RICHARD ORD: Pole vaulting the double whammy of Brexit and coronavirus

The eldest of my known children has decided he wants to go travelling through Thailand.

Thursday, 5th March 2020, 3:04 pm

He has his heart set on discovering new cultures and experiences. All very adventurous, I’m sure, but this is from a teenager who can’t find the dishwasher from our dining table.

As ever, the broadening of Son Number One’s mind comes with a shrinking of dad’s coffers.

“I need injections,” he said. “200 quid.”

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Italian soldiers wearing sanitary masks patrol downtown Milan, Italy. At least 190 people in Italy's north have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Does his mind have to be broadened by that much? Isn’t there a narrower option?

Turns out most of the injections are free, but there’s one that costs the equivalent of weekend in Butlins (the narrower of the mind-broadening travel I hoped he’d take).

The vaccine for the Japanese encephalitis virus comes in at just under £200.

‘Why can’t you just steer clear of Japanese elephants,’ I implored. ‘Surely they’re easy to spot.’

Turns out it’s a virus carried by mosquitoes, nothing to do with elephants. My mind broadening travels didn’t take me far in my youth. I wanted to find myself in Australia, but unfortunately found myself in a Metro station in Jarrow before I reached the airport. His wanderlust couldn’t have been better timed. Brexit and coronavirus is closing borders at a rate of knots. Forget passports and vaccines, proficiency in pole vaulting is your best bet for getting over borders. Kids these days are more germ conscious, of course. You may have noticed them placing orders on the McDonald’s touch screens using their knuckles rather than fingers. My son does it all the time.

‘Fingertips pass germs from your hand to your mouth,’ He said. Maybe, but I’ve seen him pick his nose with an index finger buried knuckle-deep in his snout before.

Turns out these touchscreens are germ magnets. Honestly, instead of using knuckles, you may as well pull down your trousers and tap out your Big Mac meal deal with your butt cheeks. Cut out the middle man, so to speak.

With so many germs and viruses about, I eventually agreed to fund his vaccine costs. On condition I could administer the injection myself … from the other side of the room. Through a blowpipe. Well, I’ve got to get something out of it surely? Call it broadening the mind.

My son replied that he’s looking forward to going to Phucket. At least that’s what it sounded like.