Silly Saturday – Guide to What’s Not On

When I wrote on Silly Saturday exactly a year ago How To Cheat At The Chelsea Flower Show, I never imagined that the BBC would be cheating this year.

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2019/05/25/silly-saturday-how-to-cheat-at-the-chelsea-flower-show/
The presenters have been standing in their own gardens at home this week and showing clips of previous shows, because The Chelsea Flower Show is one of the many events that is Not On this year. We all know why, but I’m not going to mention Covid 19. Does it really matter? Thanks to television and television archives, unless you were planning to go and mingle with the heaving hordes, one flower show is much the same as the next on television. Lots of colour, same presenters, some more irritating than others and all that is missing is the scent of the blooms.

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If you want to know what’s on this year, the answer is probably nothing. Those theatre tickets you got for Christmas and the whole season of your favourite orchestra you purchased months ago are all wasted. Nothing beats a live performance, whether you are squashed between two hefty modern patrons in a narrow row at a very old West End theatre or wading through mud at a pop festival, watching on television will not be the same. There are advantages to your humble or perhaps gigantic wide screen television such as comfort, no queues for the toilets, eating your dinner on your lap or enjoying a takeaway.

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Optimistically the BBC has apparently delayed announcing the 2020 Proms till the end of May. Will it really go ahead with all those people filling the Royal Albert Hall, or will they have a spaced out audience of a few dozen and only soloists or string quartets dotted on the stage. They could dress orchestras in full protective clothing, but any safe option would rather detract from the festival atmosphere. Most concerts are not broadcast on television, the BBC could get away with showing a few old concerts, though music lovers might notice the difference if they broadcast a black and white 1940s concert with Sir Malcom Sargent conducting.

https://www.bbc.com/historyofthebbc/research/the-proms-and-the-bbc

Whatever happens, the Sun will surely rise on June 21st BUT
‘This year’s summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge have been cancelled because of the ban on mass gatherings prompted by the coronavirus.
Senior druid King Arthur Pendragon said it was disappointing but unsurprising. The sunrise will instead be live-streamed on English Heritage’s social media.’ 

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It won’t be quite the same.

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Bournemouth Air Festival has been cancelled so don’t come round to my beach hut in August this year. Air shows are best seen live. We may watch the Red Arrows doing a fly past over Buckingham Palace on television, but I’m sure it’s more exciting watching from the balcony of the palace.

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What events will you not be going to this year?

Silly Saturday – Quarantine Quests

Some of you may be coming out of isolation, some of us are still in confusion, but it is imperative that you have completed this list of ten goals to achieve before re-entering the world.
1. Share on Facebook, one a day, the covers of thirty books that have shaped your life. If you have not even read thirty books in your whole life you have time to read them now.


2. Share on Facebook, one a day, the forty music albums that had an amazing impact on your life. Think carefully about your street cred and decide what image you wish to project.
3. Train your dog or any pet to do amazing tricks and post them all over social media. Not got a pet? Now is the time to raise a puppy, cub or foal while you are at home all the time.

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4. Upcycle just about anything to plant plants in and post smug pictures to demonstrate your green credentials.

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5. For the more ambitious, design and create a totally new garden with a wow factor that will mean you never need to go on holiday, or even out again. No garden, no problem. Create a hanging garden on your balcony. No balcony, no windows? Create a terrarium. But don’t forget to post the pictures.

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6. Create new dishes from scratch and share one a day – share on the internet, the good news is you don’t have to actually share the food, you can eat it all yourself.

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7. Macro photography is ideally suited to your new insular life. All you need are a few flowers and endless patience so you get shots of bumble bees, butterflies and dragonflies that are superior to the millions of others on Instagram.

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8. If you haven’t tried them before, take up cycling and jogging and be sure to post regular accounts on Facebook of how far and fast you have been. You may even get a starring role on social media if your picture is taken by walkers complaining on the local Facebook group about the idiot cyclist or jogger who breathed too heavily when they sped past.


