“…for all the good that is or ever was
beneath the moon could never offer rest
to even one of these exhausted spirits.”
— The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri
Like me, during these times of a lockdown, which is everything in name and nothing more, you may have to still take the tube. Taking the tube during the gaps of lockdowns, was a worrying enough experience as you stared at your fellow traveller who wasn’t wearing a mask, examining their bloodshot eyes wondering if they’ve just had a massive coughing fit or whether they’ve been up all night watching QAnon videos. Now, when I start my descent down the escalator I’m looking around for Virgil to walk with me, to guide me through these modern nine circles: past the ignorant, the callous, the ones who don’t care and the other six circles of marauding wheezy idiots who think they can out macho, outrun, outsmart a virus.
Finding no Virgil, I’ve had to get creative to get through my journeys with my blood pressure rising. Taking comfort in the expression, A rising death and R rate is the mother of invention, I decided to pretend to be a spy. Here are some pointers:
— When someone enters your tube carriage without a mask and sits opposite say, “The sparrow is most alive in the mornings,” before escaping from the closing tube doors.
— Carry an umbrella as a weapon. Preferably one four metres long which you can hold like a javelin to avoid people wheezing down your neck.
— Listen to Liszt or anything which can inspire a Cold War feeling.
— Don’t pick up the Metro to leave cryptic notes in. That tatty rag left on a seat didn’t need to be engaged with pre-Covid, nor should it be engaged with now or post-Covid. Leave it alone. Its writing will only raise your rage. Instead, look around for a correlation between readers of that newspaper and those who aren’t wearing a mask.
— Instead of using a poisoned tip on enemy agents, liberally throw around hand sanitiser.
— If you want to blend in, you won’t achieve it by reading a book. However, reading a book will lower your blood pressure. Here are some cheery titles to read in a speeding underground petri dish: Last Exit to Brooklyn, The Bell Jar, The Painted Bird.
— Remember, you’re an agent who can’t rely on their government*.
* This is just a good tip for life.