Music, privilege, and virus incubators

Some music. This is Elizabeth playing The Blue Danube.

I learned recently that Aberdeen has been through all this lockdown business once before. In 1964 there was a typhoid outbreak and schools were closed, there were travel bans, and people died. The source of the outbreak was a single tin of corned beef. Meat is evil people! Go vegan.

I’ve noticed a lot of well-meaning but misguided privilege on the news and in social media. On the radio, I heard a health professional recommending individuals who are displaying symptoms to isolate themselves to a bedroom in their homes to avoid infecting other family members. They also suggested not sharing bathrooms. Many people don’t have the luxury of spare bedrooms and  second bathrooms. There are also images of wealthy people relaxing in their spa baths or on their estate or private yachts urging others to stay at home. This is not how most people live. Many are confined to tiny apartments where several people share rooms and bathrooms and with no outdoor space whatsoever, not even a balcony. Some are confined to small spaces with abusive partners whose abuse is now worse because of the pressures of plummeting income and young children stuck in the home in single-room houses. I can’t help but think that government actions in some places, like India, have created a bigger tragedy than the virus itself. Many impoverished people around the world would never have had access to hospitals and ventilators anyway but they are now starving and unable to earn money to feed their families so that rich people don’t get sick.

We are very lucky. I know it and feel it every day. I’m a homebody and an introvert so being confined to my home with my family is no hardship for me. Indeed, I was even a little pleased when I got an email from Deliveroo a few weeks ago offering to drop deliveries outside my home so I don’t even have to speak to them now. My favourite café is doing lunch and dinner deliveries and Aberdeen’s vegan café is doing grocery deliveries to the home. I never had these luxuries before.

I hope people who are struggling with confinement are thinking more about the conditions in which we keep billions of factory-farmed animals around the world who never get to breathe fresh air or see sunlight until they’re transported to their deaths, and who are crammed into tiny crowded cages and sheds for their short and miserable lives. And if people don’t care about the animals, then maybe they’ll care about the effect it has on themselves since there is a clear link between new pathogenic viruses and intensive farming systems and evidence that this pandemic may be self-inflicted. We don’t get to be cross with the Chinese when we have our own virus incubators.