Bill the Bogeyman

Let me start with an apology. If you’re forced to self-isolate, it’s my fault.

If Boris comes round and bricks you up in your house… Yep, that would be me.

The Government is now relying on me for data. I’m part of the Covid-19 testing programme.

What could possibly go wrong?

My wife got the e-mail. It could even have been a letter. I don’t know. But she offered me some money. I said yes.

“What do I have to do?”

“Looking at this, stick a swab up your nose.”

Fifty quid. It seemed a lot for ten minutes’ work. Then again, if the Government can give HS2 enough money to employ 17 PR firms they can give me fifty notes to stick a lollipop stick up my nose.

The appointed day arrived.

I was expecting Chris Witty to turn up in a full hazmat suit. And flanked by a squadron of motorcycle outriders.

Instead an assistant bank manager turned up. Driving a Ford Fiesta.

I’m not sure I even caught his name. He didn’t seem very sure on a lot of things. His name could well have been one of them.

The ABM consulted his notes – scribbled on a sheet of A4 – and launched into a series of probing questions.

“Have you got Covid-19?”

“No.

“Do you think you’ve had Covid-19?”

“No.”

“Are you currently self-isolating?”

“As I’m standing on the doorstep talking to you, no.”

He fed this crucial information into the very latest iPad. It was instantly and wirelessly whizzed back to London where a state-of-the-art supercomputer crunched the numbers and gave Boris the intel.

“I’m really, sorry,” he said. “I can’t get a signal on my phone. Been meaning to upgrade for months. I couldn’t use your wi-fi could I? And I’ve deleted all your answers. I’m sorry. Could we start again?”

But the moment finally came…

“Would you like a cup of tea while you’re waiting?” I said to the ABM.

“Better not. Ha ha. Don’t want to contaminate your cups.”

Not a reply which filled me with a huge amount of confidence…

By now my beloved had done her test. She seemed to have survived. So naturally I allowed her to do mine.

I was ordered to wash my hands and blow my nose. “And then sit in the chair.”

She stepped towards me with what looked like a long plastic knitting needle and a test tube full of urine.

“What do you have to do?”

“Swab your nose and your throat.”

“Does it matter which way round we do it?”

She gave me one of her patient looks. “Not at all, darling. I’m sure most people choose to stick it up their nose first and then down their throat.”

“Not so far down my throat that you make me sick. I don’t want to puke all over Bill the Bogeyman’s equipment.”

“Just shut up and open wide.”

She rummaged around in my tonsils.

“And now your nose. Tip your head back, dear.”

“Both nostrils?”

“You can’t have too much of a good thing, sweetheart.”

I had a moment of panic. Wasn’t this how Russian secret agents were trained to kill people? A knitting needle up the nose? Straight into the brain…

Yes, officer. I was doing his Covid test. I’d just pushed it up his nose when I sneezed. Then the cat knocked my arm. Just to make sure. Counselling? No, no, I don’t think I’ll need counselling…

That was last week. We’ve not heard anything. Either we’ve tested negative – or the ABM is still sitting in his Fiesta trying to remember our wi-fi password…

Loved this book! The sort of book that really sucks you into the story. The characters were likeable, the dialogue witty and natural. Can’t wait for the next one…’

My first novel, Salt in the Wounds, is now available on Amazon.