Sea Song

Sea Song

There’s water in the scuppers and the sea is cutting rough
The bilge pumps are not working and if that’s not bad enough
There’s salt water in the rum lads, there will be no getting drunk
We’ll all drown stone cold sober when the fucking ship has sunk

The skipper’s drinking brandy, for he has a private store
He says he’ll go down with his ship and what can he do more?
He ordered the abandon ship, we cut the lifeboats free
Not one of them would stay afloat. They sank into the sea

The life jackets are useless. They are soggy wet kapok
We tossed them in the ocean and they went down like a rock
The first mate said to swim for it, we’ve minutes to get clear
Before the old girl founders, and drags us down with her

The bosun said there was no point for where then would we go?
Unless there is an island near and that, he did not know
So even if we swam and swam, and then we swam some more
The bloody sharks would take us all before we reached a shore

I’ll take me chances here said he, and go down quick and clean
Just then a huge wave swamped us. The biggest we had seen
The old ship groaned and foundered, then settled on a reef
The water’s really shallow here, to everyone’s relief.
.

© 2020 ARF

Fun at the Pool

Every lane of the pool was fully booked today for each time slot. Which meant that for the first time while I’ve been there after reopening staff had to sound the musical bing-bong over the PA to nudge everyone to leave in time for the next 10 people to come in.

One woman had arrived about 20 minutes after the hour and despite being late, spent another 15 minutes walking round the pool talking to anyone who’d listen. She berated me for lying about how warm the water was before she had even got in. Apparently she is “very observant”. With barely ten minutes to go she finally took the plunge (literally) and started swimming. When the chimes sounded, she stayed in and would not get out. Staff spoke to her, explaining her time was up and a new batch of people were awaiting their turn. Protests followed. Eventually she left. Still complaining. Some People.

I watched as I drank my cappuccino. I buy one after every swim because I’m trying to stop the pool going bankrupt. I’m pretty sure that without those extra $18 a week the pool would have to close again and all my good friends working there would be on the dole. Today I received my ninth stamp on my loyalty card. So the next is free. I hope that free cappuccino is not the final straw.

I was swapping anecdotes with the staff as I drank my coffee when we saw a beautiful young Eastern Brown, sleek and healthy, obviously well fed, slithering across the concrete towards the children’s pool.

As you will all know by now, I get excited and protective when I see a serpent. I was delighted to find the two staff members on duty, Sue-Ellyn and Jacob, were of similar mind. Jacob and I herded the young fellow into a corner. We caught him or her in a box and I carried him or her out to the bush on the far side of the parking lot.

I was surprised to see a snake out and about at this time of year. I thought they would all be hibernating. But a quick search on Google produced some interesting information. No hibernation round here.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo, but here is a picture of one, just as pretty, from the Internet.

This morning I had decided today would be a walking stick and ambulatory support mechanism-free day. I walk more like a zombie than a person these days, I need to strengthen my leg muscles and not rely on support all the time. I also exercised my calf and thigh muscles in the pool with my fins.

Then I had a bit of a workout with a snake so on all counts today was a Good Day.

The President’s Brain is Missing.

I doubt there is a sane person left who believes Trump has any sense, or any credibility, whatsoever. Following the news as it unfolds in the US is like watching some surreal black comedy.

It’s something Peter Sellars might have made with Stanley Kubrick – Dr Kidglove, or How I Learned to Stop Thinking and Follow the Trump.

COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS / DEATH TOLL 

Last updated: April 25, 2020, 09:17 GMT
Coronavirus Death Toll

197,694 people have died so far from the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak as of April 25, 2020, 09:17 GMT.
There are currently 2,836,338 confirmed cases in 210 countries and territories . The fatality rate is still being assessed.

Follow the world-wide statistics, or country by country, here.

At the risk of being considered crepidarian: There is no doubt this COVID19 pandemic is just as scary as WHO said it could be. We are seeing now that the countries with the lowest infection and mortality curves are the ones with the best, and quickest lockdown response. Go New Zealand.

