I wouldn’t say I’m a raging misanthropist.  Some of my closest friends are people.  But if I remember anything from my past lectures, it wasn’t the valuable knowledge that would stand me in good stead for exams.  It was the rapid gunfire of phlegm bullets echoing around the room, mostly going on from September until mid-October.  I have been guilty of it myself, but I would say my dislike for people is particularly heightened during this period.  While jokes about needing a new plague are frequent, I did start to wonder whether our town could survive the next attempt at eradicating humanity.

First things first, we determine what this pandemic is going to be caused by.  As much as we like to imagine any new pandemic would be some horrifying Ebola-like virus, or a bacterium that slowly turns people into rhinoceroses, or a parasite that brings on a zombie uprising, get ready for disappointment.  It’s basically flu.  It might put you under the weather for a couple of weeks; but a mutation here or there might just wipe out your family and the dog.  After all, it only took some antigenic shift (Science-y Words Time: when 2+ different viral strains combine to create a super strain) to turn the A strain of Influenza into the one that caused the Spanish Flu outbreak.  An outbreak proven to be one of the deadliest disasters in human history.

This pathogen will be dangerous and without mercy.  I’m going to call it Ted.

And we’re off!  Ted has been released into the St Andrews general population.  How does St Andrews measure up?

Healthcare – It can take some people a month to get a GP appointment, so we shouldn’t be expecting any immediate sign that we’ve been infected.  Plus, with the closest major hospital being in Dundee, which might also be overrun with victims of our Ted Plague, patients here haven’t got a hope.  The small positive would be that many infections are spread in hospital environments; this could therefore be a blessing in disguise.  But probably not.

Access – unless someone has managed to skip town on the bus or train, since we’re a small place it would be relatively easy to keep us here.  Plus the nearby Army base at Leuchars means no more weekend trips to Edinburgh, and if the rest of the world is safe we’d be expected to stay here until Ted is eradicated.

Supply – Although we do have a communal garden in the town, that would only be of use if we got infected during the three weeks of summer we get.  This means we’d have to rely on the big suppliers, Morrisons and Aldi, to feed a town of ~20000 people.  I’m not optimistic.  With huge swathes of the country and/or world affected by Ted, you might find the need to isolate yourself like many others, but you can’t do much with two overripe avocados and a bottle of Buckfast.  No matter what my brother says.

Quarantine – that guy sitting behind you in your lecture right now (don’t lie, I know you “should” be taking notes and are choosing to read this instead, many thanks) has been coughing up his lungs with Fresher’s Flu for two weeks straight.  Are you honestly going to argue that we’d be responsible enough to isolate ourselves to avoid passing on infection?

There you go; we are toast, hot and covered in germy butter.  I’m not sure what the point of this piece was, but we had fun along the way!

By the way, are you alright?  You don’t look so good…