of paper from his printer, signed it and handed it to his apostle.
‘Unleash the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and go to Poland.’
I suppose it was as inevitable as Christmas that I would catch the Chinese flu.
And I wouldn’t blame you if you’re thinking right now: ‘well, it bloody well serves you right.’
But before I start this Covid diary – a diary which will either have a happy or an abrupt ending – let me say that I stand by everything I’ve written, particularly that the mental health, economic welfare and education of the masses should be placed ahead of the needs of the minority: the clinically vulnerable, the obese, the ailing and geriatrics who have had their day in the sun. No offence pops, but our survival as a species has – and always will be – based on survival of the fittest.
And this morning an expert charged with developing COVID-19 vaccination recommendations, claimed on BBC Radio 4 that nursing homes should be prioritised because this required a fraction of the number of doses that it would, say, to protect train drivers. Excuse me, but – harsh as it may sound – geriatrics do not get the economy moving, whereas train drivers do.
The rollout of this vaccination programme (although, as is normal for this government’s methodology – not fully thought out yet) is, in my opinion, totally flawed.
In my view, key workers such as medical staff should naturally receive the vaccine first, followed by those young enough to get back to work and get the economy moving again. And I know this sounds a tad Orwellian, but I would prioritise those who have jobs to go to, and not those for whom the ‘stay home, save lives’ directive is no different to their habitual daily grind of shifting from one arse cheek to the other on the sofa.
And to prioritise geriatrics and the most vulnerable for their second dose of vaccine before it is rolled out to others is – in my view – just plain stupid.
And before you throw your hands up in horror – this is coming from someone who isn’t far off the currently prioritised first group, and someone WITH the virus.
Anyway … back to me.
I’d been feeling a bit ‘under the weather’ for some time. To be precise, my normal robust ability to consume industrial quantities of alcohol without misadventure had become significantly impaired; I had developed a bit of a cough, and also manifested a few symptoms of a general state of ‘rundownness’, such as a cold sore and significant muscle fatigue after gym sessions.
I put it down to general seasonal malaise and just got on with it.
So let’s call DAY ZERO last Friday, because this was the day when my body screamed at me: ‘hey … there’s something not quite right here!’
I was in Marbella, the weather was vile and I needed a haircut before my return to Poland the following day. And it was during the process of achieving this simple objective, I realised that I had become unwell.
First, I noticed the cough … not my normal constant uh-huh throat clearing variety, but a cough like a dog that had forgotten how to bark but would die trying to remember.
Friday night, and I had to force myself down to the Moët for a couple of farewell pints. When I got there, I wished I hadn’t bothered.
DAY ZERO PLUS ONE
Saturday morning and I my cough wakes me. The same persistent dry bark as yesterday, only worse. I also feel fatigued and have little enthusiasm for the long haul back to Poland.
Marbella … hard to leave behind
But the sun’s shining and for a moment I entertain the thought of going for a final run until I force myself out of bed and realise how preposterous this idea is.
I have the virus … I’m sure of it. But then, I am a self-confessed hypochondriac, besides which flagging this up would be construed as PAS (Poland Avoidance Strategy) by my nearest and dearest, who I haven’t seen for a month.
So I pack and feel slightly better to the extent that I kill two hours in the gym.
I shower and feel worse; whereas a gym session always invigorates me, this leaves me totally fatigued, aching and cold; I dress and somehow drag myself and my carry-on luggage to the taxi rank and arrive at the bus station.
My deterioration had been rapid, probably accelerated by my gym session. By the time I reach the airport, I am convinced I have a high temperature, and should this be officially checked, I will be refused entry. It isn’t.
I like to arrive at airports early because I like the atmosphere generated by the hustle and bustle of foreign travel. But there is none. No hustle. No bustle. I like to have a few drinks, something to eat and people watch. There’s almost nothing to eat and no one to watch.
I manage to raise the strength to buy a tea and a ham sandwich that looks like it was made before the onset of the pandemic, and spend the next two hours trying to keep warm.
Eventually I board the plane. I’m in my usual seat – 1C – and am relieved to find the middle seat unoccupied.
I usually drink more than I should on flights and never sleep, but on this occasion the reverse applies.
The car journey from Krakow to Grodkow takes around two hours, and despite wearing a winter coat and having the heating full on, I can’t get warm.
I get to bed around three, my temperature is well over thirty-eight and I’m sweating like a paedophile in a clown suit, on the proverbial bouncy castle.
‘We’ll do the test in the morning,’ my wife says.
‘I can hardly wait,’ I reply and eventually manage to drift into fitful sleep, wondering just how bad this is going to get, and dream of four horsemen dismounting in the driveway.