Philip Coggan shares a ‘lockdown day’ in Australia’s national capital.
Today is . . ?
I forget. It’s Tuesday, I’m sure of that. But I forget what day it is in the count of lockdown days.
This is how I spent my day:
I ring my friend Gary. He lost his wife last year, but it was long-expected and he’s coping well. We’ve been meeting for coffee on the first day of each month but that’s on hold. He tells me he spent yesterday watching Netflix. He recommends Detectorists. ‘Understated British humour‘, he says.
I go to Molto Italian restaurant, across the toy lake where I live. I like Molto, I like Italian. It’s doing take-aways only. All the restaurants are doing take-aways only. I ask Carlo how’s business. Business is ‘ratso’, he says. A man goes past carrying a glass of red wine. ‘That’s Pete’, says Carlo, ‘he goes past every lunchtime, with a glass of red wine. Don’t like to ask why’.
The day is sunny and windless and there’s alot of people around – people walking dogs, people in cycling gear riding new bicycles, dads with small children, men of a certain age in sleeveless puffer jackets and flat tweed caps, groups of women of an uncertain age out for coffee in takeaway cups.
I go to the supermarket to buy marmalade. There’s a homeless man begging outside in the sun, where it’s warm. He has a hat in front of him with lots of coins in it. I ask him if he’s alright, he looks unwell. Not corona unwell, but about to pass out from fatigue and/or lack of food unwell.
What’s it like?
Cold at night.
Where (I really shouldn’t be getting into this conversation) do you stay nights?
Mumble. The guy talks like he has a mouth full of cotton wool. I’ll pass on that one.
Are people being more generous?
No. They’re tight.
Back home I phone Greg, a friend in Sydney; he was in the middle of completing the purchase of a new house when the hammer fell. I ask him for news.
‘News is good and a friend from Melbourne is coming up to help with the move’, he says.
Melbourne? The rule in New South Wales is that you can’t travel more than 50km from your home without good reason. I fear that somewhere north of the border a New South Welsh patrol car will pull my Victorian-plated friend over and ask him what the problem is, and I doubt that helping a friend move house counts. But I don’t feel it’s my place to mention this.
I watch the news. There’s been one more coronavirus death in Australia, bringing the total to 97. Here in Canberra we have one active case. Prime Minister Morrison offers us all his congratulations. Attention is now on getting Australians back to work. His personal popularity currently stands at 70%; pretty good for a man resembling a used car salesman.
And so to bed. Tomorrow, as the man says, is another day.