Covid-19 and the Surrender of the Masses

What is most startling in the present Covid-19 circumstances is the massive public accommodation to the onset of the coronavirus and the draconian measures deployed to combat it. Everywhere we look we see crowds streaming by wearing utterly useless masks, some with equally useless plastic visors over their masks. (Interestingly, domestic masking has yet to be scientifically approved by the FDA.)

Obviously, I am not referring to those who must wear masks under legal compulsion: to shop, to visit the doctor’s office, or simply to keep their jobs. They are the reluctant—and sometimes vocal—minority who know that masks contribute to hypoxia, which leads to immune deficiency; inhibit normal, intelligible conversation; eliminate facial expressions that serve as semantic cues in verbal exchanges; and extinguish basic signs and elements of human personality. Aside from the medical N-95, masks have zero preventive value. 

Masks, however, are only the cutaneous surface of widespread supine compliance with authority. What is no less distressing is that the majority of people are gratefully accepting of the supposed deterrent efficacy of a lockdown strategy that has caused enormous suffering and destroyed the economy of nations. It has also been responsible for a vast number of “excess deaths.” Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grudgingly admits there have been nearly 600,000 excess deaths due to “changed mortality patterns”—i.e., untreated medical conditions, suicides of despair, and “other causes.” Masks and lockdowns caucus together, doing irreparable harm. 

We give up.

Even the president of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, in his COVID-19: The Great Reset described COVID as not an existential threat and “one of the least deadly pandemics the world has experienced in the last 2000 years.” Of course, this is not to say that the situation is not serious; even a papaya can test positive for the virus. (I have heard that said papaya has quickly recovered and is doing well.)

But common sense suggests that all a lockdown does is lead to another lockdown ad perpetuum, since the locked-down do not build up immunity to the virus but continue to harbor it, and open the door for the continued production of mutant strains. In the words of the W.H.O., “As lockdowns become more prevalent, family spread will become more common.” 

There can be littler doubt that something even more sinister is going on here. Lee Smith points out in a brilliant essay titled Thirty Tyrants that lockdowns have never been used before as public health measures because they are actually instruments of political repression. They do not prevent contagion but allow for civic demoralization and political control of fearful populations.  

As Schwab has written in his various books, the “pandemic” furnishes an excellent opportunity for a Great Reset envisioning a pliable and submissive population under the authority of a global techno-oligarchy. It should give us pause that in his recent book, Stakeholder Capitalism, Schwab praises Communist China as a shining example of state-controlled capitalism, which is really another name for fascism.

This serves as a model for the political future. The process is already in operation in the form of United Nations Agenda 2030. It is called “sustainable development,” which it manifestly is not. This should be obvious to any thinking person. Yet the question rarely arises, while masks have now become designer-wear and lockdowns proliferate like The Fast and the Furious film sequels.

Many “ordinary people,” writes former police officer Jack Dunphy, have “for nearly a year…  been conditioned to submit.” But a combination of anecdotal and hard statistical evidence would strongly suggest that voluntary and even enthusiastic compliance is a far more significant factor. A recent IPSOS Reid poll reports that 93 percent of Canadians “say they are doing their best to abide by public health recommendations regarding Covid-19,” and that more Canadians “are wearing a protective mask than was the case just a few months ago.”

Our way or the highway.

Americans seem only marginally less passive and deferential than Canadians. According to the Tampa Bay Times, “two-thirds of American adults support mask mandates [and] just over half support lockdowns of nonessential businesses.”

Such people are unaware of the Great Barrington Declaration, signed by more than 54,000 independent public health scientists and medical practitioners, proposing the proper way of treating the pandemic and balancing “the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity.” This would allow “those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk.” It concludes:

Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures…should be practiced by everyone…Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume…while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.” Reports from highly respectable sources such as this or the CDC—and innumerable others—are easily found by any inquisitive mind interested in data and evidence.

The Declaration makes many sensible recommendations, which have been piously attacked by “authorities” who are vested in the perpetuation of punitive measures. Such is to be expected of our dictatorial elites, who have their own interests at heart, but one might have hoped for insight and pushback on the part of an exploited public. After all, studies like Great Barrington and indeed many other similar documents are readily accessible on the Net. And a simple perusal or mere scan of any of Schwab’s very affordable books would have given the political game away.

