Our descent into (mild) phlegmy despair



‘‘That’s definitely two stripes. . .’’

‘‘No it’s not. It’s your imagination.’’

‘‘No . . .really . . .’’

And so began the Davison family’s great self›isolation of 2022.

Earlier this month, my daughter returned a positive Rat, having picked it up at her Dunedin high school.

We live in relatively close quarters in a 1920s cottage, so managing an effective quarantine was going to be tricky, I knew.

Our gradual descent into phlegmy despair was predestined.

Fortunately, given New Zealand has managed the Covid› 19 pandemic better than anywhere in the world, we found ourselves — and a plethora of government services — to be well prepared to weather the weather. Whatever the weather.

Strange as it may sound, I can only characterise the initial atmosphere in our house as ‘‘mildly euphoric’’.

Yes, there was a subcurrent of nerves: after all, the Great Plague had come knocking on our door, having killed nearly six million worldwide, turned global trade on its head and damaged the livelihoods of many millions more at home and abroad.

Would the vaccinations and boosters work? Which of our household would suffer hardest? Had we infected our vulnerable friends or wider family?

But, at the same time, there was a peculiar sense of relief — at the release, finally, of more than two years of pent›up tension, toeing the line and being ‘‘good citizens’’.

It was most obvious in my daughter, who positively skipped around the house following her double›striped RAT — no doubt emitting great clouds of virus behind her as she went — grinning and singing ‘‘I’ve got Coooo›vid, I’ve got Coooo›vid . . .I can’t believe it! Can you believe it, Dad?’’

The thing was, we just weren’t very unwell.

I had the inklings of an incoming cold: scratchy throat, aching muscles, tickly nose, the odd sneeze.

My wife, usually the last to catch anything, was even suffering mild Covid›envy at first, ploughing through Rats hopefully like Instant Kiwis at Christmas.

Four days later, we all had it, and at least some of our initial joie de vivre had evaporated.

Although superficial, snotty symptoms remained mild — best described, for us at least, as a decent cold — they were accompanied by heavy fatigue.

Again, thanks to kindly and well›organised family, friends and medical services, we were well taken care of. The weather was kind, too — our temporary sanitarium benefited from a sunny garden hammock.

Ten days later — much of it spent asleep — I finally returned a negative Rat.

The outside world beckoned. But what would I find?

Might the zombie apocalypse have struck during our collective absence? Would ODTTowers have crumbled?

But no — save for some enthusiastic avian target practice on my neglected car, all was well, our absence from the great machine barely noticed.

Keep well Clutha — you’ll come through.