TUESDAY. St Paddy’s Day is a day of special celebration because it’s my mother’s birthday and this year is extra special; she’s defied time, cancer, the single-mother demands of three weans and, more recently, dementia, to reach the fairly ripe age of 85.

My mother has certainly not lost all of her marbles – she’ll catch sight of Boris Johnson on the telly and say, “How the hell did that man ever get elected?”

Yet, how much COVID-19 info do I impart? Dr James Ellison, a geriatric psychiatrist says: “There could be people with dementia who would be frightened, or aggravated, or worried, or potentially even delusional if they were told about a potentially lethal disease. So I think the caregiver and the family will have to judge how this information will impact the person’s behaviour.”

Thanks, James. But I’m thinking of using coronavirus as a tactical weapon because my mum has recently developed an aversion to showering which is as powerful as her new sweet tooth. (Both are common in sufferers, it seems.)

So I try and scare her into the shower. I tell her showering once a day is essential to stop the spread of the virus. She tells me it’s me who is going doolally.

The TV news is on however and this gives a chance to highlight the scale of the pandemic, to gently worry her. We listen to government instructions for self-isolation. “Does this mean you can’t come and visit?” (I do alternate nights with my sister). I explain I can.

But it makes me wonder; should I? I can wash my hands ‘till my fingers turn into bars of carbolic but what if I’ve contracted the virus? Today, I used my card rather than cash so as to avoid a human contact. And when I bought the birthday card and the plastic-gloved assistant shoved a receipt into my hand, I said “No thanks,” in an overly firm way.

But have I been close enough to someone’s breath to allow vapour to transfer?

We listen to the argument from the World Health Organisation about testing, more testing. “Will we all be tested?” No. I don’t think so. But I’m not sure. Then there’s a debate about herd immunity and I try to explain the Scottish Government’s logic in catching Covid-19 in managed stages. My mum says “You first, Nicola.”

The news turns to talks about care workers and testing which prompts my mum to ask “What about the lassies?” She’s talking about her care workers who visit, get her out of bed in the morning, give her a sandwich at lunchtime, give her meds.

My mother likes them. She gives them little bags of Maltesers to take away. Now she wonders: “Should they be coming in here? They’ve been to everybody else during the day – they’re always busy. Does this mean they could be bringing the virus in here?”

It’s a real question. Are care workers being tested? The official line is: “In Scotland, key workers such as NHS staff are being tested if they show symptoms.” But isn’t that too late to prevent my mother from being infected? From being killed?

Health secretary Jeane Freeman doesn’t offer detail (yet) about care workers. Will they get plastic suits to wear? And goggles. And gloves?

The next news item makes my mother angry. Supermarket sweepers. Human locusts. I tell my mother about a women from Bridge of Weir who announced she was going to Asda, “to stockpile.”

“I’d shoot her,” my mum says with a wartime grimace. I say I hope her garage is full of damp bog roll for the next five years and she is forced by law to eat dried pasta until she becomes constipated. My mother laughs.

There are more worries. Today we’re due to go to Braehead shopping centre with a view to buying her a new hearing aid. (Aren’t NHS hearing aids rubbish?)

But is there a risk taking my mother to a major shopping centre? She has to wear gloves for sure. And do I?

We go back to shower talk. She says she takes one every day with all the conviction of a thief. Yet, she senses she’s been rumbled. “I’ll Dettol the door handles after the lassies have been,” she offers as compensation.

What my mother is really worried about is being abandoned, by her mind, her family and those nice care workers who seem to like her.

I try to assuage. I tell her the COVID-19 plans may work soon. I tell her I’ll still come and visit and put a Gregg’s sausage roll and a Fruit Loops carton through her letterbox every three day. She laughs.

But what really makes her smile is the news EastEnders has been cut back. Eurovision cancelled. “Every cloud . . . ,” she says, grinning.