If you think I spent week watching for bloopers on EastEnders you ain’t had coronavirus, says Sun TV columnist Ally Ross


IN the normal course of things I wouldn’t have objected to catching this lurgy. But I went above and beyond with the coronavirus, not just washing my hands 30 or 40 times a day until they were red raw but boiling my gloves as well.

I took them off first, obviously, and even photographed the act, as I was aware this behaviour was a little “out there”.

HOAR columnist lost his appetite, had zero energy and was unable to stand upright without losing his breath

But, like the committed hypochondriac I am, I figured the ridicule was worth enduring so long as it provided one further line of defence against the invisible enemy which has us all surrounded.

The glove thing seemed to be working as well, right up until the time it wasn’t. And, on Sunday, March 15, I very suddenly became one of those symptom lists you read about.

Head in a “vice-like grip”? Check. Whole body feeling like it’s been in a car crash? Yes, and the bag didn’t inflate. Feverish? Oh boy, yes.  Chills? They’re multiplying.

There was the cough as well. A textbook dry, intermittent hack that’s had its moments but never really amounted to much and has left me in a grey area, medically speaking.

Testing has been out of the question, so to this day I still don’t know if I’ve had coronavirus or just something else horrible. The advice from Jake at 111 was unequivocal, though — “self-isolation” — and the response from everyone else was almost exactly the same.

“Ha ha. Not much different for you then.”

Ha ha. Indeed not.

They mean no harm, bless them. It’s the classic British response to bad medical news. They’re reassuring themselves, as you need to do with this thing.

Start to finish, Ally re-ran Scotland’s abortive Euro 2020 campaign
The Big Lebowski is pretentious rubbish

If you think I’ve spent the past fortnight sat monitoring EastEnders for minor continuity errors, though, you haven’t had coronavirus, or anything like it.

The thing does not lend itself to watching television as easily as you might think. Especially not during its first week when I was sleeping for anything up to 18 hours a day.

The time you are awake you’re in a lot of discomfort and unwilling to be reminded of your condition, which is what television is now doing incessantly, while trying to take moral ownership of the illness as well.

With endless spare time on my hands, I didn’t give up on the medium, though. I thought, in fact, it might be a good opportunity to watch some of those films I’d never got round to watching, like Get Carter, Lost In Translation and The Big Lebowski. It wasn’t.

I hated all three of them, especially The Big Lebowski (pretentious rubbish) — not because they were without merit but because I had no appetite, zero energy and was unable to stand upright without losing my breath, while watching them.

I shall now associate all three movies with misery, pain and paracetamol, for ever. About the same time I gave up on films, Sky’s Football HD channel played an even crueller trick on me, on Monday.

Start to finish, it re-ran Scotland’s abortive Euro 2020 campaign. The full chronological nightmare, starting with the 3-0 defeat in Kazakhstan, which I’d witnessed first-hand.

Get Carter didn’t go down well with Ally
Television is a fickle, uncaring beast and, with some honourable exceptions, like The Repair Shop
Ally hated Lost In Transation

A bullet to be dodged, surely? Reader, I watched the lot and, must confess, I found it strangely cathartic and quite funny, as well as sad.

Because it reminded me of a time when there was a life that stretched so far beyond the walls of my own little home isolation unit.

It provided a salutary lesson as well. Television is a fickle, uncaring beast and, with some honourable exceptions, like The Repair Shop, pretty useless at cheering you up in times of personal distress.

People, on the other hand, are amazing and came up trumps during my illness.

I’ve been particularly blessed with my amazing and generous East London neighbours, Fatima, Richard and David, who became aware, early on, what was happening (you think a journalist can keep this thing to himself?) and reacted accordingly.

Every day the buzzer would go, I’d hear footsteps beating a fairly quick retreat and by the time I’d shuffled my way to the front door, dinner would be sitting by my feet. They phoned regularly as well, to check on me.

Until, on Day 11, after a couple of false dawns (coronavirus plays nasty “fake recovery” tricks on you), the fever had lifted, I’d had my last night-sweat, could think straight again and even a hint of an appetite returned.

If this is being done for one miserable, solitary, middle-aged git who boils his gloves, I have not the slightest doubt that even more noble things are being done for all those in far greater need, and humanity will triumph over this illness, with something to spare.

In the meantime, my isolation continues for now and — if it so pleases the British comedy gods — no, it’s really not much different for me.