9. Laid up with a sprained ankle after number 8? No excuse for not taking up sewing. By now you should have made at least a thousand ineffective facemasks out of your old Tshirts or flowery sundress… And also created the longest rainbow/ hearts / We Love NHS banner in your road so you will be ready for number Ten.

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10. The only time you see another human will depend on which country you are living in. Perhaps you are out every evening clapping for something or someone. In the UK we are out at 8pm every Thursday clapping and banging saucepans for the NHS and anybody who is actually out working. But that is not enough. You must get your road or block of flats on the local news that night, or better still the ten o’clock national news. You will need one bag piper marching down the street signalling it is eight o’clock, a string quartet playing on the front lawn, lots of cute children glad to be delaying bed time and an out of work opera singer leading a rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ Just make sure everyone is two metres apart to avoid a media storm of disapproval.

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Have you achieved any of these goals?

Friday Flash Fiction – Staying Alert

Vivienne held the phone away from her ear, she was tiring of her daughter’s pontifications.
‘Yes Julia, I am staying alert, but the Prime Minister’s waffle was totally confusing, not just to me.’
‘All you have to do Mother is carry on the same, all over seventies still have to stay at home. You can go for a walk, there is no other reason for you to go out; James is organising your shopping and all your little clubs are closed.’
Vivienne gritted her teeth, Julia’s mother-in-law was a magistrate and chairwoman of something important, she didn’t go to ‘little clubs’. She tried to veer the conversation in another direction, though it was hard to talk about anything except The Virus these days.
‘So what do you think about the school business?’
‘Ridiculous, we’re keeping Jason and Jacintha at home, they are doing really well with the home schooling.’
‘Have they learnt to write letters? I haven’t had a thank you for their birthday presents yet.’
‘They have been busy with creative writing, such imaginations; they claim to have found a family of elves in the garden… got to go, I’ve got a conference call coming in.’

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Vivienne’s hand was shaking as she put down her phone. She imagined Julia’s reaction if she told her she had seen a tiny elf in her garden. Of course it must have been her imagination; too much isolation, too much time spent in the garden, though one could never spend too much time outside, especially with James clumping around indoors. But she did credit her son with putting her on Instagram, it was amazing that her new smart phone took such good photographs. Her pictures of flowers were getting quite a few Likes and she was appreciating the finer details of the blooms that she had not noticed before. That’s how she had seen him first, in a photo; pansies have faces, but this was no flower face smiling at her. She scrolled through the pictures she would certainly not put on Instagram. A little green arm, a pointy shoe poking out from the leaves. A six inch elf dressed in green was obviously not real, a trick of the light in the verdant foliage. Vivienne chuckled to herself; if he had been dressed in red and white stripes, like those strange little people the twins were obsessed with putting on shelves at Christmas, then she would have known she was not dreaming.

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Without thinking she tiptoed to the wild corner of the garden, her haven created for butterflies and bees, not mythical creatures. A noise startled her and the dreadful cat from next door shot out from under a bush, across the lawn and up onto the fence. She felt a stab of fear, birds were not the only creatures in danger from the cat, she tried to dismiss the image of thin green legs dangling out of the cat’s mouth.
For goodness sake Viv, pull yourself together, if James and Julia knew what was going on in your mind they would have you in a care home full of Covid cases.
If she knelt down in the soft grass James would assume she was taking photographs, not looking for an elf. She must keep perfectly still. How quiet it was, no planes or traffic in the distance. The sun was on her back, her face in the shade, that’s how she knew it was not the sun in her eyes. There he was, standing boldly smiling up at her, perhaps knowing he was safe from the cat while she was there. Dressed in green, his face a chalky white in contrast to his rosebud lips and pink cheeks. She didn’t dare move, nor would it be right to let her mobile phone come between them, scaring him or intruding on this special moment. Now he was laughing, was there a tiny sound or was it mirth in his expression? No wonder, she must look like an ugly ogre to him with his tiny perfect features…
‘Mother, Motherrr, where are you, someone on the house phone for you…’
The tiny creature’s face flashed with fear and with a sad wave he slipped back into the undergrowth.

