The distance between us.

So, things are moving quickly now and have ramped up another notch, as there is a recognition that containment is no longer possible, and we seek to reduce the impacts on the health system. These measures include social distancing and serve to reduce the transmission of the virus. The early evidence suggests that it works, and it certainly seemed to work during the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic .

Daniel Aldrich suggests, quite rightly, we should be calling it physical distancing. We don’t want to be limiting social contact, because this is the social capital on which we draw to help manage through this. This will be our greatest asset in these times, the people who check in, the people who offer to take the dog for a walk, the people who drop off some food, or a toilet roll, or a book. Connection is the key, and ultimately, we are social beings. We developed these great cards as conversation starters for preparedness.

We can be sensible about physical distancing. The recommended distance from someone who is sick is 1.5metres. So a conversation at the door, front gate, across the corridor,  or in the garden could still take place, as long as someone is sitting  or standing far enough away (and outside, upwind). The Italians (of course!) have made musically the best of a difficult situation.

It might be time to bust out the bike, give it a service, and get back on it. Or if you haven’t got one, here’s the excuse to get one.  It’ll have a number of benefits. Taking pressure off public transport is one, reducing the risk of spread. Better still it will help with fitness, and improve immunity, and mental health and wellbeing. My ride to and from work is the best mental health thing I can do. And if this stops, I’ll just ride up and down the beach path and pretend I’m going to work.

I’m cleaning up the study in preparation for working at home. Working at home takes a bit of adjustment if you haven’t done it (and requires discipline). I work from home once a week, and make sure that I have a routine. Years ago I was quarantined for 2 weeks with whooping cough, which came after two weeks of working at home during school holidays. The loss of social contact through work did impact on me. You missed out on the little things. We have a virtual team, across 4 different states, and we started this thing called The Water Cooler, first up on a Monday morning over our IM system, we check in with each other how our weekends were. This is where we find out home many meat trays Beth has won, what we thought of the footy results, or cheesecake prizes Alex has won etc. It’s a simple way of keeping in touch with what people are doing.

Working from home will hammer all the cafes, restaurants, and caterers that rely upon office trade. If you happen to be going through places with lots of offices, stop and buy your lunch or get a coffee. Or if you aren’t working from home, maybe find a few dollars to buy lunch once a week. I am hoping those firms with catering budgets will think laterally about how they can be used. Perhaps those that are working at home are entitled to one meal delivered a week (or something like that), or they fund caterers to supply meals to people who are self isolating. Keep supporting businesses until they tell us we can’t physically go into their premises, then support them with online shopping/ordering.

We are fortunate in the age of the internet, we can play games together over the internet. Scrabble anyone?. We can video call each other, so we can see people’s faces, and not just hear their voices. These are the interactions that are important.

Post the positive. So much of what is posted is serious stuff, sometimes alarming, or even unhinged. Take a leaf from the Brusseleers. When they were locked down and asked not to post anything on social media as a result of a terrorism threat, they posted pictures of cats. Share the joyous, remind us of the human spirit.

Sport appears to be going ahead, but in empty stadiums. There’s no reason why people can’t watch games together, virtually. We did this once in the World Cup, when Australia played Germany, where we had a facetime link up with our friends in Germany for the during of the game.

I was talking with Big Joe at my footy the other day. He’s a gentle giant who sits on the board of RRR, the great community radio station, and has a great program, Astral Glamour. We were talking about the importance of radio, and that feeling that some is talking to you(good radio, not shouty commercial, love the sound of my own voice radio), and how you feel like you have a companion. Radio has comforted me through many a troubling time. Now is radio’s hour. I was also taken aback by the wonderful women of the Outer Sanctum, a footy related podcast run by a group of passionate women. Their facebook post yesterday was simple. “We know these are strange times, if anyone wants to talk to us, you know, get in touch”

People will be creative. For all our apparent stupidity sometimes, people are intuitive, resourceful and adaptable. It’ll be up to us to make that work. I take heart from the two young girls who saved their pocket money to buy some toilet paper that they could then distribute to pensioners. Good people do good things. There is a future.


3 thoughts on “The distance between us.

  1. Great post John. Garry and I have just arrived back from NZ on the Carnival Princess. Fortunate that we could dock and disembark this morning. Two ships of the same line right behind us – one diverted to Wellington and people advised to fly home, one diverted to Tas and advised if they did disembark they could not get back on! There go we but for the good grace of what ever higher being is out there. As I type NZ has advised anyone arriving in NZ will be made to self isolate – no cruise ships docking until June 30. – Back at work Tuesday – look forward to catching up virtually All the best Deb Shaddock


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful words as always John. I’m looking forward to seeing people re engage with their gardens. Working the soil with your hands and growing is good for the soul. It is also an opportunity to observe how life goes on. As I write, two Native Hummingbirds are feasting in my garden, my Sedums are buzzing with bees and the early hints of a changing season are starting to be played out . x


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