Monday, 2 April 2018


My name is Dave and I am a hypochondriac.

For that reason, and that reason alone, the end of the world scenario that terrifies me most is the threat that we as a race could all be wiped out by a supervirus.

Imagine, if you will, a TV news announcement that describes a potential nasty bug that is spreading from person to person in numerous countries with no hope of recovery. From that point on, I would be totally and utterly convinced that the virus was in my system even if it hadn’t reached the shores of the United Kingdom yet.

In the past, I have been slightly perturbed when newscasters have mentioned benign bugs that are nasty but not lethal, even when they are confined to the deepest parts of Africa, say.

A few years ago there had been an outbreak of the deadly respiratory disease called Sars and it had surfaced in Hong Kong. Thankfully, the authorities had it under control eventually and it was then that my project manager asked me to go on a business trip to the city.  I read that the authorities at the airport were screening people as they came and left using thermal cameras in an attempt to detect elevated temperatures in travellers. I wrestled with my inner hypochondriac who told me in no uncertain terms that I was going to catch the disease even though it was under control. Normally I would have been over the moon to visit my favourite city outside the United Kingdom – but not this time.

Deep down I knew that I would be safe but that didn’t stop the hypochondriac inside whispering to me constantly through the flight: “You will catch Sars – that’s if you don’t have it already.”

The temperature in Hong Kong in the summer is quite a lot higher than the UK and you feel it the moment that you leave the aircraft. Such was my paranoia that I thought the thermal cameras would identify an elevated temperature in me as I walked towards immigration.

Of course, I was being utterly stupid and I passed through without a problem. My trip lasted three weeks, during which time I became an expert in the symptoms of Sars. Every time I felt slightly below par I was convinced that I had succumbed to the disease – even a few weeks after my return to Manchester.

I know that I am an idiot for allowing myself to accede to such moronic paranoia but I can’t help it. I wish I could.

Thus, if I were to ever catch a news report telling me that a deadly disease was spreading across the world, wiping out everybody who came into contact with it, I would probably worry myself to death months before the infection claimed me.

I would be an expert and would probably use all of my money to travel to the remotest part of the world, avoiding all contact with civilisation on my way, so that I could sit there in splendid isolation away from any human beings who might pass on the deadly virus to me.

That’s how irrational my inner hypochondriac is.

The perfectionist in me wanted to do some research into the possibility of humanity being wiped out by such a virus so I have had to silence the hypochondriac.

And thank goodness for that because I have discovered that it is highly unlikely that a pandemic could cause the extinction of the human race. Over the centuries, there have been several nasty little blighters that have tried their level best to take us all out – things like The Black Death, Ebola, various flavours of flu, Sars and HIV.

The good news is that there are steps in place to contain such outbreaks and the organisations and institutions that are responsible for this are damned good at what they do.

Yet, as I watch programs like “The Walking Dead” where a virus has wiped out all but the hardiest of humanity and turned them into flesh eating Zombies, I can’t help but think that maybe such a thing could happen. In fact, in the show, every human being actually has the disease anyway so that when you eventually die, you come back to life as a cannibalistic corpse whose sole  raison d'ĂȘtre is to munch on the living.

How nice is that?

My deepest fear is that there is a malignant virus living dormant in every human being ust waiting to be activated and murder us in the most horrible way possible. If I shove this thought aside for a moment (very difficult now it is in my head) the truth is that humanity would find a way were such a supervirus to suddenly appear – even if it were man made. Some form of humanity would survive and find a way perhaps living in a remote part of the world, like the top of a mountain range, the deepest part of the Australian Outback or an African desert. It wouldn’t be pleasant but we might survive.

And if you do live in such an inhospitable yet safe part of the world, get ready to meet me. I’ll be there the moment the first cases of the outbreak are reported.


River said...

I'm wondering now how likely it is you could avoid all contact with others while travelling to the remotest corner of the earth. You couldn't fly, take a boat or train, or even drive yourself, because there would be gas station attendants and so on. You would have to walk the whole way through uninhabited areas and hope the local wildlife wasn't hungry.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

So much for my plan. I need another. When I think of one I'll let you know!