The Plague

It’s 2020 and Covid-19 is in full spate. The UK is under lockdown. Government policy is to prevent the spread of the disease, reduce the death rate and preserve the NHS. It’s a shambles.

Chris and Jack are in their early seventies.
Chris answers his phone. Hello. Who’s that?
I’m Jack. I was asked to give you a call. I’m an NHS volunteer.
I don’t do cold calls. Who asked you to call?
Your GP. She said you had a problem.
What’s her name? Chris asks.
Doctor Summer.
That’s her.
What’s the problem? Jack asks.
I’ve got the plague. 
Okay …. And you’re self-isolating because of that?
That’s it.
Why are you calling it the plague?
That’s what it is.
Why plague?
It’s killing people all over the world – it’s a paramedic.
You mean pandemic.
That’s it, a pandemic – plague. 
Coronavirus? Jack asks.
One Christmas, I was fourteen, I sold Corona pop from a lorry; the bottles were in wooden crates. I loved it, and now it’s a fucking plague.
It’s not a plague. They stopped in the middle ages.
What about tombola?
Jack stifles a laugh. Ebola?
That’s the fella; if that wasn’t a plague what was it?
A viral disease. Are you ill?
Of course I’m ill. 
I was told you needed help  – come on, what help do you need?
You sound, irritated, stressed. What’s up? Chris asks.
What is it?
She died. I’m only doing this to talk, Jack sobs.
Don’t do that. You’ll have me at it in a minute … you’re alone?
Stifling his sobs, Jack replies, Yes. No, I have her moggies.
Do they talk to you? 
They purr back.
What are their names?
Sonny and Cher.
Chris sings, ‘cause you got me, And baby I got you. Babe, I got you babe. 
Stop! Please. Why are you singing?
Because you’re lonely, just like me.
I’m okay now, Jack says. Sorry. What help do you need?
I’m afraid.
Tell me why?
I don’t want to die on my own.
How do you know you’re dying?
I’ve been told. Chris sings, Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, Oh, I believe in yesterday. 
Can’t go back, though, can we?
Why were you crying? Chris asks.
I loved her.
I’m sorry, mate.
No, no, no … Why do you call it the plague?
I liked selling Corona, I don’t want a bloody virus killing my memory. 
Yeah, I get that. You sing.
I’m crap.
Want to try a duet?
Yeah, why not? What shall we sing?
Sweet, sweet the memories …
Perfect. You start I’ll follow.

They sing. Take one fresh and tender kiss, Add one stolen night of bliss, One girl; One boy; some grief; some joy; Memories are made of this.

They are lost in laughter.

Sing again tomorrow? Same time, same place? Chris asks.
You betcha – you choose tomorrow.
I’m glad you called, Jack.
Me too. Jack laughs. Fuck the plague!

They sing. Sweet, sweet, the memories …

I hope you enjoyed this story.  Remember, I publish a new story every Sunday.
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© Phil Cosker 2020
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.

Ebola: arrogance & indifference

It has been said that if the Ebola virus had originated on the mainland of Europe or in the USA then it would have already been defeated. An antidote to the virus would have been created. Science would have been applied. Which of the ‘Pharmas’, the ‘health’ conglomerates, are interested in creating life saving drugs that make them no profit?
There is a view that the initial lack of ‘concern’ for those suffering from Ebola was because African people were, for the G8 countries and China, in far away places one knew little about, or cared about even less about, and were not ‘important’. It has been suggested that this lack of concern was racist. It’s hard not to think this to be true.
But there’s more to it than that.
Ebola is a zoonotic viral disease (a virus that jumps from an animal to a human animal host). It’s been been around for some time, probably before 1976 when it was given its name. It has, in large part, been restricted to outbreaks in Africa with contamination spreading to other countries through bodily fluids passing between people. I’m not a scientist so I’m not trying to explain how this terrible virus works. I’m aiming to make another set of points that locate such disease within an arrogant western culture where the ‘natural world’ is held either in contempt or is romanticized.
There is a clear disjunction between science/medicine and those who hold political power. How else can one explain the lack of awareness shown by political leaders when told of the danger that Ebola presents? Political leadership, government, in the G8 is, to a large extent, focused on the management of money and the markets that make money from money for those that have money. A consequence of this is an inability to take the insights provided by science seriously – this ranges from a disbelief in climate change to a dismissal of Ebola as not worthy of curative investment – until of course there are cases in Europe and the USA.
There is another dimension to this arrogance and it’s this.
There are those that believe that we human beings are the natural and legitimate rulers of the natural world of Planet Earth. Humans are superior beings. We have the right to exploit the world’s resources as we see fit and often without a care as to the long-term consequences of our exploitation. We can defile and destroy entire habitats for profit. We can sacrifice the future for short-term gain. Sometimes we get it right and real benefits accrue to us humans – but there are always consequences. These are familiar arguments and I need not repeat them here.
The belief that humans are superior to all other creatures ignores, and thus diminishes, the existence of other indigenous life forms. One of these is the virus. Viruses, such as Ebola, are a fundamental and necessary part of the eco system that is planet earth. But that doesn’t make them benign, doesn’t make them safe and doesn’t mean they can arrogantly be ignored.
How can G8 governments and China be so ignorant, arrogant and dismissive of the realities and dangers of the natural world?
There are four reasons that may explain why the West acted so slowly in ploughing resources into fighting Ebola in West Africa:
1. Racism
2. Ignorance
3. Arrogance
4. The pursuit of financial profit above all else.