Saturday morning


I woke this morning to a surreal landscape. Even with the blinds closed, I could sense something different. I stepped out the front door. It was cold, the wind blowing and the clouds low in the sky. Through the clouds came a sepia-tinted light that seemed otherworldly. I stood there taking it in, once more given to wonder at the strangeness of the world we live in.

By the time I left the house, the strange light had dissipated, but it was a gloomy landscape. I got in the car to drive the short distance to check out a potential property. The roads there were strewn with leaves and small branches, and when I got out of the car, the wind whipped at my hair. It felt the first truly wintery day of the year, but I was dressed for it in a turtle neck woollen jumper and a topcoat.

The property was a bust. It was in an area not far from where I live but less salubrious. I’m close to the beach here, and cafes and bars and shops are five minutes walk. Everyone has a dog just about, and if not, then a bike, or both (like me). It’s an easy place to live. I’ve just outgrown my home.

The place I looked at was smaller. I wasn’t surprised, but I was disappointed. Over the back fence was a dog park that Rigby would have loved, but the place itself was scruffy, and, as usual, the rooms were about 25% smaller than what they appeared in the photos online. About 20 other people were checking it out, but I was gone within three minutes.

It was earlier than I’d normally be out on a Saturday, except to walk our dogs with Cheeseboy (who returns to two weeks quarantine on Monday). I didn’t want to go home. I was in the car, it was the weekend, and I felt sort of free.

I drove and parked near the shops that usually I would walk to. I ambled down the main drag. It was bitter cold and the wind came and went in gusts. Other than the odd guy all rugged up walking their dog, it was quiet.

I crossed the railway line without a firm plan, but thinking perhaps a coffee would be good. A few minutes later, I found myself sitting in the window of the Brown Cow nursing a flat white and looking out at the traffic pass by, and the people emerge to do their Saturday shopping, or walk their dog, or find somewhere warm to sit with friends over breakfast. And soon enough, my breakfast arrived, poached eggs on toast. It was all very ad hoc.

I was in a state of mind, brought on perhaps by the strange light earlier, or perhaps because I’d been reading poetry in bed before I left the house. That probably makes me sound like an aesthete, to put it kindly, whereas it’s an infrequent event. Still, it puts you in a mood and, in my case, puts me in touch with the feelings I’m too busy to worry about mostly. And I felt so aware of myself as a physical entity – a body in a turtlenecked jumper, tall, wavy-haired, an aching tooth from sinus, a man alone.

I looked at people as I ate my eggs. I wondered at their life. So much is routine. We do things by rote. I also. But then something jumps you out of that rut, and you see it for what it is. It’s not something bad or wrong, but perhaps it seems disappointingly small. Where is the poetry? Where is the wonder? But then, isn’t that just life? And life as it has been in some form for hundreds, probably thousands of years in some form?

I sent a message to a friend. What would you think, I asked if some bloke told you he had masturbated thinking of you? Flattered, disgusted or scared? It was what I had dreamed of, someone doing that. My friend is a sport, and I knew the question would engage her; obviously, the answer would depend on the man and her relationship with him, but I was curious for her reaction.

I set the phone aside, restless inside. The wind blew. The world passed by. I sipped at my coffee and declined another. On the bench table beside me lay the rolled-up topcoat. I felt as if I needed to understand something, but I didn’t know what it was.

I made my way back towards home, stopping for milk among the other shoppers in the supermarket. I wanted to see into someone’s eyes, but everyone was too busy. I bustled away myself in the end, back to the car and the short drive home. I still don’t know what there is to understand. Perhaps nothing.

Foggy brains


https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/apr/14/brain-fog-how-trauma-uncertainty-and-isolation-have-affected-our-minds-and-memory

I read this, and much of it made sense to me. I’ve seen this in others over the last 6-9 months or have had them describe it to me. I suspect this is quite a common experience in the aftermath of extended and repeated lockdowns.

I feel as if much of it is true for me also. It was only the other day that I described my own foggy brain. I sensed no cognitive decline or inability to think or concentrate, and I think these pages attest to that. What I have felt, particularly when it comes to work, is an unwillingness to extend myself mentally. I feel that’s more by inclination than it is a functional deficiency, but it fits the pattern.

