Plagues and silence, by Enid Richemont

Greetings from one plague-ridden country to the rest of the plague-ridden world (and did I, in any of my dystopian fantasies, imagine I would be, in the Spring of 2020, writing a sentence like that for real? Did any of us?)

It seems that there may be a vaccine by September or October, but I'm sure you don't want anything to do with nasty Big Pharma, so here are some alternative suggestions. They are very old, so obviously must be valid. The gentlest one is drinking vinegar - cheap and simple, although it might attack your tooth enamel, and give you serious indigestion, but you have to be prepared to suffer in order to be cured. Rotting teeth were trendy once - maybe that might return?

After that, though, my prescription might get a little more expensive. You could try arsenic or mercury. These might be difficult to find at your local pharmacy, but I have access to the Dark Web, and I know of a nice Russian gentleman, ex-KGB, who might provide, but at a price.  Chopped snake or chopped pigeon might not be routinely stocked at your local supermarket, but again, following a large payment (cash only, please) these can be acquired. Urine also can be effective, and I have read that cow's urine is currently being recommended in some rural parts of India, but it's a long way to go when I have a mate who's not only a scrap metal dealer, but also a farmer - loves his cows, does dear old Fred, and of course, his product is British, so no nasty foreign muck there.

But there has to be a reason for this Plague in the first place, doesn't there? We have to blame somebody or something, don't we? Of course we do. Well it started in China, so let's blame the Chinese, but which ones? It's a very large country, but never mind - just hit anyone who looks vaguely Chinese, and you might even get the right one.

Wait a minute, though, perhaps there really is a god who's deeply offended by human behaviour? Maybe it's actually our own fault? After all, according to some very ancient books, this particular god has done plagues before, so he/she is an old hand at this - done floods and famines, too when people get a bit above themselves. Perhaps you, personally, should say sorry (naughty thoughts? fancying the wrong gender? nicking a choccie bar from the supermarket?)  and punish yourself (whipping's usually recommended) for anything you might have done or even thought that could have been offensive, and encourage your friends and neighbours to do likewise (but wait a minute - Harry down the road actually enjoys flagellation, says it turns him on...)

But away from this nonsense, the Plague actually brings some blessings. I can hear birdsong in my London garden for the first time ever, not the occasional twitter emerging from the everyday tapestry of lawn mowers, planes, cars, neighbours' barbecues etc etc but complete primadonna sequences - impressive! The almost total silence is something you might actually seek out by going on a retreat. You might do something creative - finish that novel, write a poem or two.  The arts are essential during this situation - books, music, theatre, film - and we are all so lucky to be able to access these online.

Silence is welcomed by introverts, as is distancing, but too much introversion without a single trivial conversation might bring up the ghouls. Pity, then, those who routinely suffer from these without the stimulus of any virus, and pity those in abusive and unhappy relationships, locked down with no escape from the people they most fear or even hate. Once a day outdoor exercise is permitted, but what if there's nowhere to go except empty and dreary streets? I am lucky enough to have a small garden. One day in the future people will read about this in history books and wonder if it really happened, was it faked or at least exaggerated? I grew up knowing next to nothing about the Spanish flu that killed more people than were killed during the first World War.

We all, in time, become history, and at present I'm finding a strange kind of comfort from Hilary Mantel's final book in the Wolf Hall trilogy, enjoying her superb nature writing as well as shuddering at the horrors of an age when a woman could be rejected and even accused of witchcraft for miscarrying an infant or three, or giving birth to a live baby of the wrong gender. Sixteenth Century trolls were possibly even more vicious than contemporary ones, and their death threats infinitely more effective.

With that, I'll leave you with an image of Spring blossom on my little plum tree, and maybe hope for a happier future for us all.





Comments

Well, that's covered it all hasn't it? Well done on the ironic gaze here, and much enjoyed with amusement 'at your creativity'. No, seriously, a good piece, lighthearted and serious at the same time.

On the Spanish Flu, being an old dinosaur, I heard about that from my Mum, who was a small child at the time and was told by her mother to 'look away, don't stare' as people literally collapsed in the street. We also we reminded recently doing Family History, and discovering that my husband's great grandmother went to rescue some grandchildren whose parents had died of the associated pneumonia. Sadly she couldn't afford to keep them, so the boys went to an orphanage, and she had to let the girl go to the other side of the s=family, where she was adopted.

Strangely, this followed on a stressful few years - the 1914-18 war - here, we have this after the stressful business of our government becoming totally fixed on achieveing Brexit, which wasn't a lot of fun to live with - and now, this...
Enid Richemont said…
Thanks, Clare. This blog was written before the remedy to top them all - an injection of bleach and disinfectant, as recommended by the inimitable Mr Trump!

Stay well, friends and colleagues.
Jan Needle said…
"After all, according to some very ancient books, this particular god has done plagues before, so he/she is an old hand at this - done floods and famines, too when people get a bit above themselves."
There have been two locust plagues in Africa already this year, so I fear you could be right, Enid. As to blaming the Chinese, I see old Trumpie has kicked that up another notch this morning (apparently they could have stopped it; easypeasy) and I saw a frog in my garden yesterday - it'll probably be raining them by this afternoon, which'll make a change from cats and dogs.
Manchester is getting busier by the moment, though. Exponential is the modern word? And there's always hope that when it's over Boris will comb his hair again, when Cummings tells him he can ease up on the sympathy vote.
Meantime, thanks for the entertainment. Keep smiling!
Sandra Horn said…
Dear Enid, thank you for the smile today. I can see you as wrote it! It's raining here (just rain, no frogs) which is very welcome for the gardens and with luck we'll still get our totter round the Common later. We live in interesting times, which I believe relates to an old Chinese curse, but for a few moments this morning you added absurdity and cheer. xx
Bill Kirton said…
Loved it Enid. I think you should be the next Prime Minister, preferably today.
Nicky said…
Great post!
Miriam Frank said…
LOVED your résumé, Enid! As you point out, apart from Trump's recommendation to inject disinfectant and sunshine (you forgot the sunshine!) to kill the virus inside our body - you just about covered everything else, including god and the history of humankind from the beginning... And you had me in stitches, which is nice right now. Keep safe and well.

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