I must have been feeling hungry the other morning while I was lying half asleep in bed, as I was dreaming about my home-made bread and eating a slice of toast with honey or butter (but not both – one can’t be too self-indulgent!)

I make the toast in this house because my DBH (Dearly Beloved Husband) likes his cindered and I don’t. Our old toaster suffered from burnout, so we ditched it and acquired a new big toaster with four slots and a number of confusing dials – intended for use at big family weekends – but currently under-used, unfortunately.

The old toaster was simpler but in the end its whims and misdemeanours were almost as devious and unpredictable as the coronavirus. That got me thinking that toasters and viruses may have a lot in common.

It’s not an obvious connection I will admit. But strange as it seems, they have a number of shared characteristics. (I think you’ll find my argument persuasive.)

Firstly, both toasters and viruses have to be watched or they start to misbehave.  Humans think they have them under control – big mistake.

Secondly, they are unreliable and change over time: your brand-new efficient toaster turns into an exasperating and perverse appliance, and an emergent but identified coronavirus mutates into an unstable and relentless ‘chimera’ (fabled monster made up of parts of various animals).

Thirdly, their offspring (toast and illness) pop up when you least expect, either too soon or too late.

Fourthly, both toasters and coronaviruses produce extremes – toast comes out either pale and undone or black and burnt; and Covid-19 can be either relatively minor or extremely serious.

Finally, if you don’t have bread you can’t make toast, and if you don’t have big money you can’t defeat viruses or make vaccines.

I rest my case.

When an old toasters becomes too erratic and destructive, we get rid of it and buy a new model.  Coronavirus is a bit more devious, and to survive it turns itself into new variants, which we combat with new and better vaccines.

This is a fight to the death. Only one of us is going to win this battle – humans or viruses (I believe it will be us) – and the loser will be toast!