The strategies of manipulation adopted by our Schwabian elites and techno oligopolies can work only among populations that have experienced a watered-down and indoctrination-driven education system, that have been influenced by the postmodern and progressivist campaign—now called “wokeism”—against the usages, traditions and core moral principles of Judeo-Christian civilization, that are no longer accustomed to reading—the army of the unlettered is vast, laments the intellectually formidable Theodore Dalrymple— and that have been materially distracted by a digital culture resulting in dwindling attention spans and intellectual deficits. In this latter regard, Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains tells a distressingly familiar story.

Which is another way of saying that the lockdown from which we are suffering is not only physical, it is also cognitive and cerebral, and antedates the virus by decades, if not longer. It is the prior lockdown of the mind that ensures our passive and obedient assent to the lockdown of the body. It is now well known that IQ scores in the West are in worrisome decline. The decay of IQ was studied systematically in a 2006 landmark paper by Richard Lynn and John Harvey, detailing country by country a period of both declining genotypic (genetic source) and phenotypic (societal metrics) intelligence in the modern world. Innumerable studies have since followed confirming these results, many of which I detailed in this article.

It is no stretch to suggest that the compliance with the dictates of authority regarding Covid is a determining sign that the features we generally tend to associate with intelligence—wide-ranging curiosity about the world, independent judgement, analytical perspicuity, intellectual skepticism, the valorization of and search for objective truth, and the passionate desire to know—are in critical abeyance and likely what the depression in IQ scores is tracking.

This was the great fear of José Ortega y Gasset, who in his landmark The Revolt of the Masses anatomized the tendency of the modern masses “to win for themselves the right to despise intelligence and to avoid paying it any tribute.” Ortega saw intelligence as an obligation—as something to be striven for through autodidact learning and personal integrity and esteemed wherever it may be found—along with courtesy and truthfulness. The absence of these qualities, he felt, rendered us “half ridiculous, half disgraceful.”

The apparent enthusiasm… for the afflicted and for social justice, serves as a mask to facilitate the refusal of all obligation.

Analogously, Australian political theorist Kenneth Minogue in The Liberal Mind, a crucial text for our time, explored the “moral and political evasions” from which modern liberalism suffers, focusing in part on “the successive and rapid enfranchisements of large and inarticulate masses of people” who represent the popular will.

Unfortunately, the popular will is “confused, immoral, inconvenient or otherwise defective.” As such, Minogue argues, people are susceptible to the “propaganda function of needs doctrine”; in the current context, for example, political authority declares that masks and lockdowns are survival needs, and a ductile and frightened electorate accepts the “vise-like grip which nothing will shake” of “needs conceptions.” Intellectual clarity is required to weigh and balance different conceptions of need and to assess which needs are real needs and which are deceptive.

The face of the New Normal.

How the masked and the locked-down can interact with people, hold down jobs, process information and contribute to the preservation of society remains a mystery. The best hope for the approximate revival of a spirit of pragmatic discernment and intellectual clarity lies not in the general public but in the emergence or return of responsible and astute leadership.

Despite the decline in IQ, or common intelligence, there may yet be a course correction to forestall the terminal collapse of everyday life and the total devastation of the economy. As Samuel Beckett famously concluded The Unnamable, “you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.” But the future will remain always problematic. For the complicit, the fearful, the virtue-signallers, the shamers, the informers, the submissive, the unwitting, the poorly educated and the credulous—in short, the compliant masses that Ortega and Minogue despaired of—are a significant part of that future.

The Mask of the Red (Covid) Death

Just this morning I was looking out my window at the esplanade that borders the Fraser River when a couple strolled by and paused for a moment beside the guardrail. They were, of course, fully masked, though as a couple they were exempt from the Covid distancing rules. As they turned to leave, they embraced and exchanged a long kiss, mask to mask, which would have made a charming scene were it not so grotesque, two masks glued together in surreal intimacy.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam would have felt vindicated. “Like other activities during Covid-19 that involve physical closeness,” she advised, “there are some things you can do to minimize the risk of getting infected and spreading the virus.” The safest strategy is to “skip kissing, avoid face-to-face closeness, wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose.”

