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Laugh or lie down

Published on 23rd March 2020

Isolation does wonders for spare time, so I've written this blog. It's my small way of offering support for everyone facing the Coronavirus. In one way or another, that's the whole of humanity.

This blog isn't for anyone in particular, but everyone - all human beings who breathe, worry, live, eat, sleep, love, and of course, read. I decided to write it in a kind of diary entry style.

What gives with the title?

I've called this blog 'Laugh or lie down' as a call to optimism. I believe words can cure, and my communications with people (at a safe distance of course) have increased. The range of topics I've discussed has done much the same. My consideration for other people has risen a notch. I'm not referring to those who'd stick their neighbour over toilet rolls. That's not good sportsmanship. Some people must be worried that they'll be reduced to dragging themselves across carpet to clean their ass. 

I've tried to cover the events of the day before, plus the last week, when I first realised that I might actually have to adapt to a new style of life. The world hasn't threatened us with the prospect of having to rear bantams or grow our own vegetables yet, but each day casts its own horizon.

Cold desert train

When I wrote this, I was on a train from Kent to London. Every station I passed through was almost devoid of human life. The train driver made each announcement as if to more than one passenger. I believe I was the only person on the train. Although I imagined we were sharing our loneliness, he didn't say anything to me as he walked along the carriage. He didn't even check my ticket. I guess we were both wary of our risk to one another. After he'd left the carriage I squirted sanitiser on my hands. That gloop stings like hell on cracked skin.

One man learning

I started working exclusively at home on 17 March. The organisation I work for were debating whether to switch to full remote working on the evening before. On that same evening, I sat alone with my Cantonese teacher in a cold room painted gym colours. She stifled a few coughs, and I wondered whether I should've worn a mask. Then I reminded myself that this would only have muted my already obscure pronunciation and hybrid Anglo-Chinese accent.

One of the benefits of being the only person stupid enough to attend a language school during a pandemic, is all the attention. In fact, there were these 30 second bursts of time when we just chatted and laughed, mainly at the situation. That was until I asked her what Corona really meant for the future of classes, at which point, she referred to the language school policy and I shut my mouth.


It's difficult to plan without thinking about the virus, which is why I'm going to make an effort to laugh more. I think we all should. And when I do laugh, I'll go at it like a man savouring something that's about to be taken away from him.

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