I have a window in my diary for catching Covid-19. The only problem is that Covid has a window in its schedule for catching me, and they may not be aligned. Mid-April would work for me. Late April is even better. The spawn will be back at college. There’s nothing too unmissable. There are even a couple of events that I could cope with the disappointment of having to cancel.

Unfortunately, Covid is being rather demanding. Its PA is pushing me for a date. Apparently it is in the vicinity and would really like to mop up the holdouts while it’s here. It’s almost as persistent as EDF trying to make me sign up to a smart meter. I’m waiting for the phone calls (to the landline, obviously): “Hello, this is Steve from Covid customer service. Our records show we have not yet been able to fit you with a positive test and a hacking cough. We were wondering if there was a good day to visit this week?”

I have not entirely dodged the virus, having caught it at the outset before it was fashionable. But I got it so mildly that I did not know till I took an antibody test, after which I swanked around smugly until the second wave hit. But customer care is pushing me to upgrade to variant BA.2 (or Omicron Plus), which has a lot of exciting new features.

Anyway, I can’t pretend I’m confident of dodging this bullet for another three weeks until I get past the big events I’d prefer not to miss. People are falling like ninepins around me. The chances of my having caught Covid by the time you read this are now only marginally higher than the chance of my having already caught it at time of writing. I may have to drive a convoy of clothes to Ukraine just to stay out of danger.

The ubiquity of the current wave hit home about six weeks ago, with a significant spike in the number of colleagues, relatives and friends suddenly emailing or tweeting their Covid status. When, incidentally, did publicising your infections become a thing? Is it just Covid or are there any pustules which etiquette also demands get an airing on social media? Was there a government regulation that I missed? You are no longer legally obliged to quarantine or wear a face mask, but you must tweet out a picture of your positive lateral flow test? Also, what are the new rules? If you test positive, are you still allowed to attend Downing Street parties?

Last week, two close colleagues emailed with the joyous news that they had tested positive a day after talking to me, and in neither case was I patient zero. Friends who had gone to great lengths to avoid infection, notably those who were shielding for medical reasons, have fallen victim to this wave.

The good news so far is that a combination of vaccination and antivirals means that they have got through it and now they are actually rather relieved, having got it over and done with. I’d quite like to get it over with too, but like Woody Allen’s instincts on dying, while I’m not exactly afraid of it any more, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

Part of the problem is that the lateral flow tests now seem to lag behind rather than ahead of symptoms. Experts say this is down to the vaccination triggering an immune response even before you become contagious, but it does change the testing dynamic if the primary purpose of a lateral flow is no longer to warn you that you have Covid but to confirm that yup, you did have it three days ago after all.

So what does living with Covid now mean? Well, fundamentally, it means accepting that you are going to catch it, making sure you are vaccinated, hoping for the best and then trying to manage the inconvenience. This obviously is a huge advance on before. In the pecking order of pandemics, inconvenience is definitely better than death.

But in practice this means having a clear hierarchy of priorities and risks. An important family event, a crucial work meeting or the weeks before a holiday may need a steady withdrawal from non-essential activities. We are going to have to get used to explaining to friends — and having friends explain to us — that though we were looking forward to seeing them, there is something we are looking forward to more.

Clearly this has to be done at a household level. There is no good in deprioritising an in-law if your other half takes an alternate view. We are now working on a pyramid chart, a sort of Maslow’s hierarchy of socialising needs. One challenge is how to both keep it secret while still incentivising people to push for promotion.

So apologies in advance to any disobliged friends. And Covid, if you could pencil me in for late April, I’ll come peaceably.

Follow Robert on Twitter @robertshrimsley and email him at robert.shrimsley@ft.com

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