After. The seven stages of settling into a pandemic

Stage One. Notice that people on the other side of the world are not all completely well and healthy. Watch news with vague interest. Flick back to Last Tango in Halifax because it is absolutely brilliant.

Two. Notice that people like you, on this side of the world, are also sick. Speak to a friend in France who is Actually Locked Inside His Own House. Fuck that.

Three. Become a scientist. Read all news, Facebook memes, New Scientist, WHO announcements. Realise the difference between Covid-19 and flu. Stop touching face. Start washing hands in a New Way, see video of why that is the Wrong Way and retrain on handwashing.

Four. Discover that everybody else is also now a scientist. Discuss pertinent issues with fellow scientists. In case of opposing views, dig up knowledge and quotes from scientists you personally know, in order to back up whatever argument you are on. Insert credentials if you can remember them, if not, make them up. ‘My friend who is a professor of viral studies’ is a good one to use.

Five. Wash the fuck out of everything with increasing alarm, cancel parties, wonder about growing vegetables or buying more chickens, give toilet roll to neighbour who is already sick, use too much bleach and cause cough that makes you anxious. Admire sparkling door handles and light switches. Count how many days since you went to the pub with currently sick neighbour.

Six. Read fake news about pets spreading the virus. Eye cat suspiciously and decide to stop touching it. Cat is pleased. Wonder about washing cat. Decide you can wash the fuck out of everything but possibly not the cat. Go out, eye everybody suspiciously, turn round and go home without stopping to panic buy cat shampoo.

Seven. Stay home for a long time, just like Christmas. But without the family. But with the family because they are in all four corners of your phone pinging around like crazy. Learn how to activate camera and mic on phone, take crash course in multi-platform visual communication technology. Do work online and wonder if you have any work anymore. Get suspicious sore throat from talking to friends and family so much. Breathe and count your blessings.

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