Happy New Year and all that jazz. Now let’s pretend it is December 2021. Nicola Sturgeon has just put Scotland in Tier 27. Scots will no longer be allowed to look out of their windows and no liquids should mix indoors.
So drams should not be diluted with anything, just in case neat alcohol kills the virus. Even if it doesn’t, you will still feel a lot better after some liberal applications.
Meanwhile in Downing Street, Boris Johnson paces the floor wondering if any votes are at risk by putting England in Tier 5. I’m kidding about Nicola, but Boris is still playing catch-up.
No matter how many times it is pointed out he is too slow to act, he dithers. Despite the clamour for a proper lockdown, Boris did nothing until he saw the Scottish first minister was going to make an announcement on Monday. Hours later, he spake unto the waiting nation – with a hastily tweaked copy of Nicola’s speech.
I wish Mrs X would tweak her speech. Every time she goes shopping, she grills me: “What do you want?” I don’t know. Get me something tasty. “Yes, but what?” What is this? The Spanish Inquisition? She happened to choose these spinach bites in the supermarket a few days ago and I was reluctant to try them. Spinach? Yu-uck. I am always encouraging her to eat fish so I had to at least nibble on them. Guess what? Fan-blinking-tastic. I really adore them – I mean Mrs X… and her spinach acquisition.
Now Scotland has acquired another strict lockdown, except in the well-behaved and hygienic islands. Islanders won’t jump through hoops to get round the rules and jet off to Dubai. That one’s for the Celtic supporter who last week said I knew nothing about soccer.
When’s it all going to end? It’ll be fine. Difficult restrictions need to happen now to stop the worst possible scenario before the effect of the various vaccines feeds through to me and you.
This pandemic may seem very new to some people but that’s because we don’t remember any others unless we’re very old. There have been quite a few. Seriously, it’s going to be OK.
They say writers shouldn’t make predictions. It could go badly wrong. I never make predictions. I never have and I never will. Oops, one right there. Another exception – I predict Prince Harry will always love going to the dentist. It’s the only place where he may one day get a crown.
Back to the late 1950s and the Asian flu that threatened the world. It was quashed by vaccines. A brilliant but grumpy American virologist called Maurice Hilleman, often ignored in many official accounts of the greatest champions against disease, saw reports that one in 10 people in Singapore had flu. Realising it could soon be a pandemic, he confirmed the strain and he tweaked the vaccine he was already working on.
He screamed at, swore at and bullied the US government and pharma outfits to get it out. About 40 million doses were distributed in three months.
Four million people died worldwide but he saved many others – about one million from measles alone. Hilleman developed an incredible 40 vaccines to prevent everything from measles, mumps, rubella, pneumonia, meningitis, hepatitis A and B, and other infectious diseases.
The bolshie Hilleman loathed the falseness of awards ceremonies, and he swore like someone from Shawbost. That was why his achievements weren’t properly recognised.
President Ronnie Reagan eventually gave him a prestigious gong, the National Medal of Science. My point is the hard work of discovering and developing a jab was done by Hilleman, and others like him. They did the groundbreaking stuff so now it is a case of tweaking these proven vaccines each time a particularly bad strain appears.
It is a particularly bad strain for me each year because I am always asked to make predictions about the coming year. I shall restrict my crystal ball gazing to domestic matters.
Not that I am one to brag, but I have this amazing talent of predicting what is inside a wrapped present. You could say… it’s a gift.
Let’s be positive. This is going to be a great year.
Another important lesson for life is also not to linger too long on what is behind us.
As the wise Mrs X said to me on Christmas Eve: “Forget the past, you can’t change it. Forget the present, I didn’t get you one.”