Wu Flu and “Le conseguenze dell'amore”

John British School Pisa Group

di John Ayers

Wu flu? So how did he catch it?


Patient zero. I mean who did he catch it from?

Catch what?

Wu flu.

Who’s Wu flu? Maybe he caught it from her.

Wu flu is an it, not a her. I’m talking about China virus. You’re beginning to sound like one of those covidiots? Do I have to explain? Wu flu is Wuhan influenza; Rona. We thought it was a joke, until it turned into covid and started killing people. He said he didn’t know who he caught it from. His wife said she didn’t know, but he must have caught it from someone, someone’s droplets; someone who wasn’t social distancing properly.

So, it was a her. I told you so. Does it matter anyway? I mean it probably matters to his wife, but not really to all of us. Anyway what were these ‘consequences’?

Covid-19. That was the consequence. It’s a new word. It’s difficult to imagine the world without it, but, in fact, it’s a word that didn’t exist until two and a half years ago. Now it exists in almost every language on the planet. Next week will be the official second coronaversary.

Was it really so bad?

It’s difficult to say now. I mean the doomscrollers seem to have been exaggerating. The coronapocalypse hasn’t arrived. At least not yet. Long covid will still stay with us but here in Italy covexit is planned for March 31st. And in the UK it took place a month ago. Now we have a new crisis; World War 3; face masks seem a bit absurd by comparison. Drinking quarantini out of   plastic cups, thermo scanners, social distancing, green passes, daily swabs, contact-tracing, lockdowns, unlockdowns, somehow they seem already words from the past. We learned about a city of over one million people, in the middle of China, called Wuhan; a city that we had never heard of where they have a magnificent hi-tech laboratory that investigates deadly viruses, and nearby a busy, pulsating medieval open market which has specialised for centuries in selling every imaginable type of live animal for cooking and other things, and where deadly viruses abound. But it’s all forgotten. Now we’ve discovered Ukraine, Moldavia, Belarus. We know how to pronounce Kiev correctly. It’s called globalisation.

Time for coronastalgia, perhaps?

Well, it wasn’t all bad. Or, at least, it wasn’t all bad for some. Not coronastalgia, but lockstalgia perhaps. Some of us were happy lockdowners; self isolation, a glorious social bubble of one (plus maybe my cat). A lockdown for two seemed to work well also; follow the stay-at-home orders, no mother-in-law, locktails for two, corona babies, the coronnials. Not everyone ended up with a covidivorce. The quaranteeners probably came off worst. Difficult to find the back seat of a car when there is a pandemic on your hands.

And work?

That was it, you see, we discovered smart working. It had been there all the time but we had just never thought about it seriously before. We discovered zoom and screen sharing, digital platforms and the metaverse. Only problem was zoombombing; and even that had its interesting moments. Cosily at home we realised that we could work so much better, that so much of what we had always considered essential was unnecessary and often positively harmful. We learned the joys of upperwear. Can you imagine wearing just your pajama bottoms or an old track suit all day, and when necessary popping on a shirt and tie as upperwear; add a moustache and lipstick if you felt like being a bit kinky. Even when you went out there was the fun of elbow bumping or foot tapping instead of handshakes and hugs. If you did risk going to a restaurant it was special, there was space to lean back in your chair, stretch your legs, two metres from one table to another.

But surely some people had to go into work?

Yes, particularly the careworkers suffered terribly. Frontliners, they were called. And it’s true, they were the soldiers in the front line. We even learned their language; ‘PPE’, ‘PCR’; ‘R0’ etc. We thought it was like a war, but now we realise that war is worse. 

What about the no-vaxxers? In the end were they right or wrong?

The maskholes of this world are always right; the no-vax, no green pass; the followers of infodemics and plandemics; the believers in the big pharma-finance-media-tech-industrial complex,  they are always right. Now I suppose they will be happy that if covid didn’t win maybe Putin will.

And the anthropause? Did it really happen?

I live in the country and so I like to think that it did. Locked down, self isolated; no planes, no trains, no cars, no need to travel. Some days the sky seemed so clear, so blue. The stars at night were so bright.

Maybe we just needed a pause…..

And what about her? Did they ever find her?


The wu flu lady. The superspreader. The one the wife didn’t know anything about.

No, they never found her. They don’t really know if she ever existed.

That’s what they always say. And him? Did he end up like in the film?

What film?

The one you were talking about. The one by Sorrentino where they topped him by lowering him into a barrel of cement. That was a nasty consequence.

No. Covid wasn’t a film, it was real. Patient zero is OK. He was one of the lucky ones. He survived.

wu flu glossary


(with thanks to Prof. Mattiello; the glossary is taken from her new book “Linguistic Innovation in the Covid-19 Pandemic”).

Words and phrases that have entered the English lexicon since January 2020. Some are neologisms, that are destined to become a permanent part of the English vocabulary, others are termed occasionalisms. In either case most are words that perhaps we would prefer to forget.


anthropause The absence of humans during the lockdown. From anthropos and pause.

China virus A name for Covid-19.

contact tracer A person responsible for contact tracing.

