There are way more than five senses, and lately I’ve discovered a new one that a sheltered life in Australia has withheld from me up until now. It’s related to the current coronavirus strain which is infecting people everywhere, and I wanted to write about it as part of the running gag I’ve got going about being a modern day British Mass Observation diarist, whose wartime purpose I have already bastardised twice to justify talking about myself in the context of a global pandemic.
Every time I leave the house I have a sense that I might be locked up just for going about my day. Maybe it will be a stop for petrol at the wrong service station, or a pint at the wrong brewery, or a seat on the wrong tram. A QR code, or a credit card transaction, or a partial facial recognition might be all that's needed for a computer to place me at the same location as a specific spike protein and I will receive a text message and either be stuck at home for fourteen days, or worse, imprisoned in a hotel room with no mantel while my cherry tomatoes are left behind to the elements.
There are reasons that can be rationalised for this way of life, which affects everyone, not just those who have a journal. I won’t comment on the logic because I didn’t really like being in charge of a team of six people, let alone making decisions about a state of more than a million during a pandemic, so I don’t judge as much as I experience.
The threat of being forced into isolation at any time creates unpleasant behaviour patterns. Every time I consider going into a shop or restaurant I have to weigh up the risk of that venue later being a hot spot. And if I’m with Vanessa, is it strategically better for only one of us to go inside instead of both? Is checking in an overall net negative or net positive action? Did my dog ever sign the social contract? It’s impossible not to think about these things. It’s only been a couple of weeks like this; always fighting the urge to open the internet to see if new exposure sites have been added. Is staying at home indefinitely to avoid being stuck at home for a fortnight even any better? (Yes, if I’m not required to isolate, I can still walk on the sand at the beach and ride my bike around the place).
For those reading this expect the customary pun or meaningful conclusion, I don’t have one. I just wanted to capture these feelings for what I hope is their uniqueness, and reflect on them one day in the future when it’s easy to make plans and get a coffee without feeling the way I feel now.