Saturday, 25 July 2009

The great swine flu disaster

I’m not sure if I mentioned it before on this blog, but I’ve recently mastered the art of time travel. I’ve invented my own Wellsian time machine with bits of piano wire, a Halfords car battery and an old Nokia phone and I’m actually writing this post in the summer of 2010. There’s not much to report from the future, to be honest. Things are pretty much ticking along as normal – except for Gordon Brown winning that unexpected landslide election victory, obviously, after he single-handedly saved the world from being destroyed by an asteroid. Oh, and the Tories were routed and have been replaced as the main opposition by the Top Gear party, led by Jeremy Clarkson. Anyway, I was at a bit of a loose end so I thought I would sort through some of my yellowing copies of old newspapers from the summer of 2009, when everyone was getting very worried about that dreadful swine flu pandemic. Here is a selection of the headlines from that period:

SCHOOLS MAY SHUT TO BEAT SWINE FLU: CALLS FOR PANDEMIC TSAR (THE MIRROR)

PIG IGNORANT: NEW SWINE FLU ADVICE LINES ARE MANNED BY MIGRANTS WHO BARELY SPEAK ENGLISH (DAILY STAR)

HE'S ONLY DOING THIS TO ESCAPE SWINE FLU IN MEXICO: WHAT LEAGUE 2 CLUBS THINK OF SVEN (THE SUN)

SWINE FLU IS ‘BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN A GENERATION FOR THE NHS’ (THE TIMES)

SWINE FLU THREATENS DEFLATION SLUMP: GDP COULD PLUNGE BY 7.5PC (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

IF YOU GET SWINE FLU ON HOLS: BRITS COULD BE STRANDED FOR WEEKS BY BUG (DAILY STAR)

£90BN SWINE FLU ADDS TO RECESSION: SICK WORKERS COULD TIP BRITAIN INTO DEFLATION (THE SUN)

AIRLINES TO TURN AWAY ‘SWINE FLU’ PASSENGERS: SNEEZING TOURISTS WILL NEED A DOCTOR'S NOTE TO FLY (THE TIMES)

CLUES FROM 1918 GRAVES WHICH MAY SAVE US ALL: RACE FOR SWINE FLU CURE AS PUPILS TRAPPED ABROAD (THE PEOPLE)

CHURCHGOERS ARE URGED NOT TO SHAKE HANDS IN SWINE FLU ALERT (THE MIRROR)

20,000 CASES OF SWINE FLU - AND ON TARGET FOR A MILLION (SUNDAY EXPRESS)

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY SWINE FLU (MAIL ON SUNDAY)

BECKHAM NIECE IN SWINE FLU SHOCK (THE MIRROR)

DON'T SEND CHILDREN TO SWINE FLU PARTIES, PARENTS WARNED (DAILY MAIL)

WIMBLEDON: FOUR BALL BOYS SENT HOME WITH SWINE FLU (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

CELEBS’ JUNGLE FEVER: SWINE FLU MAY WIPE OUT HIT REALITY SHOW (DAILY STAR)

SWINE FLU DOES WHAT THE NAZIS COULDN'T: CLOSE ETON (INDEPENDENT)

Some people here have been saying that, in retrospect, we all got a bit overexcited about something that, in the vast majority of cases, was best treated with some Lemsip and a bit of shuteye. But I say phooey. You can’t be too careful these days, and without the vigilance of the Fourth Estate who knows what havoc this potentially deadly virus could have wreaked.

Last week I also used my time machine to return briefly to 2009 so I could park it outside Broadcasting House and appear on Thinking Allowed on Radio 4, which (unless you’re reading this in 2010, like me) is still available for a few days on iPlayer at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00lpc8f/Thinking_Allowed_22_07_2009/

Mundane quote for the day: ‘There is something very English in the marriage of boredom and catastrophe, and the England that existed immediately after the Second World War appears to have carried that manner rather well, as if looking over its shoulder to notice that lightning had just struck a teacup. Reading the work of V.S. Pritchett or the absconded Auden, you pick up the notion that Europe had just come through a spell of bad weather, as though the only important question emerging from the war was about how it might have affected the course of English normality.’ - Andrew O’Hagan

4 comments:

  1. Emma Kilkelly25 July 2009 14:47

    I adore books on Time Travel. I love H. G. Wells 'The Time Machine'. I think Michael Crichton's 'Time Line' is fantastic, and Audrey Niffenegger's 'The Time Traveller's Wife' is excellent also; they're all extremely moving. I used to love the TV show 'Quantum Leap.' The 2002 film version of 'The Time Machine' (dir. Simon Wells) has a really great bit about 25 mins in, starting from the ground, moving upwards, with images portraying the changes in society - fashions changing in a clothes shop window, buildings, skyscrapers going up, aeroplanes, rockets, to eventually the view of earth from space. It made me think of your previous blog.

    If I could please borrow your time-machine, to get past all this swine-flu 'fever' I'd be very grateful thank you? I'm sick to death of hearing about it. Whilst I have every sympathy with people who are genuinely afflicted with this, I can't help but think that many people at my work place (and I'm certain other places too) are using this, as a convenient excuse for a few days off work! (With a flu-friend/buddy, there's no need to go to the doctors themselves - how convenient? Perhaps I'm being a bit unfair and cynical!)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was feeling a bit poorly earlier this week, so out of poorly boredom I put my symptoms into the NHS diagnosing website, a banner flew up, in red, bright red, saying: call 999! -er why? I’m just ‘a bit’ poorly… is that a crime, a fire or need of an ambulance? No. I chuckled at the oversensitive site, but at the other end of the scale I do worry about people being misdiagnosed and not getting treatment fast enough. Some cases must actually need a red banner. Common sense, that’s what’s missing. I sneezed earlier, swine flu? Maybe dust, I was cleaning after all. Suggestion, if ‘a bit poorly’ and bored, do some cleaning, leave the internet alone, it’ll only scare you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Brian de Leek.29 July 2009 17:56

    SWINE FLU HITS TEAM FOR SIX.
    15 on Tamiflu after virus spreads through cricket club.
    Fifteen members of a cricket club have been struck down with swine flu in less than 48 hours. Five first-team players of Longton Cricket Club are among the casualties being treated with the anti-viral drug Tamiflu.
    The Sentinel. July 29 2009.
    Cricket Scoreboard. Longton Innings.
    Five batsman out for a duck in same way.
    Caught.Flu. Bowled.Over.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is a terrific site! It has been very informative and useful to me. I have found several useful products. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your website. I find it really useful. Thank you so much for all the info. I received from your sites!
    Sara

    wow gold

    ReplyDelete