Now that testing is becoming more prevalent, and more reliable, many countries are finding evidence there is a significant proportion of asymptomatic infectious carriers among the apparently healthy population. These are not all being numbered among confirmed cases.

In our current world, this is about as apocalyptic as it gets.

I’m sure they said the same thing during the great flu pandemic of 1918 when about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected and the number of deaths worldwide was estimated to be at least 50 million.

The population of the world is exponentially greater now. So is the risk.

Stay safe out there. Good Luck.

Lockdown Diary

Time.

As the Lockdown continues and as the seriousness of the pandemic begins to filter through to all but the thickest, I’ve had time to reflect. This is not the apocalyptic pandemic predicted in popular fiction by any means. No hordes of brain-sucking zombies, no piles of dead in the city streets, no flesh melting from bones of living corpses. Just a sniffle, Fever, a cough and respiratory distress – slow death gasping for air – and health systems struggling for resources and infrastructure. Plus a lot of people apparently unaffected except by the social restrictions being imposed. Especially the closing of the pubs and clubs. The social hubs of this part of Australia. It rankles with many. After all, it is only…..

I’ve heard the word “only” too many times. It’s only the old, the weak and sick. It’s only two percent of the population. It’s not. It’s the old, the weak and sick. It’s two percent of the population. Or more. It is sickness and death. That’s never only. I believe we haven’t yet seen the worst. It’s only a matter of time.

Rant over. Had to get that off my chest.

What I intended this post to be about was how I’m not spending my time. As I had thought, being under lockdown is little different from my ordinary days of retirement: a week or so spent not doing the laundry until a lack of clean underwear made it unavoidable; a week spent not tidying up in the caravan until I can’t even prepare a sandwich without knocking down a pile of containers and utensils that should have been put away in cupboards and drawers. At least I keep surfaces clean and dishes done. I have to. Apart from my public health training reasons, there are ants here.

But there is a difference. Now I can’t go to the pool, or even to the the beach, I’m not getting enough exercise. I walk about thirty minutes or so twice a day, I can’t go far. As far as the pharmacy or the butcher is about all I can manage. I’ve taken to strolling around the camp at around two thirty or so in the morning. It’s cool and quiet then. I nap more during the day. I eat at odd hours. I drink more.

My daily schedule is completely awry. I may have breakfast at three in the morning after a stroll and a shower, because I was sleepless and restless. I’d then return to bed at five and sleep until eleven. Read, watch Netflix, nap again. Eat at three pm and perhaps again at eight. I’m still trying to keep to under 7,000 kJ a day, but without getting enough exercise, I’m not winning the waistline war. A slight increase in the consumption of alcoholic beverages doesn’t help.

On the plus side, the leg pain from the spondylosis is virtually a zero out of ten. Nothing more than a twinge now and then. My knees are still grating and wobbly but I’m actually getting round again without support. I can climb in and out of the Landcruiser with ease. If only it had been like this when Dave was here. This would be a great time to get out in the boat. If he could pull the starter cord for me.

I’ve pulled the stitches in my back. It was inevitable. I live alone. I found that lifting even a mug of coffee hurts. I still have to lift and carry. Shopping, laundry, rubbish bags. My left arm can’t lift more than a kilo or so above my waist, even if I could be ambidextrous, so the right arm still has to do all the work.

The newest cut got a slight infection after a stitch pulled, but I’m keeping it clean and using antiseptic cream. Clearly Mehdi was right when he quoted the stats; the scar gets only 30% of the skin’s original strength back in three weeks, and 80% after three months.

I’m not wearing a watch these days. The reason is embarrassing. Both my watches are powered by movement. The old Certina dive watch from 1977 still runs well, but stores kinetic energy in a spring to make it run. My thirteen year old Seiko Arctura stores it in a capacitor battery.

