Covid-19, the Second Wave

Journal: 053


All masked up in Melbourne. I didn’t know selfies were reversed, which you can tell, well I can, by the name on the truck behind me. Melbourne is up to 500 new Covid cases a day, the rest of Australia maybe 20. Melbourne is in lockdown while Sydney partys. They’ll get theirs.

I set out on this current trip last Thursday. The Victorian government had already made masks mandatory in Melbourne, but the big new development (for me) is WA’s announcement that drivers from Melbourne and Sydney will be tested for Covid at the border and not allowed to proceed until the test results are returned a couple of days later. I’m not sure how this is going to work, there’s no where to park on the WA side of the border until Mundrabilla roadhouse, nearly 100 km further on (and it’s illegal to carry fresh food with you!). I’m hoping we’ll be allowed to proceed to Norseman, another 600 km and the first town on the WA side of the Nullarbor. I should be there by Friday, I’ll let you know what happens.

All small beer compared with the preparations for civil war in the US. Trump’s troops trained to fanaticism on the southern border, Black Water mercenaries, US Marine wannabees and dropouts, airlifted into Democrat controlled cities, ostensibly to control anarchist protesters (and moms) but really to intimidate POC/workers attempting to vote in person in November – 98 days to go. Republicans mobilising tens of thousands of “poll watchers”, reinforced by ex-Navy Seals, in support, the defence forces hopefully lining up with the government but police forces – looking at you Seattle – showing signs of swinging the other way.

Trump you’ll notice is barely campaigning, he obviously believes he doesn’t have to. And then there’s Facebook and Russia. Meanwhile Covid-19 is a firestorm raging through the populations of the USA and all the other poor or poorly managed nations (I read somewhere that the US is a third world nation with a very rich plutocracy and a shrinking and increasingly irrelevant middle class).

I follow Trump news on the internet obsessively. Obviously! And it struck me as I began to write this in the few hours before I go out to load home just how much has changed in the two weeks since the last Journal. One word – Portland. I really hope that in another two weeks I’m just another crazed conspiracy theorist. And I really, really hope that by my 70th in March it is all over – Trump, Covid-19, Recession. Don’t like my chances.

What else have I been doing? I was nearly at the end of my 14 days quarantine in Perth when a very nicely paying road train load came together, even when one customer cancelled another popped up straight away. I took my time and toddled over to Victoria, arrived at the weekend, unloaded Sunday/Monday and here I am, masked up in the truckstop, after a big vegie breakfast, waiting for Homer to call me back with my first pickup.

I finished listening to Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw (1898) – from Proj. Gutenberg with one very pleasant reader – I’m sure it’s a standard in American Lit classes but I had no expectations and boy, the ending comes as a shock.

Then a standard US murder mystery thriller, and a short, very well written memoir by [I’ll look this name up when I get back in the truck, Annie Ernaux] a French woman writing about her mother’s descent into Alzheimers. The most interesting bit for me was her writing about writing.

Now I’m in the middle of Jasper Fffforde’s Shades of Grey, an amusing take on steampunk SF. The young male protagonist is surrounded by marriage prospects and what I’ve been thinking about most – goes off to load…

that’s one trailer done. Two to go.

… is the sort of girl or woman I find attractive in books (and in life, as it happens). It’s nearly always the bright, annoying one on the edge of the crowd at school, and the lead guy’s friend, not girlfriend – Jamie Lee Curtis and not Elle Macpherson, though the one that really springs to mind is Roseanne’s second daughter. The reason’s obvious when you think about it, who is more likely to write books, the outsider or the prom queen? So I’m pretty sure the permanently angry working class (‘grey’) girl who is seemingly trying to kill the hero will be the one he ends up with.

Ok, I’ve got another trailer to load. More anon.

30 thoughts on “Covid-19, the Second Wave

  1. Welcome to Masked Melbourne. I’m fine about masks, just wish they’d stop giving airtime to nitwits who challenge Bunnings staff. Many moons ago when I did my Masters in Public Relations, we learnt that there’s always ‘5%’ at either end of the scale – they’re always the squeaky wheel. The rule was: don’t give them any airtime. Interestingly Daniel Andrews slipped into giving them airtime at his press conference yesterday and then openly acknowledged the error and got back on message 😀

    Turn of the Screw is a ripper. The Ernaux is on my list. I’m currently absorbed in another writer writing about reading and writing – Tegan Bennet Daylight’s memoir/essay The Details.

