When Dracula Tangled With the Virus: A Stocking-Stuffer Emerged

Maggie Hall wanders the Eastern Market farmer’s offerings.

My family in Jolly Olde is delighted that I won’t be home for Christmas! It will save them the pain and trauma of abandoning me to my own resources. As back in Britain I would be forced to endure a solo “celebration.” All to do with the severe–make that draconian–restrictions in place.

The rule is (at the time of writing): no more than six from the same bubble around the Christmas dinner table, and that includes toddlers.

Of course, because of the simmering civil unrest in Britain, as the ways of dealing with the “will-it-ever-end” corona-virus stumble from tiers of terror to total lock-down back to “tears,” the rules might change before the Christmas tree drops its first needles.

But, whatever. I will still stay put in my cozy Eastern Market apartment, cosseted by the way the Capitol Hill community has managed to stay apart but together and basically healthy.  At least compared to the raging virus rates in other parts of the country and world.

Though I will miss experiencing, again, the one thing I have loved during the whole, miserable last ten months – crossing “the pond” by plane. Why? Because the safest I’ve felt (apart from being at home on my own) is on the two flights I made, DC to Heathrow to DC. Defying the virus, I escaped in early August to my seaside home in Whitby, Yorkshire. There were 58 passengers on the Airbus A350. It carries 331. On the November 2nd return there were 94, an increase probably due to Americans rushing home at the last minute to vote. The delight was that no one was seated within shouting distance of each other, unless they were traveling with a “bubble” companion. The drinks’ service was as frequent as you wanted it to be; no scrambling over a sleeping body to go to the lavatory. And no queuing once you got there after tripping over out-stretched feet or some kid’s soft toy in the aisle.

A main reason for so few travelers is that anyone entering from the USA has to go into 14 days quarantine and only citizens or green card holders can enter the US. Flying to “see the Queen” requires a Border Control form to be submitted before departure and a copy has to be handed in at immigration on arrival. It reveals all contact info, about where you live and where you’re going. And it stresses that under the threat of a stiff financial penalty you must not venture out from your given quarantine address. Along with a warning that the authorities will check that you are behaving yourself. Nobody contacted me.

On the return there was a similar US Federal form to be handed in on arrival at Dulles. I waved my form in front of three uniformed people. They all just shrugged and waved me on.

Now, many people will view my traveling overseas as foolhardy. But I had a compelling reason. I needed to get to the British publishers of the book I wrote during lock-down. The finishing touches, as in several final edits, meant a constant back and forth of the manuscript, a very lengthy procedure if done by mail.

So, for readers who recall my previous articles on the virus, where I confessed to not clearing out even one closet, making bread or reading War and Peace, or any other book for that matter, I was busy doing nothing but penning one. Had I not been imprisoned by the virus I would never have done it!

Here is my full-frontal plug for the finished product. It’s All Things Dracula: An A-Z Of The Count Who Refuses to Die. You can guess from the sub-title that it’s a trivia read, jammed with all manner of information about products, services, items, that have taken the name of the world’s number one vampire. It ranges from fun stuff to seriously academic matters. It has entries about animals, ballet, crosswords, flowers, jokes, museums, opera, royalty, stamps, technology, universities, wool, zoos and so much more. There are also tons of American references, particularly to Philadelphia, Harvard and Walt Whitman. While it is not the finest piece of literature ever it is a great BSB. No, not a bedside book but – and excuse the Brit colloquialism – a bogside-book.

And it has two “Christmas” entries. One is the little known, but highly-rated film Christmas at Dracula’s. Perfect holiday viewing for the family when the TV offerings don’t appeal. Watch it on YouTube. The other is a much-lauded children’s book, Little Dracula’s Christmas, by the award-winning Irish author Martin Waddell. Out of print, search for it on AbeBooks and eBay. It will set you back around $30 plus.

As for the virus? It’s in there. One entry reads: “The Malaysia Chronicle in a feature headlined, ‘The Lighter Side to Covid 19,’ wrote: ‘Yes, Covid is more horrifying than even Dracula as Dracula kills only an average of 365 people a year…’.”

On that grim thought, with Christmas looming, don’t forget to “santa-ize” and I hope you don’t have to “elf-isolate.” Also, should you fork out $10 plus for a copy as a gift for yourself or someone on your stocking-stuffer list, “fang you.”

#All Things Dracula is available directly from the publisher at: https://www.ypdbooks.com/non-fiction/2184-all-things-dracula-YPD02456.html, The Book Depository and Amazon.