“Latest News: The COVID-19 Outbreak Edition (20th March 2020)”

9 minute read

Writing on Lossul.com is like hosting a dinner party; there are certain subjects that shouldn’t be brought up.

First, I never get into politics. That’s an absolute no-no. And second, I won’t ever delve into religion. Approaching either of these subjects to such a mixed audience is like masturbating with self-asphyxiation; it could go disastrously wrong.

A third subject, current affairs, is something that I often choose to avoid too. Although it isn’t quite as risky as the aforementioned blue-touch paper topics, it still needs to be handled delicately. Information can still be sketchy, facts can be unknown, and tensions can run high.

But the hottest topic right now, Coronavirus (or COVID-19 if you want to be fancy about it), is very much on everybody’s minds.

Something that began on the other side of the world is now knocking on our front doors. And just like kids playing Trick-or-Treat at Halloween, you can only ignore them for so long. At some point you have to open that door and face what’s there, because they’re not going away.

And they won’t be doing so any time soon.

There have been times when I’ve wanted to pinch myself just to see whether it’s all a dream. And at times I’ve felt like I’m stuck in the middle of a movie or something.

Let me explain.

This past weekend I’d battled my way through a Morrison’s supermarket just to get a bag of rice and some fresh vegetables, and as I got back to my car and climbed inside, I took a deep breath and then turned the key in the ignition. As the engine roared into life and the radio turned itself on, I looked out through the windscreen and into the car park, taking in the chaos before me.

Shoppers were rushing towards the supermarket and impatient drivers weaved around pedestrians and their trolleys, one lady just inches from being hit. A man was carrying a bumper pack of toilet rolls under his arm, clinging on to them as though he was expecting to be mugged. And one woman coughed manically as horrified bystanders watched her with suspicious eyes.

And all of this to the sound of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline playing on the radio.

I’ll never be able to listen to that song in the same way again.

So yeah, Coronavirus is here, and it’s here for the foreseeable future, so I figure we should talk about this shit.

Speaking of shit, this brings me onto the next topic; toilet rolls, or at least, the panic buying that we’re currently being subjected to.

It began with toilet rolls, hand sanitizer came second, and dried pasta followed shortly afterwards. Next up, is the entire fucking supermarket. But it actually turns out that our panic buyers are indeed very picky. Because just this evening I approached an aisle in Sainsbury’s that normally houses the soap and hand-wash, and I could see one single solitary bottle sat on the shelf, all by itself.

But it turns out that the bottle had a big dent in it, and apparently nobody wants a dented bottle of hand-wash. Even though it’s still full of, you know; hand-wash.

I fucking despair.

But the most heartbreaking thing that I witnessed this past weekend was the sight of one frail old lady in the supermarket. There she was, standing all alone, in front of a set of empty shelves where all the soap and hand-wash once stood. She looked tired, she looked lost, she looked absolutely dejected; and I could’ve cried for her.

All of this chaos is completely avoidable and is a self-made problem entirely. Despite the supermarkets putting out notices advising us that if we all do our shopping sensibly then there is enough food and supplies to go around, people are still descending upon the places and stripping the place bare.

It’s like vultures on a fucking carcass.

As a single man who works full time hours, by the time I’m able to get to the supermarket each day the latest stock is all but gone. I’ve tried online shopping, but every single collection or delivery slot is already booked for as far forwards as the date selections go. One particular online retailer won’t accept any new customers (which is understandable), and for those who are already registered, their wait time to even get on the website is currently running at more than two hours.

We truly are in exceptional times.

However I do believe that things will calm down and order will slowly return. We’re still in such early days and there’s a sense of disbelief that envelops the panic. But this disbelief will soon turn to acceptance, and acceptance will lead to more rational thinking. Once this happens, and once the hoarders have stockpiled enough provisions to make them feel more comfortable, the current spike will slowly began to flatten.

Until this happens though, we’ll just have to make do with whatever we can find, and we must also help each other out.