What really stuck with me is the need for rest and the probability of burning out without it. I think I’m burnt out now, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get worse. I feel badly in need of a rest – but then, I think I said exactly the same thing on Monday, and in the months before.

In reality, I’m about to embark on a big muthafucker of a project that’ll keep me busy and fully engaged for the next few months. I’ll manage, but it might get ugly by the end of it.

The things we keep


From what I can tell, there are many through the pandemic and the various states of lockdown who have taken the time to re-organise and reset their home. It’s a convenient occasion to do so, but I can’t help thinking that it’s a psychological reaction to the times. Locked in, uncertainty all about, and peril at the door, it seems natural that people would attempt to assert some order on their life, however, they can. There aren’t a lot of options, but the decision to spring clean is one of them. Out with the old, and what remains is re-sorted and classified.

I know of a few people who have done this, Donna foremost among them, and I’ve had several unusual conversations on the subject – that is, unusual if these were normal times, but quite standard these days.

I’ve certainly indulged in this, though it could easily be argued that it was long overdue in my case. I’ve got a lot of stuff generally and, while not a hoarder, am inclined to hang onto things.

Early days, I spent a lot of time going through stuff. I threw out or gave away a fair bit from my kitchen and study, and even books, of which I still have boxes full of them. I sought to get rid of the containers in my study with bits and pieces spilling from them and spent a lot of time going through the various clippings I’d collected over the years and either tossing them in the bin or digitising them. All of this is ongoing, and there’s a permanent pile of stuff by my front door that I’ve either got to throw out (including DVDs and CDs) or stuff I’m waiting to get the proper storage for (my old photos).

The other day I came across another cache of stuff dating back to the late nineties, I reckon. It was interesting to go through it and a bit lame, too. There were a bunch of work emails I’d printed out, most of the type that people used to send (but no longer) of jokes or interesting stuff. I still chuckled at some, but to the bin, they went.

Then I came across a poem I’d printed out. I couldn’t recall doing it, and all these years later wondered what it was that inspired me? Was it a woman? Was it a simple appreciation for the poem? Or was it something else?

We do that, and me more than most – we squirrel things away. I guess most people don’t save poems, but I’m a sucker for good poetry. For many years, I had a party trick I’d trot out occasionally whereby I’d recite Byron’s poem, So We’ll Go No More a Roving from memory, line by line.

As it happens, the poem I came across the other day is another by Byron (who is a favourite, along with Donne and Marvell, Yeats, Rilke and some of the modernists like William Carlos Williams and Cummings).

As I’m about to toss this in the bin also, let me first record the poem here for posterity:

When We Two Parted

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
Sunk chill on my brow –
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame;
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.
They name thee before me,
A knell in mine ear;
A shudder comes o’er me—
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee too well—
Long, long shall I rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.
In secret we met—
In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?—
With silence and tears.

How many moments like these in our life, where we’re so moved to write something of it or read something meaningful and copy it out? And how many of them are forgotten? I’m grateful at least that for the last 20 years, almost those moments have been recorded here, more or less, even those now passed from mind.

It’s a beautiful poem.

Never be the same


Now that we’ve had 30-odd days free from locally acquired Covid infection, we’re all clear to return to our offices to work in Melbourne. That’s the theory, though it appears very few are getting anywhere close to that. There’s still some caution and uncertainty, and after working from home so long, most of us have become used to it. Tap any average Joe on the shoulder, and chances are that he’ll tell you that he’s happy to return to the office for a day a week, maybe two, but any more than that would be a return to the dark ages.

I’m much the same. I can manage two days a week at a stretch, but just the thought of anything more than that feels hard. We’ve all settled into routines working from home and found ways to make it feasible. It’s far from perfect – I’d rather meet face to face than via a screen, and managing projects with disparate groups of people is a real challenge.

But then, there’s the time saved not having to commute and the convenience of being close to home. There’s the option for parents to pick up their kids from school and to have family meals at a respectable hour. Its loosened boundaries and introduced flexibility that was unimaginable a little more than a year ago. It’s also blurred the boundaries too, but nothing is perfect.

