Becky says things about … staying alert

Good day, isolators.

Frankly, I’m ashamed of you. The amount of confused confusion over and around the clearness of the clarity and non-unambiguity relating to and concerning the government’s recent and previous but now and continually updated guidelines on how we should act and behave and not misbehave not only but definitely now and also in the immediate and potentially foreseeable future, is pitiful.

The slogan ‘Stay alert’ appears to be the crux of the befuddlement, which is ridiculous because it’s self-explanatory and couldn’t be clearer. I mean, it’s not as though a load of oiks at Number 10 would just come up with a vacuous and meaningless slogan and hope the general public will just accept it and abide by its ambiguous instruction, is it? Think, you fools!

But as I’m a responsible citizen I thought I’d explain it to those of you whose brains have clearly been besmoggled by lockdown inertia and not doing enough crosswords.

The concept – nay, the science behind the ‘stay alert’ slogan – is essentially a 1,046.723% guarantee that we will be just as safe travelling on public transport, or sitting in an office, or sending our children to school, or meeting people in the park, or exercising outside 29 times a day, or buying a much-needed phormium tenax variegate from the local garden centre, as we were when we stayed at home. But how? the more dense amongst you are asking. Why are we allowed to start doing all this when hundreds 0f people a day are still dying of the virus and there’s no PPE and no vaccine and workplaces aren’t ready and don’t know how to put social distancing measures in place and it’s impossible to get on a train without having at least three people empty a bodily fluid onto you? 

Because, dunderheads, just do what the slogan tells you to do: stay alert. It’s foolproof! If you stay alert, you will see the virus coming. If you don’t stay alert, you will not see the virus coming. If you’re lolling about in a queue for a supermarket poking around on your phone instead of staying alert, you’re not going to see the virus scuttle up your trouser leg, up your jumper and into your mouth, are you?

So what should you do if, through your continued alertness, you see the virus?

If you see the virus, you should then – as the slogan advises – control the virus. If the virus approaches you, shout very loudly and clearly ‘I see you’ or simply ‘No no no’, and the virus should scuttle off into the distance, embarrassed. Or, consider purchasing a virus alarm. If you see the virus – which, again, to stress so there is absolutely no ambiguity, you will only do if you stay alert – blow four short blasts followed by six long blasts into your virus alarm and three officials from the Virus Apprehension Group (VAG) will immediately appear and control the virus by tackling it to the ground.

If you are being forced to go back to work because the government has told you to if you can’t work from home but you should definitely try to continue to work from home but if you can’t you should go to work but don’t go to work if you can work from home but do go to work anyway, despite the fact your employer doesn’t know what ‘Covid Secure’ means but has made it very clear to you that your employed days will be numbered if you don’t get the hell back to work even though you can technically work from home but they’d prefer you in work because they don’t want you to work from home, and you have no option but to travel by public transport despite the fact the government advises you not to travel on public transport and to work from home if you can but please do go to work, there are several things you can do:

1 – Stay alert. If you are alert the moment you leave your house, you are more likely to spy one of several thousand mythical animal volunteers who have signed up under the Mythical Animal Transport Scheme (MATS) to transport people to work who live miles away from their workplaces but don’t want to risk the virus-soaked air of busses and trains.

2- Stay alert. If you don’t manage to hitch a lift from a unicorn volunteer, stay alert on the Bakerloo Line by staying alert for the virus and staying alert to maintain social distancing and, as the government suggests, simply keeping your head turned away from other commuters, because, if you use your common sense, there is plenty of empty breathable air on the London Underground, you just need to be sensible enough to find it.

3 – Stay alert. Once you arrive at your workplace, do not question your employer’s dubious social distancing measures: your workplace will be Covid Secure. Covid Secure means that, due to a watertight combination of social distancing, staying alert and good old English common sense, it will be literally impossible for the virus to either enter or survive inside your workplace.

Some of you are also having problems with the government’s calculations about how we keep down the R rate and keep up the alertness and keep the things in the middle at an even level but not too much and as much as possible, so because you’re clearly all so dopey I’ve recreated the government’s helpful and extremely clear graphs as though I would for a toddler.

Speaking of toddlers, if, as a teacher, you’re unable to stop a class of 4 year-olds hugging each other or putting bits of the classroom in their mouths or all licking the same windowsill, quite frankly I’m not sure how you got to be a teacher in the first place, but as everyone appears to be so dense I’ll spell it out to you: use your common sense to instil common sense in the children, I mean this really isn’t difficult, a 4 year-old is bound to be understanding of the situation.

I trust that’s all clear now, because I hope you realise that if you now go to work or get on public transport or pop off to the garden centre and contract the virus, it will be as a direct result of not staying alert and therefore entirely your fault. What else can the government do to keep us safe other than release us back into society way before they originally said they would and give us extremely clear guidance on how not to be so witless as to catch the virus?

