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One Flu Over the Cuckoo's Nest

By Tom Wiseman

Our intrepid Mexico correspondent reports live from the eye of the swine flu storm. Has isolation and paranoia driven him to madness? Or was he already insane? You be the judge...

Is it safe to come out yet?

Greetings Taoists!

I commence today with an apology to anyone who thinks I have been dawdlin' on the reportin' in the recent chaotic weeks! My editor has been on my case for not delivering a "Tao of Teaching" blog from the eye of the storm but having nailed the door closed and boarded up the windows I thought the last thing I want to do is log on and get a computer virus!
Fear not, I've now got my laptop a little face mask, which is probably doing as much good as the ones that the humans are wearing (but is likely to provide infinitely more protection than the bandanna I had tied around my face - with all the real gangsters getting shanked in prison riots I may as well have some fun out on the street!)

In all seriousness I have had quite a few people checking in with me to check that I am staying clear of any "bad influenzas" so thank you for your thoughts.

I first heard about this virus 2 weeks ago when it was announced that every school in Mexico was to be closed for the next week due to Swine Flu. The news headlines followed and it was reported that San Luis Potosi had the highest incidence outside of the capitol. That Saturday the city festival was canceled, I spoke with a doctor in the afternoon and his grave demeanor heightened my concern. On Sunday afternoon San Luis followed suit with the school closures and I was facing a week of self imposed quarantine!

Strangely enough I recently dreamt about this happening. I dreamt that the everyone was infected with a deadly disease. I had the disease and I was put onto an island with other infecteds (like a leper colony), only, because it was terminal they said that there was no point me eating or drinking and that I should just wait to die, slowly starving to death. I usually analyse my dreams a lot but this one I didn't even want to think about.

You're probably thinking "yeah right t.wise, your dream might be prophetic, and pigs might fly!"

Well, who woulda knew, it turns out a pig flu!

So, if we are going back to the Biblical times with their floods and plagues at least you guys have a prophet to consult...I'll give you a heads up if I see any rocks falling from the sky.

I'm not Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat...I'm just here to do his work.

Life in quarantine was much the same as prison - 2 guys in close quarters 24 hours a day eating mass produced food and reading ancient classics, with press ups, heated games of chess, the allure of suicide, and a brisk trade in illicit substances out in the yard...but without the threat of sexual assault (for the most part, 2 weeks is a long time in the can when you can't!).

I didn't have to stay in my house but it was "strongly advised" by the Government and my boss (my Government advised me to leave the country, last chopper off the embassy roof).

The strangest thing was how fast it all became "normal", Day 1 and you're peeping through the shutters, Day 2 and you're sunbathing on the roof! Playing chess was a great way to cope, to really concentrate on a game you must block everything else out - it's a great form of meditation but that is a story for another blog. We pretty much followed precautions - we stocked up on food and water and I breathed through my nose! We did hop the fence one time for the Champions League Semi Finals - priorities people! It made me laugh to see people wearing masks, especially in Mexico, live there for 2 years or so and you are pretty much guaranteed a respiratory disease anyway thanks to the smog that hangs over the city and hides the mountains that keeps it locked over the 23 million people with their 46 million cars. Now, I'm not a Dr., but you do the "after-math"...ssssss.

I got my information the same place as everyone else - the media, BBC.co.uk/news to be precise. As usual they had all the terrifying stats, none of the answers (why were only Mexicans dying?!) and as soon as it stopped being headline worthy the ENTIRE subject was dropped and we were back to murdering children in Afghanistan. One thing that really made me mad on the site was a subheading "How worried should I be?" - VERY! RUN FOR THE HILLS! WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST!...I presume the buffet is a bit of a free for all?!

Talk about scaremongering. Worry is nothing but nervous energy that does not help anything whatsoever.

"Fear is a state of nervousness fit only for children, not for a grown man" - RZA

Of course now that the smoke is clearing one can't move for conspiracy theories about the North American Flu - a man made virus intended as a beta run for the real killer? Biochemical Warfare? A vaccine producing money maker? More US troops for Mexico? Border closures? Word on the street is laws have been passed allowing police to entire a private premises without a warrant and other such power grabbing moves.

And all this right after Obama's visit, so close in fact that one of his aides was reported to have contracted swine flu. Not to be misread as one of Obama's swines contracts AIDS...those Tax Dodgers are perfectly healthy! (while we are on the topic of man made diseases designed to depopulate the world!)

Now I am a strong advocate of conspiracy theories if for no other reason than they present an opinion different from the official line and they make people question accepted truths and think. That doesn't mean that I believe every theory but that doesn't mean I don't believe there is some truth to some of them. Nobody's suggesting that the Black Death of the middle ages was man made, not even me (unless it was time-travelling Nazi Aliens). Was Swine Flu engineered so that Mexico, in it's state of emergency, could apply for bigger loans and increase police powers?! Probably not, but that doesn't mean the opport-unity to do so will be passed up, we all know about the infamous "burying of bad news" in the wake of the attack on the World Trade Center.

But often conspiracy theories serve a basic human need for control. With something so terrifying as an unknown virus against which there is no protection it is comforting to believe that the hand of man is behind it, that there is some human control, no matter how dastardly (see the Tsunami "Earthquake bomb" theories out there.)

The simple truth is that GOD is punishing us for our sins.

(that line is a joke for you Gritz - erase at will. Just seeing if I can empty your red editors pen of ink on this one!!! hahaha)

So, now the aftermath, did the Mexican Government over-react? Did the Mexican Government under-react?! Either way the panic seems to be over so we can all make our jokes, put the oinkment back in the cabinet and go back to sleep.

What have we learnt? Nothing, probably. Or maybe we all know what to expect next time, maybe the powers that be are preparing to help us, the people...or maybe they are preparing stage 2. I mean, what can we do?! But then, what can't we do?!

We're all going to Hell in a handcart. Or not. I guess it's up to us.

Goodbye, until next time...

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