Struck by columnist’s remorse: Ramaphosa shouldn’t have listened to me


The sun isn’t up yet but the keyboard is already being hammered.

There isn’t really time to mark the birth of the Messiah — that’s Arsenal magician Dennis Bergkamp to the nonbelievers among us — beyond a donning of the 2003-04 Invincibles shirt for the day and a quick viewing of that goal against Newcastle from the previous season.

The shirt still fits.

It’s not a result of keeping in shape or anything like that.

The truth is, 2004 was something of a rotund year, courtesy of all the Arsenal games I watched in the Elephant & Castle, back when the Gooners played on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, in the Champion’s League, as well as on weekends, so the shirt was never small.

There’s a chance of a return to Big Football this season — for the first time since 2016-17 — so an honouring of the Messiah ahead of Thursday night’s derby against Tottenham appears to be even more in order than it was last year.

I’m making a bit of a return myself, after a two-week lay off courtesy of the Covid-19 virus.

After two years and a bit of masking up, scrubbing my hands, keeping my distance and staying in the pozi — and of encouraging my fellow South Africans to do the same — I finally joined the ranks of those of my fellow South Africans who have been infected with Covid-19.

I’m not sure whether I was at the tail end of the fourth wave of infections since 2020 or at the beginning of the fifth, or whether it was Omicron or one of its subvariants, but after two years of masking up, washing my hands and keeping my distance, Covid-19 eventually got me.

It wasn’t a whole lot of fun.

Fortunately, I’m vaccinated, so I didn’t become desperately ill, or end up in hospital, or on oxygen, although there were a couple of touch-and-go moments in the middle of the first  week.

Smell and taste remained, but were accompanied by a weird, sour stench — think rancid butter meets stale beer meets night sweat — that hung about my mouth and nostrils for nearly two weeks.

A touch of pneumonia meant that I had to cut back on the cannabis intake — although I did hit the THC gummies pretty hard (and the oil) to deal with the pain of the first couple of days, and the insomnia that accompanied it.

It could have been far worse, though, and probably would have been had I been infected in one of the early waves of the virus, before I qualified for vaccination, which I believe is why I’m back at work so soon after getting ill.

Covid nailed me mentally

Brain fog is real.

So is the depression that comes with Covid-19; the mental inertia; the lethargy; the self-pity that starts building up after a week or so of not being able to do anything.

I blame myself for getting Covid-19.

One minute, I’m yapping away at the head of state, President Cyril Ramaphosa, demanding that the boss scrap the rest of the Covid-19 disaster regulations — dump the masks and let us get on with life — the next I’m shaking from the cold and pouring with sweat, the victim of Covid-19 and commentator’s curse.

Granted, Ramaphosa didn’t have to listen to me. Still, I’m hardly as unreliable as Carl Niehaus, even if I look like him after a three-week absence from the barber’s chair. Some rules remained, and I can’t blame the president for my two weeks of being man down.

I can also blame the fact that I didn’t take any of the precautions I took in 2020 while looking after my better half. This year she caught the virus a week or so ahead of me.

The first time she was sick I slept on the couch and wore a mask while serving meals and dispensing medicine. This time around I carried on regardless, just like I’d been bugging Ramaphosa to allow me to; no mask, no handwashing, no nights in the living room.

I’d also been pretty reckless about Covid-19 in public, dumping the mask wherever I could, and had gone back to attending political meetings and the like in person, rather than remotely, which must have also increased my exposure.

Perhaps it was arrogance as a result of being vaccinated. Perhaps it was Covid fatigue. Perhaps it was just my time to get sick. 

But the result was the same.

Covid:1, Harper: 0

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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