Corona, corona The coronavirus which causes Covid-19.

coronababies The babies born twelve to sixteen months after the start of the COVID-

coronapocalypse End of the world via coronavirus. From coronavirus and apocalypse.

coronaversary The anniversary, in mid-March 2021, of the first tangible reactions to, and realisation of the impact of COVID-19 infections. From coronavirus and anniversary.

Coronial, coronial A baby conceived during the “Home Quarantine” practice linked to COVID19. From corona and Millennial.

covexit An exit strategy permitting relaxing of confinement and economic recovery following coronavirus-related restrictions. From covid and exit.

Covid Coronavirus Disease 2019.

Covid-19, COVID-19, COVID19, CoViD-19, CoViD19 An acute disease in humans caused by a coronavirus, which is characterised mainly by fever and cough and is capable of progressing to pneumonia, respiratory and renal failure, blood coagulation abnormalities, and death. From Coronavirus disease 2019.

covidiot Someone who ignores the warnings regarding public health or safety. From covid and idiot.

Covidivorce A divorce resulting from the covid house arrest where the parties realize that a parting of the ways might be best. From Covid and divorce.

doomscrolling Scrolling through all of your social media feeds, looking for the most recent upsetting news about the latest catastrophe.


elbow bump A gesture (usually of greeting or farewell) in which two people lightly tap their elbows together as an alternative to a handshake or embrace in order to reduce the risk of spreading or catching Covid-19.

face covering Mask worn over the mouth and nose in order to reduce the transmission of infectious agents.

green pass A document giving Covid-vaccinated people permission to gain access to indoor places, to travel by plane, and participate in ceremonies and social events. Coined by analogy with green card.

infodemic Proliferation of diverse, often unsubstantiated information relating to a crisis, controversy, or event, which disseminates rapidly and uncontrollably through news, online, and social media. From information and epidemic.


lockdown The imposition of an isolation state as a public health measure against coronavirus.


lockdowners Individuals coping with life in conditions of isolation.


lockstalgia The notion that we may look back fondly upon the period of confinement. From lockdown and nostalgia.

locktail A type of cocktail prepared during the lockdown. From lockdown and cocktail.

Long Covid A condition in which effects of the disease Covid-19 continue for several weeks or months.

maskhole A person who refuses to wear a facemask. From mask and asshole.

patient zero A single individual posited as the carrier of a disease into an area previously free of it. These words do not display new meaning in the OED, but have significantly risen in use since last year. Hence, we expect lexicographers to add new quotes to these entries, in order to modernise and update their context of usage.

PCR Used in molecular biology for a technique for producing many copies of a chosen sequence of genomic DNA using replication with DNA polymerase. From Polymerase Chain Reaction.

plandemic A term used by conspiracy theorists who believe that the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic was intentional. From plan and pandemic.


PPE Clothing and equipment designed to prevent transmission of Covid-19. From Personal Protective (or Protection) Equipment.


quaranteen Kids born between 2001 and 2007, who were technically teenagers during the Covid-19 quarantine period in 2020. From quarantine and teenager.

Quarantini The drink that people consume during a quarantine lockdown. From quarantine and Martini.

R0, R0 The average number of cases of an infectious disease arising by transmission from a single infected individual, in a population that has not previously encountered the disease. From Reproduction/Reproductive and the numerical symbol 0.

Rona Slang for COVID-19. From Coronavirus.

self-isolate To undertake self-imposed isolation for a period of time, typically in one’s own home.

self-isolated That has undertaken self-imposed isolation for a period of time.

self-isolating Undertaking self-imposed isolation in order to avoid catching or transmitting Covid-19.

self-isolation Self-imposed isolation undertaken in order to avoid catching or transmitting the Covid-19 infectious disease.


smart working Remote working.


social bubble A group consisting of a restricted number of people whose members are, under public health measures, permitted to be in close physical proximity.

social distancing The action or practice of maintaining a certain physical distance from, or limiting physical contact with, another person or people, esp. in order to avoid catching or transmitting an infectious disease.

stay at home, stay-at-home To remain indoors (typically at home) at all times, with only limited specified exceptions, esp. as part of preventative public health measure intended to inhibit the spread of an infectious disease.

stay at home An order to follow strict regulations and stay at home during COVID-19. Converted from the verb.

stay-at-home A person who does not go out to work, esp. a parent engaged in the full-time care of children. Converted from the verb.

stay-at-home order An executive order directed all citizens to stay home except to go to an essential job or to shop for essential needs.

superspreader An individual infected with a (pathogenic) microorganism who transmits it to an unusually large number of other individuals.

unlockdown The process of relaxing or ending social and physical restrictions, or the period following their ending.

upperwear Clothing selected for display above the waist only. Coined by analogy with outerwear.

Wu flu The novel coronavirus known as covid-19, which originated in Wuhan, China. From Wuhan influenza.


Wuhan shake Touching elbows or tapping feet rather than shaking hands. Coined by analogy with handshake.


Zoom To communicate with (a person or group of people) over the Internet using the Zoom application.

Zoombombing The act of raiding a Zoom call, by posting pornography or otherwise offensive content.

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John Ayers

Socio fondatore British School Pisa
"We are not supposed to be teaching English, we are supposed to be creating an environment where learning can take place."

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