Life during wartime – duller than the headline.

From vaccination to incarceration in a day

Day one as Covid infected was announced by Government text

Day two has been spent by my partner and i, in a little flat in Blackfriars watching as the world lockdowns around us. In the morning we watched the first Oxford Virus landing in the arm of its first public recipient, in the evening, we were  told we were returning to lockdown 3.0. with the same prospects of re-emergence we had on March 23rd 2020.

It was a  strange first working day of the year. All that is changing is the hope from the vaccine – though we are being asked to put this to the back of our mind.  We are undoubtedly in a more dangerous place than we were, this new strain is twice as infectious, but there is a weariness about the public response which suggests there may be trouble ahead.

Few of us are old enough to remember living through the war, but if March 2020 had been September 1939 we would now be in the middle of the Blitz.

shot taken from almost exactly where I live

Our parents and grandparents lived though five more years of conflict before war ended. Put in this context, the deprivation we are experiencing now is minor and it’s likely extent – short. We may not have slept well last night, but we did not sleep like this.

There is a war on, it is being fought on the wards of our hospitals and we- the civilians – can but applaud those who fight for us. Our job is to accept that life over the next few months will be dull – that is our contribution to the war effort.

For us, there is nothing special about having this virus

Thanks for the hundreds of kind messages, I wish I could divert every good wish to Peter Weiner (RIP) and bring him back. Instead I’m listening to Shane McGowan’s Dark Streets of London with my partner looking a lot sicker than I feel. I am tempted to make a drama out of our condition but (as with most people who are infected), the drama is imagined, the reality is mundane.

I don’t want to taunt this virus, but so far it’s not got the better of me. I know that the bastard C has a habit of punching peopl in the solar-plexus when they think they’re out the woods.  I’ve had a few messages from Long-Covid sufferers for whom the initial illness was nothing but a canape to the six-course Corona-banquet that followed. That said, so far so very ordinary, we live in the hope that we will continue to be lucky.

And I’ve had a few questions about how I got the thing. Surprisingly, I haven’t been sniffing discarded PPE from Barts hospital – I have been sanitizing, distancing and staying out of the aerosol of  passers-by. Like most people who are catching the virus today, I cannot pinpoint the cause of my infection nor apportion blame for my condition on my or other’s actions. There is no villain  – this is not a melodrama nor is there cause for introspection.

Maybe it’s inevitable that some feel guilty for having contracted something which you’re told can be avoided. But blaming others or yourself is not going to help either you or others. My point for talking about this experience is to emphasize the normality of infection.  There is nothing special about being one in 58,000 cases in a day,  infection happens, let’s get on with life.

And let us remember that in life we are in death,

My saddest thought this week  is that  amidst this noise about Covid, Peter Weiner died quietly alone. Cancer is not a disease that contributes to excess deaths, but those who die from it – should be no less mourned.

Test and Trace – works!

One comment I have is  on is the system that ensures that people like us, when we do catch the infection, are as little danger to ourselves and others – as possible.


Self testing is now working well. My testing center was easy to find and use and the messaging around what was going to happen next was clear. I urge people to use the test centers, I was in two minds but had I concluded that I just had a bad cold, I would be a public menace today,


Now there are the calls from Government (0300 013 5000) which I’ve been missing all day (got a job to do). You give them a call back and you get a recorded message reminding you to pick up the phone a bit quicker next time. When you get to speak to someone you get the reminder to stay put and stay by your phone. This is strict and it is reassuring.


The fact is that we are fast running out of restrictions and the flip is that every one of us who has the virus has the capacity to make things a whole lot worse. Lucky that I am , in suffering so little, my job right now is to share with those who read this blog, what happens when you get it. I hope that if you do, you will receive the support we have. We know that a call to 111 can allow us to escalate, but for now we are no burden- let us hope it stays that way.

The best we can do is be no burden

I have no time for the arguments of those who say we are paying too high a price to curb excess deaths. The impact of losing a life is measured in social not economic capital, there is no “currency of death” nor “price for life”. The cost of  spreading at such a critical time is a theft from general welfare. There are efficiencies to be gained by not treating cases like ours as priority, you realize as days go by, how well organized Covid support has become and feel thankful that you are not in need of help.

Getting on with it

There is very little advice on hand as to how to best self-medicate while you are suffering the impact of the virus. Both Stella and I have periods when we are weary and times when we feel fine, we suspect that following the lockdown guidelines and doing what we normally do (including work) is our best therapy.  Boring as this may be, our best contribution to the war effort, is to be no burden.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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3 Responses to Life during wartime – duller than the headline.

  1. Martin T says:

    One sensible piece of advice to those currently well is to consider your stock of paracetamol etc. as well as food. Then if you get Covid you can be completely self-sufficient for a couple of weeks.

    All the best

  2. David Fairs says:

    Hope you and Stella are feeling better soon, take care, David

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