The year that is, but I’m now really looking forward to it becoming the year that was.
However, it has been a year of learning. Educational is perhaps not the right word, but I have learnt a lot.
So, what exactly have I learnt?
I learnt that Australians like to step up and help out fellow Aussies when disasters, like the massive, and many, bushfires, struck at the start of the year.
Some also liked to let other people know how generous they were, patting themselves on the back while doing so.
Not long after that, I learnt that China had a virus issue.
And apparently, it was going to become a worldwide issue.
I didn’t understand it at the time, and I didn’t fully understand how it was going to become our problem.
But, sure enough, it wasn’t long before it did in fact become our problem.
New terms like ‘social distancing’, and ‘flattening the curve’, became part of the daily vocabulary.
Shaking hands, and hugging, became as socially unacceptable as playing with your genitals in public.
I then learnt, that even though everyone else could see what was happening, our Government seemed to be ridiculously slow at closing our borders.
Even though they were the ones telling us how bad this virus was going to be.
Especially for the elderly, who apparently, were at a significantly higher risk than the rest of the population.
This was drummed into us, and while most of us accepted that, it would become apparent later that words are sometimes just words.
I then learnt about the term ‘panic buying’.
And first off, it was toilet paper.
Weird, when none of the many symptoms of the virus involves often, or prolonged, visits to the toilet.
But also concerning, as it gave a glimpse of what people are really like.
And this only weeks after all the self-adulation and back slapping following the fires….
Toilet paper hoarding was quickly followed with hoarding / panic buying of pasta, pasta sauce, rice, mincemeat, and then every other kind of meat, paper towel, tissues, soap, hand sanitizer, long life milk, and even fresh milk.
Even though people were constantly told that we would not run out of food.
Yep, now really concerning, and once again, a bit more of an insight into the behaviour of people.
And as the restrictions evolved, I learnt how much money a Government was prepared to throw at a pandemic.
Amounts of unimaginable magnitude, but made to sound much smaller when spoken quickly.
As the whole thing dragged on, and with numbers remaining reasonably low, I learnt that conspiracy theorists, as well as people that just don’t care, live amongst us.
Apparently telephone towers, and the 5G network, are things to avoid…..
And when the other States began to ease their own restrictions, while our stubborn Premier (Daniel Andrews) resisted that urge; he really did seem to be enjoying the power trip; I learnt that there’s only so long you can stop people from doing what they want to do.
A noticeable shift in thinking was becoming apparent, with people thinking / believing / hoping that it was all pretty much over.
A ‘Black lives matter’ protest around the same time, didn’t help the situation.
And then, a bit over two weeks after that protest, infection numbers began to rise. Not dramatically, but a slightly concerning increase, nonetheless.
While some people wanted to blame the protest for this rise, stories began to emerge of major inadequacies of the ‘returned traveller’ hotel quarantine system.
Private companies, using unskilled and untrained security guards, as opposed to Australian Defense Force personnel – which seemed like a much better idea – to look after people that may, or may not, be carrying the virus.
As it turned out, some were indeed infected, and it wasn’t too long until the first ‘security guard’, tested positive.
Numbers then, that had been in the 20’s and 30’s, quickly rose to the 80’s and 90’s, before leaping into the hundreds.
The cat really was out of the bag.
Hindsight is always a wonderful thing, but I really struggle to understand how such an important decision on how to protect the lives, as well as the livelihoods, of not just Victorians, but Australians as well, could have been made.
Just a badly thought out answer?
Or perhaps a case of penny pinching?
Or was it something much more sinister, where people in power made gains that they were never, and should never, be entitled to?
Hopefully we’ll eventually find out…..
Tougher restrictions returned, and seemingly having not learned one thing earlier in this pandemic, panic buying once again became a thing.
Yep, just so concerning….
There were calls for masks to made mandatory, but I learnt that masks wouldn’t solve the problem.
I then learnt minutes later that masks would help, with both of these enlightening lessons coming from, apparently, well trained and educated people, that you would assume did know what they were talking about.
I proceeded to re-learn both those lessons – masks work, masks don’t work – over the next few weeks.
And always from people that seemed more than qualified, to offer their opinions.
It was interesting, funny, and concerning, all at the same time.
And then one day, which I think was when they realised they were running out of ideas on how to deal with the still rising numbers, masks were made mandatory whenever you were outside your home.