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All Change Here For The Future

Life has changed for the whole world with The Virus. For some more than others at present, but what lies ahead? If you are retired and used to pottering around at home, the biggest change so far may be NOT going to the garden centre for coffee with your friends. For those who have lost their jobs the future is uncertain, for those who have lost loved ones their lives are changed forever.
But life goes on despite personal or national tragedy, it always has. We know that because we are still here despite giant meteors, earthquakes, plagues and two world wars. But how will life go on this time? Some changes will be good if we can all agree on what is a good change.

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The lockdown has done for the environment in a short time what endless green protests couldn’t. The skies are clear, wildlife wanders empty cities, but can we keep that change?
At the Port of Southampton, huge top heavy ocean liners sit motionless at their berths, fog horns silenced. Since the Covid 19 scare started cruise ships have been called floating petri dishes or prisons and blamed in some countries for bringing the virus. There are ships still anchored at sea in limbo, their crews among the most forgotten people in the world wide pandemic.
If cruising is for the rich the elderly and the idle, NOT cruising provides an instant solution for the homeless and young workers trying to leave home. Most of the large passenger ships look like floating blocks of flats, so what’s not to like about the idea? Venice will be happy these behemoths no longer swamp their precious city. Beautiful islands will not miss the tourists who go back on board for their lunch and never spend any money.

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If cruising and dining at the captain’s table present a problem for social distancing, that is nothing compared to the aviation industry. British Airways planes are lined up at Bournemouth Airport, no parking space left at Heathrow; who needs a third runaway at Heathrow now? Is this the golden opportunity to save the environment, will jumbos suffer the same fate as airships and sea planes? Will passenger flights only be possible if you wear a space suit or fly like this?

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Redundant aircraft would make fantastic homes, plenty of room, windows a bit small, but flower tubs and vegetable trugs on the wings would be perfect for outdoor living. Ropes and ladders could transform the fuselage into an outdoor gym for the children.
Many thousands of jobs are at risk if we lose the world wide aviation industry, but no problem, people can just go on staycation at airports, without the stress and dangers of flying. Plenty of hotels and terminals full of shops mean job opportunities aplenty. Outside, holiday makers could cycle and roller skate down the runways and the lovely wide grass verges could be used for golf.

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Will you miss flying or sailing? Which would you chose for a home, plane or ship?

What better ideas have you got for the Post Covid World?

Friday Flash Fiction – Dreaming of Ikea

James peered unseeing at his computer screen. How had he come to be given this impossible task; was his boss impressed by his organising of the company into working from home or had the new boy in town been given the job nobody else wanted? No one knew when or how the lockdown should be eased and whatever the Prime Minister said on Sunday, staff at MPJ could not just go back to work as normal. The open plan offices and hot desking at the big company were not suited to a pandemic. The simplest answer was to keep everybody at home, the alternatives to bring in a quarter of the staff or half the staff on shifts round the clock. There would still need to be a complex arrangement of work practices for every part of the building. James chuckled, imagining himself with a gigantic roll of yellow tape marking spaced out squares like the little grocers round the corner.
Then there would be the lists; who could work well at home, who needed to be in the professional environs of the impressive MPJ building? Cassie in her peaceful little home with only the geckos to disturb her was hoping to stay put. Those with young children or doing home schooling would surely be glad to get back, but couldn’t until schools were open again. James himself was more than happy to go back and his mother would be very happy for him to go back. If business in general got moving again he could carry on looking for his post divorce flat.
He pictured Cassie coming round to view his new place. From what he could see on Facetime her home looked delightfully haphazard and she herself described it as a mix of her late aunt’s furniture and Ikea. They could both cycle to Ikea and she could help him choose some unmiddleage, unsensible furniture and fittings. His ex wife had been proud of the fact that she had never set foot in Ikea; meatballs, mashed potato and refillable coffee cups would not be her idea of a meal out. Cassie would probably think it a good laugh and not be offended that he couldn’t afford a more sophisticated date. Not that it would be a date, they were just friends after all.
As if she had read his thoughts James’ computer pinged into life. Cassie was calling him on Facetime, she was early.