Of course, Tam’s counsels were meant for casual encounters, but why stop there? Safety first—and second, third, ad infinitum, the Covid way of life. In fact, you can’t be safe enough. According to this expert, the sexual activity with the lowest risk “involves yourself alone.” Talk about self-isolation! 

Be fruitful and don't multiply.

Similarly, the provincial Center for Disease Control advises people, among the “tips and strategies [and] protective steps” sexual partners should adopt, to “wear a face covering or mask,” which cuts down on “heavy breathing,” or to “use barriers, like walls (e.g., glory holes), that allow for sexual contact but prevent close face-to-face contact.”

One should also consider that “video dates, phone chats, sexting, online chat rooms and group cam rooms are ways to engage in sexual activity” without taking risks. Most important, recognize that “you are your safest partner.” Best to go it alone and avoid close contact with others. However, “If you’re feeling fine and have no symptoms of Covid-19, you can still have sex.” Permission has been granted. 

It is obscene that unelected officials in the sublimity of their wisdom can tell us how and when to perform intimacy. The idea is not only hideous, but on a human level fundamentally alienating, an antidote to the normal expression of human passion and romantic feeling—especially when the risk for younger and asymptomatic people is vanishingly low.

As the American Institute for Economic Research reliably reports, cutting through the panic and the hype, there is “a mortality rate of 0.01 percent, assuming a two-week lag between infection and death. This is one-tenth of the flu mortality rate of 0.1 percent.” Sucharit Bkakdi, a leading microbiologist at the University of Mainz and, unlike Tam, a genuine authority on the virus, gives an estimate “of 0.1 percent-0.3 percent, which is the range of moderate flu.”

No matter. When I venture out for my afternoon walk along the esplanade, I feel as if I’m entering a carnival horror arcade or a grade-C zombie flick. Nearly everyone is masked, not only the elderly who may be in the statistical danger zone, but the middle aged, families, bicyclists, joggers, younger people, children and even toddlers, who are effectively immune.

True, very few are kissing or engaging in indecorous activity, but that is no consolation. The sense of the eerie, of something morbid and freakish this way coming, is deeply distressing, no less than the abject compliance with government mandates in the absence of common sense or intelligent reflection.

A recent IPSOS Reid poll finds that 93 percent of Canadians “say they are doing their best to abide by public health recommendations regarding Covid-19.” The poll reports that more Canadians “are wearing a protective mask than was the case just a few months ago,” and that “support for safety measures remains high.” Support for critical scrutiny and independent inquiry into the facts does not.

Home sweet home.

We are living in the Age of Covid, enjoined or compelled to stay in our “bubble,” to practice “social distancing” (six feet is the officially designated distance, the same as the typical grave depth), and to wear those ghastly medical ornaments, multi-ply masks, over half our faces.

Over time, coercion has turned into willing consensus and self-enforced mutilation of the spirit; a fearful and pliable public has surrendered its autonomy of judgment to a statistical reign of terror practiced by ignorant and power-hungry politicians and their self-serving health officials. People have suffered a mental lockdown, a form of cerebral morbidity. As Stephen Kruiser writes:

The lockdowns ruined far more lives than they’ve saved—if they’ve saved any at all. The data on wearing masks has been kind of all over the place too. Those who’ve been spreading the pandemic panic porn for political purposes treat the masks as if they have super powers. We will more than likely find out that wearing them was all just so much useless theater too.

The mask has become the major symbol of a time when human relationships, what we used to call face to face contact, are relics of a receding past. Facebook was bad enough, when personal reciprocity was replaced by digital transmissions and friendship became “friending.” Now Facebook has become Facemask, eliminating the human smile, articulate speech, normal conversation and personal expressions while transforming sexual and romantic intimacy into a lurid caricature of communion, affection, affinity and warmth—the empty husk of human presence.

In a poem delightful for its insouciant humor, Canadian poet Michael Harris wished to be “among the essential kissers of all time.” The volume, New & Selected, appeared in 1998. He would have had another think coming had he written his poem today.

Biden to Execute Keystone Pipeline via E.O.

