There’s nothing good or useful that I can say right now. I’ve helped the people I love, and comforted the ones I can comfort, and bought just enough shopping to last a few weeks, but no more than we genuinely need. So now I sit and twiddle my thumbs and wonder how to mark this week on my blog: the start of these Fucking Weird Times.
I don’t have to write anything. I could just hole up and let this time pass, post a draft or two which I wrote a month ago when life was normal, and hope that by the time my head’s in a better space I’ll have come up with something profound. Or maybe a post that weaves sexiness into this story in a way that is perfectly on-brand. Something just distracting enough to give respite from the news, but not so light-hearted that it makes light of our fears and confusion.
I drafted a lot of ideas, in the hope that I might find one which works.
The post which is designed to highlight how strange things are
On Sunday I walked into the kitchen to find my boyfriend washing bags of Haribo. With soap and water. In the sink. There were a couple of packets of chocolate biscuits there too, along with a plastic tub of Lurpak and a four pint bottle of milk. Wash, soap, rinse, dry, repeat. Then he threw the now-damp teatowel in the washing machine, soaped his own hands and washed them, before drying them on an entirely new teatowel.
It looked utterly, beautifully, deliciously weird – for a second I almost laughed at the sheer incongruity of it. Until I remembered that it’s not incongruous or weird these days. It’s just a man who doesn’t want to get sick, sensibly washing bags of Haribo.
The one where I nag people
I try to maintain an air of detached calm and patience, as I explain to older relatives that no, it is not a great idea to ‘get out and support the pubs during this difficult time.’ That ‘changing your gloves so you don’t touch the Sainsbury’s trolley’ is not quite enough for someone with chronic breathing problems. That Skype exists and is almost as good as in-person. That I can love them harder and better from a distance, and they need to stay the fuck home.
Remember all those times you wanted to cancel plans and chill, my friend? All those box sets on Netflix and hobbies you’ve been meaning to start, Mum? Those DIY projects (the safe ones – don’t go hurling yourself off ladders and cluttering up hospitals, please!) that have been waiting for a rainy day, Dad? We’ve got loads of rainy days now: we are rich in rainy days. Let’s use them.
The one where I count my blessings
I have a roof over my head and a garden. I have cider and peanuts and company. I have enough toilet roll to last for many weeks, with spares to dish out to the neighbours. I have ideas and projects and enjoyable work and no dependents to distract me. There’s a kind man snoring gently in the next room who will wake up soon and remind me to breathe.
The flippant one
I know it’s not the biggest issue in the world right now, but it happens to be my fucking birthday. Fuck you, coronavirus.
The even more flippant one
Welp! Looks like I’ve eaten my last ever bag of Pic N Mix.
The angry one
Never in my lifetime has it mattered more to have a competent government, and never have I known one which is so utterly unfit to deal seriously with something this big. We need a radical programme of support for people – financial incentives to get people to stay home, and prevent them from being forced to work while sick. We need a health service that is well staffed and well funded and able to cope with what’s coming. We need a thousand percent pay rise for all the people who are keeping our shit together – bringing us deliveries and caring for our relatives and coming up with treatments and nursing us and keeping us safe. And what do we get? Business loans and half-arsed ‘advice’ and meaningless bullshit formatted by a five-year-old.
Ignore our terrible Prime Minister and go listen to Varadkar’s speech.
The sex blogger one
There are going to be quite a lot of long nights in. You know what that means? Stock up on your sex toys! Support my sponsors! I for one will be making a cloned version of my partner’s dick so I can while away the hours with that and my new sex machine. Thank God that got delivered before all this happened, eh? Go click the ads – clicky clicky click. Support your friendly neighbourhood content creators as we desperately scrabble for ways to keep your – and our – minds off what’s happening.
The optimistic one
Life sucks really hard right now, but we live in incredible times. People are already working on vaccines and treatments for Covid-19, we can communicate rapidly with other countries and learn what’s working and what we do next. And in the meantime, wow, we have the whole of the internet at our disposal! Skype! Twitter! Ocado! Amazon! We are going into battle with an invisible enemy, but we have never had such powerful weapons with which to fight.
The frightened one
Last night I stood in the garden and listened to this episode of the Daily. It made me realise how seismic this is. How hard I have worked to focus on the optimism/anger/jokes/silly stories/weirdness/blessings/horn/everything else. I am trying to frame this differently because when I stare it right in the face, it is frightening. I don’t want my fear to infect you, but I don’t want you to think you’re mad for being the only person here who’s scared. Don’t nurture your fear, but don’t feel you have to deny it either. It’s OK to be scared. I am.
None of the above
Over the next few weeks and months there’ll be millions of stories and posts and takes and videos and podcasts – terrible ones and funny ones and ones which make us proud of how humanity can deal with a crisis. And there’ll be sexy ones too: perverts like me who are bored and horny and looking for ways to pass the time while we flatten the curve.
Some posts you’ll like, and some you’ll hate. Some you’ll think are wildly inappropriate, or boring, or churlish, or anxiety-inducing. Some posts will be uplifting or cool or so silly they gave you exactly the laugh you needed at precisely the right time. Some, of course, will consist of video compilations of celebrities singing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, each in their own unique key.
We do what we do.
I’d love to give you some more useful words here, but the best I can manage at the moment is this torrent of random thoughts. I do what I do.
The best I can come up with right now is to urge you to give yourself time to breathe, to enjoy the things that will help you get through this, and stay the fuck home if you can. Every hour you sit on the sofa is an hour you’re not putting yourself – or others – at risk. Every toilet roll you do not overbuy is one that can be left for the next person. Every Skype call you make to a loved one eats a chunk of time which they might otherwise have spent feeling worried and lonely. Every funny tweet you do about self-isolation helps another isolated person feel a little bit less alone.
Retweet jokes. Share your stories. Tell people you’re scared. Unfollow/mute/block anyone (including me) who annoys you. Wail into the abyss. Make light of it. Sweat the small stuff. Remind yourself it won’t last forever. Know that this sucks, so fucking much, and it really is OK to be a little bit scared.
In the meantime, it really is my birthday. There’s a well-scrubbed bottle of wine drip-drying next to the sink. I’m going to drink it, count my blessings, and FaceTime some people I love.
Fuck you, coronavirus. Fuck. You.