I have actually climbed Mount Everest. Well, not actually, but virtually, anyway.
"Ascending Everest is child's play," said one mountaineer, although I don't think many parents would encourage their child to try it. "Getting back down again is the tricky part," he added, sounding like a man who'd been there, seen that, turned back and didn't get the T-shirt. If you ever climb Everest, take my advice, and a ladder. And baby steps all the way down.
In California, affixing the prefix 'Disney' to the word 'burger' increases the price, if not the taste, by at least 50%. A similar thing is beginning to happen with a much less palatable word. "I'm suffering from Covid elbow," a friend announced recently. "A surfeit of virtual reality games in a cluttered living room."
Covid has started to replace Brexit as an explanation - or excuse - for anything from late arrival of goods and eye strain (too many box sets), to sciatica brought on by lifting objects heavier than a pint of Guinness while exercising in a flimsy leotard. Climbing out of bed in the morning is becoming a health and safety issue. As are Covid haircuts.
A recent alleged fuel shortage at petrol pumps became a self-fulfilling (!) prophecy simply because so many drivers believed the rumour, and filling stations were swamped with panicky motorists, we've all driven behind one of them, haven't we? The same result would follow any time half the population rushed to fill up on the same day, irrespective of whether there was a shortfall or not in tanker drivers, due to Britain's Brexit exit.
My literary consultant by marriage has just pointed out that she thinks the phrase 'Britain's Brexit exit' is tautology, or "Using more words than are necessary," as she kindly translated for me. Like saying 'dilapidated ruins' or 'ATM machine'," she added. "Or thirst is a necessary requirement for drinking." Now she was just being absurd.
"Where would the Beatles be without repetition?" I defended myself and the Beatles, but she left the writing salon (kitchen) with a sotto voce, "Yeah, yeah, yeah."
People adjust their grievances to suit new circumstances, have you noticed that? Now that the fear of death by virus has receded somewhat, thanks to the birth of vaccines, it is as if we can find time to give vent to lesser complaints we neglected in the pandemic epicentre. We needn't feel guilty when at long last we can phone the fire brigade about that cat caught in a tree.
Someone once told the mountaineer George Mallory that the descent is the most difficult part of any climb, not least because of the amount of energy already expended in the ascent. Mallory proved that to be true when he died descending Mount Everest, and I think something similar is happening to us now. You probably know I don't mean that literally, but as we come down from the worst of our battle with the deadly elements of our particular Everest, we should take great care not to lose our footing, especially when looking up at a treed cat. Or pandemic-wise, it might be déjà vu all over again. Is that tautology? I'll go and ask.