The world has gone mad. Media-fuelled panic on Corona virus creating public fear and leading governments across the globe to take near-totalitarian measures in the name of public good. I can’t be too flippant about this, Corona is a nasty apparently virulent bugger that can kill, though for the moment, governments are reassuring us that it’s only the infirm and geriatrics who are dying – well they were probably going to pop their clogs sooner or later anyway, this virus is just speeding up the inevitable.
I should be taking all this far more seriously. Stocking up on food, surgical masks and anti bacterian hand gel.
So the French government announced the indefinite closure of all schools and universities to stop the spread of the virus. What the hell! The kids are going to get a long holiday, and this measure only concerns kids, the poor bloody teachers are still going into work. Someone’s got to prepare lessons and shove them up on the Internet so the kids can study at home.
Next the government banned all gatherings of over 100 people and then the forced closure of restaurants, cafés, discos, cinemas, museums, theatres, concert halls and non-essential shops was announced. Non stop “special edition” news bulletins have been showing images of our deserted cities. Paris like a ghost town. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre museum and the Versailles palace, all closed. Corona virus is doing what striking French workers didn’t manage to achieve a few months back, bring the country to a grinding halt. Ah this is serious. Got a mail from my gym informing me that they were closing for the duration. The start of lockdown. Rumour has it that in the next week there will be the enforced confinement of the entire population – we’ll all be asked politely to stay at home until further notice. So, tomorrow is panic buying day.
Okay, I’m not at home. I’m in the middle of the middle of nowhere in deepest France, far from my family. I teach English to soldiers. Every March my soldiers go on manoeuvres and I go with them for the month. So, if we all get confined, I’m going to be stuck on a military camp, far from civilisation, because military training camps are always miles from civilisation. I don’t especially want to be confined for weeks in my pokey little room.
Anyway, if we are all confined, wherever we are, how is the government going to enforce it? Will they appeal to our civic common sense? Or will there be police and troops in hazmat suits roaming the streets and arresting confinement “breakers”? Will the government declare martial law for the public good?
Despite the fear of mass contamination, the government took the decision to maintain today’s municipal elections. It was with masks and surgical gloves that the French went to the polls to vote for their future local mayors and councillors.
Tomorrow, I’ll find time to escape from the camp and buy a few creature comforts in preparation for the great lockdown.
Finish this glum message from the middle of nowhere with good advice. First “keep calm and carry on.” Second, stock up your cellars with wine. A glass a day will keep the corona away and might just make you happy. Finally stop watching TV news channels. Take time this confinement to read those books you haven’t read and watch some good films. And Don’t watch any of those TV hospital dramas.