Yesterday, January 5th, I chuckled at a tweet from James O’Brien, referencing the mysterious current invisibility of the person placed in charge of the UK Test and Trace system which, by most measures in the real factual world, is not living up to the £22bn so far dished out to make it work.

This was particularly pertinent to me as, just two days before, Mrs S and I carried out a hands-on test of the system.

This is actually more an any sort of medical qualification hands-off in real life, as the Covid testing was one of those drive-in, stay in the car tests you do yourself. Stick a umm… sticky thing down your own throat until you hit a tonsil (or where one used to be), gag, then do it again on the other side. Then wiggle the same sticky thing up your nose so far you’re convinced it’s actually swabbing the front of your brain. This is all under mobile phone instructions from a luminously hi-vis, gloved and masked, minimum-waged Serco operative stood outside the car.

By the way, it always makes my mind boggle when you think of the technology that goes into turning your voice into a digital signal, beaming it from your phone to a mast many miles away, some system somewhere finds the phone with the number you are calling, and beams it back to that phone–that’s two feet outside your car window–and reconfigures it into a voice just slightly less muffled than the one you can hear through that car window. Amazing.

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So then on Monday, the results came through at home via email and text.
Me, negative.
Mrs S, positive.

Which was a head-scratcher really. Although Mrs S has been the one nipping up to the village shop and occasionally to town–due to my officially ‘vulnerable’ status, not laziness–neither of us has been out of the house since since Christmas, apart from walking the dog. And I couldn’t really work out why, as a man and wife sharing the same space, driving and walking and living and moaning at each other in a completely normal way, why I wouldn’t have the virus if she does.

Anyway, Mrs S, on receipt of her notification and being a good citizen, dutifully fills out her contact tracing form with details of those few acquaintances she knows she has spoken to in person in the last week or so.

All of me.

Yesterday, January 5th, just after reading and smiling at the above tweet, I get both a text and email notification.

My wife had in fact already notified me that she had tested positive one day ago, by virtue of the hi-tec “Bloody hell, I’ve tested positive!” shouted exclamation from her craft room to my study. (Incidentally, these rooms all sound very posh, but they were previously ‘why use a dining room when you can have a meal on your lap in front of the telly in the living room‘ and ‘computer desk squeezed into spare room and shared with boxes of stuff eventually bound for attic storage after a couple of years waiting‘. Yes, they have been ‘sexed up’ to be the ‘study’ and ‘craft room’ which, ironically, there’s probably not enough space for in either room).

But, £22bn later, I have been officially notified by the system that I should of course isolate myself as well now. Obviously, we were interested to find out officially how long for, although the rarely spotted ‘common sense’ might suggest that it should really be ‘for as long as my wife has to‘, plus a few days to be safe.

So, it’s all obviously still going really well and makes complete sense.

The day after we find out about our results (4th January–and which I still think is a complete mystery anyway), the system has swung into action and told me that I’ll be fine to carry on as normal on the day the notice itself arrived (5th January), even though I am still living and moaning with a person who has tested positive and is required to isolate for another ten days after the positive test herself.

Although of course, within the current lockdown rules that are pretty much ‘stay at home’ now, inadvertently it’ll probably all work out safely enough for everyone else anyway.

Worth every penny.

PS: We are both pretty well and not suffering any of the nasty or ill effects that Covid can bring so far, apart from Mrs S not having any taste which, as she is married to me, people have been telling her must have been the case for years anyway.

PPS: This morning’s mail has just brought an NHS letter to Mrs S, informing her that it is not too late to get a flu vaccination shot.


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