Have Yourself an Isolated Christmas

Self-Isolating Calendar

We had a faint positive lateral-flow test in the family last Saturday and so have to selfisolate until next Tuesday, despite negative PCRs all round and no definitive Covid symptoms (although with Omicron it’s harder to tell). The chance of false positive LFTs is low, so we have to assume this one wasn’t, and Track and Trace want us to isolate either way, even with negative PCRs and multiple jabs. It’s not how we would have liked to spend the week running up to Christmas, but the rapid rise in cases was already putting paid to those plans; everyone here seems to have entered voluntary de facto lockdown in lieu of actual lockdown. The street has been unnaturally quiet all week.

What a fitting end to another difficult year. Looks as if January 2022 won’t be much better either. Hope you and yours can keep safe.

24 December 2021

On a Dark Desert Highway

Omicron, I can’t believe it, I’ve never been this far away from home.

How Covid stays one step ahead of us.

How one scientist concluded that Covid began with a spillover at Wuhan’s wet market.

Why some people pretend Covid doesn’t exist. ICU is full of the unvaccinated.

How protein-based Covid vaccines could change the pandemic.

Pandemic nostalgia.

28 November 2021

Breathing Room

Two weeks ago today I wasn’t feeling quite right, and thought I’d better do a lateral flow test from the kit we’d recently been given, just in case. Within moments I was confronted with this:

My positive lateral flow test result, 7 September 2021


Read more…

21 September 2021

The Mask

Masks littering the pavements of Polwarth and Morningside, August 2021.
Typical mid-pandemic sights. Mouseover for more.


31 August 2021

She’ll Be Right

Watching developments in Australia from the vantage point of Plague Island has been a weird mixture of reassurance and fearfulness. In the early weeks of the pandemic J. and I were worried that our families there would catch Covid while we were stuck over here and unable to travel back. When it became clearer that the risk of that was much smaller than in Britain, the worry was just that we wouldn’t get to see them for a long, long time. It’s two years since I last saw my folks, and will be at least another. But at least they’ve been safe.

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1 August 2021

A Year On

Five pandemic mistakes we keep repeating.

The best and worst places to be in the pandemic. How your country compares.

How Iceland hammered Covid with science. The world’s unlikeliest pandemic success story.

The hunt for Europe’s earliest, crucial Covid-19 deaths.

The pandemic heroes who gave us the gifts of time and information.

Britain’s outbreak through the eyes of a New Zealand nurse.

Michael Rosen on what it feels like to nearly die.

Their noses paid the bills. Then Covid took their sense of smell.

I used to be a stand-up comedian.

Read more…

17 March 2021


This is no time to neglect the blog, with covid cases rising steeply in the UK, the first visible impacts of Johnson’s hard Brexit, Trump rallying his thugs to storm the Capitol on the sixth, and the prospect of worse in the next nine days. America is playing out all of my fears of four years and two months ago, and like much of the world I’m holding my breath.

But a new lockdown in Scotland has meant that the kids didn’t return to school on the sixth and probably won’t for another month and a half at least, and four of us are trying to make this a workplace and a school and a studio and a cinema and a home and a refuge and an escape under the same modest roof again. January is always a busy month, with new courses coinciding with marking last semester’s, and this year I have additional management duties and less time in the day to manage them, so I don’t have much hope of doing much here. But I’m posting this anyway, to put in place this month’s sidebar of this morning’s frosty window and leave the door ajar in case I feel compelled to vent about the state of the world.

12 January 2021 · 1 Comment