I remember back to when I was a kid. I was staying at my friends place and for some reason – I’m still unclear as to why – we were given the job of stacking a winter’s worth of wood into a dry area. I think his father’s forceful yet kind insistence may have been a factor. Anyway, about 10 minutes into the job our 11 year old problem solving brains kicked into high gear. We worked out, quite brilliantly we thought at the time, that if we stacked up the wood at the front of the shed, rather than having to start from the back, we’d be finished in no time. And that we were… within about half an hour we had a single layer of wood stacked up to the roof of the woodshed. Admittedly there was still piles and piles of cut wood lying out ready to get soaked in the rain, but the illusion was complete. The woodshed was chocker for the winter and we were very happy.
Later on that day – it may have been an hour later, maybe three – my friend’s dad found us and asked us a question, “would you both like an ice-cream full of nothing?” A slightly confusing question, but it did involve ice-cream so we both perked up. Mr. Brough instructed us to follow him and within minuted we were at the woodshed. I wondered where it was going…
“Do you guys still want that ice-cream full of nothing?” he asked. We nodded confused and Mr. Brough kicked the wood we had stacked and it collapsed in on itself. “Oh,” we said now realising what an ice-cream full of nothing was having recently created a wood pile full of nothing.
That’s what I felt the other week about swine flu. It started off looking liked the fully stacked woodpile of a pandemic. Authorities running about the place dressed in full pandemic regalia – masks, boots and full body suits (saying that little phrase it sounds like an album name from an 80s hair rocker band).
People were being stopped when they got off the plane – if they had even the smallest of sniffles they were whisked away to some kind of isolation area to be probed and prodded before being given the all clear to resume their life. And those travellers that missed out on special occasions like weddings, bar mitzvahs or pandemic conferences because they sneezed while going through transit must be pissed off around about now.
I suppose the authorities couldn’t really do anything other than overreact. If it had been an actual pandemic, rather than one of those situations the media love and will place reporters randomly around the world they can cross live to, then we may have been in the shite. But it wasn’t so we isn’t.
I feel sorry for the pigs, and to a lesser extent the chickens (see previous pandemic scare mongering). What did they ever do to deserve this? Other than providing us food by being housed in conditions so appalling that they lead to the mutated creation of these types of illnesses… And here I was thinking that it was perhaps spread across to humans in a similar way to HIV – with some kind of forbidden tryst betwixt man and beastie.
So I suppose we’ll just have to wait for a real pandemic. With the amount of international air travel at our finger tips we won’t have to wait that long for it to spread either…