I don’t think we’ll ever get close to the 100% target ever again. The working convention broke in this pandemic. Forced to make do and work from home, we discovered it was actually possible and liberating after generations of workers making the drear commute to and from work each day, like automatons.

Still, there has been a general drift back to the office as the circumstances have improved. In my office, we are rostered for one day a week, though it’s not mandatory. There’s an acceptance that things have changed and that it’s permanent. Logistics play into it also. It’s no small thing gearing up for a return to the office after a year away from it. I was involved in the development of a return to work app late last year. We’re now hot-desking, though that introduces disinfecting challenges. And, even if we were all made to return to the office, there’s no longer enough desks for us all.

I’ve been back to the office perhaps half a dozen times this year, most recently last Wednesday. It’s a strange feeling. We return as a team, but across a floor that could accommodate perhaps 120, no more than 10-15 sit. I visited the 18th floor on Wednesday, which is where I used to sit. This contains the call centre normally, and closer to 150 people back in the day. On Wednesday, there was not a single soul to be seen. Tumbleweeds drifted down the empty corridors.

My brief experience working back in the office is that it’s a bit pointless. At this stage, it feels tokenistic. There’s no real benefit to being back in the office when the people you need to speak to and meet with are still at home. The idea of returning as (small) teams seems sensible, but in reality, has little real value. Certainly, we take advantage of the situation to schedule meetings and planning sessions, but they’re small plusses. There needs to be a more sophisticated solution.

Nonetheless, I’m glad to be back, though – out of practice – getting myself out of bed and organised, for it is more of a struggle. A day away from home and in the office adds a bit of variety to my schedule and introduces a hint of unpredictability in what is otherwise a very predictable routine.

I catch the train in the morning as I would before, only now I wear a mask, and every day is Friday casual. I sit by the window with my headphones on, just as I ever did, but even with the trains are getting fuller, there’s a distinctly different feel to it. I feel like an outlier.

By comparison to the days before, the city is quiet. The shop where I used to buy my coffee has been closed for a year. Many other shops are also shut, and the streets are not nearly as busy as before.

I’m glad to go out on my lunch break and visit places I would before, but it feels very different. In days gone by, I almost had a weekly routine – lunch one day with a friend, coffee with another the next day, then a selection of shops and stores – and the market! – I would rotate through one week to the next. In retrospect, it felt like a system, a habit almost, comforting in its predictability. But then, most things were predictable then (and sometimes I would complain at it).

These days I can only go for lunch with a workmate. Cheeseboy unexpectedly cycled past me in Swanston street the other day on the way to work, but in general, the friends I would catch up with for lunch or coffee are home now. Some of the shops I would visit are no longer there. And in general, there’s none of the bustle or urgency I remember, none of the big-city vibe of people rushing from here to there, the clang of tram bells, the toots of car horns, the ring of the GPO clock – everything has slackened.

There are people, but no-one’s in a hurry, and anyway, there are only half the people there were. Everything has slowed. You get none of that jolt of being part of such a large, living mechanism. The blood isn’t flowing as it did before, and the beat is much slower.

It will improve. No doubt, more and more people will return to the office in some form, and that’s a good thing. It will liven up again – but I don’t think things will be the same again, or not for years, anyway. Under cover of a pandemic, a revolution has occurred. Things have to be re-worked – re-imagined – if we want to get back that vibrancy.

I’ll be curious to see how all this has panned out in five years time.

No fish for me


I took Rigby for a walk this morning down the Main Street. There was a line extending out the door at the fish shop, hemmed in by temporary bollards placed there for the occasion. Things never change, I thought. Good Friday tomorrow, and the good folk are out to get their seafood for the day.

It brought back memories. My family was hardly religious, but we would avoid meat on Good Friday year after year. It was a convention we were happy to abide by, though occasionally I would grumble as a teenager.

A grown man now, I still do it, and I’m an atheist! I think there’s a nostalgic bent to it. It’s these rituals of family life that keep us warm, even when there isn’t a family to share it with. The main reason I do it, though, is out of respect.