Both stop at random times because I’m not moving enough to keep them running.

As a result I lose track of the time. It doesn’t matter, because my time is completely mine anyway. I just have to remember when my next medical appointment is. My phone does that for me. Because I rely on that, I even lose track of days. Or rather dates. My pillbox tells me what day of the week it is.

So I missed my Dad’s 89th birthday. It’s in my calendar, but not with a reminder. Mea culpa. I apologised over the phone the other day, but again; Sorry Dad! Congratulations on being such a venerable age and still having a driver’s licence.

A Matter of Time

Stir Crazy

Monday, the first Monday of the month, should have been another meeting of HELP, the healthy eating and living program, my Really, Really Fat Persons Support Group. I missed the first two of the year, because they coincided both times with melanoma excisions.

This months would have also coincided, coincidentally , but I specifically ensured the excision appointment would be on a Tuesday, so I could attend. Since my exercising has dropped off as my mobility decreased, and especially since I could not swim, my weight has remained static since my birthday. I’m managing the kilojoules going in well enough, but just not burning them as much. I thought I needed some incentive.

So it was disappointing when Lockdown caused all such meetings to be postponed indefinitely. I stayed home again, drank a couple of cans of XXXX Gold, read, and napped. I’m glad I’m inAustralia, where off-licences are considered essential services.

I was wide awake again at midnight. By two in the morning I needed to move, so I took my walker and went for a promenade around the park. I tottered around for about thirty minutes, not counting the time I rested on the walker seat and looked at the moon setting slowly behind intermittent clouds. The night was filled with noises; rustles, croaks, chirps, squawks and grunts. I saw flitting shapes in the moonlight. There were bats, large and small, and at least one night-flying bird. There was movement in the bush, both on the ground and in the canopy.

At three I took a hot shower, and returned to bed, awakening refreshed before my alarm. A coffee and a good breakfast of sausage, egg and fried tomato with toast. I’m ready once again to battle the melanoma monster. I’m glad even of being sliced up with a scalpel if it gets me out of the camp. I had to ensure I ate a good breakfast first or I might just go crazy-buying in Woodford Woolworths. Never shop hungry. Especially if you are going stir-crazy.

Dear Diary

I am not Samuel Pepys. My blog is nowhere near as interesting as his was. I am not John Aubrey. I have dropped a few names, and could drop a few more, but I’ve never really got into it as he did.

There are days, when I wonder if my blog will survive somewhere to be electronically excavated at some far distant future time and be considered as a vivid picture of the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries. The Pepys or Aubrey of my generation.

Then I realise, no. It won’t. Even if I print it all out, it will be tossed out by my executor.

In any case, millions of people are blogging. So many are they, there aren’t enough readers to go round. Certainly not enough who like my posts. That is hardly surprising. All the adventure is gone from my life. This lock down has accentuated just how different my life has become.

These days I cannot leave home except for the purpose of obtaining food and supplies (but not toilet paper, ‘cos there isn’t any) or for medical reasons. This is because of the COVID19 pandemic. Whereas before it was because I’m a lazy bugger.

I wonder if taking the boat out is essential for exercise, or perhaps for gathering food.

But seriously, I miss my swimming. As soon as these cuts heal I shall swim in the sea, as long as the pool is not open. As walking becomes more of a strain, I’m exercising less and must watch my diet even more than ever.

These are the thoughts that flit through my mind as I lay on my bunk, listening to my Celtic playlist on Spotify, bored with Netflix.

I’m due for another slice on my shoulder next Tuesday. It will be bigger than the last one, and I can’t believe how big that was. I can’t see it, but I can feel it. It is wider than my hand with my fingers splayed. I did catch a glimpse of it in the mirror when I had a shower. It’s pretty awesome. I’m half hoping to get another on my chest so I can tell people I was run through with a cutlass.

Another ten days to heal and I should be able to swim and go fishing. And catch some of those mangrove crabs. It’s a solitary pursuit and won’t infringe any social distancing laws.