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‘Good timing Cass, I need a break, you won’t believe what I am supposed to be doing.’
‘James, haven’t you heard? Two deaths from work, one of them the boss’s daughter.’
He tried to take in what she was saying. ‘How, what happened?’
‘Covid of course.’
‘But we haven’t even heard anyone from MPJ was ill.’
‘I think both families were keeping it quiet, it hasn’t been officially announced, one of the girls in my office called me. It really hits home, this is real James.’
It didn’t feel real to James. He didn’t know the boss had a daughter and Cassie hadn’t said who the other person was. But then it came to him that if it was someone from her department could she get it…’
‘Cassie, don’t worry, they must have caught it elsewhere, you would have it by now if… we’ve been off work for seven weeks.’
Her face cracked into the familiar smile. ‘I know, despite the figures, the hundreds dying each day, over thirty one thousand already dead and now close to us, but I still don’t think it could possibly happen to me.’
James laughed, glad to be back on lighter ground. ‘Same here and it won’t.’
‘You didn’t mind me calling early, interrupting work, I just wanted someone to talk to, it’s the first time I have felt alone since all this started. The girl that called me was just being polite as I’m their supervisor; there’s a little group of them, been there years; they’re all going to Zoom tonight over a glass of wine, shed lots of tears for their friend…’
‘I’m in the same boat, new boy who hasn’t got any friends yet.’
Cassie smiled again, a smile that always lit up the computer screen.
‘You know what James, it sounds awful and I’m not one to get excited about going out shopping, but I just have this sudden longing to go to Ikea and wander round their make believe world, eat a plateful of comforting meatballs and mashed potato.’

Just ( NOT ) Popping To The Shops

One of my earliest memories is of being seen across the busy road we lived on and walking by myself to the corner shop. I was well known by the two ladies who worked there. One of them was called Dolly, which seemed a very strange name for an old lady. Among the sweets they sold were Dolly Mixtures which I assumed were named after her. Mum could watch my progress and return ready to signal when it was safe to cross back. What I actually bought on these solo expeditions I have no recollection and I assume it was because my baby brother was asleep indoors, but it was the beginning of a lifetime of popping to the shops – until now…

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Unless you are subsistence farmers or have a team of servants, someone in the household has to go shopping. Whether you live in a beautiful Mediterranean town and gaze down from your geranium filled balcony to the daily market selling freshly caught fish and newly picked vegetables or do a huge weekly supermarket shop with no idea where the food has come from, shopping is an activity or chore that never ends – until now…

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Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

When my parents bought their first house, on a new housing estate, there were no shops nearby, but we were not likely to starve. The milkman brought a boxful of groceries, there was a greengrocer’s van and the butcher’s boy came on his bike. It was a long walk to the new shopping centre for my mother with a baby and toddler as well as me. Her friend from round the corner had six children, so it was quite an expedition with the added excitement of a route through a large cemetery. Mum used to be amused by another neighbour who would dart back and forth between Fine Fare and Tesco checking the prices. Even in these small shops our mothers would be complaining that they were ‘always moving things around’. Needless to say there was often some vital item forgotten and I would be sent on my bike to another housing estate where they boasted a parade of shops.

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When we emigrated to Western Australia in 1964 all three of us were sent up a sandy track, the unmade section of our road, to the corner shop and later Tom The Cheap Grocer. The shops closed for the weekend at noon on Saturday, so on Saturday morning Mum and Dad would make a frantic dash in the car to stock up at the bigger shops in an older suburb. A far cry from today’s 24 hour shopping.

