Gas masks and foie gras: How to survive the coronavirus pandemic

    5 March 2020

    Self-isolate, stockpile, super spreader – not a day goes by without a new addition to our national lexicon as we gradually descend into a state of mild panic over coronavirus. Here’s how to survive the pandemic if and when it arrives:

    Ensure you are well protected

    Surgical face masks are all the rage at the moment — not that these things are of much practical use, you understand, but you wouldn’t want to be without this season’s latest accessory, would you? Gas masks too infuse a bit of steampunk chic along with that can-do blitz spirit, whilst clown masks both cover the face and scare away potential carriers.

    Biohazard suits, should you be able to source them, are much more effective at limiting the likelihood of falling ill should you need to venture out of the house, but if hard to come by, a gimp suit works just as well and makes for a fun commute. 

    Take preventative steps

    Washing hands is the most important step — for no less than a period of twenty seconds, or as long as it takes to sing a verse of God Save the Queen, so say the health experts. However, to be on the safe side, it is best to keep scrubbing for the length of time it takes to hum, in its entirety, Mozart’s Requiem Mass, or if you’re feeling patriotic, the score to HMS Pinafore. No germ could possibly sit through such an intense experience and remain unmoved.


    That’s right ladies and gents: from the people who brought you Brexit comes a new reason to pack your cupboards with cans. It’s the coronavirus clearance sale at all the supermarkets, and everything must go!

    Cover the basics like cans of tomatoes, lentils, beans, spinach and spam for day-to-day subsistence, as well as dried foods like tea and rice — yes, they may be the foreign plunders of empire, but we don’t have time for Nish Kumar’s scolding right now. But as you are Spectator readers, and therefore not barbarians, ensure you keep standards up by making sure you’re also well stocked on things like tinned caviar and foie gras. No point surviving a pandemic only to let civilization itself die!

    And whilst we’re here, a few beers and some cigars might not go amiss, to keep spirits up. Coronas, for instance, help show the virus you aren’t afraid. Since 38 per cent of Americans won’t drink corona beer out of fear it is linked to the virus, us fool-hardy Brits need to do our bit to aid the fight against fake news. 

    Settle in for the long haul

    The Black Death lasted over four years in Europe in the fourteenth century, the Spanish flu stuck around grimly for two, and Jeremy Corbyn has managed five as Labour leader. Outbreaks, you see, can remain around a lot longer than you think, so it could be quite some time before things return to normal.

    But now you’re all secure and have plenty of food, the only thing to worry about in your period of isolation will be keeping yourself occupied.

     A well stocked library will be important in order to avoid losing your mind — titles like Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year, Boccaccio’s Decameron and La Peste by Camus are perhaps a little out of fashion but, as it turns out, still surprisingly relevant.