My morning coffee omens have not been good lately. I see a dragon devouring everything I hold dear in one cup, and in another, an asteroid spiralling in to destroy the world . Consistent coffee. Literal and metaphorical Armageddon. In the midst of a pandemic.

It’s rather fortunate that we Capricorn’s don’t really believe in that sort of thing, though this optimism is counteracted by the guilt that makes us ex-Catholics secretly believe we deserve every bad thing that happens to us.

Optimistic bald person expecting disaster.

The Times, They Are A Changin’

Bribie Island Caravan Park is closed to people wishing to camp or who want to rent a cabin. Only we permanent residents remain. The pool, kitchen, tennis court and common room are closed, as are half the ablution blocks. Visitors are discouraged. Social distancing is encouraged. It has been suggested we have a “social period” now and then in which we sit outside our own homes and talk to our neighbours.

The doctors at my practice are now doing consultations by phone in all cases when the patient does not need to be physically present. My next consultation, to discuss my last pathology lab test results, will not require me to make the usual two hour round trip.

Federal Police are confining international travellers in motel rooms and standing guard. The first person has been jailed for breaching self-quarantine requirements three times in less than a week.

Body bags have been delivered to remote communities in anticipation of an outbreak there, which, if it happened, is expected to be far more devastating than among the general population. Some see it as sinister that resources for body bags are more easily found than for sending free supplies of soap and sanitising chemicals and cleaning equipment.

Unemployment has spiked since so many businesses must close.

The cost of food has spiralled out of control. Especially in the outback. Drought, fire and flood have no doubt contributed to this.

Grey nomads have been requested to forego travelling to remote areas. Their response so far has been selfish, along the lines of “But we want to visit the Argyll diamond mine before it closes down”.

The public pools are closed. Hotels, clubs and restaurants, also. Only takeaway fast foods are open. Gatherings of more than two non-family members are forbidden.

Sales of duct tape have skyrocketed as shops and banks and pharmacies mark out queuing areas and 1.5 metre spaces with lines and crosses.

More and more old people are appearing in public wearing masks. No one makes a fuss as they did over niqabs and hijabs. Yet these folk terrorise supermarket checkout staff in a manner unprecedented over matters completely beyond their control.

Goanna still drops by…

SAS Deployed in Brisbane as Unrest Increases in the Suburbs.

The newly formed Special Assembly Squad of the Department of Health had only just completed its inaugural training exercises, when a sudden upsurge in grumpy elderly people congregating at supermarkets necessitated their early deployment.

The SAS is manned by elite members of the Flying Hygiene Squad, considered to be the most highly trained Environmental Health Officers on the planet. The identity of the individual squad members is known only to their close family and the boys at the pub.

We spoke to an officer of the Corps, anonymous under his blue surgical mask and impenetrable dark glasses. He told us that the squad has been training with non-lethal means of subjugating grumpy old bags and petulant old codgers, as well as a few stroppy young mothers with crappy little babies.

“Though the temptation to use lethal force can be overwhelming, especially when one sees the weeping remains of a checkout lady writhing and wailing on the floor, suffering extreme PTSD, we mostly stick to our aerosol cans of Glen-20 and clever blunted snake catcher hooks which are ideal for pulling a walking stick or walker out from under an assailant” he said.

“Mostly” he added.”Sometimes things can get a bit rough. Have you ever confronted an old lady who has been shopping here since before you were born young man? It can be pretty scary.”

He shivered at some remembered horror. Then pulled himself together.

“Apart from a few broken hips, which we consider acceptable collateral damage, there have been no casualties among the public” he told us.

Only one member of the squad has been injured, when struck by some loony old bat’s umbrella. He is recovering at a secret location.

Twelve Monkeys

It’s happening.

Good for NZ.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:

Many people consider the things government does for them to be social progress but they regard the things government does for others as socialism.

Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court (19 Mar 1891-1974)