Test, testing times, put to the test, tested by bombardment of arguments around this issue of testing for Covid 19. Should you have the test? Do you have the virus? Have you had it? Will you get it again? These questions get conflicting answers, test my ability to fully understand, and also question the usefulness of any contribution I make to the debate. But my Granny used to say “Oh aye, nae show withoot Punch.”, whenever we insisted on being involved in whatever was going on, and we always took part. So …

Some are not slow to compare how the pandemic is being handled here with other countries. Singapore and South Korea have been held up as examples of government competence because of their use of population tracking. I can remember the majority here balked at the suggestion we should all be obliged to carry Identity Cards, never mind every movement being monitored, virus or no virus. Might we ask if such a move, earlier in the progress of the spread, would have been tolerated by our populace who had such an outcry when we learned the information gathered by the likes of Facebook? Data Protection? Cambridge Analytica?

What tests my reasoning power is, if I was infected on a bus, how would I know if it had been on the 31 on the way into town or the 26 on the way home, far less who else was on the bus at the same time? If I tested negative one day, what benefit would that be if I can be infected two days later? Will the presence of antibodies give me a misjudged sense of immunity, or a guarantee against re-infection?

Only those in the vanguard, whoever and wherever they are in their fights to keep it all functioning, know what would be best for them. We would all agree that they should be listened to, provided with appropriate testing and protection of the best it can be, to ensure the risk they face on our behalf is reduced as much as possible. The real test appears to be getting what is required to where it is required when it is required. Are those responsible for such provision passing or failing? Can we acknowledge that they are trying their best?

Health experts and armchair virologists, politicians and pundits, spend hours on radio and television from the safe distance of their front rooms and kitchen tables, discussing and expressing disparate opinion. It’s the speculation on peaks, flattening of curves, second waves, masks, and end of lockdown forecasts, that has a familiar resonance. Questions which cannot be reliably answered, not because of prevarication but because there is no answer, criticisms and apportioning blame, are beginning to echo the media hype we are subjected to around a referendum or general election.

Of course we have a democratic right to be kept informed but with that comes a responsibility to sift and judge what we are given as fact or what we are told because it is considered to be what we want to hear. How can a Prime Minister, hospitalised for tests, and what tests would they be, still be in charge of running the country when we are where we are? Not to mention what is going on behind the headlines. I am minded of the NHS and the US Trade negotiations. Where are we with the E.U. deal or no deal?

The test of patience must be a challenge if you are a parent with children or teenagers, trying to keep them occupied and at the same time maintain sanity around a home disrupted because the main earner is working from home.

I’m sure we have all experienced the rising frustration when we are told for the umpteenth time that our call is important and will be answered as soon as possible. Imagine trying to get through to the Job Centre about a benefit claim.

What an unimaginable situation to be in if you have to arrange a funeral for someone with whom you have been denied the comfort of saying your goodbyes.

Oh Dear Me! Any more and I will have myself using a precious tissue! But I hope that the acknowledgment of adversity being faced by many must mean that, when this is over, we put ourselves to the test of bringing change.

Hands washed after the nose blow, let me ask if anyone remembers picking the petals off a daisy, testing whether he loves me, he loves me not? Or the buttercup reflecting yellow under your chin to test if you like butter?

We used to have spelling tests every Friday afternoon at Primary School, and many #vulnerableage will be familiar with the Eleven Plus in P7. We didn’t know on the last day whether our best pal would be going to the same school because that depended on the results. I can imagine the disappointment of the children who will miss out on their planned celebrations, but they will reunite with their friends at Big School and they will forget what they didn’t have.

How disappointing for the senior pupils who won’t need to agonise over what they will wear to the now mandatory Prom. They will have worried over Personal Statements and worked thinking their future depended on subjects which will not be examined. There will be a cohort of young people who will miss out on the brown envelope, or email, results day anticipation, and the knowledge that what lies within will set their path for the near future and beyond.

The new Medical and Nurse Graduates have forgone their ceremonies and celebrations and are now working ahead of the time they planned. I hope for their Granny’s sake, they will have a proper graduation photograph with gown and scroll, to be proudly displayed on the shelf.

We could debate forever the value of tests and exams. My Granny passed her ‘Qualifying’ with high marks for Empire Studies. I still have the certificate. I can remember the letter saying I had passed the Eleven Plus, but in those days, “self praise was no honour”. Never mind – Ad Altiora Tendo!

Testing times indeed, for everyone in so many different ways, and one of the most challenging at the end of another week of hunkerin’ doon has been to keep up the positive perspective, and notice the advantages of #vulnerableage.

Happy to report they still crop up. There is the advantage of knowing that this will go on for quite a while yet, so the pressure is lifted from the To Do List. There is a new shine on my Granny’s brass slipper, bell lady and three legged pot because I was reunited with a not completely congealed tin of Brasso. I am enjoying morning coffee, via a webcam, with a family of elephants coming and going round a waterhole in an African game reserve, and there is time for closer attention to the antics of next door’s cat.

But then there was another test, of my resolve to limit myself to one hot cross bun per day.

Result: A good effort but could try harder!

2 thoughts on “Testing

  1. I’m not particularly for testing for the general public, for the same reasons, but very frustrated by the lack of testing for our NHS staff. What I think is even worse, is the empty promises about the number of tests that would be carried out in the very near future.

    However, I am feeling a bit bad about Boris right now. When he was stricken with the virus I did voice my wish that perhaps his ‘mild’ symptoms might cause him enough discomfort to make him reflect on the government’s failure to have checks at our borders. I did not wish the man to end up in intensive care and now feel like the bad fairy at Sleeping Beauty’s christening. Was Boris doomed by my prophesy?


    1. Yes, poor guy. Don’t take all the blame. There may have been a few like-minded folk feeling the same. I can’t help but comment on the irony. My friend received his cautionary letter to the people today.


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