Oliver…going viral written by Oliver Cross

Dear all,

I think if I could live my life again, and was granted some additional brains, I would have become a virologist.

Then, after a useful and interesting working life, during which most people changed the subject if I tried to talk about my profession, I would suddenly have become as in-demand as, for example, Benedict Cumberbatch or a modestly-priced plumber – and it’s possible that Benedict Cumberbatch, in view of the reduced lockdown opportunities for actors, might decide to retrain as a plumber, which would make him a winner twice over.

Anyway, experts such as the assistant professor of virology (retd.) at the University of Seacroft can now make a first-class living telling us about the microscopic life that shapes all our lives, although we don’t recognise it under normal circumstances and, under normal circumstances, we don’t mistake virologists for media stars.

This is how things have been turned upside-down by the coronavirus; when we worried about the natural world, it was mainly about large endangered mammals such as white rhinos or pandas; now it’s about something so small that it takes a specialist to measure the difference between it and nothing at all.

Somewhere between the two, size-wise, is the Asian (also called the Indian) hornet, an ugly brute which enjoys eating our lovely English honey bees and is at present attempting to invade us from the Channel Islands (all together now: ‘Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler…’).

This has been rather overlooked during the bigger crisis, even though Asian hornets can – extremely rarely – kill humans, which is why The Sun calls them Murder Hornets, presumably on a par with Murder Falling Meteorites or Murder Loose Paving Stones.

Even worse, a hornet invasion, says The Sun, would cause ‘a staggering’  £7.6m in damage. Since the 2008 financial crash, I’ve given up being staggered by anything , so I feel quite relaxed about the Murder Hornets grabbing £7.6m, which might otherwise have bought  half a small primary school or taken you, at £307m a mile by official estimates, on a very short trip  along the proposed HS2 rail line.

The banking crash apparently cost us all £7.4 trillion in lost output alone, which is close to a million times less than the cost of the Murder Hornets, not that numbers, when they reach these heights, are comprehensible to the non-specialist, however much they may ruin our lives.

Coronavirus  particles, says Google, have diameters of  approximately 0.125 microns, which I find as impossible to picture as a trillion pounds, not being a virologist or a banker.

Written by Oliver Cross

Thank you once again Oliver for sharing this with us….until next time