If there’s one thing I urge you all to do, it’s to check on the people around you. Call people, text people, see if they’re okay; particularly those that are most vulnerable. I am in regular contact with my friends, family, and neighbours, and if we can all do the same then that means we’re all doing our bit.

One of my friends has set up a Facebook group for her local area so that those that are most vulnerable can have a better chance at finding the provisions that they need. It made an instant impact with three worried mothers all finding milk to feed their babies within a matter of hours.

Wow, is that a sentence that I really just wrote? Did I really just say that there are mothers that are desperate to find food for their babies? Here in England, in 2020? It’s just incredible. And that’s what I mean about the current feeling of disbelief.

But from a philosophical point of view, doesn’t it just put so many things into perspective. I mean, it’s only been a matter of days for us and the problem has been self made; but in many countries around the world, it is an unavoidable reality that people are born into every single day. As bad as things may be right now, doesn’t it make you realise just how lucky we really are?

Things are changing each day and that’s why my intention is to get this piece of writing out to you as quickly as possible. By the time I publish this, things may have changed again.

Because we’re now receiving daily updates from our PM, Boris Johnson, and just this week he has come out and said…

“Okay, listen to me you fuck-tards. Stay home, don’t travel, and avoid pubs, clubs, and theatres. Oh, and stop buying up all the toilet roll you greedy, selfish, clean-arsed bastards!”

Well maybe those words aren’t verbatim, and maybe I added that last bit in, but you get the gist of what I’m saying. And although nothing has been enforced (yet) in terms of policing our movements, his words were akin to those of a parent.

“I’m not saying you can’t go out per se, but if you do go out, well, I won’t be angry, I’ll just be disappointed.”

But make no mistake about it, ‘social distancing’ is here, it’s necessary, and the more time that we have to spend at home, the more we need to look after our mental state. And that brings me onto a huge topic.

Right now our actions appear to be driven by our bellies and our bottoms, but the real driving force behind it all is our mindset.

This current threat creates fear, fear induces panic, and panic leads to stress. And stress is the real kicker, because unless it’s kept in check then it will almost certainly attack your immune system, and a damaged immune system is the last thing we need right now.

Not only that, but when we’re stressed it also gives us tunnel vision, which takes away our ability to think rationally. And right now we all need to be able to think clearly.

So to put it bluntly, for the sake of your own health and sanity, take a deep breath, and calm the fuck down.

I mentioned previously about the importance of adopting the right mindset, and this is something that I currently have quite a good grip on. But unfortunately, each and every day I encounter the ‘doom-mongers’ of society. You know the ones I mean; they’re the ones that could still find something to moan about even if they won the lottery and had their winnings handed to them by a unicorn.

I appreciate that we’ll all be affected differently by the effects of social distancing, self isolating, school closures, and our work situations. For example, I have no children and so the school closures won’t have any impact on me at all; but I live alone, and so if I end up having to self isolate for weeks or even months, I will have nobody for company and nobody to give me a hug.

And damn it I need a hug right now!

Coronavirus is shitting on us all in one way or another.

I try to remind myself that we’re all different and that we all handle things in our own ways, and maybe it’s unfair of me to judge, but when another person’s negativity impacts upon my life, I have to distance myself from it. And as such, I’m currently fighting tooth-and-nail to find the positives from the situation we now find ourselves in, and with that being said, let’s end this post on an upbeat note.

At this point in time my spirits are high, but I fully appreciate that my circumstances may be different to yours. What affects me may not affect you, and vice versa. I also appreciate that my circumstances could change, and with this in mind I reserve the right to not be judged if one month from now I’m found running through the streets in my underpants screaming that we’re all going to die.

But until then, I’m free to choose however I wish to look at things. And I choose to be positive.

There are a number of reasons why I’m feeling so upbeat, but by and large it comes down to perspective. Believe me, I’m not blinkered; I watch the news, I tune in for Boris Johnson’s daily address, and I keep on top of all the latest guidance. But after I’ve consumed enough information and it all starts to feel a little too overwhelming, I turn off the news, put on some music, and crack open a beer.

