I don’t know what to write about.
Everybody’s getting Covid.
Christmas 2010 maybe and I had terrible flu. Jo came to my flat and hung out with me even though I was drooling phlegm from every orifice. We staggered hotly to Chelsea Bridge where, accompanied by a small group of strangers, we realised that the river curves too much for the fireworks to be visible from there. We saw the sky flash a bit red and green. We heard bangs on the air and there was a cloud of smoke. We walked home, she put me to bed and got a cab home. Friendship. I was so sick and she brought the year in with me. Dear dear Jo. At the time we were both aware that she might catch my flu. She took the risk knowingly. She didn’t catch it.
I can’t imagine that now. The idea of being sick and going to a place with people. The concept of a friend coming to your home because you’re sick, hanging out with you and then getting a cab home… Inconceivable. But it was normal just a couple of years ago.
Remember sitting next to that person on the tube who was clearly close to death with flu? And you didn’t move. You just breathed really shallowly and looked away from them – maybe you took a vitamin C.
Remember your friend at work almost delirious with sickness but they showed up anyway. “Well done for coming in today. Fancy a beer?”
I’ve been on stage in immersive shows many times with my pockets full of tissues and my bloodstream full of Beechams. “Oh God I hope I get through this without collapsing.” “Knock ’em dead!”
Now if we’ve got a frog in our throat and we clear it, all eyes flick to us with soviet level suspicion.
I’m not looking back to the halcyon days of readily transmissible sickness. “Remember the good old days where we could get each other as sick as we liked?” I’m not looking back to them with nostalgia. But I am very very aware of how much stigma is loaded into disease communication behaviours nowadays. I guess we’ve all been slaves to this tiny little virus for so long now. We want somebody to be angry with.
But the party boats are back going past my window even though it’s a Sunday. Is it a bank holiday weekend? Must be. Thousands on thousands of people are gonna test positive after this weekend. Remember when we all got angry with Boris Johnson for his “herd immunity” plan? He’s still doing it. He’s just changed the way he talks about it so we can’t blame him when our granny dies.
We don’t get angry with ourselves for our own irresponsible behaviour, and perhaps we should. We get angry with others and the government and the situation. But everybody needs to take personal responsibility with this. We can’t lose sight of kindness. But the only person we can completely direct through this is us. We chart our route.
Some will be quadruple vaccinated wearing a hazmat with a mask on inside it living off deliveroo on an island in the middle of a swimming pool of hand sanitiser. Some will be pulling people’s masks off and licking doors and snogging strangers in crowds while sharing bowls of soup and spitting in their hands before shaking. Arguably both would be crazy. But the one in the hazmat is saying “I wish the one in the crowd was dead,” and the one in it crowd is saying the same of the one in the hazmat. It’s fucked. We are fucked. Decadence and ease has tipped us over and this is just another symptom of collapse. It’s gonna be very very hard to stop us declining into polarised misery and a hate driven society – and all this while we have the hopeful application of a generation of Afghans affluent and connected enough to have escaped the extremist intolerance now swarming over their country.
It’s coming to us. And it’s coming from within.
Meanwhile I have mushrooms growing out of my altar.