Here we go again

At 12:30 today the best-loved bread has gone

Today is Thursday 13th August. Kia ora katoa.

“Here we go again”, reads the editorial in this morning’s paper.  It is a time of great uncertainty, although we have been here before. While there is always a degree of uncertainty, this feels different, and scary. We expect the government to act fast, and there are respected savings in that. But it does create a huge degree of uncertainty. We may find ourselves in strict lockdown again from midnight, or midday, tomorrow, or the next day. Now that there is Covid 19 in the community, there is palpable fear out there and in here. One doesn’t want to overreact…but…it adds to the “unsettledness”.

Early this afternoon I went for a walk to the local supermarket. We had run out of Vogel bread. It occurred to me that bread may be in short supply, and indeed it was – there were just two loaves left of toast bread.  While the food stores are open every day, there may be shortages of individual goods. I buy two packets of coffee beans – they were very scarce last time we were in lock down.

It is a fine sunny day, and quite mild. There is a northerly breeze, which helps to explain why I have heard so few planes flying overhead. There is lots of birdsong. A car drives far too fast along our street. So far, so normal. It is a beautiful day.

At the supermarket, some things have changed. They have separated the entrance-way, so that you go in one side and out the other. There is sanitiser there for the trolley, but no cloth or paper towels to wipe the trolley handles. There is hand sanitiser. It is busier than usual. The Perspex screens are up at the checkout counters again, and we’re asked to maintain “social distancing”. An Asian woman with a young child pushes past me and another woman. They are not wearing masks. I find this a bit unsettling. Evidently, I have to pack my own bags again. I really dislike doing this, but appreciate the other measures taken to keep us and the staff safe. There are very few, if any, masks worn today. I saw more in the Wellington CBD yesterday.

I went into the store for just a few things, but I ended up buying more. As well as bread, I bought coffee beans, two packs (they were very scarce last time around); some fresh strawberries (they looked nice), and some soup, which was on special.

I walked back in the sunshine, regretting that I now had to carry all this stuff home with me.

There are 13 new cases of Covid 19 today. I shall have to start updating my spreadsheet again. There was a false positive in Wellington, hence 14 was advertised at first. All the newly diagnosed cases are contacts of the original family which included Tuesday’s four community cases. But, of course, there is alarm, and shock. There is a suggestion that this strain of Covid 19 suggests Melbourne and/or United Kingdom origin. Three workmates of an original person who worked in a plant have tested positive. A student at Mt Albert College has tested positive. In a different move, all positive cases are to be quarantined away from the general population. I think this kind of isolation is very important. The Prime Minister warns that “things will get worse before they get better”, and I fear she is right. I guess we all hope that this outbreak can be contained again, without us all having to suffer too much. It wasn’t really hard for me, but I certainly don’t want to go back there again.

It has been a strange day, today. I have no appointments. This morning the group I sing with was supposed to give a concert at a retirement home. Not only was that cancelled, but we couldn’t have our usual Thursday morning get-together – that venue is closed, and tomorrow’s art group meeting is also cancelled. I have more time to write, again, and more time to read. I should read the latest historical novel by Hilary Mantel. I’ve been saving it up.

In the schools, things have been restricted again. Children have to be dropped off at one entrance – parents cannot go inside. What will happen with school sport? Who knows? Apparently, Eden Park in Auckland was booked out for a Super Rugby game to be held on Sunday. Can it go ahead? Should it go ahead?

Overseas, in Scotland, a train has derailed between Aberdeen and Glasgow. The driver, a conductor and a passenger lost their lives. I think this is the same route that we travelled by train in July 2016, a few days before the Brexit referendum, after a memorable trip to Aberdeen. No, JD did not play golf there, although there are lots of golf courses, besides Trump’s ones. The beautiful city of Aberdeen is now in lock down again. I am so glad that I visited it.

In the US, things just get worse and worse, although Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his VP pick has scored almost unanimous approval, apart from the far-Right folk, who were never going to be happy anyway. That kind of unanimity is extremely unusual. There are all kinds of crazy claims being put out about the Democrats. Trump is doing all he can to confuse further the election results; he’s put a crony in charge of the Postal Service, and already staff have been sacked despite delays being experienced.  Trump is casting doubt on the validity of mail-in voting.  This issue is further confused by the fact that states have different rules about voting, never mind the potential for outside interference. It’s all a bit of a minefield, not helped by the likelihood that the winner will not be confirmed on election night, and the widely held view that Trump has no intention of leaving the White House. He’s likely to go to prison, when he does. In a very cynical move, the troubled Kanye West has been put up as a Republican candidate for President. He has no chance of winning, but he may draw some votes away from Biden. Who still supports Trump? Lots of people, evidently, despite movements like The Lincoln Project and Republican Voters against Trump. State officials just keep on making voting even more difficult, as if that were possible. They will find a way. So much for democracy.

Meanwhile, people keep being diagnosed with, and dying from, coronavirus.  As of now, over 166,000 people have died (officially). Yet in Florida a sheriff has banned masks. In Sturgis, 250,000 bikers are expected to come together, unmasked, defiant about Covid 19. Even Herman Cain’s death after the Tulsa rally does not appear to have affected Trump – he’s made no mention of it, although this person was a Republican presidential candidate in 2016, and is presumed to have caught Covid 19 from attending Trump’s disastrous Tulsa rally.

The most scary thing is Trump’s (and his supporters’) insistence that schools reopen for face to face learning in the northern Hemisphere Fall (i.e. some time in August). This is terrifying. Already, people know that their lives don’t count for much, but this seems a really cynical move, relying as it does on parents innermost wishes, for their children to indeed be back at school, never mind their networks of family and friends, and the teachers’ and other people’s networks.  There have been threats to take funding, such as it is, away from schools if they do not reopen. Public schools were never that well funded, anyway. Oh, to have an environment where human life is the most important, the most valuable, the most worthy possession, and where people will be looked after, and not forced to do things they’re uncomfortable with.  It seems that while children do not generally get as sick as adults and old people from the coronavirus, they can carry it, in fact they may be more effective vectors than adults. There’s little enough we do know about this disease, but re-opening schools seems really risky, whatever parents’ frustrations. Thousands of children have already been infected, but this does not give him pause.

That’s it for now. I continue to reflect on Shakespeare and Milton. Nga mihi.

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