If there's one way to clear a room at the moment it's by coughing.
I learnt this over the weekend at the Mangonui Festival. It wasn't exactly a room but, as soon as I coughed, several people nearby spun round accusingly.
The cough is the remnants from a rather nasty cold one of the kids gave me for my birthday three weeks earlier before promptly buggering off for the week. You nurse them, in return they share their bugs and then they scarper. They're good like that.
So, on the way to the festival in the car, I coughed and, because it's on everybody's mind, my friend and her partner jokingly asked if I had coronavirus.
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I explained that I had been sick, but it was now perfectly non-contagious.
"Glad we've cleared that up early," I finished. "Seeing as I'm going to be staying with you."
But what I didn't count on was the reactions from all the strangers when I could no longer hold my annoying, niggling cough in. As well as swivelling round to see who the culprit was, they naturally gave me a wide berth.
But it wasn't just the festival where paranoia abounded. I'd been eagerly awaiting the return of my kids to sit them down to check and expand their hygiene knowledge, but they bounced in after school already full of talk of it.
"Mum, I don't want to get coronavirus," fretted Miss 11, after I'd sent them straight to the bathroom to wash their hands to the tune of Happy Birthday twice.
"Well, just keep washing your hands and try not to touch your face and you should be fine," I reassured her, then coughed.
She backed away, staring at me in horror.
"Do you have it?!"
"No, that's still the cough you gave me for my birthday," I reminded her before producing a crystal I'd bought her at the festival.
"Ohhh thank you Mum, I love it!" she squealed, leaping off her bar stool to give me a hug, then stopping short.
"What?" I asked.
"I want to give you a hug but I don't want to get coronavirus," she mumbled sheepishly.
Then, "Wait – could it be on this crystal too?"
But it's easy to be paranoid one minute, then completely forget the next.
I took the twins to town a few days later and, after rubbing sanitiser on their hands whenever they returned to the car, my daughter got all excited over the Easter paraphernalia in Kmart. She came bounding over to me carrying a large chocolate-scented fluffy bunny and shoved it in my face to smell.
"Did you think about who else has been doing that?" I asked her. "Remember what I said about not putting your hands or things up to your face."
"She just touched my nose with it too!" complained her brother while his sis looked guilty.
"Does that mean we have to put sanitiser on our noses too?" they asked when we returned to the car.
"Yeah, why not," I replied, and we all rubbed some in.