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PANDEMIC PARANOIA 

 Should we be taking the coronavirus (COVID 19) panic seriously, or cooling the temperature on the alarming reactions to the impending loo roll crisis?  I didn’t know whether to laugh or scoff at the Australian family who had ordered 2,300 units of the coveted stuff, allegedly by accident, racking up a mind-boggling $3,000 plus. 

 Now, I’ve always kept a well-stocked larder as advised by my wise female ancestors, rotating cans and preserves by date, and buying in bulk when finances allowed. Doing this throughout the year has meant I haven’t had to worry if I got sick, snowed-in, or needed to avoid bumping into scowling locals doing the weekly supermarket dash. 

  The way people are reacting to this latest global crisis is by turning into a drama. Our feeds are clogged with images of empty shelves stripped of pasta, rice, canned tomatoes, disinfectant and hand sanitiser, giving the impression that supermarkets are under siege, and are in need of military protection against  armed robbers. 

 It’s stripping us of our common decency as we imagine ourselves caught up in yet another apocalyptic film set, fighting for survival and let no wo(man) get in our way. 

  The government talks of “battle plans” and the “enemy disease”. Those looking to project their fears look for someone to blame and anyone looking vaguely Chinese is an easy target: #jenesuispasunvirus is already trending on Twitter. Both the powers that be and the media are stoking the flames with their rhetoric. It’s enough to put the wind up even the most level-headed of people. 

 As a long-time sufferer from anxiety, I understand what’s driving this panic. It’s uncertainty- the not-knowing. We’re looking for someone to fix it, and do it now so we can sleep easily at night. 

 At first, I was sucked into by the sensationalist headlines and most of my day was spent in checking the latest figures. “UK cases up 70% in 24 hours!”  OMG. We’re all going to die!

   According to the specialists, the cases will become clusters and go onto join up and explode. The genie is well and truly out of the bottle BUT 80% will experience mild to moderate symptoms, and the recovery doesn’t lie in a huge stash of lavatory paper. 

 This is no time to be complacent. The threat is real. It’s fast-moving and it’s invisible. We now know that there are asymptomatic carriers. They could be sitting next to us at work, serving our coffee or indeed ourselves. 

 So what to do?  Ignore the hype and spin and stick with the facts. My go-to source is Dr John Campbell. An elderly unassuming, calm, rational presenter from Carlisle (UK) who has decades of experience teaching nurses under his belt. He provides concrete evidence and explains basic science in bite-sized pieces. 

 Panic ensues when we feel we are out of control. Life is riddled with uncertainties and part of being human is being able to develop resilience so that whatever crisis befalls us, we have coping skills. It’s normal to want to be safe at all times, but that’s not reality. 

 There’s little we can do other than follow the medical guidelines, one of which is to thoroughly wash our hands whilst singing Happy Birthday. Having survived the polio epidemic in 1962, ( and measles) I know something about hand hygiene. My father was a TB nurse and this routine was drilled into me. I’m surprised my hands have any skin left. 

 So, we keep calm and carry on, and hope that hourly hand washing doesn’t lead to an outbreak of germophobia. The last thing we want to do is replace one fear with another. 

Angelena Boden

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No Sex please, We're Married

Sex can be a lot of work. There’s so much stuff involved. Leg shaving, bikini waxing and what about all that ooo-ing and ahhhh-ing to sap the oxygen out of the lungs? Then there’s the warm up that seems more like a complicated game of twister. Foot this way, hand that way, head between legs – and as for all that tweaking, twizzling and nibbling – it’s blooming exhausting!

No wonder more married couples are opting for happy, cuddly, celibacy over a bowl of chocolate ice cream meant solely for eating. Thing is, nobody talks about a sexless marriage. If the bedroom chandeliers are not hanging off their wires, then it’s a failure on all fronts, or rears. We’ll admit to anything, but no sex? Never. We’d rather confess to extra-marital affairs or swinging parties than crisp white sheets with only crisp crumbs to show we’ve lain on them. 

Lust gets boring after a while. I’d rather go to bed with an apple and a copy of Dante’s Inferno. In Latin. The bliss of separate beds, bedrooms or even houses does not mean the fun has gone. Far from it. Love Skyping, or FaceApping can still be thrilling even when your once Olympic –level gymnast partner is mountaineering in deepest Wales.

Not that you will care what this crusty old woman has to say, but I think it’s about time the big magazines pulled up their Big Pants and ran real life stories on this wicked behaviour. #celibacyrocks

Ok, there are some of you out there, going at it as if the world is about to end ( as it very well might at the time of writing this) and if the infamous “Last Fling of the Ovary” is to be believed, there could be some interesting results from this frantic replay of The Battle of the Little Bighorn.

But for many of us older marrieds, snuggling up on the sofa to watch a rom-com, (providing there’s nothing yucky in it), is preferable to having to dream up excuses about hoovering the cat before bedtime or emptying the loft.

There comes a stage in life when sex is no longer the cornerstone of a relationship, but an annoying little cockroach sneaking out from the cracks. You side-glance it and hope it will go away.

I suppose it is a teeny bit strange that low or no libido types don’t share the urges or interest of the rest of the planet, but have managed to produce a sprog or two, but then it’s nobody else’s business. Neither should it be something to be ashamed off. I’m not interested in shagging. So what?

There may well be a host of physical and psychological reasons why celibacy is better for a couple, but that’s not under discussion here.

On a final note, at the time of writing this, the Russian consumer health watchdog has advised people to avoid kissing and hugging to avoid the spread of the corona virus (COVID-19). They don’t even have any cases of infection, but best to be on the safe side, eh?. It’s a good spin on the tired, old excuse, of “Not tonight, I’ve got a headache”, not that I’ve ever understood what role the head plays in nightly romps. But then, I’ve never been interested enough to ask.

On a less cynical note, it’s soon Valentines’ Day. For me, that doesn’t mean forced roses or saccharine cards with Gooey Eyed Teddy Bears on the front.

It means my new book, LOVE BYTES BACK is published and no, before you ask, it is not erotica! I wouldn’t be able to write that stuff for laughing! J

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