I used to call myself agnostic, just to keep an open mind and to be a little less blunt about if anyone ever asked me. The reality is that I can believe in something for which I can find no credible evidence, but that’s okay. I’m an atheist, but I’m hardly bolshie about it.

For that reason, I’ll be sticking to meat-free food tomorrow out of solidarity and respect. I don’t believe in it, but I’ll respect your beliefs. These are personal, individual things.

In fact, the plan is to make some latkes for lunch – if I can find matzo meal somewhere.

Exalting in experience


As I don’t really have a close family, I don’t get gifts for my birthday, and there are no family get-together’s as there were in the old days. The only birthday present I reliably get is from Donna because she’s a birthday head. At my age, I’m not over-fussed about getting presents, and experiences mean much more to me – they’re the things that stay with you long after conventional gifts wear out or fade away.

This year the gift I got from was an experience.

We met in North Melbourne Thursday night, just around the corner from where I lived about 13 years ago. She was caught in traffic, and so I sat in the restaurant chatting to the middle-aged waiter while I waited.

It was an Italian restaurant I’d been to before, but my memory tantalised – I couldn’t remember when it was or who I ate with. How long have you been here? I asked him. Fourteen years, he said. I figured I was there last about 10 years ago, though perhaps it was before that. It annoyed me that I couldn’t remember. Almost certainly, I was there with a woman.

I was drinking a Vermouth Spritz when Donna arrived. It’s her birthday next week, and so we exchanged cards. Both of us write more than the conventional birthday wish, and so we each took the time to read the birthday prognostications of the other. We had a share plate for entree then pasta for main. We got out of there about 8.20, later than we should have – dessert came late.

Guided by the GPS, we made our way to the next stage of our journey, a mystery location in West Melbourne. We were due at 8.30, but the GPS played silly buggers and took us somewhere different. By the time we made it, we were about 6-7 minutes late.

We were ushered into a nondescript building in the industrial backstreets off Dynon Road. We were led upstairs by an usher who urged us to remain quiet. We could hear the music coming closer, the graceful strings of violin and cello.

We were made to pause at the top of the stairs, pending a break in the performance. We looked across the crowd to a dais lit by electronic candles on which a string quartet was playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. This was Donna’s gift to me.

As a movement ended, the crowd applauded, and we were led to our seats just off to the side of the stage. The music began again. Autumn. There was something exalted about it as if it came from a different plane. We were in a broad space – a reception centre normally – with the rustic feel of a country barn. Exposed wooden beams crisscrossed the ceiling, lit by the shimmering light of the candles. The quartet – all of them young, elegantly dressed Asian women played the evocative music of Vivaldi.

Everyone knows the Four Seasons, even if they don’t know they know it. It has become a part of popular culture, heard everywhere from commercials to soundtracks. All of it is memorable.

In the breaks between movements, the cello player would describe the scene to us, whether it be Autumn, Winter, Spring or Summer. A picture was sketched for you, which was then painted in by the music. You see it and feel it.

I fell to wondering about Vivaldi as I listened. I imagined him in his long-ago time composing the piece, a time before anyone had yet heard it. I wondered how he conjured the notes out of thin air and then imagined him playing on his violin, experimenting with it, wondering where it should go next. Then, one day, it as done – and into the world, it went, and somewhere, some time, the first performance of it – lauded, I imagine, and acclaimed. The beginning of it, and here we were, in the upstairs of a remote building in faraway Melbourne in a time much distant and Vivaldi long gone.

So much of the piece is vibrant and familiar, and in a setting like that, it etches itself across your memory. My favourite part is Winter, perhaps the moodiest movement of the concerto. It insinuates itself into your mind. I was sitting there on a hard dining chair, surrounded by people from all walks of life silently beholding in the most unlikely of venues, the candles flickering and the musicians bent to their instruments.

It felt like life, tenderness and beauty and unfettered mystery and infinite possibility. This has been true always. It’s what inspired Vivaldi and draws us an audience to him and to others. It’s there now, but we only come to sense it occasionally, the sublime.

It was a great gift and a memory that will abide – even, in years to come, when we laugh about getting lost. These are the things you live for.

