The True Cost

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Oh, well, that’s it, then.

Two years of pandemic, and here I am, out the other side.

Everyone’s dropped their restrictions, so we must have passed the worst. If it were just the government, I would be cynical. It has been clear for at least a year that their one driver is money.

But it’s not just them. The medical profession, too, are going along with it. Surely, for them, people’s wellbeing comes before their profitability?

And that does seem to be the case. While at first, we were all scared, we didn’t know what we were up against, now we all know somebody who’s had it. Auntie Ann even had it, at Christmas. She’s not in the best of health, but she recovered. COVID’s not fatal any more, not here in the West. Doesn’t have to be, anyhow. Sure, there’s lots we don’t know about Long COVID, but people are jumping that first hurdle. People are surviving that first month, that’s the main thing. There might be long-term stuff going on but, hey, we’re an intelligent race. We’ll find ways to cope.

That reminds me. I must contact Frankie. Last time he contacted me was last September, so I should say Hi. At that time, he’d just got out of hospital. Six months in there, having caught COVID. Six months! Fuck me, you never think someone could be in for that long, from what they tell us on TV. He must’ve been bad. They push half-dead people out of the door nowadays, so to keep him for that long… he must’ve been bad.

Frankie is – was – mum’s next-door neighbour. When mum died, he became a friend. Kept an eye on her house, while I was so far away. We even got to go out drinking together, over the year the house took to sell.

He must be about ten years younger than mum, I suppose that puts him in his seventies now. Vulnerable age, I guess. Still, he had it and got through it. I should get in touch, send him a message on Facebook.

Hey Frankie, what the fuck are you up to? Gimme a shout sometime and let me know how you’re doing.

Short and sweet. No point writing an essay. We can cover all that when he gets in touch.

(Two weeks later)

That’s funny, I never got a reply from Frankie yet. Miserable bugger! I should go poke around a bit.

How weird is that? No updates since last year, and Facebook says he hasn’t been active since October…

I badged this a “flash”, but it’s pretty much a true story. We think we emerged unscathed, but…

This is truly my mum’s old neighbour. We were mates ten years ago, when I used to go up there, but these days, it is once or twice a year.

Last time I heard from him was last September. He had indeed just come from a six-month stay in hospital (due to COVID). I askedseveral questions, to which he just replied, “I’ll call you”. His call never came.

Loose friends. We forget them. It wasn’t until a month ago that I thought on, tried to contact him. His phone’s not answering, his profile is gone. Just says “Facebook User”. In Zuckerberg-speak, that means his account got deleted. Why was that? He was always a frequent user. Did he maybe get so unwell that he thought, “I’m never gonna use this again?” There’s always the worst, I suppose, but his death wouldn’t explain his deleted profile. Maybe his family deleted it? Could be, but even my wife doesn’t have access to my data.

Gritting my teeth, I checked death announcements in his local newspaper. Nothing. So, I’m kinda in limbo. On the one hand, I think something bad happened, but on the other, I don’t really want to know.

It’s very similar with my charity clients, with any people we only know remotely. Their common thread is that they are elderly, and they are all vulnerable in one way or another.

I only know they are okay each week because they answer the phone. If they don’t answer, they might have popped out to the shops, or they might be lying dead for the last six days. I just don’t know. That was the most difficult thing to get my head around, when I first started the charity work. That if push comes to shove, there’s simply nothing you can do.

You cross your fingers, hope for the best. Beyond that, there’s nothing.


  1. Very poignant post! And it’s true, we didn’t meet people for a while due to covid and the next thing you know they’ve passed away, as happened to a mate my age who died within 3 days after being admitted to hospital with Covid at the end of 2020. Shows how important it is – or should be – to stay in touch…

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The truth is sometimes frightening, but you are right as we become older we become more vulnerable and there
    is nothing we or anyone else can do about it. Look around, at this time there is not much good news in the world
    today in any form and it takes it’s toll.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It was pretty clear here that lives had an associated value (in £) and that a certain amount of deaths were permissible to keep the economy form suffering.

      As I said yesterday to Hobbo, the big test here is whether we are in a better position now to withstand a pandemic than we were two years ago. And I think the answer probably everywhere in “no”. As in, every government has failed us.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. with covid you couldn’t visit People in hospitals or nursing homes anyway. Of course they are at their most vulnerable socially as well as physically. Isolation during the pandemic has damaged us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We all lost out due to COVID. Some lost relatives and friends. Others lost their livelihoods. Others their way of life. We have all been forever changed, one way or another.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s the not knowing that’s the worse. A friend at work got Covid really bad, she’s back now but she still isn’t well, but she just smiles and shrugs.


  6. A lot to think about in here. My brother always says “If you can’t do anything about it, there’s no point worrying”. I’m pretty much a professional worrier so I envy the ability to stuff worry away in some houdini proof cage. And there’s worrying because you want to do something and there’s worrying and not wanting to know the worst so not doing anything about your worry. If I wrote that song that “Trainspotting” made famous I would have said “Choose life. Choose a career. Choose not worrying.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m with your brother. I tend to think in very practical terms – what can I do to help.
      It’s worrying actually because since the stroke, I’m more anxious. More worried about things.

      And, with age comes worry. About everything. I had someone yesterday worried what if their milk will not be delivered next Monday.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I have an account on there from years ago, but I never visit. I keep it for personal messages. There’s also a group for the local village, which can be handy to find tradespeople. But I don’t get involved in discussion posts, or even follow what my friends post any more.

      I have tried to generally switch from Messenger to to WhatsApp, because I believe that offers stronger protection, but still have 2-3 people I connect with through Messenger.

      Liked by 1 person

        • WhatsApp and Messenger are basically the same. Messenger came first, we all used it, then WhatsApp came along and did it better.

          From my point of view, it’s encrypted, so it just offers more privacy. But I’ve never really gone into the detail of it.

          In any case, Facebook bought WhatsApp, so the two look and feel very similar now and are developed pretty much on the same lines.

          WhatsApp is what all the Burmese protesters were using to organise themselves, so it’s strengtyh is sufficient that the Burma govt can’t crack it, and they must have significant resources. I doubt probably even the NSA could get in, leastways not realtime. Bear in mind that FB will be hiring far better brains than the US govt, and paying them ten times more. I like that security.

          Liked by 1 person

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