Three months ago (maybe slightly more), none of us had ever heard of coronavirus or Covid-19.
Three months ago, no-one was walking around with a mask on their face – certainly not in the UK.
Three months ago, no-one was worried about their elderly relatives or loved ones with health conditions.
Three months ago, no-one was worried if they suddenly got the sniffles or developed a cough.
Three months ago, people would travel anywhere without really giving it a second thought, and no-one thought twice about getting on a cruise ship.
Three months ago, the first 10 pages of newspapers were full of different stories, rather than information about just one thing (the spread, the death toll, the number infected, how other countries are handling it, how businesses are affected etc).
Three months ago, TV news bulletins varied in what they’d start off talking about, as did chat shows and political shows.
Three months ago, no-one was concentrating on how often they washed their hands and for how long … and no-one was contemplating singing Happy Birthday while doing it.
Three months ago, people weren’t worrying about hurriedly throwing away their tissue, having sneezed or coughed into it.
Three months ago, people weren’t panic-buying toilet rolls.
Three months ago, Italy hadn’t entirely shut down.
Three months ago, there weren’t full-page ads in national and regional press, from the Government and the NHS, on protecting yourself from coronavirus.
Three months ago, none of these were part of the language we used on a daily basis: coronavirus, Covid-19, spread, infectious, cough, fever, pandemic, death toll, new cases, lockdown, panic-buying, contagion.
If you ever wanted evidence of how something can suddenly affect our daily language – the way we talk – then this is it.
And if you ever want to know what ‘to go viral’ means, coronavirus provides the perfect example.
Three months ago, we’d never heard of it – now we can’t seem to talk about anything else.