But it didn’t have to be a proper medical mask. A simple dust mask, or a homemade one, fashioned with or without a sock, a bandana, or even a scarf wrapped across your face, were all acceptable.
I also found that interesting, and the skeptic in me wondered if they hoped that people would simply stop going outside, rather than have to put up with a face covering.
The numbers of people out exercising did seem to drop a little, but it didn’t take long for people to get used to their ‘masks’, as numbers returned to what they were.
The good news was that mask compliance was incredibly high, however the bad news was that within a bit over a week, there were a number who decided that mask wearing really wasn’t for them.
And I know, due to much walking along our local track.
Compulsory masks coincided with Melbourne being ‘cordoned’ off from the rest of Victoria, along with much stricter controls on Victorians entering all other States.
While all that was of little concern to me, it seemed to make a certain, albeit small, (hopefully) percentage of the population want to push the boundaries, as well as their luck, by trying to break these restrictions.
The result was that we all quickly became aware that we share this city with some incredibly stupid, dumb, selfish, and just plain dangerous, people.
It was embarrassing, humiliating, frustrating, and just downright maddening, to see what some of ‘us’, were actually capable of, and what they were actually prepared to do.
Embarrassed to be a Melbournian / Victorian?
So, did all these extra measures see a reduction in numbers?
Four hundred to seven hundred a day became the norm, and the numbers of deaths each day, which were predominately aged care residents, began to rise.
Yep, the people that we were told were so vulnerable to this virus, had now well and truly been exposed to it.
And how that’s been allowed to happen is just appalling. Disgraceful.
So, with numbers showing no signs of declining, the inevitable tightening of restrictions was announced.
Pretty much all retail, that isn’t considered essential, to close. Some other businesses, like abattoirs, to run at reduced capacity, and some construction impacted.
And of course, that announcement meant there was a return to panic buying.
As was always going to happen, when the truly selfish decide to do their thing.
Exercise was also limited to just one hour per day, and people can now not travel further than five kilometres from their home. Unless it’s for work.
Oh, and just for good measure, we got slapped with a curfew.
Yep, a curfew in Melbourne!
No one is to be outside, or in their car, between the hours of 8.00pm and 5.00am.
It has certainly become one very strange world.
So, my learnings for 2020 in a nutshell?
Firstly, I’m a little surprised at how well I’ve dealt with being ‘stuck’ at home. I’ve certainly missed interactions with friends, but for the most part, I’ve been able to find things to keep me busy, and I’ve managed to achieve a few things that have been on a very old list.
The rest of it, well, it’s had its moments.
While I’ve never been a fan of Daniel Andrews, I was rather impressed with the way he set about handling this problem. Forthright in his approach, while yes, also coming across as a little condescending at times, I was actually impressed with his leadership.
This, however, changed completely when the hotel quarantine fiasco came to light. No apologies and no explanations; his answer was to blame everyone else for the increasing numbers.
That wouldn’t have been an issue, had he and his Government not stuffed up that particular component of this fight.
I am neither a Labour or Liberal lover / voter, but I can assure you that I will never cast a vote towards State Labour for as long as he, as well as one or two of his Ministers, has anything to do with them.
The cost, not just in Covid lost lives, but also in lost businesses, along with lost lives from mental health issues, is just too great, and those responsible for it, need to be made accountable.
My fellow citizens, who are navigating their way through this pandemic with me; it’s certainly been an eye opener. A revelation if you like.
I know it’s not everyone, but there is a certain percentage.
The panic buying, which probably should just be called selfish buying, has showed me something that I just didn’t think was possible.
Them, along with the much smaller percentage of absolute nutjob conspiracy theorists, the people that will go out of their way to do the wrong thing, simply because they’ve been told they can’t do something, and the selfish people who think the world begins and ends with them, have really made me question life.
I’m not sure there’s been a day go by since this all began, that I haven’t at some point been embarrassed, ashamed even, to be a Melbournian. And it has most certainly become worse over the last couple of weeks.
It’s even reached the point where it’s made me question where I want to live. And I really hate that.
I was born here, and I’ve lived nowhere else.
I’ve always loved this city, along with its culture, and I’ve always been proud to call myself a Melbournian.
Unfortunately, that has now changed.
And I really, really hate that.