For those who are neither suffering from coronavirus nor treating it, merely inconvenienced or afraid, the best approach might be to act more like Winnie. Not Churchill but Pooh. The bear of little brain may stockpile jars of hunny but he otherwise tends to tiddely-pom in the face of a crisis.
In The House at Pooh Corner, Pooh goes for a walk on a blustery day with Piglet, who quaveringly asks what might happen if a tree fell on top of them. “Supposing it didn’t?” says Pooh after careful thought. “Piglet was comforted by this,” the book notes.
While the pessimists, therefore, prepare to dig plague pits and avoid buying green bananas, we Winnie types prefer to stay positive, while sensibly washing our hands in self-isolation, of course. Here are some reasons why life in the time of corona isn’t as bad as it seems:
•Being sent home has happened just as our gardens are exploding into colour. I write this looking out at a gorgeous lilac magnolia tree, sprays of white snowdrops, trees awash with pink cherry blossom and a lush lawn that I would mow, I tell my wife, if I didn’t have to stay inside to avoid catching anything.
•Self-isolation gives you the perfect excuse to avoid people you never wanted to see in the first place.
• Children sent home from school can be relied on to show immense and clingy affection to whichever parent has the most urgent work task to complete.
• After a few weeks of quarantine we will finally know everyone’s real hair colour.
• Next Sunday the clocks go forward one hour, meaning we can have evening barbecues, although the only meat available in London seems to be pigeon, foxes and Tiddles from next door.
• Chris Grayling, that anti-Midas of the May and Cameron cabinets, has been asked to lead the intelligence committee, which at least means he isn’t in charge of health.
• Houses will echo to the sound of joyful laughter as children Facetime the friends they spoke to only yesterday. This will make up for the sullen patches when you tell them that Monday is still a “school day” and they have to get on with their homework.
• Football fans, with no games to absorb them, are discovering all sorts of new things about their families, such as that their wives left them in October.
• Priests in the United States have introduced drive-through confessions in which sinners can seek absolution without getting out of their car. With the priests required to sit six feet away, requiring the confessor to shout, it means more people can keep up with local gossip.
• There is a suggestion that chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, is effective in treating coronavirus. Since tonic water contains quinine, we should all self-prescribe regular doses of G&T. The lemon slices will protect against scurvy too.
• If you want to avoid the news, you can, as ever rely on The Archers, which has resolutely ignored the coronavirus and gone for a far more traumatic storyline about Lynda Snell being blown up in an explosion at Grey Gables, raising the risk (some might say hope) of there being no panto in Ambridge this Christmas.
• Finally, grandparents have a use for all those bars of soap that their unimaginative relatives have given them for Christmas over the years, which were faithfully put aside for a suitable occasion. Ideally we will next have a series of power cuts so that they can have a use for all those candles you gave them too.