This is the big one, the event of most of our lifetimes. The corona pandemic can bring out the worst in people, but also it can accentuate qualities that you never really appreciated before.
What a time to be alive! Of course this plague is terrifying, horrible and miserable - but here's some excellent advice from an old soldier friend of mine who had a particularly eventful World War II.
His name was Mike Peyton and he experienced the lot: the annihilation of his entire battalion in the Western desert; a year in an Italian POW camp when many of his comrades died of starvation; the bombing of Dresden; months fighting alongside Soviet troops; lots of killing, lots of death.
So, I asked him, one day, whether on any level, he'd found his adventures enjoyable. He said: "You know when you go skiing in Verbier and you get to the bottom of that black run - Tortin - with the sheer drop at the top and all those moguls on the way down? And you finally get to the bottom and you look up and you say to yourself: "I actually did that!" Well that's how it felt!"
But did he enjoy it?
"I wouldn't have missed it for the world!" he said.
And this, I believe, is how we should respond to the Coronavirus pandemic. There's no point wishing we could go back to those innocent days before Covid 19 changed everything (as I'm afraid it surely will). The rollercoaster has begun its downward lurch and it's far too late to get off now. Instead, we must embrace it. We need to appreciate that this is how it feels to live through history - and even as we stoically endure the downsides, joyously to relish the upsides.
Just like Mike. And also, like my boy Ivo, who said to me: "It's exciting, isn't it? This is our World War II. This is our test!"
He's exactly right. For years, decades, most of us have been sleepwalking through our cosy existences. Suddenly, we're back to basics, primitive creatures once more, living life on the edge - dependent on our wits to survive.
It can bring out the worst in people, but also it can accentuate qualities that you never really appreciated before. For example, I've realised that my overactive imagination and my paranoia are very useful attributes at times like this.
Because I saw the pandemic coming two months ago (I read on social media the stories coming out of Wuhan and took them more seriously than most), I had time to prepare: I made my parents get pneumococcal injections; I bought anti-viral foam and disinfectant while it was still readily available; I sold some of my shares and bought gold.
As in times of war, thinking ahead and thinking on your feet becomes so much more important. For example, last weekend I made a point of going to visit my dear mother at home. I had anticipated the government lockdown which could soon see her, and other at-risk old people, isolated in their homes for months on end. Meanwhile, I am communicating daily with my eldest boy in Hong Kong, plotting when we think the bottom of the stockmarkets will come so we can buy back in at an advantageous level. When all about you are losing their heads, it pays dividends to keep your judgement clear, confident and positive.
Sure we should listen to official advice, up to a point. But this is the big one, the event of most of our lifetimes, and it's mostly up to us and our determination and our ingenuity how best we protect ourselves and our families.
I'm kind of enjoying this ride. I hope you are too. Good luck, my friends! Chins up
‚What a time to be alive‘: James Delingpole.