We’re all in this together – 1.5 metres apart

ByTim ScottApril 10, 2020
We’re all in this together – 1.5 metres apart

I can’t be the first scribbler recently to have sat down with a blank page and thought this is going to be the hardest column I’ve had to write. In the current health climate, I’m trying to think of an intro because using the mental expletive many of us have been juggling means my opening line would be an F-Bomb 26 letters long. Exclamation mark.
Apparently, that’s not appropriate.
But it’s apt.

So many questions, but the first is, how are you? I sincerely hope you’re okay wherever you are.

I reckon that’s the hardest restriction we’re facing; on our movement. We’re used to free will and the wind taking us wherever we wish to go. And that’s looking like a privilege right now, isn’t it? And it is – freedom.

If we want to be confined in small spaces, we can go and camp in the rain or the snow and stay in! Flick on the heating or pile on the bedding and snuggle. The scenery might change a little in that environment too.

And this working from home was great until the family joined in; you got stuff done in peace. Then there’s being termed essential, that’s brought new meaning, hasn’t it? We have had to reconfigure some of our views. Or have we? I think we have always known who’s essential – and that’s all of us! I could do without some residents of a Canberra postcode 2600, but that’s just my opinion.

We need to be able to turn to each other at a time of crisis, and while the recent bushfire emergency was terrifying enough, we could be closer to each other than we can now. This stressful situation is new to so many of us that have never been threatened before.

Now, before you switch off and think I’m being a bit Bubonic Plague dark drama dubbed into Norwegian and starring Peter Dutton as the love interest [TV networks I can work on a script], there is an upside to all this.

And it’s that it will be over.

I know it’s only five minutes since we were all throwing out the urgent calls to travel and help the ravaged regions recover with our touring dollars. And there was a debate over whether that was the right thing to do. It was, with sensitivity. Those communities will still need our visits when we are given the green light to hitch up and head out.

We appear to have got the panic buying out of the system, and the hoarding has slowed down. Can we try to forget that embarrassing episode? The most 99.9% germ-free fingers and the clag-free clacker do not the best humans make, even if it feels so soft and super-absorbant.

We seem to have lessened the indignance at being told to stay away from rural areas by doctors worried about their capacity to cope. We have understood that every RV we see on the roads is not flouting the travel restrictions and most are running for home – several thousand kilometres in some cases. Indeed, the very freedom that caravanners enjoy resulted in a massive dilemma – where the hell do you go when the road IS your home! We featured how that confusion can feel in this story from across the ditch.

We know that as a species, we’re inventive. And there’s nothing like boredom or just free time that fuels the human imagination. And thankfully we have the digital arena to communicate in! There’s not much that hasn’t been shared so far as idle hands head to the shed, the garage, the attic, the sewing room or the basement … I mean, look at what you can achieve here.

No one can take away the uncertainty, but we can adhere to the certainties we have. We are here right now, and we can choose some of what happens next.

We have been told to limit all non-essential travel – no official lockdown yet, Will it come? Maybe, but in the meantime, stay home, or stay put if you’re of no fixed abode. We have seen some caravan parks and also private landholders turn over space for travellers who need a base, but we’ve also heard of travellers being moved on from a park booking. That’s worrying.

Don’t ask the questions of social media in the hope of the answer you’d like to hear: that someone you’ve never met thinks that the caravan park that’s asking you to defer it ought to let you have your holiday. Do take up the social media trend of posting pics of camping in your driveway or your backyard if you’re lucky to have one.

We’re still here, and we’re going to be offering up things for you to do – but we’re open to your suggestions as well. Send us your boredom busters to share. What have you done to your caravan or camper, to improve your tow vehicle and, while we can’t promise prizes for your photos, how tidy is your shed now?

The message is of isolation and limiting human contact, but you’re not alone. If you feel stressed or sad, then pick up the phone to someone you know or one of the specialist organisations that can listen to what you need to say. If it’s bothering you, turn off the news feed temporarily. Hell, declutter, or dance with the cat – but film that and send it in, please.

For the time being, stay home, try to cope with your family or kids for unusually long periods, do what you can to distract yourself. And be well. It might be the end of the world as we know it, but it’s not the end of the world. We will roam once more.