The Biden campaign's strategy was to hide their candidate in the basement while letting a fawning press make the case for him as president. This case was short on substance and long on impression, particularly the impression that the former V.P. is a moderate, working-class guy and a statesman who would restore America's reputation in the world and restrain the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren/AOC wing of the party.

Well, with the election over Biden's priorities are starting to become clear. They are anything but moderate and, insofar as they unnecessarily antagonizing one of our closest allies, neither are they statesmanlike.

This past weekend a memo written by incoming chief of staff Ron Klain was released which outlines the executive orders Biden plans to implement immediately upon taking over the White House. Highlights on this list -- which the Associated Press calls "a 10-day blitz of executive actions... to redirect the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency without waiting for Congress" -- include immigration reform; a national face mask mandate (mandating that they be worn on all federal property and "during interstate travel," whatever that means in practice); and an extension of the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures and the "pause" on student loan payments.

Among the memo's most consequential items is the bullet point which reads "Roll back Trump enviro actions via EO (including rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit)." That is, on his first day in office tomorrow Biden plans to employ the "pen and phone" tactic to kill a multimillion dollar international project that employs tens of thousands of people (in two countries!) in the midst of a pandemic-created recession. This is madness.

Canada vs. the Democrats.

Meanwhile, in Canada, the Trudeau government are scrambling to make the case that this move is unnecessary from an environmentalist perspective. Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., Kiersten Hillman, released a statement on Sunday saying "The government of Canada continues to support the Keystone XL project and the benefits that it will bring to both Canada and the United States.” She went on to stress that the Keystone project was more environmentally friendly than the one the Obama administration rejected in 2015:

Not only has the project itself changed significantly since it was first proposed, but Canada’s oilsands production has also changed significantly. Per-barrel oilsands (greenhouse gas) emissions have dropped 31 per cent since 2000, and innovation will continue to drive progress... Keystone XL fits within Canada’s climate plan at a time when our economic recovery is a top priority... there is no better partner for the U.S. on climate action than Canada as we work together for green transition.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney took a slightly more aggressive tone, saying: "Should the incoming U.S. administration abrogate the Keystone XL permit, Alberta will work with [pipeline owners] TC Energy to use all legal avenues available to protect its interest in the project."

These appeals are unlikely to sway Team Biden, who are riding a wave of anti-Republican sentiment in the wake of the recent disturbance at the Capitol. They believe they have a window of opportunity to make some big, cost-free moves which will garner them goodwill with activists but will be forgotten by voters still focused on the Trump show.

This could well be a miscalculation on their part. The issues which gave rise to Trump in 2016 won't go away when he does. And the most important of those, the alienation of America's working class since the end of the Cold War, will be aggravated by virtue signaling environmentalist moves like the cancelation of Keystone.

It’s Time to Stop Wearing Masks

I refuse to wear a mask. I believe, as many people do—but not enough to make a wrinkle in the vast bubble of mass delusion—that masks are largely ineffective. But the consequences of holding to this belief and appearing in public without a mask can be quite unpleasant.

My experience in the streets and shops of my city will be familiar to those who feel as I do. The masked give me a wide berth. Others stare balefully from the only exposed part of their faces. On occasion I find myself in confrontation with those who believe I am a “spreader” to be mocked, shamed, condemned and threatened.

COVID Rage is all the rage. And I am always astounded by the level of ignorance wedded to self-righteousness among the unvisaged, the tendency to follow the diktats of their political leaders and government appointed medical officers without question, and to accept implicitly the reports of a suborned media apparatus. The lack of common sense and the unwillingness to conduct independent research are truly staggering, if entirely predictable. Instead of herd immunity, we have herd mentality.

Masks are not only unsightly, even grotesque, but they obscure proper articulation—I rarely understand what these people are trying to say—and eliminate all signs of personality. One feels one is trapped inside a particularly lurid Zombie movie.

Become the lie.

More importantly, masks are generally useless. The weave and filter are not resistant to the miniscule COVID virion. Wearing masks has been compared to setting up a chain-link fence to keep out flies. Former naval surgeon Dr. Lee Merritt has done the research.

