Getting out in a crazy world
By Isabelle Bennett
Here there seem to be more people than usual out walking dogs at a distance from one another which is frustrating for the dogs. Everyone seems very cheerful and says good morning. Two people got arrested for going on a driving lesson (mother and daughter) but the Police Commissioner threw it out. Another guy got arrested for sitting in a park by himself eating kebabs because the parks have been closed. I think that got tossed too. It’s a crazy world.
There are heaps of kids home from school, teaching one another skateboarding in the middle of street. Houses are noisy here because there are lots of people working from home in their front rooms (moi aussi) and having telephone conversations.
We are all shopping at the supermarket, where you use hand sanitiser in and out. There is still no toilet paper to be had in our supermarket, but there are shelves and shelves full of paper towels! Lots of chocolate items but no pasta!
Education on line
It hasn’t made a lot of difference to me because my university workload is crazy. We had to all go to Zoom for holding classes, and, coincidentally there is a new system (Canvas) for organising the students and course content that no-one knows how to use properly. We all had online classes in Zoom and we still have comprehension problems here. The students can manage Zoom better than us, but they are quite bewildered content-wise.
It’s all been so stressful for every teacher in Australia and probably the world. But incredibly, we have jobs when there are around 6 million people potentially out of work here. Our premier said this morning that she didn’t think anything would change until there is a vaccine. Goodness knows when that will be. I’m glad I have lots of books to read. My French class is going to be on Zoom next term and thank goodness I’m not the teacher, just one of the troops.
Essentials, hairdressers and shops
We are allowed to go out for exercise, work (if not at home), the doctor and shopping ‘for essentials’. That’s hilarious. No one knows what an essential is. The Prime Minister gave buying jigsaws as an essential because his wife bought some for their daughters to do during the lockdown.
Hairdressers can still work (one reason is that the hairdresser is a recognised temporary refuge for abused women) and incredibly there is no recorded instance of an infection from the hairdresser ANYWHERE. But my hairdresser and I agreed to let it grow for a few more weeks. Some shops are open (bookshops, takeaways) and some closed (Myer department store and frock shops).
When you go out, you need to walk purposefully and take a shopping bag, just in case a policeman wants to arrest you.
Church is on Zoom. It works quite well, there are no sermons, just break-out discussion groups, and no hymns.
(Isabelle Bennett was brought up in Wellington and graduated from Victoria University. She is a former journalist and was a speech writer in Canberra for a few years. She currently works part time as a university tutor.)