There’s a rhythm to living in lockdown Melbourne. It’s not a soothing rhythm, it’s a relentless rhythm. One giant repetitive loop – with bin night the only solid marker of what day it is. The sun rises. Wake up. Brew tea. Call my lively class of one to order. Attempt to do my real job. Walk. Drink wine. Watch another episode of Difficult People. Go to bed. Do it all again. It’s Groundhog Day minus the romance, and the only way to survive the Kafkaesque sameness of it all is to seek out some form of excitement. However mild.
Let me be clear. This is not my preferred mode of exercise. It’s not even my tenth – I’d have planking on a bed of hot coals ahead of a stroll around the local park. I like to think of myself as more of a super-athlete than a walker, but a home disco-ruptured Achilles stopped me in my tracks. Literally. My last words to the surgeon before going into theatre were, “I have to be fit for the World Cup”. Admittedly, I was going to the Women’s T20 World Cup as a filmmaker and not to open the bowling for Australia but he didn’t need to know that. (He just nodded to the anesthetist, a look that said, all good, the drugs are working.) Nevertheless, this captures my spirit. In my head I’m still 14, and I’m carving up a netball court somewhere. And I’m fast.
But now all I can do is walk. It’s all part of strengthening my Achilles and ankle. And now I’m embracing it – walking every day has opened my eyes to another world; the world of the walker. Part of the excitement of lockdown walking is anthropological. I can’t help but observe the steady stream of foot traffic – all the while accompanied by a quiet Attenborough-like whisper in my head.
There are the pack marchers who walk four abreast. They move as one impenetrable line of flesh, legs in time like a military goosestep, Perspex beehive masks, tight mouths and pneumatic arms – walking has never seemed more serious.
There are the head-shakers who hate everyone, who hate making way, who hate dogs, who hate children, who hate bikes, who hate having to deviate from their path – the path of self-righteousness. Come to think of it, they hate walking.
There are the phone-shouters, why talk quietly when you can shout so the people across the footy field can hear you?
And finally, there are the smilers, even with a mask they are able to smile – their eyes twinkle, a much-needed flash of humanity – they are rare, like birds of paradise, thank god for the smilers.
Tuesday night football
Tuesday nights haven’t been this exciting since I discovered half-price ticket Tuesday (and back row pashing) at the Regent Arcade cinemas in Adelaide. On consecutive Tuesdays this month, the Adelaide Crows made light work of Hawthorn to the
melodious tune of 35 points and defeated Greater Western Sydney by two goals, earning them the reputation (by me) of Tuesday night specialists. Not only have these wins given my lockdown some much-needed pep, they’ve also given me reason to believe the Crows have the makings of a successful side. If this was a normal September, my team would be closing in on another premiership. (Last Sunday was pretty good too).
Escape to the Chateau
Over the past few months I’ve been following the exploits of Lt. Col. Dick Strawbridge and Angel Adoree as they renovate a 19th Century Chateau in France. I don’t know how or why this has happened. Reality TV is not my idea of fun – yet here I am, in front of the screen, smiling away and offering up opinions about turrets, foraging and the Versailles-inspired downstairs toilet. Escape to the Chateau makes everything seem ok. Much like my Achilles anesthetist. What would I do with 45 rooms? How would I landscape the lake? This is digitally transmitted valium. I argue, gently, for everything in Chateau world is gentle, the voiceover, the country-side, the sloping vineyards and the sweeping landscapes – I ‘argue’ with my partner about renovation decisions, food choices, which parts of France to live in, how crusty is too crusty when it comes to a baguette and why it is impossible to get a decent bowl French Onion soup outside of France.
Judging the most stupid take of the week
One side-effect of this pandemic that no one talks about is how everyone has turned into an epidemiology expert – the butcher, the baker, the grocer and the bottle shop guy. When you add the conspiracy theorists, reality show contestants, ‘freedom’ fighters and on and on… it’s a Melbourne Cup field of stupidity. What’s become quite a pleasant pastime, usually while preparing dinner, is deciding which of these mega-minds deserves my own “bonehead of the week” award. It’s been a very tight field but as we head down the home straight in third place are the 5G conspiracists, in second the anti-maskers, but still out in front are the anti-vaxxers. The world would be a much better place with polio.
My home office sits facing a fairly busy road. Over time I have become immune to the thrum of the passing traffic – it’s there but I don’t really notice it. During the lockdown this constant pulse of activity has dropped off so sharply that I’ve started to take notice of the void. It’s impossible to ignore the silence. Sometimes, to reset myself, I just step out onto my porch – I never used to tune into the daily trams that pass by, but now I’m aware of the rumble that tingles through my feet. This newly discovered quietness has amplified my love of sunsets. So, no matter what I’m doing, come sundown, I make it my business to step outside. If I’m lucky, I catch the sky turning pink and orange and I go and lean, elbows on my gate, and take in the view. The silence has never been more beautiful.