When Covid-19 gets personal

Every evening we watch the 10pm news on the BBC, pinned to our armchairs by the latest tidal wave of torment. The rising death toll, the shattered lives, the financial crisis, the lost jobs, the missed targets, the missing PPE. It keeps on coming, misery piled upon misery. But it’s so horrible that it somehow seems unreal, resembling a dark soap opera with a scarcely believable plot and actors who appear to be making it up as they go along.

Of course we’re not totally immune to the impact of the pandemic. Mrs P – who is particularly vulnerable due to her asthma – hasn’t left our property for six weeks, while I venture out only on Wednesdays to shop for us and her parents. The queues at the supermarket are getting me down, the shortage of flour has been frustrating, and wearing a mask makes my glasses steam up and leaves me stumbling around blindly. I’m always pleased to get back to the safety and calm of Platypus Towers.

However, these are minor irritations. Life goes on, and so do we. We are healthy, comfortable and keeping busy with all-manner of in-house projects and activities. Covid-19 is undoubtedly a curse, but it felt like we were just playing bit parts, walk-on roles in a disaster movie that’s being acted out all around us.

But then Covid-19 got personal.

Pat, my second cousin, who – with her son, Mark – is my only living blood-relative, phoned from London on Sunday morning with shock news. She and her husband, and Mark and his wife, have all been sick with Covid-19. Worst still, her father Tommy – my “uncle” Tom – also caught the virus, but it got the better of him.

Dad passed away yesterday morning, Pat explains sadly.

Tommy had seemed indestructible. We all knew that he couldn’t go on forever, but it wasn’t meant to end like this. It feels like he, and we, have been cheated by that wretched virus.

He would have been 100 years old next month, and to celebrate the milestone Mark was in the process of arranging a family party. Covid-19 has turned that dream, and a million others across the world, to ashes.

Although we weren’t exceptionally close, I have many fond memories of Tommy. His was the first car I ever rode in – my parents didn’t drive – and when I was small it was a special treat to escape London for a while on a Sunday afternoon drive into the countryside with Tommy and his wife Ivy.

Years later, when I was at university, he used his position with the Post Office to get me on the list for a job at the local sorting office in the run up to Christmas, giving me a welcome opportunity to earn some much needed beer money! These, and countless other kindnesses, whirl around in my mind as I write this. He was a good man.


Excellent although they are, the BBC news broadcasts can never get across the full horror of this virus. It seems to me that only when Covid-19 gets personal does it fully make the transition from disaster movie to a real-life, real-time tragedy.

Mrs P and I last saw Tommy in August, at Mark’s wedding. He was in good health, albeit a touch grumpy. But at his age a certain irascibility is inevitable and forgiveable, and also rather endearing. Sure as hell Pat, Mark and the rest of us would give anything to witness his grumpiness again.

Rest in Peace, Tommy.


  1. T Ibara Photo · May 6, 2020

    I am very sorry for your loss Mr. P, and of course for all who have lost a dear one during this global crisis. As always, sending our sincere best wishes across the ocean.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · May 6, 2020

      Thank you Takami, your loving message is greatly appreciated at this difficult time. I hope you and your husband remain healthy and in good spirits despite the tragedy that is unfolding around us all. Take care and stay strong! With best wishes from Mr P.


  2. nationalparkswitht · May 6, 2020

    I’m very sorry for the loss of your uncle! May his memory be eternal 🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · May 6, 2020

      Hi Theresa
      Thank you so much for your kind message. Tommy’s funeral is on the 15th. We can’t go as only four mourners are allowed (ie the closest family members only), but he’ll be very much in our thoughts that day. Take care of yourself and your family in these difficult times. With best wishes from Mr P.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ann Mackay · May 6, 2020

    The effects of this awful virus are extremely sad for families and I hope that your is coping well with your loss. It seems especially cruel that you didn’t have the chance to celebrate Tommy’s 100th birthday and to enjoy a special family party. My sympathy and best wishes go to you all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · May 7, 2020

      Thank you for your kind message, Ann. The plan now is that we will hold a celebration of Tommy’s life at some point in the future, although when that will be permissible and safe is currently anyone’s guess. Hope you are keeping well, and spending lots of time in your garden!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ann Mackay · May 7, 2020

        I hope it’s not too long before it will be safe for you all to come together to celebrate Tommy’s life…I should think a lot of families must be trying to plan something like this and it must be very difficult. Hubby and I are lucky enough to be able to stay safely at home and keep working on our own projects while enjoying the garden as much as possible.

        Liked by 1 person

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