The people, the Pipers, and the snorkel


This is a story of strange times, uncharted territory, a journey through a fog cloaked maze.

The people, unsuspecting as usual, flocking of a Saturday morning to shopping mall and High Street, greeting friends and family with hugs, with kisses, with touch skin-to-skin, unconcerned, assured, complacent and comfortable, were stunned.

Overnight the world changed beyond the ken of virtually all alive, apart from the few over-centenarian’s who could just, only just, recall the blight of 1918/20.

Almost instantly humanity recoiled in horror. Mortality was rife. Horrific descriptions of patient, of symptomatic decline. Numbers, charts, graphs, experts, politicos, talking heads. Out of their depth, mixed messages, confusion. deflection. Celebrity dose. Herd immunity?


At a time when it was most needed the post war established English speaking order let the people down badly, apart from a real leader in a far off country of north and south islands, who seeing the signs, hid her people away, promising to feed them and provide warmth and confidence, in a future, to emerge from shelter once the storm has passed, to breathe the fresh clean air of safety.

Otherwise the perfect storm had formed and risen with ferocity. How did we get here, thought the people? How did we get to a point where a such ill equipped individuals as a mentally ill narcissist, a posh hail-fellow-well-met after dinner speaker and a born again evangelist are in charge of making life or death decisions on a grand scale for the peoples of both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and Terra Australis?

Then something extraordinary happened.

All over the world the people, seeing their numbers start to deplete, spending their time away from loved ones they could not comfort or hug, watching the valiant and heroic efforts of those on the front line, seeing those stepping in front of the rest of us to face the demon, putting themselves in harms way, for us, said to themselves enough is enough.

The fury grew at the thought of the injustice, the incompetence, the grave failures to test test test, to provide the proper equipment in sufficient volume to protect our horrors, to isolate in time, to cancel fucking Cheltenham.

Particular ire was raised at the casual dismissal by those in power of the elderly. They’ve had their lives let them die, the policy chiefs were comfortable, circle the phrase in red, underline and initial.

It started slowly at first. The people met in their communities, on the streets, ensuring a safe distance from each other at given times to acknowledge in emotional applause the work of those fighting the war that threatened to engulf them all.

The pipers played for the Brave, ‘Bella Ciao’ resounded around the olive trees of northern Italy, the fences around the German autobahns began to resemble grocery stores as thousands of bags of food and necessities for those most in need appeared and were replenished.

The people spoke to their ‘leaders’. “Get out of the way”.

With this simple act a flood of clear clean fresh water rushed forward breaking the dam of established inertia and incompetence.

The people got busy. A vast network of children and senior high school students set up 3D printers to produce extensive supplies of Personal Protective Equipment, little old French grand-mere’s, Florentine Nonna’s and the Granma’s of Nairn organised, via the wonders of social media, a worldwide drive to produce face masks, working like dervishes, no one could refuse them, or would even dare.

No longer able to tolerate the lies and excuses fed to them regarding the lack of ventilating equipment, the grim failure of government and corporate sleazership, retired engineers, hospital technicians and innovators worked feverishly to create, build and adapt existing equipment to help meet the needs of the front line angels.

Some bright spark even created a hundred working ventilators from diving snorkel masks.

As is always the case in the time of major crisis or war innovation grew exponentially, as ventilators were produced via new and ingenious methods, anaesthetic equipment adapted and exisiting ventilators reconfigured to provide much needed life saving care to multiple patients at the one time.

Meanwhile, at last, widespread testing for the virus became commonplace. The curse was being actively pursued. ‘Look out Rona, we’re fucking coming to get you, you horrible bastard’ test-test-test and test again, identifying clusters, treating and isolating those who had contracted it. Fighting, fighting, caring, humanity demonstrating love for one other. Some making the ultimate sacrifice for others.

One day, not too much later, the people emerged from shelter. Somewhat wary, still dazed, they stepped into the light.

The cool breeze washed over them as they rushed to meet each other, long separated parents and children, brothers and sisters, grandparents and grandchildren, hugging tightly, tears. It’s over.

We will take nothing for granted again. We will find joy in every day of our lives. We will never forget.

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