Paradise possible?: Day 15 of self-flagellation
Well, that was a worry. Thankfully, despite lying there in the basement looking at the ceiling until around 4 a.m., I managed to awake at the crack of 10 with no cough. I rolled around for a minute and checked, but it seeming had completely disappeared. I toyed with the idea of squeezing my testicles, like the doctor does, to see if that provoked a Pavlovian response, but thought better of it. I wasn't sure I could cope with the wrong Pavlovian response.
How this happened (the coughing, not the non-squeezing), I do not know. I have occasional asthma, but very mild, which occasionally gives me shortness of breath and a slight cough (indeed, Mrs. Ottawacker tells me when I have it I usually sound like I am making obscene phone calls and has threatened to buy me a long mac for Christmas), but this wasn’t the same. It was dry and regular, not persistent and there was no fever or other symptom. At the time, it was persistent enough for me to be very worried, but has now almost completely disappeared.
I have no explanation and am now, as a consequence, not totally sure what to do. I am still resident in the basement – and I think I will be for a couple more days at least, perhaps an additional week. There is no way I can have been exposed to Covid19 while down here – we have been incredibly careful with anything coming into the house (food, drink), placing it in a secure area for three days and then washing everything before use – so if (oh, how I hated using that word) the WHO recommendations are accurate and symptoms show within 14 days of exposure, then I was just inside that limit with my symptom. From what I understand, it is now 24 hours after all symptoms have gone…
However, I am one of those perfectly cynical people at heart, and as I was staring at the ceiling last night I had a couple of questions running through my mind. Like, how do we know all symptoms manifest within 14 days? Surely, we only have the evidence of this that we have seen to date. Is it not possible that the virus lies dormant in some people for a longer period – say a month – and then they become ill? And have been asymptomatic carriers for that entire period of time? And why are they cleaning the streets in China and France and possibly elsewhere? Doesn’t the virus die naturally after a couple of days anyway? Why did Billy Murray ever agree to do the voice of Garfield in that movie? Didn’t he know it was career suicide? And why did Gérard Houllier substitute Didi Hamann when we had to defend a lead against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002? I think I might have lost a perfectly good job because of that (true story).
When you have a mind like that, you can see why sleep doesn’t come easily when you are slightly stressed.
Anyway, I was in a much better frame of mind today than yesterday and managed to stop listening to and examining every single breath I took around 4 p.m., which, as it happens, was around the time that Ottawacker Jr. had demanded the conclusion to Book 1 of Fellowship of the Ring because Mrs. Ottawacker had, at the same time, demanded he have his toenails cut (a source of some anguish to the youngster). Oh, I did well with that story today. I had all my voice back for it, I think, except for a little rasp which came out when the black riders spoke and hissed. He sat there for 30 seconds at the end, waiting for me to go one (I have become adept at the pregnant pause) and when I snapped the covers together, his mouth and eyes opened for a good 10 seconds. .. “bu…”
“Sorry, end of the book.”
We had a brief Q & A session, where he gave very reasoned answers to why it wasn’t just Frodo that escaped, but all of the hobbits and Strider. Most of all, he told me, he was pretty sure they would be OK because, he informed me, he’d looked at the back of the other copy we have in the bookcase and all their names were still being mentioned in the last chapter. Faced with that implacable logic, I had little recourse other than pouring myself a Ricard and waiting for dinner, which had an incredible similarity to last night’s dinner, as Mrs. Ottawacker was in austerity mode and giving us LEFT-OVERS ON A SUNDAY.
Honestly, I go in the basement for a couple of weeks and the entire social fabric of our household goes into meltdown.
Last night, with a yearning for comfort videos, I went rummaging on our DVD shelves and found something I had been thinking of for a while – one of my favourite TV comedies of all time, Shelley. I’m not sure if anyone other than me remembers Shelley (certainly not in Canada); it started in 1979 during the Thatcher years, I remember, and it was brilliantly scripted and superbly acted. Hywel Bennett played the lead – an articulate, lovable, irascible and intelligent layabout anti-hero. (Oh bollocks, I have just realized I have tried to model my entire post-pubescent life on a sitcom I saw when I was 13.) Anyway, I watched three or four episodes, and while the topics and language and behaviours remain firmly rooted in 1979, the writing most definitely is not. It is almost as good today as it was then (if you are able to place the odd sexist and stupid comment in the zeitgeist of Thatcher’s Britain). Which I could, because I was on my third hot toddy. Hywel Bennett, though, what an actor. He had at this time, aged mid-thirties I think, the face of a 50 year old. But he carries it off. I think Shelley went on for a good 10 series, although I had left adolescence and moved on to Miami Vice by the mid-1980s, (or “allegedly” left adolescence, according to Mrs. Ottawacker), so missed the dénouement.
But the things you remember and yearn for when you are facing your own mortality.