The jab


Been a busy week, though nothing special has happened. Just constant work and things to deal with. Next week will be busier, though for different reasons – it’s my birthday, but also Cheeseboy’s and Donna not long after. Few things scheduled already. And work.

The expected good news is that come Saturday, we’ll be back to what they call Covid normal conditions. Got to do all the sensible things still, but with an easing of some restrictions, including wearing masks. It’s not definite yet, but I’d put my money on it. I look forward to it.

This week, the vaccination program finally commenced in Australia, though in a small way. It’s a relief that it’s happening at last. Frontline workers and the elderly are being vaccinated first, as it should be, and some political leaders. It’ll take a while until it gets any real momentum and begins to make a real difference, but we can look forward to a time in the next few months when we can feel a bit safer about our health.

I fall into the 2A vaccination category. I think that means, roughly, that I’ll be due for my jab in May – though I’m tipping June is more likely given the pace of the roll-out. I can wait until then and have no qualms about taking it. Anti-vaxxers, in general, sort of confuse me as I think the case for vaccines generally is so obvious. Or, put another way, scientific.

That’s been one of the features throughout the pandemic – the battle between science and paranoia, leadership and populism, rationality and stupidity, not to mention the difference between the majority of us who have a sense of community – that is, look out for and sacrifice for each other – and those purely selfish.

I was surprised on Friday to find that JV, an intelligent, educated, thoroughly decent human being, was a sceptic about the vaccine and was considering opting out on the basis that he would be safe regardless once herd immunity was achieved.

He doesn’t doubt the efficacy of the vaccine, but he’s worried about the side effects. You can vaguely understand that, but of course, there are over 200 million people who have taken the vaccine now dating back to December. On top of that, the delay in getting the vaccine released here was because it was being tested before being approved for use by the TGA. They’re the medical professionals and scientists I choose to trust – though I guess JV will be vindicated if every vaccinated person turns into a zombie in six months.

I think it’s selfish to let everyone else carry the risk – minimal as it is. It’s a part of my make-up that I take my responsibility as a citizen, and member of the community, seriously. The effectiveness of this is directly correlated to how much of the community is vaccinated. It can be virtually eradicated here if we all pull together – but that’s weakened with every person who chooses to opt-out.

I’ve felt safe throughout the pandemic. I’m confident that I would remain safe regardless, but that’s not the point. And a practical level, I feel sure that vaccination certificates or passports will come into play at some point, and fair enough. I think JV will have to deal with that.

The working day


Whether in lockdown or not, my working day at home doesn’t change much.

I start at about 8.30. As I would if I was in the office, I check out my emails and messages to start with, replying and following-up as needs be. That eases me into the day, though there’s every possibility that I’ll be contacted through Teams at any point.

When I’ve done that, generally I’ll check out the status of any service desk tickets outstanding, and the new one’s coming in. That’s less of a focus these days, but I’m still responsible for making sure any digital-related tickets raised by the business get looked after.

The guys are pretty good, and I rarely need to get involved. Generally, they’ll pick up the tickets as they come in and handle them. Mostly, I’m just checking that everything is up to date and the priorities are being looked after. Occasionally I’ll post a question to one of the guys, or ask someone to look at something. Sometimes, I’ll have to forward a ticket to someone else or go back to the caller seeking clarification or giving instructions.

Then there are meetings, which are every day and occasionally all the time. Every day, there’s a stand-up at 10.15 where disparate members from different teams tune in and give updates on what’s going on. I won’t say I hate these meetings, but I find them a waste of time mostly. It’s rare the activities of others have any effect on what I’m doing, and for me, I’m letting people know what’s going on from good manners.

Not that my manners are exemplary. Occasionally, I’ll skip this meeting. Other times, though I seem to be one of the central figures in these stand-ups, I’ll opt to listen in without contributing anything. That’s because so often what I say today will be the same as what I said yesterday, and very similar to what I say tomorrow. Mostly I do contribute, however, though rarely with great detail – that would only confuse them as I’m left field for most. Often I’ll throw in some wit, just to prove I’m not a drone.

Today, I had an earlier meeting at 9.30. This is a weekly meeting with one of the app developers checking in on what’s happening and reviewing current issues.

