Hypocritical, Preachy & Long - Self Isolation, Day: Stopped Counting.

The paranoia is real. A couple of days ago I awoke feeling a little puffy of eye, scratchy of throat and wobbly of body. A sensation that a medical professional might describe as 'feeling a bit meh'. Initially, my long, storied history of hay fever suffering and susceptibility to colds went out the window. It seemed clear to me that I had been hit by Covid 19 and would almost certainly soon be hooked up to machines, surrounded by nurses and loved ones. Surrounded is probably a comforting exaggeration, but you get the idea. The certainty of my demise was relatively fleeting - though it does pop back every now and then - but it was there long enough to make me wonder how I might have contracted The Virus. 

Had I not been careful enough? Had other people, the ones around me, not been careful enough? Maybe coconut macaroons aren't essential. Maybe it had come into the house on a letter, I hadn't even considered wiping down the post, but perhaps I should have. How would I delete my search history from a hospital bed? How would the world judge me after I was gone, and previously unknown truths were discovered? Oh God! Who will entertain the few with overly worthy blog posts? But before I imaginary died of a real illness that I probably didn't have, and all of my secrets were revealed, I suddenly felt the need to repent for my extremely judgmental sins.

She's not rubber, you're not glue, what doesn't bounce of her is a negative reflection of you.

Before this pandemic took hold, back when it was just a twinkle in its father's eye, I quite liked being judgemental. I was good at it, it was free and, more often than not, I felt like my assumptions were vindicated. Then, as things moved up a gear and we started to hear about how bad it really was, we were able to judge how people reacted, or how they didn't. At first a knowing nod and sense of superiority, of relief - how lucky we were to live in a free, democratic country, how foolish they were for the secrecy, lies and dire health and safety standards. One by one, other countries fell. We watched the news and read the headlines, knowing that governments had left it a couple of weeks too late, that people weren't taking it seriously enough, that there was a deficit of common sense and leadership. We felt better, we felt clever, we felt safer. Then it came to the UK and we just felt scared. The fear that millions of other people were experiencing crept up on us and took hold, and it seemed that perhaps our leaders were no better prepared to deal with it all.

To begin with, that fear seemed to bring a unity, a nation wide desire to come together as one and Get Through This. The government received publicly supportive comments from other parties, neighbours were clubbing together to buy essentials for the frail, old couple round the corner, workplaces were offering all sorts of support networks. It was quite nice. This played well with the Italians singing together from their balconies. We were one world. Lol. Then, of course, the fear ramped up. The number of deaths grew and grew, and panic buying underlined the sense of uncertainty and dread building in the collective consciousness. Political game playing and point scoring are rising back to the top, replacing the brief understanding that this is all mental and it's clearly quite tricky to plan for. All sides took the chance to suggest that this would all be better handled by their guy, that the failings of the past should be focussed on more than the solutions of the present or options for the future. Naturally, because it's what we always do in difficult times, we have also started to turn on each other.

Scrooge McDuck's vault, circa 2021.

Now neighbours are calling the police on each other for having guests, which may or may not be the right thing to do in this situation, I don't know. The police, though? Really?! Sunbathers are criminalised, people get too close, no one's coughing in their elbow. I'm better than you. I'm doing it right, you're doing it wrong. Worse still, you're endangering others. We should all clap the NHS and if you don't you're part of the problem. Me, you, us, them, allies and enemies. It's as if we believe that we can inoculate ourselves with other peoples guilt, real or imagined. As if, somehow, making someone else's decisions more wrong than yours makes you invincible. Isolation through blame. 

Of course, you shouldn't be having house parties, and absolutely report that sort of behaviour, but if you're the sort of person who calls the rozzers because someone sat on the grass for a bit, maybe have a look at yourself, mate. Sure, it's possible that person has mental health issues and needs the sunshine, that someone else needs the company of others, maybe even tactile, physical closeness, to stop them doing something stupid, but they also might just be a selfish areshole. We don't know. The deeply complicated flow chart of human decisions and actions is unfathomable (I've been me for 38 years and can barely work out what I'm doing or why, working out anyone else is a write off) so don't assume that someone's being too harsh or not harsh enough based on what you've seen or heard. 

PSA: This is the correct distance to be from others while jogging.

For each individual occasion, either go and talk to the parties involved, get some more information and make a calm, logical decision at the time, or just assume you're as stupid, scared and imperfect as those involved, keep your empty, self satisfying opinion to yourself and concentrate on being less of a tit. I mean, still judge them, obviously. Just keep it to yourself. I mean everyone. Yes, even me, and Lord knows I've got some hard work to do in this area. The Right, the Left, the overly cautious, the risk takers. All of us. If we genuinely want to come out the other side of this crisis having learned lessons and grown, we should probably try to be less dickish during it. Having said that, if you're going for a run, try to give everyone a wide berth, Lycra and Day-Glo do not possess virus destroying polymers.

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