Having been spluttering away with ‘a new and continuous cough’ since yesterday, my better half told me I should go and have a COVID-19 test. My guess is that I am suffering from nothing other than a cough, but rules is rules, I suppose, and given that I work closely with vulnerable people, it makes sense to have a test rather than killing them. My NHS app, which I swore repeatedly I would never download, tells me now to self-isolate for nine days, unless I get a negative test. Great.
It is not that I am suffering from the other symptoms. I know my sense of taste is still in place because I have not started listening to music by Queen or Muse and I haven’t started watching Mrs Brown’s Boys. Oh, and my temperature is stable, unless I see a Conservative party politician on the telly.
My cough may well be nothing more than asthma, something I have had for a couple of decades, which is going to make this a long and difficult winter because I know I will be coughing off and on well into spring, and again soon after that when my old friend Mr Pollen raises his ugly head. It’s entirely possible I’ll be having tests every week.
The process was not particularly enjoyable. There was a long line of cars at the barrier and a security guard waved his arms around furiously telling us which line to go in. That was the quick bit. Then, I edged forward at glacial speed until I was approached by a young man whose Northern Ireland accent closely resembled that of Coronation Street’s Jim McDonald. He gave me a package which included a swab stick, a pot to put it in and the necessary instructions which naturally I found to be extremely complex. I drove to the nearby car park and did my stuff.
Anyway, I inserted the swab stick deep into my throat where my tonsils used to be, which made me retch repeatedly and then up my nose which caused me to suffer a sneezing fit. Once complete, I plodded through the instructions, turned on the car hazards to advise the testers I had finished and watched the rain beating on my car windows. After an eternity – well, it felt like one – the young lad checked I had done everything properly, which amazingly, I had, and he said I’d get a text or email within 72 hours. I then drove to the far end of the end of the car park where I put my test in what could be described as a large plastic bin. Now, the government has told me to self-isolate at least until Tuesday of next week and I shall take account of that instruction when considering how to live my life in the next three days, just like Dominic Cummings, although unlike him I shall put the health of others first in those considerations.
So COVID-19 might finally have caught up with me, maybe I already had it back in February when I had a bastard of a hacking cough, shortness of breath and achy, breaky bones? Or maybe that was a different virus? No wonder the World Health Organisation emphasises so often that the answer to dealing with the virus, with no vaccine in sight, is to ‘test, test, test’. What a shame it is, then, that we have a criminally incompetent government that has made a complete Horlicks of it all.
As Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman might say, keep coughing.