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  • Writer's pictureAlan Smith

Who can we trust and what are we to believe?

Updated: Aug 21, 2020

Imagine indistinct words, images or sounds raining with infinitely different significance onto those who receive them. There is no group of individuals that possess a unified ability to unfailingly recognise and precisely, the temperature of a colour. Or experience life through their personal and cultural lifestyles and feel and respond in identical ways and equally find solutions to political and health quandaries, quandaries that can be financial, practical or emotional. So what is it to believe, to perceive or to understand on mass?

Confusion and apprehension:

Since Covid-19 I have commonly heard people say that they don’t know what to do, how to do whatever and if they should do whatsoever that they apparently can do then what does that mean? Adverse to this is the attitude of ‘fuck it’ I’ll do what I like.

How does the world look from the Call Centre in Allenheads? I was recently invited to stay with friends for a few days in Fyvie, Scotland. The prospect felt good, a wee road trip with my dog... super. So I prepared by getting my tent, bed, sleeping bag and camp cooker ready for the off. Seventy-two hours later I am still in Allenheads feeling depressingly safe.

Safe, what does it mean? It makes me think of the dental torture scene in Marathon Man where Lawrence Olivier as a Nazi-dentist scrapes, stabs and drills Dustin Hoffman’s teeth, brutalising him for the correct answer to the unanswerable question, “Is it safe?”

So is it safe?

It is safe to sit in my car - it is safe to start the engine - it is safe to move to another place - but is it safe to get out of the car when I arrive at another place and meet other people,

is it safe to open their doors and drink tea from their cups?


I feel safe on my playground but looking out from my studio a small bird clearly wasn’t, I believe it had seen itself reflected in my studio window, felt threatened and attacked the imaginary impostor only to meet its demise. Should I try to think of Covid as an imaginary self? Perhaps we would all benefit from giving our invisible adversary a shape, a smell a taste. Would that be easier to deal with than this unknown monster that we can't duck and dodge and that forces us to live under its relentless threat.

I’m curious to know if the Covid could read would it read The Invisible Man by H G Wells and if it did, would it agree with Griffin (the invisible man) and consider its actions and victims similarly? Griffin said, ‘No doubt invisibility made it possible to get them, but it made it impossible to enjoy them when they are got.’ So optimistically I am hoping the virus will sometime soon get bored with its easy mischief and fuck off, or get bandaged up so that we can see it. Unfortunately it is more likely to say ‘fuck it’ I’ll do what I like.


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