The next three weeks…

The Times recently posted an article by Lord Plush Bottom that in lieu of practicing self-isolation we should instead all man-up and get out there to spread the virus more quickly. The philosophy is strangely akin to that of the aristocrats sending the boys “over the top” in order to accelerate the defeat of the colonial enemy. The theory is that immunization is paradoxically achieved through pervasive exposure (“herd immunity“).  It is the same theme of conditioning which attends the vaccination process. Presumably most people (which pointedly in this instance includes the tea-sipping members of the upper crust) will have little if anything to endure from exposure. The avoidance is however notably indiscriminate. Certain of the herd will not be so successful. That too has become a tolerable statistic related to people over 60 years of age and especially those with so-called “pre-existing conditions” which is to say, currently contaminated with enfeebling drugs and as a result having an already weakened immune system. The unfortunate destiny may be dismissed as “their time had come” which I can tell you as one of the prospective applicants is not a purely intellectual reflection. I confess to having as yet certain unexpressed ambitions (though in fairness I hasten to add my unwavering conviction that life owes me nothing).

A vaccine works by training the immune system to recognize and combat pathogens, either viruses or bacteria. To do this, certain molecules from the pathogen must be introduced into the body to trigger an immune response.

These molecules are called antigens, and they are present on all viruses and bacteria. By injecting these antigens into the body, the immune system can safely learn to recognize them as hostile invaders, produce antibodies, and remember them for the future. If the bacteria or virus reappears, the immune system will recognize the antigens immediately and attack aggressively well before the pathogen can spread and cause sickness.

Adjustment to confinement is not at all organic. Just when I was rejoicing for having overcome repeated reminiscences and pointless indulgences of the past, along comes this entirely unanticipated pollution swarming over the globe and sending us scampering like ants under attack to our modest boroughs. Shelter – as elemental as it may be (along with food, water and air) – was never meant to be a complete sanctuary. Eventually we want to get out and go abroad so to speak. I haven’t yet reached that pinnacle of ensuing decline as did my late mother when she professed to be doing “paper work” in her study.  There she daily poured over her collection of old letters, photographs and other memorabilia.  Her putative reason for the absorption was to clean up and discard unwanted items.  Yet aside from one or two things given to family, nothing changed, it all lingered.  She just put them back into the boxes, envelopes and albums where they had been stored for the past fifty years or more. It was her last act of domesticity before removing herself from the house and relocating to the retirement residence (what she charmingly called the “Nut House”).

It makes one wonder which is the greater challenge. Ultimately there is no relief from the confinement that is living – either you haven’t enough or there’s too much of it! The task at hand is particularly complicated by having to determine precisely how one shall manifest the necessity. It’s not as though there is anywhere in the world to go – barely even the local grocery store or pharmacy.  And parties or coffee klatches are currently right out for the same reason. Familiarity with family other than through FaceTime or Zoom is unheard of. Nor is the determination of what to do inside to amuse oneself any easier.