Escapism is essential.

I also believe that over the coming months we’ll get to see the best and the worst of people. So far, save for the odd few, I’ve seen more of the former than the latter, and on the whole people seem to be kinder, more polite, and more considerate towards others. Over the course of one week I’ve had more conversations at the supermarket than I did over the entirety of last year.

I’ve written before about the philosophy of Viktor Frankl which was explained in great detail in his classic book, Man’s Search for Meaning. And for years it’s been my own personal belief that it’s not what happens to us that defines us, but rather how we choose to interpret those things. It’s about how we filter the external world, and how we choose to react to it. If we’re able to do this, we can find meaning in anything. It’s the one freedom that we will always have and it is my belief that we’re currently facing a period of immense opportunity.

This is something that I’ll be discussing in great detail over the coming posts; expect plenty of content coming your way over the coming weeks and months.

Beating coronavirus isn’t solely in the hands of the scientists and the medical community, because we can all do our bit.

None of us have to sit around feeling helpless, because we can all take action by following the guidelines that we’re receiving each day. No matter how challenging those things may seem, every decision that we make can help make a difference.

This isn’t just about social distancing and the efforts to eliminate the physical spread; it’s also about our attitudes.

I’m saddened to say that I’ve witnessed people complaining about the government, saying that they’ve not done enough to stop the spread; yet those very same people have then laughed and said that coronavirus won’t stop them going down the pub for a pint. Talk about the pot calling the kettle.

I’ve talked already about the doom-mongers and although I appreciate that in many instances they’re being fuelled by their fears, what they fail to understand is that their negativity affects those around them. The spread of negativity is toxic, and just like the spread of the disease they’re at risk of infecting all those who come into contact with them.

Negativity spreads, but so too does positivity. A positive attitude will help all of us to deal with the uncertainties that we have and the isolation we may feel. It will be the catalyst to get us focussed and the fuel that keeps us going. And it will increase our chances exponentially for staying healthy.

So ask yourself…

…which attitude is most constructive to us all right now?

To conclude, we’ve found ourselves in a moment of living history.

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 will be talked about for years, and when we’re old, wrinkly and unable to hold onto our farts, we’ll still be talking about it. Stories will be shared over pints in the pub, and we’ll sit down and tell our grandchildren about the time when the world came together as one. And that’s one of the biggest opportunities that we have right now; unity.

Not since the last world war have we all had to come together to defeat a common enemy. We’ve grown up hearing stories direct from our grandparents, parents, or through stories that have been passed on down the generations. And we’ve heard about the ways in which society came together and bonded through their fears, their hopes, their struggles, and their defiance.

We felt horrified when we heard these accounts, yet in some ways we also envied them for having had their spirits tested so greatly. We’ve lived in a comfortable little bubble for most of our lives, but that bubble has now burst. Now it’s our time to stand up and do the right thing.

We may not be at war with a human enemy, but we are at war with a virus. And whereas the world was once divided as human beings, killing each other, the world can now be united, working to help save each other.

You may think that what I’ve written sounds a little bit romanticised, but can you not see the truth in this?

It may only seem like you’re offering a small contribution, but if you multiply that by the population of your country, of the continent, and of the world; then it becomes something huge. It becomes the difference.

This is unity.

The opportunity is there, and it needs all of us to get on board with it.

What do think of the message that I’m trying to convey in this post? Do you believe in the importance of a positive attitude? Or do you feel I’m a hopeless optimist? Am I being too harsh on the doom mongers? And can you offer an alternative perspective that we could all benefit from as we sail these unchartered waters? I am no authority on this matter and am just one person of the planet, so I invite everybody to begin an open discussion by leaving your comments below. And if you feel that other people may be interested in reading this article then please do share it on social media, via email, text, carrier pigeon, or smoke signal. And if you’d like to be the first to get notified of all future posts then please sign up to the newsletter by clicking on this link. You are free to unsubscribe at any time.

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