At 10.30 today I made a cup of tea, as I do most mornings, then I caught up with my immediate manager updating him in detail on the POC project that’s kicking off. I’m pretty candid with him, and he knows there’s a chance I’ll be heading off. We discussed contingencies and back-ups. Almost certainly the POC would be canned or postponed, which would be a big thing for the business.

I checked in with a few others after that by Teams, following up on random issues and updates.

As I do most mornings, I then left to walk up to the local shops. Today it was simple. I went to the supermarket and bought a few groceries, then headed back. Yesterday I stopped off for a flat white on the way back. Today I didn’t bother.

Back at home, I put the TV on in the background and tuned into the daily Covid press conference. I don’t do that much these days – I don’t have the stomach for the journo’s – this was just a change. I glanced at it occasionally and might stop for a moment, but it’s in a separate room from my desk. After a few minutes, I put it on mute and made a call to the vendor I work with.

I spoke to him for about 15 minutes discussing minor issues and getting updates. After catching up with a few little things, I killed some time knowing there was a steering committee meeting at 12.30. I updated the notes for that, only to get an update at 12.20 that the meeting was being put-off until tomorrow.

Today, I decided I would have dinner for lunch – that is, the main meal at lunchtime and something lighter for dinner. I reheated last nights cumin beef with rice and sat down to eat that. The tennis was on the TV, muted. I sat there listening to an audiobook, which I continued to listen to after I finished eating. Audiobooks are a big part of my daily routine, just to break it up a bit.

Back at my desk, I interacted with a few more on Teams, checked emails, etc. Yesterday I had back-to-back meetings about this time, first, with the other vendor conducting the POC. Then another meeting – a stand-up – with the team, which we have every second day. I’m much more involved in this because it’s our stuff. That went for about 30 mins.

Today, I have no more meetings, which is unusual, and a blessing as well, but it’s only the case because another of the POC meetings – workshops really – was cancelled. There’s another meeting I’ve opted not to attend because it barely relates to me and I don’t think I can contribute anything. And it’s 2 hours, which is way too long for an online meeting.

I sat down before and read a couple of chapters of a new book after making myself a coffee. Sometime in the next hour, I’ll give Rigby his daily walk. After 4, I’ll mix a drink – half the time these days, it’s non-alcoholic. By this time I’m wrapping up loose ends and hoping nothing big pops up. I’ll ask questions and answer others. I’ll check in to make sure everything is on track. I’ll begin to plan the next day, though I generally know the meetings I’ll be attending.

Often, I would get dinner started between 4.30 and 5, backwards and forwards from my desk. That won’t happen today. Generally, I’ll finish up at about 5.15, though often I’ll go back and respond to late emails or queries. I’m connected by phone as well, so I always know what’s going on. As I prepare dinner, I’ll listen to my audiobook through my Sonos until dinner is served, and the evening stretches out in front of me.

Last drinks


A couple of hours ago I got an SMS from Cheeseboy asking if I wanted to catch up for a drink tonight. Sure, I said, of course. About five minutes later the news came through that Victoria would be going back into lockdown from midnight tonight.

It was not unexpected. The rumours were swirling this morning that lockdown was imminent. A few cases have escaped hotel quarantine in the last week, and because they’re of the more dangerous UK variant, it’s something that needs to be stopped. The result is a five-day lockdown, which is hopefully sufficient, but probably necessary.

I have to say I’m weary of it all, though the lockdown doesn’t worry me too much. Five days is manageable, and we’ve done it all before. The hardest part will be wearing a mask outdoors again. I weary of the cycle, of it never going away completely and more so, sick of the inevitable narrative and general idiocy that follows it.

I would guess that most Victorians accept this. We’re well seasoned by now and fearful of the virus getting out and about again. We’ll do what we have to do and be grateful when it does the trick.

Not everyone feels the same, and generally, they’re the loudest. I can barely stomach it. Much of it is just plain stupid and ill-informed. Some of it is bigoted and extreme. Some just like to grizzle, and quite a few have a sense of entitlement that disgusts me.

I’ve learned not to argue because sense makes no difference to someone with notions set in stone and others either unwilling or incapable of an intelligent assessment. That doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally rap someone on the nose, but it’s no more than futile sport.

