Life in the age of a novel coronavirus: Going to the library

I was standing near the reception desk at my local library in London when a tall thin man in his 30s trotted up to the librarian in a state of great agitation.

“You’ll be wanting to know that one of your customers back there has a cold,” he said, his head jerking towards the window to the right.

“Oh right,” she replied instantly, “I’ll take care of that. Thanks.”

“He’s a big guy too,” said the tall thin man, “I’m off to wash my hands.”

“Yes, absolutely,” the librarian responded.

I stared at her.

“What are you planning to do about the guy with a cold, ‘K’,” I asked curiously.

‘K’ is a friend so I could afford to be frank with her.

“I don’t know,” she replied, “not had that happen to me yet.”

“But didn’t you say you’d take care of it?” I reminded her. “What did you mean?”

“Oh, just that I’d ask my manager. I’ve no idea what we can do.”

I fought back the urge to cough. “It’s like having a cold is an offence nowadays.”

“Evidently,” said ‘K’.

Originally published at on March 12, 2020.

PhD. Journalism by trade & inclination. Sign up for free email updates on email me at

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