Viruses are passed by tiny micron particles, she explains, “that sneak out through the mask and around the mask.” As Merritt points out, the popular meme of “viral load,” which masks are said to reduce, is misleading; it takes only one COVID micron and a compromised immune system to trigger the infection. So much for director of the HIV Clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Monica Ghandi’s argument that masks significantly reduce ingestion of viral particles, and that masking can make you “less sick.” A mask is not a silver bullet, it is a blank cartridge.

We might note that the more sophisticated N-95 masks, which are used by medical personnel, provide insecure protection. Medical Life Sciences tells us that the diameter of a COVID particle ranges from 60 to 140 nanometers (nm) and that N-95 masks are non-functional under 100 nm, rendering them only 50 percent effective at best. As the founder of American Frontline Doctors .Simone Gold, states “The facts are not in dispute:  (cloth) masks are completely irrelevant in blocking the SARS-CoV-2 virus.” N-95s bring their own problems, as noted below. (Naturally, she has been roundly attacked by “medical cancel culture”). 

Droplets are apparently another matter, being larger than aerosols and thus impeded by masks, whether on the receiving or emitting end. A little common sense tells us that droplets evaporate and the particles hitching a ride on them remain to be breathed in or out. Moreover, a CambridgeCore study concludes that “any mask, no matter how efficient at filtration or how good the seal, will have minimal effect if it is not used in conjunction with other preventative measures, [including] regular hand hygiene.” Since wearers are frequently adjusting their masks, regular hand hygiene is by no means practical or possible. Aerosols or droplets, same difference.

But there is another side to the problem. ScienceDaily, citing a study conducted at the University of New South Wales, indicates that “cloth masks can be dangerous to your health.” This is also true for the much-hyped N-95. Prolonged wearing is likely to cause hypoxia (diminished oxygen supply). The masker breathes in his own CO2, leading in some cases to grogginess and even somnolence—the reason birds in winter conserve energy and warmth and sleep at night by tucking their heads under their wings.

People who drive masked are asking for trouble. People who wear masks for extended periods are at risk. Hypoxia can also lead to a condition of immune cell dysfunction. The immunologic consequences can be critical, causing neurological damage and rendering the individual susceptible to whatever pathogens are lurking in his own system or in the air around him. This alone is a reason not to wear masks—and certainly not for excessive periods. Even the more reliable surgical masks must be changed frequently. (Plastic face shields are no solution since the larger surface area acts a storehouse for the viral molecule.)

Obviously, the pro-and-con controversy over the efficacy of masks is particularly contentious. Political and professional reputations are at stake, especially in journals and institutions with a distinctive leftist bias. Politics will mostly trump science, and the common observer must be scrupulously careful in evaluating evidence.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that trusted data sources like the W.H.O., The New England Journal of Medicine, and The Lancet are profoundly compromised and have been compelled to revise or retract some of their studies and surveys. But it is interesting to note that The Center for Evidence Based Medicine (CEBM) finds that “despite two decades of pandemic preparedness, there is considerable uncertainty as to the value of wearing masks… assuming 20% asymptomatics and a risk reduction of 40% for wearing masks, 200,000 people would need to wear one to prevent one new infection per week.” 

Timothy Taylor at Conversable Economist points to many random controlled trial studies that “do not find a reason to wear a mask.” Wired magazine is also ambivalent regarding data, stating: “the research literature on mask usage doesn’t provide definitive answers. There are no large-scale clinical trials proving that personal use of masks can prevent pandemic spread; and the ones that look at masks and influenza have produced equivocal results.” 

Such a “large scale clinical trial” has, in fact, just been conducted. A major Danish controlled study involving 6000 participants, the only study of its kind, has been predictably rejected by three medical journals. One of the researchers, Thomas Lars Benfield, states that publication will have to wait until “a journal is brave enough to accept the paper.” The Lancet, among others, won’t touch it, as is to be expected.

Reviewing the travesty, Conservative Review editor Daniel Horowitz wonders “how many other scientific and academic studies covering an array of very consequential policy questions rooted in scientific debate are being censored because they don’t fit the narrative of the political elites?” And indeed, why is NIAID Director Anthony Fauci disinclined to pursue a controlled study on the effectiveness of masks? Of course, like CNN journalist Chris Cuomo and Canada’s Minister of Health Patty Hajdu, Fauci was spotted not wearing a mask in public. Do as I say, not as I do.

