Claire’s away for the weekend. Has loaded the car with all manner of contraband and hit the blacktop, a high-speed run to an undisclosed location, her co-conspirators too numerous to mention, the lot of them half drunk on mulled wine, good cheese and the righteous feeling one gets from fresh air, exercise and bucking The Trend.
I, meanwhile, having completed the parental tasks required of me – with vigour and aplomb, I might add – am now ensconced upon the couch in front of a brightly-lit teev, a game of football on the go, a can in hand, my feet up on a chair, the picture of house-bound Saturday night fever.
My team aren’t playing and so a carefree vibe is the order of the evening.
Outside, dark has well and truly fallen, blanketing in blackness a reasonably calm scene, one far removed from what’s transpiring down south and across seas about the globe. Indeed, an ill wind blows across there and the fear blusters with reckless abandon, whipping carefully preened hairdos and ruffling feathers.
In our part of the world, and indeed, the majority of the country, the pandemic seems to have halted, at least for the time being; an uneasy truce being reached and so people are going about their lives in as normal a fashion as possible.
Some are taking to it too quickly though, more than once in the past few days I’ve had to ask groups of blathering local folk to kindly move their long-time-coming reunion out of the literal doorway to the bottleshop lest I cut them off and the night, for them, remains dry.
No one argues, no one wants to spend a night without a Drink.
Down the way, across the rest of this State and over the border to the south, things have gotten out of hand and are rapidly escalating. Editorially sanctioned racism fills pages of Melbourne’s other major metro daily, columnist Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun seizing with barely disguised glee the idea that ‘those people’ are to blame for fresh outbreaks; ill-informed, windy rhetoric at best, insidious and vile race-baiting at worst.
And so the rest of the country watches from afar as things escalate and the state with easily the most hard-line restrictions of the pandemic thus far, succumbs at a rate not seen in months. Drastic measures are being talked about, and states to the north and west are eyeing their southern cousins with undisguised alarm.
Adding to this missive a few days later, I have a cold, which in the normal scheme of things – it’s winter; we have a three-year-old at daycare – is nothing of note. In the current circumstances however, I’m now viewed as a pariah, a walking disease factory most likely out to infect you all. Pull out a tissue in a public place, and the looks you’re receiving could melt lead. I take to using diversion tactics (“Oh wow, what’s that over there?”) so’s I can blow my nose without being publically castigated.
It’s now Wednesday, the winter sun warming all outside. Claire, with a morning off, and Addy have rambled their way through the badlands to the south and are eating sandwiches and strawberries by the river while I recuperate and drink coffee and trim my Lockdown Beard.
I think to myself, standing in the sun out the back, that we’re damn lucky. For it’s not carefully preened hairdos and feathers that are being ruffled, but livelihoods and lives. Here down south, all over the world. It’s something that’s never far from my mind. Indeed, this is life as it is today…