It means that I’ll probably avoid the more populist news services and, if I’m smart, much of social media. It’s hard enough dealing with covid itself and the danger it represents, as well as lockdown, without having to deal with the level of malevolent stupid out there.

On a more concrete level, I’m bloody annoyed that while most of the world is well along with vaccinating their population, not one Australian as yet has got the jab. The reality is that as long as we keep bringing in infected people that it will keep getting out here and there, no matter how diligent we are and how tight our protocols. This virus is hard to kill and keeps mutating, making it more difficult to contain – especially in hotels not designed for that purpose. We can minimise, but we can’t prevent, not without a vaccine.

All it takes to start with is for quarantine workers to be vaccinated to greatly reduce the chances of the virus being spread to the public. We could have been doing that a month ago had the government been on top of it. As it is, it’s now out, and we’re still a week or two from the first person being vaccinated. Even then, the roll-out will be much slower than it should be.

Realistically, we’re many months away from being safe, though maybe we can begin to mitigate the spread sooner. For me, I can’t expect to get the jab until May, and I’m in one of the higher priority groupings. In the meantime, we can only hope the virus doesn’t jump the shark and become something different again.

Tonight, I’ll go out for a wine with Cheeseboy. Tomorrow I’ll walk with him, with mask back on.

Belting it out


It’s a beautiful bright morning today. The sort of day that makes you feel good about the world and optimistic about the future.

I’ve been up the road and had a flat white at the cafe after a spot of grocery shopping. Last week, we had a session about work-life balance and managing distractions and looking after yourself, and one of the things I took out of it was to get out more and indulge a little. I was easily convinced.

I’m taking work more easily in general. I had a chat with my manager yesterday about managing priorities and tasks, among other things. He’s agreed to take on some challenging activities – either from a lack of time or access, or sheer energy. Right now I’m fine with doing the work, but I have no patience for the peripheral stuff – the endless and unnecessary meetings, the incessant politics, and so on. At the best of times, I was pretty direct, and it’s not the best of times now. He’ll be my buffer.

The so-called work/life balance got a shot in the arm last Friday night. JV had organised for us to attend a free concert by one of the local councils in its entertainment centre’s covered car park. There were food trucks there – pizza, Mexican, ice-cream, as well as a bar, as well as other activities. It’d been a warm day, but a change had come through, bringing storms earlier, and then a fierce, cool wind that rattled through the venue.

I had no great expectations. The headline act was Brian Mannix, who I remember the mid-eighties countdown days. He had a band, the Uncanny X-Men, and a couple of minor hits, but he was known more for his personality. He was a lively performer, but I’d heard nothing of him since then.

The band he was playing with was more contemporary. I actually have a couple of Androids songs on my iTunes and reckon Whole Lotta Love is a very catchy tune.

As it turned out, they were great, particularly the Androids, who are a very tight unit.

Throughout the performance, original songs were interspersed with covers, and the covers were crackers. The Androids are an old-fashioned guitar band who like to rock it up, and so the covers were of the same type. There was AC/DC, Billy Idol, some Twisted Sister, the Angels, and so on, all impeccably performed.

The crowd was mostly older. I probably could have picked up a 60-year-old if I was keen, but I’m not ready for that. They came in family groups and groups of friends. There were younger people there too, and people in the middle like us, but there were many grey heads, a lot of different shapes and sizes, and a lot of different backgrounds. To watch them get into it was great.

Probably most of the music was around their vintage, as it was mine. You absorb this stuff when you’re young, and you never lose it. And when it comes around again, you come to life.

The crowd was very lively. They sang along with gusto. When the AC/DC covers were played (Highway to Hell, TNT), they raised their fists sun tribute, belting it out. They knew every word of Rebel Yell, and when the Angels classic Am I Ever Going To See Your Face Again was played it was hilarious to listen – and join in – the traditional but unofficial response “No way, get fucked, fuck-off.”

Oh, the memories!

It was stirring all-round. I don’t reckon I’ve had as much fun for many a month. And it was the first live performance of anything I’d seen for ages. Recommended.