Masks work. Just ask Dr. Fauci.

By the same token, Bioengineer Yinon Weiss at The Federalist shows via data comparison and representative graphs of seven European countries and three American states that renewed mask compliance has led to an exponential spike in infection rates, in some case by as much as 1500 percent. Weiss cites major international studies, as well as the U.S. surgeon general and the Centers for Disease Control, revealing the ineffectiveness of commercial masks. Masks, lockdowns and quarantine protocols merely delay the development of herd immunity and are practically guaranteed to prolong the epidemic. Nevertheless, fear not only of the disease but also of punitive measures and of being conspicuous dissenters exposed to social opprobrium are operative factors.

Mask hysteria seems primed to continue. Psychiatrist Dr. Mark McDonald calls the standard response to the virus “a pandemic of hysteria… a delusional psychosis…It is killing us physically, mentally, socially, psychologically.” Masks dehumanize us and make us timid and afraid, vulnerable to the designs of our political masters seeking, as Weiss writes, “to twist the pandemic for political and electoral purposes.”

The situation has grown even more perverse. We seem to have reached a point where government propaganda and coercion are no longer necessary. People have become the servants and enablers of the state, having by and large internalized the official compulsion and are now their own stringent monitors and self-appointed mask police—the final ingredient in the time-tested recipe for totalitarian control. Swallow the lie. Become the lie. Enforce the lie.

Enforce the lie.

At best, mask wearing should be discretionary. If you wish to wear a mask no one can legally prevent you from doing so. But some things are clear. Masks should not be mandated by political authority since (1) the requirement to do so is an infringement of the Charter rights of free citizens living in a democratic state; (2) masks are largely, and perhaps in most cases wholly, ineffective; and (3) they can be demonstrably harmful to one’s health and the health of other people.

Ironically, mask wearing is the real risk, not only delaying or preventing the development of immunity while inducing a false sense of comfort, but also acting as a disease incubator, and a conceivable threat to non-maskers. A highly qualified friend who has diligently studied the virus for the last six months writes: “Mask wearers are becoming an additional potential source of environmental contamination, increasing not only their own but the risk to others.”

I do my best to avoid maskers, although it is difficult considering the numbers.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Testing

I’m headed back to Annabel’s country house and not a moment too soon. The earth has become just a bit too stupid for me with the world’s most unattractive people literally barking through their masks at someone who is either not masked, or not masked well enough to suit. Self-professed experts every last one of them. Google Graduates is what I call them. And where do all these people hide the rest of the year? We don’t see them at Equinox or in church or at the cosmetic counter because these are the ugliest people on the planet —the people who creep out at night and find the only open chip shop and skulk home undetected. Yes, I know I’m being very naughty today but honestly why step out into the world if you are just going to pollute it with your trés désagréable ways?

And if I may…didn’t they watch the NHK videos that showed how yelling like a fishwife pushed more micro-droplets into the air? Granted I likely missed bits in the translation, and it is unlikely the Japanese have an equivalent for “fishwife” but I think you get the picture. And don’t they know that commercial and industrial masks with valves are made specifically to keep nano-particles from being breathed IN? They are one-way masks, suited for industrial environs, and the wearer expels wholly unfiltered air—so in society they are the absolute limit in selfishness. But it is always these people yelling at the rest of the world, expelling the most micro-droplets—and the most hatred. Most assuredly these are also the people littering my beloved oceans with their discarded masks, gloves, and bottles of hand sanitiser—coming soon to a sea turtle near you.

Inches from the gates of grace and civility (Annabel’s), I was dying for a cup of tea. I’d traveled over two hours by motor car and had a devil of a time finding a hostess gift that could be wrapped and delivered today. But Annabel did not greet me, nor did anyone I recognised, just someone who asked my name twice and led me to a different room than I was accustomed to. I used the time to answer emails from my beauty followers, paid my bills back in Los Angeles and slathered on a gommante mask. I fell asleep straight away waking up with a very tight and cracking plaster coating that had also dripped into my ears and hardened. Clearly I would have the most exfoliated ears at dinner tonight.

Home, sweet home.

