Long Read


Agenda | Featured Agenda | Front Page Feature | Perspective | Reportage

The Secret Diary of a Covid Avoider

The Secret Diary of a Covid Avoider

Walking on a Tightrope Between Saviour and Self Preservation when Covid Finally, Inevitably Strikes My Household


Day One – The BFP


There’s an outbreak ripping through our neighbourhood. My son’s best friend tested positive for Covid yesterday, and all his family, too. We’re setting out for the Hamleys Christmas launch when my child says he has a slight tickle in his throat. I’m grabbing our coats when I notice the test results: It’s the BFP (Big Fat Positive).


Almost pass out from shock.


Day Two – We’re Doomed


The next day my son’s symptoms start in earnest and it’s like a tidal wave of PPE and sickness management and vigil inside my home. I transform my house into a mini Covid ward as I walk the tightrope between saviour and self-preservation. I spend my days hovering in the eaves like a sly scullery maid serving a sickly prince. My sickly prince. Sometimes the air is so thick with germs that I have to wade through them in the ether; can taste them through the detritus and feel their cloying caress as I surf the seesaw of silence and vomit and dread. Bleach is my friend, as too are open windows, sanitiser, quick decisions, garlic cloves, ginger, sheer bloody-mindedness, masks, routine, Lemsip, strategy, more Lemsip, liquid, liquid, liquid, regiment, sinks and rules. James Bond movie titles – No Time To Die, Die Another Day, You Only Live Twice roll around my crisis-addled brain as I make another round of hot drinks and thank god I’m still testing negative.


Day Three  – Perhaps It Will All Turn Out Alright

I had an anaphylactic reaction to the Pfizer vaccine and most of my maternal line suffered fatal or life-limiting neurological illnesses and events. I know of a few who’ve died after having the injection – didn’t make it out of the ambulance alive. I never did get around to having the consultation about whether it was safe for me to take the second dose because I was relaxing, or busy, or having fun and there were more interesting things to do. The situation was fine. I was probably protected, I thought… So now that this virus is multiplying inside my home and incubating within my child I book an antibody test at a sparse auxiliary space styled as “The Private Harley Street Clinic” situated in a gym hall on a backstreet of the Edgeware Road to gauge how I may fare once this illness inevitably hits me.  The results show that I’m negative for previous infection but my antibody score is eight. Eight! Against a base score of 1. “This is looking good,” I think, removing my mask and breathing a sigh of relief. The laboratory has less positive news. “Your antibody level is 8 out of a possible score of 2,500.”



Day Four – The Covid Kit

Masked, disinfected and with an entirely feasible sense of doom we make the guilt-ridden rite-of-passage to the chemist to stock up on Covid supplies. I revel in every second, because I don’t know when – or even If – I’ll next go out… When the chemist waves a packet of antibacterial wipes at me I realise they’ve twigged from my furtive misdemeanour and pensive masked glances that they’ve seen plenty of stricken households buying Covid kits before. I’ve transformed into one of those people I’ve noticed over the past two years scuttling wide-eyed and terrified out of pharmacies laden with supplies: masked, anxious and possibly about to die….

That night I remove my PPE tracksuit, thank god that my test is still negative and hose myself down ready to see what the morning brings and say a little prayer that my son will be better tomorrow.



Day Five – Is This Covid or Do I Just Feel This Way Because My Coffee Machine Has Broken?


My son has finally started feeling better.

My head hurts, I can’t taste anything and my throat stings, but I’m still testing negative.

In the lockdown we had each other, but the alternative to the stifling protocol of solitude seems like a short term panacea to a far grimmer outcome.


Day Six – We’re All Doomed


It’s spiralling like a whirlwind along our street. Every day another headcount, another recovery. I’m the last person standing. I feel as though I’m hanging from the side of a derailed rollercoaster about to fall off and with every passing day that I remain negative the chance that I will catch Covid seems both more remote and threatening. I know 31 people who’ve contracted the virus in the past ten days when in the last 18 months I’ve known four. The news conferences and incessant sound of sirens outside have started again. All those blind paranoias – the waiter sneezed, the kids at the disco were screaming, she hugged me, I’d rubbed shoulders with 90,000 people in Wembley were flotsam against the tidal wave of germs surrounding me now.


Day Seven: It’s Time To Get Serious.


And when a situation gets serious, I make chicken soup. Socially distanced hugs have evolved into masked hugs which have progressed into close lipped embraces. With every advancing hour now I’m both one step further towards escaping and being totally devoured by this virus.

Day Eight – Freedom Day

Test and Trace tell me that as I might be medically exempt from taking the second vaccine I do not need to self isolate. Feel all sorts of wonderful.


Day Nine – The Sound of Sirens

The sound of sirens in the ether – they’re worst in the night and in the early morning – sound almost soothing to me now, as I summon those words that roll around my mind every night before I go to sleep: “Not for me, my friends… Not today…”


Related Posts

Leave a Comment +

Leave a comment