According to those in the know, as most of us took precautions during the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic – social distancing, mask-wearing, hand-washing and all that jazz – we didn’t build up enough immunity from all the usual respiratory viruses that spread like the Black Death at this time of year. When Liam and I did finally succumb to COVID, we were vaxed to the max, so the result was a very mild affliction. And being the wrong side of 50, seasonal flu is kept at arm’s length by annual jabs.
But then came the worst of winter colds to shatter our complacency and bring us to our knees. Starting late Christmas Day and lasting well into January, we coughed, sneezed and spluttered our way through the festivities. Days of snot were coupled with nights of hacking. It was tiring and tiresome. It got so loud, you could hear us in the next village. For days I sounded like I was on forty a day and at one point I completely lost my voice. Many would see my involuntary vow of silence as a blessing. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, apparently. We drank through it.
Nearly three years down the line, we really thought we’d dodged the COVID bullet. But then our luck ran out. While in Bulgaria, we both started to develop a cough – nothing too onerous, just a tickly irritant. Better safe than sorry, we took a lateral flow test when we got home. And, yes, you guessed it, the dreaded lurgy had finally caught up with us.
We don’t know if we caught COVID before, on the way to or during our brief getaway but we were relieved that our Bulgarian hosts proved to be negative. We didn’t fancy blood on our hands.
Our symptoms were fairly mild – more man-flu than death-bed – and, for me, didn’t last long. After a few feet-up duvet days watching mind-numbing daytime telly, I was feeling much better. Sadly, for Liam, it still lingers like an unwelcome guest who won’t leave.
During our confinement, our neighbours were marvellous, with offers of help and home deliveries. Thankfully, we already had a supermarket shop booked – otherwise we might have run out of wine. Now that would have been a real emergency. Special thanks to our local innkeeper’s missus who popped by with pick-me-up McDonald’s milkshakes. You know who you are!
In November 2020, quite by chance, we were asked to participate in a national COVID-19 study being run jointly by the Office for National Statistics and Oxford University. Initially this involved regular doorstep PCR tests – a tonsil-tickling, snotty choke-and-sneeze fest. After a while we were asked to provide blood samples too – a messy affair until we got the hang of the prick, squeeze and drip routine. Despite the fuss and tissue mountain, we were glad to oblige – doing our bit and all that.
In between PCR tests, we’ve also been taking regular lateral flow tests. Unlike friends, family and neighbours, so far we’ve dodged the COVID bullet. We can’t quite believe it. It’s not like we spend our days huddled under the dining table waiting for the all-clear from the Home Guard. Normal services have long been resumed and we’ve been out and about a lot – around the village, around Norwich and, particularly, around London with jostling crowds and busy (sometimes incredibly busy) public transport. Let’s face it, the London Tube is rammed much of the time.
COVID infection rates remain stubbornly high and we’re under no illusions. We’ve been lucky, very lucky. Touch wood, as they say. I’ve been hugging the entire forest.
I first posted this way back in February 2020 but then COVID-19 took centre stage and the rest, as they say…
Two years down the line and my brother-in-law will soon be on the road, walking coast to coast across Ireland. He’s bought a stout pair of walking boots, the rucksack’s fit to bursting and he’s ready to roll. I hope he’s packed a bottle of whiskey and a brolly too. He’ll need both. I know times are hard and bills are rising but if you can spare a few pennies, that would be really something. Click the image to find out how.
You know you’re getting old when the UK’s best-known high street pharmacy chain starts sending you information and advice about erectile disfunction, hair loss and premature ejaculation – or is that premature eJackulation? What a bleedin’ cheek. I’m thinking of handing back my loyalty card in protest. It’s bad enough that I’m up in the night for a sit-down pee. I wonder what Boots the Chemist recommend for this? Oh yes, lighten up on the late night booze.
For the record, I do suffer from one of these three deadly sins. Let’s just say the shampoo lasts a bit longer these days.