OUT TO LUNCH
I’m lucky to be alive. I realized that recently when I read various COVID-19 inspired “scientific” articles about the unnecessary risks I have been taking these past fifty or so years.
When I think of the countless times I have flown on an aircraft with hundreds of coughing and spluttering people having their filthy germs spread through the recycled air on a twelve hour flight to Europe or the many theatrical performances I’ve been to with the bloke behind me sneezing and droplets landing on me I’m surprised I’m still here.
Admittedly I did get a nasty dose of something after a performance of, can you believe, Jesus Christ Superstar, when I was sneezed on repeatedly and had to spend a few days in bed recovering. You might have thought that a musical about JC would have brought with it automatic healing qualities but it wasn’t to be.
As far as air travel is concerned I have often arrived at my destination and developed a sore throat within a few days as a result of some disgusting fellow traveller’s germs. But it was nothing that a decent throat spray and some over the counter medication couldn’t sort out and within a few days I was as right as rain and joining the long queue of non social distancing art lovers to catch a brief glimpse of the Mona Lisa. Ah…those were the days.
Now, of course, I only travel down the sharp end where there’s considerably more social distancing on offer and an altogether better class of infection to be had.
I’ve lived dangerously, exchanging body fluids with people I barely knew at university and not always washing my hands for at least 20 seconds after. If I’d known I was flirting with death I never would have done it. Before I even knew the word ‘pathogens’ I was eating street food in Vietnam, drinking in crowded bars in New York and, can you credit it, travelling in crammed underground trains on the Northern Line in London?
Once I even performed as a member of the choir at the Royal Albert Hall in a performance of Edward Elgar’s sublime ‘Dream of Gerontius’. Can you believe it? A full orchestra, seventy members of the choir and an audience capacity of plus or minus 5200. How on earth I got through that I’ll never know but I was younger then and had none of these appallingly named ‘comorbidities’ which makes we elderly folk so vulnerable now.
On a visit to Japan to attend a car launch I stopped off in Taiwan on the way home and visited a street market. One of the food stalls had snakes hanging up and the touristy thing to do was to drink a shooter of snake bile. The unfortunate serpent would be slit lengthwise and the bile drained off and collected in a small cup ready for drinking. The claimed benefits were many and included a vastly enhanced performance between the sheets I was assured.
I’m afraid I chickened out on that one and made do with a fruit bat pie instead. I must have been mad, although some of the very friendly young women who approached me in the market looked far more dangerous to my health than a shooter cup of snake bile.
Many of the places I’ve visited over the years have not been famous for their hygiene and even in pre handover Hong Kong there were food stalls at street level selling things that had obviously once been living creatures but were unidentifiable to a fastidious western tourist. Deep fried though they were delicious.
In a villa I rented in Morocco the local butcher would display his wares on a marble slab in the open air with the sun beating down and swarms of flies keen for a nibble of flesh. It was the job of the butcher’s assistant to wave some sort of whisk around to deter the flies but I’m willing to bet that a good number landed, laid eggs and moved on. I imagine much of the food I ate in Morocco had come from a similar establishment and yet I somehow survived the experience. Those tagines they use apparently have magical properties or maybe the apricot they put with the lamb kills off all the nasties. Anyway, I’m still here.
I mention all this because it is about to become a happy memory for me. Up until now I hadn’t realized what a potentially toxic cocktail the human race has become and that even giving your granny a hug and a kiss on her 80th birthday could be a death sentence.
So, thanks to the weighty influence of informed scientific opinion, I have decided to stop playing fast and loose with life and to mend my ways. Even if the lockdown is lifted I shall be continuing with a risk averse voluntary lockdown from now on.
No more live concerts for me, no more hanging around in bars chatting up attractive young women who are almost certainly riddled with some or other easily transmittable affliction and definitely no more passing of zols at the croquet club. From now on the Sunday joint will only refer to a leg of sanitized lamb.
I still have five more series of ‘Blacklist’ to watch on Netflix and I’ve set myself the task of reading the entire works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I have absolutely no intention of ever visiting a restaurant again and risking my life by eating food prepared by people who are almost certainly carrying some foul disease.
That’s apart from the enormous risk to life of sitting near other people or touching a surface that had been previously contaminated by a member of staff. If I have learned anything from COVID-19 it is that the grim reaper lurks in the most unexpected places.
However, now it’s permitted I may venture out to a liquor retailer suitably attired in my hazmat suit next week and buy a bottle or two of whisky. But only because of it’s cleansing and antiseptic qualities.
I never could get used to the taste of the stuff.