Monday, 16 March 2020

pass it on- Australian flu 2017-2018

"So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days."

FDR, 4.3.33 

I had been Ireland for a couple of weeks when I had a 'sick day' and stayed indoors, drank tea and slept. That was around the end of October or beginning of November 2017. It was one day only, when I had the runny nose and general weakness, tiredness, aches and pains. 
Why wouldn't I be tired? I had spent days tramping through fields and up hills on pilgrimages to the graves of poets and those of the neolithic and iron age ancestors, breathing the unfamiliar air of the Atlantic coast, allowing myself to be overwhelmed by the country, the people, the culture.
An ordinary sick day for me - I usually would have a few each year, no matter where I was - and I had never heard of 'Australian flu'.  But the neighbours had.
I was dozing in an armchair when the caretaker put the key in the door. My friend had taken the car for some shopping and sightseeing, so it looked like we were out, so W. let himself in, checking that all was in order, I suppose. I greeted him, and he was a little startled to find me there, but he looked more worried when I said I felt slightly unwell. A day or two later the farmer, B., whose driveway ran past the house looked scared when I said hello as he opened his gate. He had heard I was unwell, he said. I told him it was nothing much, that I was fine. I hoped he was reassured because by then I'd been told of the mutterings about Australian flu. I was Australian and, therefore, possibly had it.
I don't think I had 'it' and, if I did, I must have acquired it in Ireland. And it did not put me out of action for long, whatever it was.
People hit the panic button a bit too readily, yet they forget just as quickly what happened last time. 
The difference this time is the reaction has moved up from worried, beyond greatly concerned, and has now hit panic. There have been trillions of words written about the new flu, but few have helped the situation, and fewer have been at all elucidating as regards anything real. Mostly - like the toilet paper hoarding and scuffles in supermarkets - they just confirm what we all knew: people are stupid, ignorant and as flighty as wild beasts at the least hint of danger.
I was disgusted when I first saw 'news' stories being used to revile Chinese people (They eat pork and ducks!) and to attack the Chinese government (sadly, our supposed enemies). Chinese restaurants in Australian cities suffered a massive downturn in business, caused only by ignorance and prejudice.
The same attacks were recently used against another 'enemy' state, Iran. One story claimed an (unidentified) Iranian cleric had suggested topical use of pansy oil to protect against the virus. Let's all laugh at the ignorant and evil Iranians! A quick google search shows that the main proponents of pansy oil for 'medical' use are in fact Californian snake-oil merchants. 
I have included links to some articles from those ancient days (two years ago).
You'll see that much information, and even the illustrations, have been cut and pasted from old articles into ones you have seen in the last few weeks.
I hope we all get through the next few weeks and months. Try not to succumb to the disease but, most of all, don't fall victim to panic.
Perhaps it was the daily pint of Guinness that saved me! You could do worse than that for a treatment for anything.
best wishes

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