It’s a funny old time. People are panic-buying toilet roll in obscene amounts and fighting with other shoppers in supermarket aisles over milk. Roads are quiet, schools closed and absolutely every overheard conversation is related to the coronavirus.
Words such as social distancing and quarantine are heard constantly in the media from experts and politicians while writers and comedians set out top tips for people working and self-isolating at home hoping to avoid spreading and contracting the illness.
People are afraid for themselves, their families and their livelihoods. And they are right to be. The silent and deadly virus creeping across our world is heralding an immeasurable change of culture for us all and the gravity of the situation has been felt by most people. The effect of the virus is unlike anything most of us have ever seen.
I’m going to continue going to work until I get symptoms of the virus, at which point I’ll self-isolate. But I’m becoming increasingly concerned at my lack of preparation for the oncoming days, weeks and months.
Where I am in Yorkshire it has been pretty much the same as the rest of the UK. Hospitals are preparing for the biggest health care crisis in a generation and attempting to estimate the equipment and resources they’ll need, yet hoping beyond hope that the worse-case scenario doesn’t happen.
I’m going to continue going to work until I get symptoms of the virus, at which point I’ll self-isolate. But I’m becoming increasingly concerned at my lack of preparation for the oncoming days, weeks and months. Everyone seems to have known before me that we were indeed at the beginning of something huge.
Despite all the movies and TV shows I’ve watched and books I’ve read over the years, now that an apocalyptic event has actually (almost) happened, I’ve realised something about myself — I’d be completely useless in an apocalypse. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t panic at the appropriate time and flee to the nearest supermarket to throw as many cans of beans and toilet rolls as possible into my many trolleys.
I didn’t panic at all. I’m not even panicking now. Should I be panicking? If things get a bit Mad Max, what will I do? My survival skills are somewhat lacking, unless you count that time I used a knife to squeeze my tea bag when there were no clean spoons. Adapting, see?
If things do get a bit Walking Dead I don’t know how to make fire or put together a makeshift shelter. I don’t know how to change a tyre, or even where the spare tyre would actually be in the car — that’s if I’m lucky enough to have a car after the end of civilisation. And I won’t be throwing together a working vehicle out of scrap metal like something out of The A-Team.
Finding food that isn’t presented prettily on shelves would be another issue for me. When the shelves are emptied (which they more or less are now) the only way to eat will be by hunting for wild animals — which around here means rabbits, goats, and maybe hedgehogs. Would I even be able to skin a rabbit? Would I heck. I’d be joining the vegan collective in our new post-apocalyptic world. Then again, foraging for berries and other random edibles across the wilds of Yorkshire is not what I envisioned for my future either.
Like many others, I’ll be living off my wits for the next few weeks, rummaging through the cupboards to see what I can whip up from unused items of food I didn’t appreciate when I revelled in abundance. Combining foods such as overripe tomatoes and porridge oats is a celebrity chef challenge I’d like to see.
Over the past few weeks what I’ve noticed is that the humour and community spirit is still ever-present, which is what makes our species so special. People are still smiling and still laughing and together we will overcome this challenge. Stay safe, everyone.
— Christina Curran is freelance journalist based in Northern Ireland.