Apocalypse now, or just dress rehearsal?

The depths of winter and the short days don’t help lift the midwinter gloom, but at least recent bright skies and glittering frost have offered some cheer. Sadly, sparkling patterns and dainty ice-drapery are not enough to silence the doomsday chorus which is currently building up to a crescendo.

I wouldn’t normally describe myself as a catastrophist, but the pandemic is playing nasty, negative little tricks on my usually optimistic, forward-thinking mindset. The current ramping up of cautionary new-variant tales is instilling a growing sense of dread – not just because of ever-more alarming statistics and an increasing roll call of loved ones lost, but also because Covid-19 might be just a wee tiddler compared to future pandemics. Terrifyingly, the World Health Organisation suggests that Covid-19 is “not necessarily the big one”. Dunno about you, but the thought of an even bigger, badder pandemic is truly gut-churning.

Look, I’m not usually prone to apocalyptic thought patterns, and I’m certainly no conspiracy theorist, but increasingly I’ve found myself wondering if this is the beginning of the end of the world. I’m not (yet) in a bunker-building frame of mind, but it’s hard not to conclude that we’re all doomed, that this simply isn’t science fiction any more. It feels increasingly certain that we stupid, feckless humans have indeed become the architects of our own demise. Or perhaps the pandemic is a doomsday dress rehearsal? And even if it’s not quite time for our final curtain call, you do have to wonder, how low can we go?

Of course, winter makes the whole shebang a lot harder to handle. It’s difficult enough to find motivation to get out of the house, let alone build emotional and physical strength for long-term endurance, should it come to that. The thought of another full lockdown, or even an extended period of the half-life that is Tier 4 is truly spirit-sapping.

And yet, we mere mortals just keep going and going, limping along until we can once again lengthen our stride. It’s impressive and encouraging, actually. Brave faces are being slapped on, upper lips are still being stiffened and we are forcing ourselves out for another bloody walk. Collectively, it seems that we do what we can to remind ourselves that this isn’t war, it’s not even the apocalypse. Not this time. We reassure ourselves and each other that our turn for the vaccine will come, and that we will come out the other side, sooner or later. As for those who didn’t make it as far as the other side, my heartfelt sorrow is extended to their nearest and dear.

For me (and everyone else), the other side can’t come soon enough. Meantime, I am trying to keep chin up by hatching grand plans for the dawning of a new era. Saving the planet, ending world poverty and preventing even more savage pandemics are all in the mix, but top of the To Do list is spreading the love.

It’s a personal biggie – the absence of physical contact with friends has been a sair fecht for this wee wordy woman. So brace yourselves, pals, some of you are going to be getting clung on to, limpet-like, just as soon as this pesky pandemic is gone, baby, gone.