Then (on right) and now (on left)

Unprecedented. We’ve heard the word a lot lately. Too much. It’s not the word itself that is unprecedented, because that goes back to the 17th century. But, as a descriptor of the situation we face in year 2020, ‘unprecedented’ surely is right on.

… but if you want a word (two words actually) that really is a child of our times, try ‘social distancing’ for size …

There really is only one topic for my blogs in these ‘unprecedented’ times. Nobody seems to want to talk or think about anything else.

But what can I say? I don’t want to bang on about the precautions you need to take. You know them. And if you don’t know them, or won’t make them a part of your routine, you really are an irresponsible turd for which there is no redemption.

I don’t want to recommend that, while in isolation, you should read War and Peace. Or learn a language or two. Or clean up the shed or your desk. Or renovate your house. Or enjoy quality time with your family. Such suggestions are facile. If you want to be a couch potato, be my guest. If you want to study Swahili, be my guest. As plans, both are fit for purpose. But please keep reading my blogs.

Nor do I want to make predictions about the future. I know only that after it has all passed, the world will be a very different place. But leave it to the fools to rush in and tell you it will be the best of times. Or the worst of times.

I shall predict with confidence that some of the people around today, perhaps people you love and cherish, won’t be around in a year’s time. They will have gone to the happy hunting ground. Better hope and pray one of them is not yours truly.

This brings me to a comment made in a recent article in The Guardian Australia by a well-known Oz journalist. I quote below:

‘I’ve been on to my solicitor to draft a certificate setting out why I should be saved when the Great Triage comes. I can’t think of a single reason off the top of my head but he’ll come up with something. He’s good. He’s expensive. I want the document on me when I’m wheeled into ICU.’

The most charitable thing I can think about this journalistic brainfart is it’s a black joke in extremely poor taste. It’s like somebody was wandering the decks of the stricken Titanic bragging he knows how to pull strings to get himself a reserved place in a lifeboat. And stuff the women and children. If there had been such a person, he would (I feel) have been tossed into the drink by the mob. And deservedly so.

So, I imagine, as he sunk beneath the chilly waves, on a mission to see what the other nine tenths of the iceberg looks like, his cries would have been clearly heard by those on deck: Hey. Just joking.

This is not a time for defensive/selfish behavior. Such behavior is akin to what appears to be happening in the USA, where people are apparently rushing out as never before to buy guns. We need to be aggressive, but with respect to the virus please, not to each other. And it needs to be a united effort, because the virus is our common enemy. Not the man or woman down the street who might also covet a ventilator.

A lesson for us all.

And, voila, here is another lesson.

My daughter, a vet by training, has taken me to task for not using correct nomenclature in my last blog. She tells me that ‘coronavirus’ is a generic term covering a whole family of viruses, some of which are harmless to humans or produce only mild symptoms in them. This much I believe I knew.

She goes on to tell me ‘COVID-19’ is an illness caused by the virus ‘SARS-CoV-2’. So COVID-19 is not a virus. It is the illness caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. I stand corrected. Bless her cotton socks.

I venture to add, and I hope correctly, that ‘novel coronavirus’ is a shorthand term for SARS-CoV-2.

So there you have it. If we can’t yet defeat the bug, at least we get to call it by its correct name. Know thine enemy.