Tag Archives: covid-19

Medicine show

Toy hospital and ambulance on carpeted floor with balloon

Everyone, everywhere, Santa Fe to Timbuktu, is talking about the same thing.

Has there ever been a time like this? Instant information, distance from the environment, and a global threat to public health: a new set of conditions to steer all seven billion of us down the same path. I suppose you could argue that any conversation during either of the World Wars was ultimately about the war, but you could still go out and get drunk, and there was still a side to take. COVID-19 is in everything, and despite the efforts of some charlatans to spin it to their own ends, the virus brings with it undeniable truths — contagion, illness, and death, but also hand-washing, elbow-sneezing, and flattening the curve — to alarm and compel.

If it’s true that everyone reverts to a base state during a crisis, I appear to be a pessimist, or at least a cynic, drawn to the more troubling scenarios than the hopeful ones. It might instead be that a media diet of RNZ, The Guardian, and Twitter leads the average person to doubt humanity in general. I am trying to leave the tabs closed more often.

The hard part, though, is that I, a know-all hipster since I could talk, am forced to live through COVID-19 with everyone else. There’s no lesser-known virus you probably haven’t heard of. I am in this and this only, just like you. How irritating.

But — also — how hopeful, actually. When has every person in the world had to stare down the same disastrous consequences and act in unison to prevent them? And when have so many signed up so willingly?

There’s no medicine. People are the medicine, in so many ways. And it’s just as well I don’t have anything different to say, because it isn’t my job to make sense of it; to zoom out and paint the picture in a way others might understand. My job is to stay home.

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Filed under Biography

Won’t somebody please think of the children?

After the Prime Minister’s announcement of an imminent shift to COVID-19 alert level 4 (mandatory self-isolation and physical distancing, essential services only), I immediately went out and panic bought a slide.

I entered Kmart as at least three other parents exited with literal armloads of board games. A woman and I circled around the two last remaining slides — massive boxes that wouldn’t fit in our trolleys — until I finally pounced. She stood staring at the last one for a few more seconds before hauling it up.

I only learned at checkout that it cost $139. An insane amount of money, and completely out of character for me, but what if we need it? What if the country locks down even further? What if vigilante mobs sweep the streets in snarling, two-metre-spaced rows? What if the Defence Force is deployed to enforce a full curfew? These are the kinds of thoughts you have because no one knows what, exactly, is going to happen. No one in the country has ever lived through anything like this before. Even in wartime, you could still go out for a drink.

It was just me and the other parents, mostly, stocking up on games and arts and crafts. A minimum of four weeks at home with the children. We love them — they’re a blessing, a joy, we are so lucky to have them and all that — but can you see why we were panic buying playdough and poster paints?

There was also a guy in stubbies yelling into a cellphone, “Nah mate, I’m at Kmart. Yeah nah, it’s basically dead here.” Compared to queues out the door at the supermarket, most definitely.

We’d already been to the supermarket that day. Limit: two of any similar item per customer. I tried to buy a third bottle of milk for my friends in self-isolation (trim milk! As if I would drink that swill) but was quietly and awkwardly denied by the cashier and her supervisor.

When I jetted off to do the Kmart run and pick up those same friends’ dear little dog from the kennels, I forgot to take the trim milk. It’s still sitting in our fridge, unopened. Maybe I’ll end up drinking it after all.

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Filed under New Zealand, Parenting

This is really happening

Grass with babies and brightly coloured ball

Ball practising social distancing

I had an embarrassing realisation earlier this week.

I’d been following the news closely for months, keeping an eye on the COVID-19 cases map, and responding daily to its escalation at work.

But I still wasn’t taking it seriously until last Friday, when they cancelled the sport.

For a certain kind of person, news of global contagion and measures to stop its spread don’t hit home until the Premier League is postponed or the cricketers fly back home. It turns out I am that kind of person.

Tens of millions of people in lockdown overseas? Well, that’s a shame. Crystal Palace v Norwich has been called off? Oh my God, I need to fill the cupboard with tins and stop touching my face and talk to the people I love, slowly and clearly, about this not being a drill.

Embarrassing, as I say. But I know there were plenty of other people the world over twiddling their thumbs on the weekend and thinking the same thing.

And it’s not even the best wake-up call in our house this week. For Tara, the pandemic wasn’t a central concern… until they closed Disneyland.

Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for global stress?

C-O-R-O-N-A V-I-R-U-S!

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Filed under Biography