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Things have come full circle; having your shopping delivered is popular again, especially with busy working families. When someone says they are off to do their Tesco shop they probably mean they are going upstairs to the computer. With the advent of The Virus and isolation, Grandparents are being smugly told by their offspring that they should have learnt how to do on line shopping.

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Our local shops are so good that we had no need for on line shopping and a typical Saturday morning would be a walk along the cliff top, coffee at the Ludo Lounge, then stroll over to the greengrocers – until now…
Anyone with a 12 week sentence ( the medically very vulnerable told by the Prime Minister and the NHS to stay indoors ) or those shielding them, is dependent on supermarket deliveries or family, neighbours and volunteers. But with the sudden popularity of on line shopping you have to log on at one minute past midnight to try and get a slot.
The fun of bargain hunting has been replaced by the excitement of not knowing for sure what you will get in your delivery. Six weeks into our lock down and I think I have cracked it. The poplar local greengrocers which only takes cash, has engineered a major delivery operation using only the phone and Facebook. The free range, outdoor reared and expensive butcher up the road takes orders and payment on the phone. My latest discovery is a website for deliveries from local Co op shops. They seem to have plenty of slots, but this might be because you have to spend a minimum of £15 with a limit of 20 items and an eclectic limited choice of what is available. Type in cheese and you will find cheese. Type in baked beans and up come green beans, jelly beans and coffee beans. Put in peanut butter and up comes butter. With some outside the box thinking I did find Whole Earth Organic peanut butter and it appeared on the shopping list, but the next day showed up as unavailable in the polite e-mail update. The deliveries come by motorbike.
How have your shopping habits changed recently?

Silly Saturday – Guide Lines for On Line Shopping

Before Covid 19 you may have had a weekly supermarket shop delivered or ordered the occasional item from Amazon. Perhaps you supported your local shops and never went on line. Now many of us are adding excitement to our isolation by exploring what can be bought on line. You may not want to sell your soul to Amazon, though if you are an author who self publishes on Amazon Kindle you already have. But there is a reason why Amazon is so successful; people look for what they want, find it, buy it in a matter of seconds and it arrives when predicted, or much sooner. If you have nothing better to do, you can track the progress of your present to yourself. Then the magic moment arrives when the door bell rings and there is a real human being come to visit you, the only human you have seen all week and they have left you a parcel on the doorstep. If you are lucky, as they rush back to their white van, they will turn and acknowledge your existence as you open your front door waving frantically and thanking them profusely.

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You have bought a bright red microwave and some luxury toiletries to cheer yourself up, you can’t get a delivery slot with any supermarket, so can you actually buy food on Amazon? The only essentials that are readily available at a normal price are Tassimo pods for coffee machines. I did buy a fruit and veg box from a farm with British grown vegetables – contents may not be the same as in the illustration – I hoped we would get the bag of potatoes but NOT the boring iceberg lettuce. When the box came it was EXACTLY like the illustration, the lettuce will still be going when isolation is over…

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But be careful you know what you are getting when you order food. Fancy a tin of Ambrosia rice pudding, a bit of comfort eating and it’s only £5.99 ( what! ) for a 400 g tin. It might be handy to read customer reviews – 1 star customer review
…whilst we are facing an international crisis and people are facing tragedy, you are profiteering. You should hang your head in shame
Did they not notice the price when they ordered? To be fair, you can order a dozen tins for £24… and at least it is real food.

Here is what else you might find at your door.
Ambrosia rice pudding can earrings.
A genuine replica Heinz Baked Beans tin to hide your valuables in.
Nice fresh farm eggs that are polished wood in a toy egg box.
Rubber pork chops for a toy shop – a shop that is plastic, not a shop that sells toys…
A basket of fruit – made of marzipan.
A breadmaker instead of a loaf of bread.

What surprises have you had ordering on line?

Take your mind off shopping and pandemics with some short stories.

