As a professional wordmonger I regard words with a degree of reverence. They are the raw material of my trade and as in any trade the finished product depends on the quality of the materials used. A cabinetmaker can’t create strong furniture with rotten timber. A baker can’t bake tasty cakes with weevil-infested flour.
This is why I read advertisements very carefully. I examine the words, taste them and tap them, listening for hollow or rotten spots. I become suspicious when I read phrases like “Up to”, and “now only”, “Up to 50% off” could mean 49% or 3%. Anything less than 50% fits the description. I often read scary reports on the coronavirus, saying things such as: “The UK has reported that 32000 people have died with the coronavirus, making their death toll higher than that of Italy.”
When I read that my beady wordmonger eyes focused on the word “with”. The report doesn’t claim the virus killed those thousands of people. It simply says that those people had tested positive before they died.
Remember that a great number of the deaths occur in care homes and retirement complexes, where people are already likely to be suffering from the ailments that affect the elderly – asthma or diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension. Okay, so before they died they had tested positive for Covid-19 too. Officially they died “with” coronavirus. Add them to the shocking statistics.
(I admit right now that I know hardly anything about virology or epidemiology. Probably not even as much as President Trump. But like him I am entitled to my own cockamamie theories. So here’s mine.)
If John Citizen had been suffering from chronic constipation for years and finally died after being run over by a taxi, do we see his death reported as “died with constipation”? No, we don’t. But when old Mr Bloggs finally dies in the care home from the asthma that’s been bothering him for the past five years, we learn that he “died with the Covid-19 virus”. All the residents of the home were tested for the virus and his test came back positive. We are told that many people whose tests come back positive are not even aware they have the virus. They simply go into self-isolation for a while, then get on with their lives. (Albeit lacking alcoholic comfort.)
As I see it, fit and healthy young people are unlikely to become seriously ill from the virus.
So the best defence against the global pandemic seems to be to stay as healthy as possible. Wash your hands, eat well, exercise well, stay young and keep at least 2m away from old or sick folks.
And remember red wine contains resveratrol, which is a powerful antibiotic.
We should be making more use of it. Just saying. Welcome to my cockamamie world.
A friend asked: “I hear you quit your job as a salesman and joined the police service. How are you liking it?”
“Oh the hours are long and the salary isn’t great, but the nicest thing about it is that the customer is always wrong.”
* “Tavern of the Seas” is a daily column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs. Biggs can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
By David Biggs