So, I got back from Thailand Tuesday afternoon and it is now Thursday night. I have a cough and a cold and my chest is clogged up. Before anyone gets judgemental I have self-isolated but that is all that I have done. I can currently conceive of three reasons for taking no more action. First, as several of my health professionals have pointed out, I don’t really seem to have any great attachment to life or to living. I mean, I do live but it is a detached form of existence that seems to matter to me not. And so I am prepared to wait and see if anything happens with respect to the Covid 19 virus. Secondly, and on a purely rational analysis of matters, the best estimate of the fatality rate seems to be around 2.7% of those infected as compared to a 0.1 fatality rate for a normal flu season. This means that although the fatality rate for the Covid 19 virus is higher than for a normal flu season, 97.3% of people who contract the Covid 19 virus survive.
Also rationally speaking, I do not fall into any of the danger categories such as being very young, very old or being susceptible to respiratory problems. Finally, it seems to me that the chances that I have caught the Covid 19 virus are slim. Having lived and worked in Asia, it seems much more likely to me that I have developed symptoms that are common as a result of alternating too frequently between the heat and humidity of the outdoors and the freezer like conditions of indoor spaces where the air conditioning always running at full tilt. Time will tell and my only concern is for my two cats.
If something were to happen to me then no one would know – I have no girlfriend and no friends and I work from home most of the time so if I were to collapse and die it could be weeks before anyone discovered me. My cats would be starving and ultimately they would miss me without having any idea about what happened to me. This would be particularly sad as they are both rescue cats from a shelter which means, very likely, that they have both been either abandoned or lost on a previous occasion. Now they are happy and contented living with me. Case in point, one of the cats is lying by my feet as I type these words. I have given him my thongs because for some unfathomable reason, lying on them makes him completely happy.
I came back to Australia to find that, as reported on the news, people have panic bought toilet paper to the point where supermarkets have completely run out of stock. The fact of buying toilet paper baffles me as I can see no way in which having copious amounts of loo roll is going to help with preventing the Covid 19 virus. I also considered all the post apocalyptic zombie and virus movies and TV series that I have watched and in not one of them did anyone express that they were desperate for toilet paper such that they would risk hunting through houses and stores to find some. Rather, the survivors in these movies and shows tended to be a bit more concerned with food and water and medicine. On that front, I did have to go shopping – I wore a medical grade mask and sanitized my hands and face before embarking on the trip – and I discovered that my local supermarket had sold out of every type of dried pasta.
However, there were plenty of jars of pasta sauce on the shelves which left me wondering what people intended eating with their pasta should e.g. they have to hole up in their homes for a period of weeks or months. Australia is now talking about shutting down businesses, universities and schools with people then working from home wherever possible. Two thoughts came in to my mind. First, one of my favourite proverbs, “hope for the best and plan for the worst”. Secondly, people are, generally speaking, selfish and irrational and should the government go ahead with a close down then there is a fairly good chance that people will panic shop, quickly clearing the supermarket shelves of products that might last them for a few weeks.
I decided to be pre-emptive and purchased enough of the right sorts of food such that I could last for three months without having to shop. I also decided that people in the post apocalyptic movies eat horrible and boring food – canned fish, spam, tinned stew, baked beans and so on. Me, I’m going to eat well. I have 10 packets of yoghurt mix for my yoghurt maker, tins of black cherries, yummy glace cherries, cans of whipped cream, chocolate sauce and hundreds & thousands. I also have extensive quantities of biscuits and chocolate bars of just about every flavour one might imagine. Fuck it. If I am confined to my house I will at least enjoy most excellent deserts.
I am feeling exhausted but may have on more paragraph in me. I wrote prolifically when I was away which does not entail any judgement about the quality of the writing. It just means that I was prolific and in virtue of that fact I was sated each day. I fear that I will return to my old ways now that I have returned home. That is, writing only very occasionally. I consider this fact to be a personality defect. I actually have a lot of free time on my hands and the core message of my most recent book was that I needed to remove all the accretions from my life in order to write. Perhaps I should not be too hard on myself for I have written a sufficient number of short stories to publish a collection of my short stories and poems.
The fact of being able to do this should not be underestimated. It will be my fourth book and I have another, a novel, that has been close to completion for the last decade or so. The reason that it is not finished is that I was hoping that something would occur in my life, an event, perhaps an epiphany that would let me bring the book to a resounding conclusion. But such has not occurred and so I fear that the book will be finished with the mundane, but by no means boring, ending that I have currently put in place. I wonder, on occasion, whether I need to write the ending that I would like to see in my life. The problem there is that I seem to lack that particular sort of imagination. I mean that I have an imagination, just not one that will let me imagine something better in my own life.
As per the aforementioned book, I might link this singular lack of imagination to my inability to hope for something better, hope being, as I have written on other occasions, a concept that is all but alien to me. The same could not be said of courage. I have plenty of courage. And I would add “will” into the mix as my “will” is the core of my being. Such are my repetitive thoughts. You see, you see, I am unable to break out of a certain conditioning, one that ensured that my personality developed in a particular way, thereby excluding a whole range of possibilities from my life. But it is never too late to change. I am running hot and cold and my cat, one of my cats, is still lying on my thongs, content to be near to me. He will follow me when I leave this room in order to sit on the back of my reclining chair.
First Published March 12th, 2020