Enjoying Life

Today is Thursday July 23rd. Kia ora katoa.

I have had a nice week, thus far!  My Tai Chi classes for Term 3 started again last Tuesday. It was an awful day – very wet, although not too cold, and only a few people came, but it was so good to be back. The tutors were very gently with us, thankfully. I do feel that while I took things very quietly during the lockdown, I did lose something through not attending Tai Chi classes, and although I don’t always feel like going there, I always feel pleased to have got up early (for me) and made the effort to get there.

Afterwards, I made my way back to Wellington, where I checked out the new pop-up library, Te Awe, in Brandon Street (opposite David Jones department  store, formerly Kirkcaldie and Staines). The new mayor and councillors are arguing about whether to repair or replace the Wellington Central Library (newish) building in Victoria Street, which was closed abruptly in March last year owing to earthquake concerns. Evidently it is cheaper (on the plans) to rebuild, than to fix the existing building. Whatever, they decide, the Central Library was a much-loved institution, and it is greatly missed by many people. We want it back just as soon as possible.

There is a pop-up library (Arapaki) in Manners St. I’ve been there several times, but it’s not great there. It’s quite crowded, although I’ve read the New Yorker magazine there sometimes. One time I went into a cubicle to make a phone call, but I was asked by security to leave if I wasn’t engaged in WCC business. There is also a pop-up library in Aitken Street in Thorndon, but that didn’t greatly impress me either.

There is a very nice new library in Johnsonville (Waitohi), obviously a great asset to the local communities, but it is quite a noisy and busy place, and I continue to lament the lack of safe passage there. I do pick up my requests there, because it’s convenient not to have to carry them from town. They do have magazines there, but not the New Yorker.

Coming back to Te Awe, what a nice space it is!  It’s not crowded, and has nice restrooms. But best of all, it has a coffee bar, and I can read the New Yorker over a cup of coffee, either taking my magazine to the coffee bar, or bringing a coffee back into the library – they’re not really separate. What a find! I read a very affecting story about policing in Louisiana, and another about the politics of Iran.  I marvel again at just how messed up the US is. Then I catch two buses home. Some of the buses now have hand-holds.

On Wednesday morning I had hymn singing at the Presbyterian Church in Khandallah, which was very enjoyable, again. Afterwards, I had morning tea, and caught a bus into town, where I bought some bread and some salads. That evening, we went to another concert at the Michael Fowler Centre – Bach’s Goldberg Variations, played by members of the NZSO and a pianist on a fortepiano. This was special, too. Although it was live-streamed, there’s nothing quite like being there physically. We ate first, and drove in early, and spent some time looking for somewhere to park the car.  We had plenty of time, though. Had it been a little warmer, we could have caught the bus (well two buses, actually). It’s not so attractive when you have to change buses.  I have decided  that if tickets are so inexpensive ($15 each), then perhaps I can go out at night after all. The audience was mixed – young and old, formal and informal. We had very good seats, for seeing and hearing.

This morning (Thursday) I had singing at Khandallah. It was warm and sunny, quite enjoyable. There was a good turnout for the first session of term 3. It was great to see everyone again.

Today there are no new cases of Covid 19 in New Zealand. Community testing continues. We become increasingly nervous about enjoying such good fortune here, while the rest of the world (well, most of it, anyway), sees increasing numbers of new cases: Australia is in a bad way, especially the state of Victoria; but Germany, Hong Kong and Spain are also seeing an increase of cases.

It occurs to me that even given how little I do, contact tracing would be quite difficult. This morning I went to the Khandallah Town Hall, and engaged with over 20 people. A friend gave me a lift to Johnsonville, where I caught a bus to Churton Park. In the afternoon, I went to the Post Office at Johnsonville to post a letter, and then to the supermarket in Churton Park. So I must have interacted with between 50 and 100 people, and that was a pretty quiet day. Add into that Tuesday and Wednesday’s interactions, and there would be hundreds of people, so if I were diagnosed with Covid 19, potentially hundreds of others could have it too. And I didn’t go to a single bar!

It seems to me that for contact tracing to be effective, you need to have a strict lockdown to start with; one with very clear, not confusing, rules, and distinct benefits to be measured and shown from such restrictions.  The only reason we can enjoy such privileges as singing, going to cafes and concerts, and using public transport without fear, is because we’re not afraid of catching the coronavirus. Thus, the economy in New Zealand is doing all right, because people are keen to use it, and buy things, borrow books, and keep the wheels turning, so to speak. We can do this – work, exercise, recreation, schooling etc because we have in effect managed (eliminated) the coronavirus.

I fear that we will not always be so lucky. There was huge pressure to “open up”  the economy when we were in lockdown, about the damage it was causing, and I fear a National Government would have been prepared to live with and accept a greater level of illness and death.  Everyone worries about mental health issues, isolation, and abuse. But this is an emergency. Thank goodness that for now, we don’t have to be afraid. Long may the present state of things continue.

It’s also remarkable to note that we are not getting clusters of infections with returning passengers, just the odd case or cases; this suggests that air travel is not a vector for spreading the infection, rather that these cases contracted it back in India, Africa, Pakistan, Mexico etc.

In the US, the situation just gets worse every day. There is no gain for the pain; the economy is not doing great and people are terrified or just plain silly. Many are struggling just to get by. How can this be? How many Americans have to die before those in charge see sense? And when they do, there’s no turning this situation around in a hurry. Some countries that have opened schools have had to close them again.  The worldwide situation is very sad indeed.

That’s it for now. Ka kite ano.

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