Happy Birthday To You. You need to sing that twice while washing your hands to ensure that you put in the requisite 20 seconds and keep the coronavirus at bay. It is fun at first, but it can get tiring. The song, I mean. To hear it once a year is bad enough, but 15 or 20 times a day, plus the number of times others in the family sing it while they wash their hands?

The renowned medical expert Dr. Twitter tells us that the chorus of Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees works well too, even if it does go on for four seconds more. It is the most health-conscious of songs, though, best known for being the rhythm for CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). The pace is exactly right. As, of course, is the title.

These are troubled times, and it may be best to keep that song in mind as both hand-washing and CPR might play key roles in the days and weeks to come.

Another One Bites the Dust has been recommended for CPR too, but there’s something about the context. Not guaranteed to provide much encouragement to those around, if you see what I mean. In fact, a good way of telling how much a person loves you is to check which of the two songs he (or she) uses while attempting the CPR on you. When you recover, you can always change your will.

Beyonce, Prince, Fleetwood Mac, Eminem – the list of those whose popular numbers can be sung to keep time is a long one.

For those who find pop songs less than the ideal solution, here is a good opportunity to learn some poetry by heart. John Donne’s No Man is An Island and Shelley’s Ozymandias fit the bill perfectly, and remind us of the times we live in, our inter-dependency and what happens to the ego before very long. Robert Frost is another whose poems are useful for handwashing.

A whole lot of great poets are probably turning in their graves at the mere thought of their legacy.

There are songs to brush our teeth by, to shave by (I presume), to walk the dog by. My son, when he was younger and wearing an iPod on his bus rides to school and college couldn’t tell you how far these institutions were from home, but he could tell you exactly at what point in an album he was listening to it was time to get off.

Poets are fond of saying that life is a song. Now doctors are telling us the same thing. Soon they’ll tell us about songs for not touching our faces. Immortality is just a hand wash away.

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