My husband is worried that we are going to run out of loo roll. He’s a sensible man – if you can disregard the fact he married me – so I suppose I should have known that in times of potential crisis, it was always going to come to this.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app“The UK only has enough toilet paper to last for five weeks,” he announced one evening this week. I looked up from my dinner, started pushing it round the plate.
“That’s interesting, dear,” I said, “but could we talk about this after we’ve finished eating?”
“By then it could be too late,” he said, very seriously. “We need to bulk order NOW.” He whipped out his phone, found a deal on Ocado, and now we are fighting for space in our tiny bathroom with the almost 100 rolls of Andrex Supreme Quilts that were delivered the next day, the Ocado man unable to meet my eye as he deposited our bounty as quickly as he could in the hall.
I’m less worried about loo paper, more worried about… well, dying. I mean, there’s nothing like a new, little understood virus that is spreading at a rate of knots to bring out the barely concealed hypochondriac in me. In the last 14 days I haven’t spent any time in Italy or Iran or South Korea or China, but I have been in America where keeping out foreign bodies – infections included – seems to basically be a matter of national pride.
In the hour and a half-long wait for the stony faced man at immigration – “WHY ARE YOU HERE?”, he eventually barked at me – I had to wonder myself as we queued alongside a barrage of TV screens warning us of a whole host of scary sounding illnesses we could be bringing in to the country: mumps, ebola, African swine fever, and, of course, Covid-19.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app“HAVE YOU VISITED CHINA IN THE LAST 14 DAYS?” snarled the immigration officer at me and my terrified six year old daughter. “No,” I said, politely. What I didn’t say, but wanted to: “I wish I’d chosen it instead for a half term break, if only because they’d have given us a warmer welcome.”
On a connecting flight later that day, my daughter and I were the only passengers not wearing face masks. I’d like to say that it was the closest I have ever got to feeling like a pariah, but I was once briefly barred from boarding a flight in Northern Uganda because I had a temperature, and put into ‘quarantine’2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app (made to stand under a tree with three other frightened looking passengers).
For a heart-stopping half an hour I stood there, loudly protesting that I didn’t have Ebola, I was just peri-menopausal2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app, until an official agreed to retake my temperature and I was cleared for take-off. I decided not to mention this to the man sitting next to us on the plane, whose face mask sadly failed to protect us from the string of wild conspiracy theories he had about Covid-19.
Back in the UK, I felt sure I had been infected with Coronavirus-paranoia, symptoms of which include hoarding loo paper, bathing in vats of antibacterial gel, and freaking out that you never knew you were supposed to wash your hands for 20 whole seconds, or the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice. How had I managed to survive life being so dirty! Nevermind that only around .001 per cent of the world’s population have been found to have Covid-19.
I knew I was one of the 99.9 per cent who had developed a serious case of anxiety about it, a fact confirmed during a trip to the local chemist, where the pharmacist had begun ordering in chloroquine, an old malaria drug, having heard a rumour that it could be used to shorten the lifespan of a disease only 15 people in the entire country have actually tested positive for.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app“All the local mums are after it,” he said, reminding me a little bit of a drug dealer. I had come in for toothpaste and head lice repellant, but being the addict I am, I left having first made him promise to call me when the next batch of this drug came in.
On the way home I stopped off at the supermarket to get more loo paper, where I bumped into a friend and went for the normal cheek kiss. “Stay away from me!” she shrieked. “I’ve been in northern Italy and I am self-isolating, but I’ve run out of coffee and couldn’t bear to wait a moment longer for Ocado to turn up!” That poor Ocado man, I thought, inching politely away from my ‘self-isolating’ friend.
Later that day I found myself in an Uber, the driver asking me how I was. “Oh you know, jet lagged from travelling!” I replied. He pulled in to the curb and turned to look at me, very seriously. “Where have you been?” he demanded to know. “China? Korea? Iran?” I told him New York, and we went on our way, my five star rating thankfully undiminished.
He told me a story about another passenger he had in the back of his cab the day before. The man was a heating engineer, who had been called out to service someone’s boiler. It turned out that said person had just returned from seeing family in Hong Kong – family who had since gone down with symptoms of the new Coronavirus.
The lady in question had been told to self-isolate for 14 days, and had decided that during that empty period of time, she would get through all the household chores she had been meaning to do, including servicing the boiler. “As if it was some sort of staycation!” gasped the driver.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appI had no idea if this story was actually true, or one of many hysterical, overblown tales that we have probably all heard over the last week. But it struck me, as I got out of the Uber and felt a hot flush creep my neck, that we could probably all do with 14 days of self isolation - from the internet, from social media, and from sensationalist headlines. A fortnight of that, and we should all be back to normal again.
Read Bryony Gordon at wrpcnnpcng.com every Saturday, from 9am