There was a quiet buzz downstairs and although I wanted to sleep through till morning I tiptoed downstairs in a fresh change of clothes that could still pass as having just arrived attire. They were of course hot, and sweating and headed up to change clothes themselves—so my outfit was a waste as I’d now be dressing for dinner as well. I hung up my linen dress and changed into a robe, set an alarm for forty minutes, and lay perfectly still so as not to mess up my hair or make-up.

I finally found Annabel, who had gotten far too much sun, and I told her so. “It’s cumulative,” I reminded, and she certainly does know better. That was the extent of my time alone with her as someone I vaguely recognised remembered my name without giving me the benefit of hearing his.

“How have you been?” he leaned in to ask as if we were actually friends. Lord, why this person when I never even got that cup of tea?

“Surely you know,” I said, hoping this would put him off. But forty minutes later he was seated across the table, and no I hadn’t remembered his name in forty minutes time.

“Last time we saw you…”

“WE?? Who is we?” I snapped.

“I just meant the last time we…the last time I saw you here, you were with that fellow, Trevor.”

“WITH him?" I queried.

“Well you two looked to be sharing the most delicious secret.”

Seriously, who is this clown? I took a large gulp of wine, changed my countenance, and behaved as though we had indeed changed the subject. If he wasn’t leaving by morning I was going to have to talk to Annabel about future seating arrangements.

“It’s just that I understood you to be an environmentalist… a true environmentalist and I’d heard Trevor sells rainforest wood as his profession.” he droned on.

“Yes, that’s right,” I said, “partially right. I’m a life coach who has done some very important things for the planet but I’m not an environmentalist by profession. And Trevor… the gentleman who was a guest here... did mention some business in South America but I really can’t speak for him.

Just then Annabel shot me a look as if to say sorry. I needed rescuing, and well beyond his conversation, I could barely keep my eyes open. I motioned to Annabel and slipped away up to my room. Exhausted I unzipped my cocktail dress and flopped onto the bed; teeth and mascara would have to wait as I fell into the deepest coma-like sleep and didn’t wake up until several hours later.

Oh how I now wished I was back in Hawaii, with piles of days ahead of me and no one to care about the hours I kept. Where I could sleep and wake and sleep again like a never-ending Saturday of my youth. There was a text on my phone asking if I could do a ten-minute COVID beauty cameo on a friend’s show. Seriously? COVID beauty? She must just mean a repeat of my clarifying treatments when wearing masks. I looked at the time, texted “yes” and set my alarm for another three hours. This too was interrupted. Annabel needed me for some reason or another and couldn’t come herself.

I checked my face in the mirror, I looked fine actually, my hair still pretty much perfect and my eyes a deeper green than usual. Odd that, but I couldn’t go down in my cocktail dress—or could I?

When I got to her Annabel was burning up. Something more than a low-grade fever and of course not a thermometer in the house. I found paracetamol in her cabinet and then went straightaway to make a fever-reducing tonic I’d learned from a Russian woman, the smell of which is not altogether pleasant but the result, nearly instantaneous. An hour later I was having to re-apply as we waited to hear from her doctor. I set my alarm for every two hours, repeating all of my witching treatments and forcing her to drink the various things I thought would help. I mean, I knew they would help I just didn’t know how many I could get her to swallow before she declared me her mortal enemy.

I was still in my cocktail dress.

Her fever was substantially lower to my touch—nearly gone, so I set her housekeeper to task with making only slightly more edible soups and dragged Annabel into her dry sauna. I hate saunas myself and I was exhausted. She must employ half the county and it’s down to me slaving over her?

The doorbell rang, it wasn’t the doctor but Annabel’s hostess gift a day late. When the doctor finally did arrive I wanted to throttle him but I was still in my cocktail dress. He did little to see how she was faring and went straight away to testing her for Coronavirus. Then me, then everyone else in the house. I made him do my test a second time because I had no fever and despite being rather tired, I felt fine, and neither of us had coughed.

More importantly, I gave him the slightly enviable task of sending Annabel’s guests packing. And now I’d never have to learn the philistine’s name. I’d missed doing the spot on my friend’s beauty show but now I had a COVID beauty vlog of my own—everything from fever magic to preventing broken capillaries because let’s be honest…nearly everyone recovers, and when one looks better, one feels better. Isn't that right?