A second anthology from the author of ‘Dark and Milk,’ including recent prize winning short stories. As you would expect, some tales are light, others very dark and you will not know which are which until it is too late! Visit places you may or may not find on a map, discover the Hambourne Chronicles and meet people who may not be what they seem.

And Now for Something Completely Different

A Covid free blog – almost.

When we are watching Mastermind or University Challenge, one question I can always answer is What is the name, meaning treeless, of the large / vast plain in Au… NULLABOR I yell.
As part of my pandemic escapist reading I have been dipping into Bill Bryson’s book ‘Down Under’ published in 2000. Coincidentally up popped Australian blogger Rowena’s ‘Beyond The Flow’ A-Z challenge ‘N’…

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2020/04/17/n-australias-nullarbor-plain-a-z-challenge/

I loved reading about the Nullarbor Plain as I have crossed it! Once. Time and distance have left a romantic feel to the experience which probably did not exist at the time.
When I was browsing on the internet for Nullabor nuggets I came across this
Latin nullus ‘no, none’ + arbor ‘tree’
I never studied Latin, but I like picking up Latin origins and reading that line the Null arbor origins are obvious, but I had always assumed it was an Aboriginal word. It sounds like a name they would have been using for thousands of years before Latin was even invented.
‘The Nullarbor Plain is the world’s largest single exposure of limestone bedrock, and occupies an area of about 200,000 square kilometres, stretching about 1,100 kilometres from east to west across the border between South Australia and Western Australia.’
Our trip in the early seventies was from Perth to South Australia and my Aussie friend’s uncle’s orchard; then Melbourne, Sydney and eventually Tasmania. As I ended up back in England the following year ( that’s another story ) it remains my most adventurous trip; at the time there was a three hundred mile section of the highway that was still only gravel.

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Back in 1964 when we were new migrants we met another new family (of the whingeing Pom variety) who said if they didn’t like Perth they would drive over to Sydney. When an Aussie mentioned it was rather a long way they said they would take some sandwiches! I often wonder if they made it.
It is a long way. 2,444 miles – 46 hours 34 minutes in moderate traffic if you are planning to drive today.

https://www.bing.com/maps?q=perth+to+sydney+drive&form

One of my impressions was that we drove through a vast wheat belt, then the vegetation got smaller and sparser until it barely existed. On the other side the scrub gradually grew again and we drove through an identical wheatbelt. We slept on the beach at Eucla, we certainly never stayed at any accommodation. My friend was of tough farming stock, but the family friend we hitched a lift and shared driving with was another Pommie and I’m sure he and I had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for, though we knew the basics; take plenty of water and NEVER wander away from your vehicle. I had never been away from home for more than a week, my parents also had no idea of the journey. Were they worried, I’m not sure. In those pre internet days they would have had no idea if we had arrived safely until they got a picture post card. Absolutely nothing went wrong, though it was a boring drive and so easy to drift off to sleep at the wheel on that endless straight road. But a trip well worth taking to understand the vastness and aridity of a continent where most people cluster round the coast. Here I have to confess that it was so boring that nearing the end of our trip, after meeting up with friends who had flown over, loving Tasmania because it was so green and lush, just like England, I went into a bank and was pleasantly surprised to see a pay cheque had gone in to my meagre account. I booked a flight from Sydney back to Perth. A three hour flight that landed in Perth at the same time we had left Sydney. Sitting next to me was an unescorted child who kept saying ‘Are we nearly there yet’ so the flight felt longer than three hours, but not as long as the drive across the Nullabor.

https://www.australia.com/en/trips-and-itineraries/perth-and-surrounds/crossing-the-nullarbor.html

My children claim I was always talking about ‘when I crossed the Nullarbor Plain’ and it wasn’t till we were all chatting with an Aussie visitor about the trip that my then teenagers revealed they had always assumed I had driven across the Nullabor Plain by myself! No way…
Bill Bryson’s book describes the train journey across the Nullabor, a trip I would love to take, in a comfy sleeper, not the economy sitting all the way. He got to ride for a while in the driver’s cab and describes seeing a railway line that stretched dead straight for hundreds of miles.
Perhaps most intriguing about this journey is to realise how isolated Western Australia is. Holidays in Bali are nearer and cheaper for Perth people than going to the Eastern States. It could be another country especially when there is a pandemic on!