I know these things because I’m alert. I am so alert I haven’t slept since the government told me to be alert. This slogan came out last week. I am literally crippled with sleep deprivation but I am alert alert alert, and with a little bit of common sense, you could be too.

To test your own alertness I have devised a self-alertness test by inserting a picture of a chicken in this paragraph and if you see the chicken you

are clearly alert enough to go about your business and remain 1,046.723% safe from the virus. If you didn’t see the chicken you are clearly not alert enough and I suggest you just stay at home. Except don’t. Except do. Kind of.

Becky says things about … the dentist

I sit here before you, most ardently listening Listener, with a metal rod in my face.

No, I have not developed a penchant for elaborate facial piercings, or become involved in a vicious dispute with a steelworker – I have been to the dentist.

The dentist, Listener. The Tooth Attacker, the Oral Bandit, the Face Raider. Or, if you’re so disposed, the Smile Saviour, the Dental Happiness Lord, the Ivory Saint. Whatever you want to call them, a trip to the dentist is never enjoyable and always fraught with discomfort, humiliation and involuntary loss of dignity.

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The trip gets off to a bad start. The dentist’s chair itself is impossible to enter in a decorous manner.

‘Please take a seat,’ the dentist said to me yesterday.

‘Yeah, right,’ I thought, as one look at that chair told me that carrying out this simple task wouldn’t be calamity-free. Reclined like a lilo on a choppy sea, and flanked by table-like arms containing an evil plethora of lethal instruments, protruding wires, and stacks of highly expensive, breakable equipment, the only method of taking that kindly proffered seat was to perform a strange and ungainly backward shuffle, involving my bottom pointing obnoxiously towards the dentist’s face, a little jump over the arched seat, and an impact of my bottom with the chair that sounded like a hippo fainting.

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Then you’ve got to open your mouth. As wide as is humanely possible, wider than the anatomical limitations of your jaw will allow – but you’ve still got to do it.

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No one wants to have  someone peer intently at a part of their body and make a judgement. No one. True, every day we may think ‘He could drop a few pounds,’ or ‘She desperately needs to dye her hair’, but we have neither the tools, the mental determination, nor the social permission to carry out these physical alterations on another human being at whim.

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A dentist, on the other hand, has all those things. A dentist can peer into your mouth, think to themselves ‘Hmm… I’d much prefer upper 13 to be filled with lovely porcelain’ or ‘That faintly discoloured second molar would look far better round my neck’, and then say words to you that you don’t understand but that you know are bad words, and what’s more, you MUST OBEY THEM.

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For who are you to question them? Who are you to disagree when a trained professional tells you that if you don’t have your root replaced with a metal rod, your tooth will rot, crumble, explode soon after, and leave you in crippling pain and with unsightly swelling for life? Unless you have the knowledge to match theirs – and, as a very wise woman once said, ‘No one has the dental knowledge to match that of a dentist apart from another dentist’ – you really are in no position to quibble.

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So once this master of your mouth has decided which particular horrendous procedure they wish to perform on you, there begins a depressingly degrading process.

Your mouth will be sufficiently numbed so that your lips feel like whale blubber. Pneumatic drills will be forced into your face – the sound of a steel tip breaking down your precious pearly whites will haunt you for days – and a sullen, silent assistant will suck up your uncontrollably gushing saliva with a small vacuum cleaner. And that is perhaps the worst thing of all: the silent judgement of the dental assistant.

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Halfway through you may be ordered to rinse. There is that slow, terrible, saliva-filled journey as the back of the chair is made upright (no journey is ever so painfully lengthy), and you swirl an unidentified liquid round your deadened mouth, dribbling 90% of it down your chin like a mumbling, toothless old drunk, and what you hope will be a clean-cut spit into the basin turns into a half-wretch, half-fling of stringy phlegmy liquid that dangles from your lips like the wretched futility of your blackened soul.

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Then the prodding, the drilling, the sawing starts again. I had the second part of root canal treatment yesterday, and at one point I had what felt like a metal spear rammed so far into my upper gum that I felt it nudging my eye socket. My eye socket, Listener. Not content with assaulting the lower half of my face, this dentist attacked the upper part as well.

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And when you’ve been speared, stabbed, suctioned and dentally abused to within an inch of your sorry life, you must go through the dribbling rinsing process again, and then comes the hilarious punchline in this protracted and traumatic sick joke:

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You leave a broken, bloodied, bankrupt woman, a rod in your face, one side of your mouth hanging lower than your knees, and to top it all off, an ill-timed and premature sip of water on the bus results in you dribbling all of it down yourself in front of four disapproving elderly ladies.

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So I am left with a rod in my face, a filling the size of Finland, and a severely diminished dignity.

All offers of sympathy / empathy / cash are most welcome.