The short walk to sunshine
Well, I managed it. I survived 22 days of my own company in the basement.
Despite my endless griping about it, I know I am one of the lucky ones, at least so far. I’m sorry if my whining has been insensitive – I have always been aware that the overabundance of my own luck has been an unfair advantage in my life, and has helped me out of situations from which I have had no right to emerge (one thinks of the tsunami in 2004 when we left a Thai resort as a wave was rushing in; of an ambulance just happening to be making its way down a country road in New Zealand’s South Island as I was having my first anaphylactic reaction to nuts; of avoiding three coronavirus hotspots as I travelled home…) Yet, still I complain, and if I do, it is because I am completely aware that my good fortune is all down to luck – and I am terrified of it running out. By complaining, I am trying to convince the gods that I am not as lucky as I am. I know I can’t get away with it for ever.
So, this morning, I made my way up the stairs from the basement to the kitchen to tears and hugs from my beautiful wife and beautiful son; to studied and calculated indifference from both cats; and to glorious sunshine streaming in through all the windows. It was like an Alexander Harding painting. Oh, it was strange walking around the house with Ottawacker Jr. hanging off my neck, showing me the fort he had built in his bedroom wardrobe and where he had hidden his stash of cookies (so mummy couldn’t find them – but I could have one if I wanted), and helping him change the Liverpool calendar (Allison Becker is the player for April) that he had waited for me to change. It was even stranger having to make my own coffee and empty the dishwasher. But my God, it was nice to not be cooped up in the oubliette any more.
Ottawacker Jr. dragged me outside so I could kick a ball at him (from the far side of the street still) and say hello to the neighbours who came to welcome me back to the land of the living. Needless to say, I tweaked my groin thanks to a rather spectacular Cristiano Ronaldoesque free kick from behind a tree (top corner, keeper no chance, thanks for asking), and so had to hobble back into the sanctity of the house. I devised some schoolwork for the midget, which he was happy to do, read him one of his favourite young child stories in a broad Scottish accent (Tabby McTat by Julia Donaldson), and then limped down the stairs to my erstwhile home to make some phone calls and check email.
Things not so good back home, as my uncle was waiting for an ambulance to take him in. I spent a good portion of the rest of the day on the phone, talking to cousins and siblings, making sure people knew what was going on. My aunt has been confirmed as having Covid19 and is already hospitalized. In the end, despite his other serious ongoing health issues, he was not – and this was because his breathing was not sufficiently impaired. He had a high fever, was a little confused on the phone, and had a cough and aches. No doubt in my mind that he has Covid 19. Yet, the UK (and most other places) are unable to look after him in a hospital. In a funny way, I wasn’t sure whether to be glad or angry. If there is one thing I have always been confident in, it is the absolute integrity of the emergency services in the UK (and Canada too). You have to trust their assessment – these people know what they are doing and you have to rely on them. Yet, the idea of a triage carried out on the basis of age alone can never be far away from your mind. The ambulance came, spent time with him, and the ambulance drivers decided he could stay at home with some painkillers. A GP was due to come out in the night, As I said yesterday, this whole thing is an unbelievable mess, and those in whom we are supposed to be able to place our trust clearly (in several cases) do not know their arses from their elbows.
I am, of course, referring to Johnson, who today was dragged off to intensive care for his Covid19. I was pretty harsh on him yesterday – and stand behind every one of those comments – but I don’t wish him ill and I hope he makes a full recovery, as I hope everyone suffering from this makes a full recovery. The problem with Johnson is that he is a chancer; he thought the coronavirus warnings were overstated and was, I suppose, somewhat cavalier in his attitude towards it all (“perhaps we could, you know, take it on the chin”) – as, indeed, he has been over Brexit and other policies. It has backfired spectacularly. Hubris…
This is the very thing from which I am trying to protect myself by complaining. As I said, you simply can’t get away with it for ever.