Last updated: 22 April 2020 at 6.07am
Arrivals to Western Australia after 11:59pm on Sunday 5 April 2020
Strict border controls are in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 in WA.

Arrivals to Western Australia
You will no longer be able to enter Western Australia after 11.59pm, on Sunday, 5 April 2020 unless an exemption has been granted.

Have you crossed the Nullabor Plain?

My novel Quarter Acre Block was inspired by our family’s emigration to Western Australia.

 

Apocadystolypsian Nightmare Now

Many of us, readers and writers alike, feel as if we are in a novel. All this can’t really be happening.

Caught up in minor and major medical dramas, our whole family’s normal life had already been put on hold last month, now it seems the whole world, or at least the human race, has been put on hold by The Virus. It is mainly good news for the planet and other species, except mountain gorillas, who have been told to self isolate as they could be vulnerable.

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In my new role ( less than a fortnight ) as full time carer, the first week was spent with family still around and friends dropping in for coffee – though some were beginning to stay at home. Week Two of my confinement and everybody has to stay at home. We shouldn’t complain, there are people in war torn and flattened cities who have been confined for years, with no home, little food and bombs dropping on them.
But it is still the biggest national drama that has happened to most of us. The rules keep changing and depend on which country you live in. Those of you living in the USA will be fine as Donald Trump says it will blow over by Easter.

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Less than a month ago, on our various hospital visits, everyone was using hand gel and I’m sure the rates of norovirus have gone down, but hardly anyone wore masks. The main entrance of the largest hospital was more like an airport, buzzing with life; 24 hour Costa, shops, Marks and Spencer café and shop. On the floor below was a large restaurant packed with staff and visitors on weekdays. I was mixing with far more people than I usually do. That week we were dealing with torrential downpours and high winds; one afternoon I insisted there was no need for anyone to come out to pick me up, what could be simpler than getting on one of the frequent buses from the hospital to the railway station? On arrival at the station it turned out there were no trains to Bournemouth due to a tree down on the line at Basingstoke. Fortunately a replacement bus was soon announced and I joined the surge of commuters boarding a comfortable double decker. Every seat was taken and in the dark and rain with the windows steamed up we had no idea where we were going. We did arrive at Bournemouth railway station in less than an hour, but had been in perfect virus catching conditions.

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Now this week in Britain we are all being told to avoid public transport and keep two metres apart. Schools, restaurants and pubs are closed. We should only leave the house for certain reasons, though we don’t have to carry a permission slip yet. The rules are getting clearer, or are they? The children of key workers would still be allowed to go to school, but the list of key workers is long and which schools had enough teachers who weren’t self isolating?

But I think we understand the underlying reasoning now, it is not that the government particularly cares about your granny or the people of any age with the glibly recited underlying health conditions, it’s because the National Health Service could not cope with vast numbers of patients needing ventilators and beds in Intensive Care Units.
Statistics can never tell the whole story, most people staying home with symptoms are not being tested for the virus, so will we ever know how many? The good news is most people don’t suffer serious symptoms, the bad news is some do and when it’s bad it’s very very bad. The idea of letting nature take its course and humanity build up herd immunity to this brand new virus is certainly not being considered by the World Health Organisation, but a vaccine can’t be magically produced.

Avoidance and drastic measures are all we have, but will our societies survive the shut down of civilisation and the resultant loss of jobs? What will happen in the last chapter of the novel we all find ourselves in?
If you want some comfort reading during your confinement at home find out what may happen to humanity in the future in Three Ages of Man.