Friday on my mind – It’s blank and hurting

By Michael Barker
A regular column about things (mostly) Fremantle
As I pen this, tomorrow is Friday. Everything and nothing is on my mind.
I’ve just posted on my personal Facebook page some headline stories from the New York Times about the financial stimulus package just approved by Congress and the latest projected unemployment rates in the land of the two-week holiday.
Australia’s financial stimulus package, also just approved by Parliament, and our projected unemployment rates mirror, on scale, those of the US.
Presently our Covid-19 numbers seem mercifully low, but we have no present cause to think they will remain as low as they are. They leap daily, even here in isolated WA.
No cause to celebrate anything. Why we should think we are immune from anything, I don’t know.
And one senses the forces for a more dramatic lockdown – especially from those in the medical and health professions – will soon win the day. Stage 3 of the national response must be close. And then maybe stage 4, the final stage.
Then the concept of us being ‘safe at home’ – all of us, that is – starts to take a real form. No longer just an idea you discuss over coffee at 1.5 metres.
But it’s still one I can’t quite get my head around.
Unemployment abounds. Frontline health professionals in daily battles with the virus. Real people dying. Cruise ships (understandably) being turned away. Trump suggesting people can be shoulder to shoulder singing hymns on Easter Sunday. Crazy, crazy times. Crazy, crazy man.
Which, despite all the debates, makes me proud to see Australia’s political and public sector systems functioning as well as they are. Years of civil (in the main) political discourse and public sector practice have enabled this to happen. The political has mostly, if not wholly, given way to the necessary. The ‘National Cabinet’ seems to be working as just that, a national cabinet.
PM Scott Morrison has his shoulder to the wheel. Who really would volunteer for his job right now? Ditto WA Premier Mark McGowan.
I worry about the sick and the elderly too. Fret about them really. Mothers in lockdown in residential care. Limited to Facetime. Grandchildren and grandparents who must stay apart, and just tell each other over the broadband how much they care. Parents looking after their kids at home. And children who fuss over their elderly parents and kindly insist they stay safe, inside.
Amongst it all we see these wonderful random acts of neighbourly kindness and expressions of concern. Long may it last. Eye contact. How’re you doing? I’ve got some crayfish we caught this morning, could you handle a couple?
I’m hoping I can start to see through parts of the fog soon. I know I will, eventually. I know that because so many good people in all walks of life, both public and private, are helping us all to navigate the way.
And some of them, like Sammy J, also help by keeping me laughing with their most Aussie of humour – Watching Sammy J Series 3 Coach Makes Things Clear in iview.
Until next time – stay safe.

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