    Re your wishes for your 70th – I think two of the three are possible (the recession being over? No – we’ve only just begun). I didn’t feel hopeful about Trump but the longer the COVID situation goes unchecked there, the more challenging it will be for him – you have to think that if his supporters are experiencing unemployment and no healthcare, their faith might be wavering.

    I was saddened to hear that many US hospitals now have ‘death committees’ – basically deciding who gets treatment for COVID and who is left to die (the same happened in Italy and Spain). But really, I have no idea – unlike you, I screen out all news of Trump from my news feed. I know my limits and he makes me so angry that I feel I don’t need more evidence of his f@#kwittery.

    And although I don’t think COVID will be ‘over’ by March, I do think we will be coping better with restrictions. I suspect that life in and out of lockdown will be with us for the next year or two.

    Safe travels, and I hope that your layovers are in places with good breakfasts and nice views!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cool mask! Agree with what you posted (me safely in Queensland) but pandemic aside I have to say that Jasper Fforde is the most original writer around! He does write strong female characters and if you want a recommendation try his new book The Constant Rabbit. Yes, Connie is a rabbit but no cutesy anthropomorphised bunny. The story is about racism, sexism, bigots, politics and Jasper’s irreverent look at the world. Stay safe!


  3. Gosh, good luck and hope you get though with a negative test and access to fresh food!

    I read a few Jasper Ffordes a good while ago now but got a bit tired of the endless punnery.


    • Thanks Liz. The problem is the two days wait for the result. If they want us to stay on the SA side, at Border Village roadhouse then they’ll have to intercept us somewhere further back, ie. in SA where they don’t have jurisdiction. A positive result doesn’t bear thinking about. I hope they still let me go home.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s so tricky and confusing. We don’t have stops at the borders of our constituent countries but people were getting turned away from trying to get into Wales to go to the seaside when they were more locked down than us. I hope for a calm border crossing for you.


  4. Liz, we have intra state ‘borders’ right now. It is illegal to leave Melbourne for recreation – there are road blocks about 50 km out all round Melbourne. WA too was broken up into regions in April, and in most states it is still illegal to visit remote Aboriginal communities (it would be calamitous if Covid got into any of them).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That sounds a rule brought in with some urgency which meant they didn’t get the time to think about the consequences of making truckers wait for test results at a place where there are no facilities.. Hope the results come back clear for you.

    As for events across the Atlantic, I despair that there are still otherwise intelligent people who think Trump would make a fine president for the next four years. He does want to get out campaigning and is badgering his staff to organise huge rallies which is what his ego needs. But even in Republican states, the governors don’t want him because its a Covid risk. Plus, the last time he did a rally there were swathes of empty seats. Hence why he fired one of his election gurus recently. The polls do indicate he is trailing. Lets hope they are right


  6. The Guardian had a great story I read in the last couple of hours about how Trump with the help of Republican state legislatures may be able to reject (another) popular loss if he is close in the electoral college. I really, really hope the landslide in the polls is able to be translated into an unmistakable electoral landslide. But voter suppression is going to be major.

    When the WA Premier announced testing for truckies he seemed to say there would be a supplementary announcement this week, so I am hopeful that when I get to the border it won’t be as bad as I fear.


  7. Good luck getting back into W.A. Everything is quite crazy at the moment. Hope a vaccine xan actually be developed that works more than 3 months. I haven’t read any Jasper Fford, just doesn’t appeal. Evidently from what we’ve heard Trump’s dementia is so advanced others are behind the scene running the country. Barr comes to mind. My husband follows it incessantly. I only get angry and stressed so he just gives me headlines. If I was in the U.S and got the virus I’d want to walk jnto the white house and just cough everywhere. Happy travels.


    • Staff are coughing in the White House apparently. Trump must be far more secluded than we think to have avoided the virus for so long. It used to be said he’s a germaphobe, probably still is just doesn’t talk about it.

      I listen to lots of fiction I wouldn’t bother reading. The occasional good ones make up for the great mass of ordinary ones.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I had a flu test one time ten years ago, and I won’t do it again. Maybe it way the nurse did the test, but I have to say, I’d rather be tested with a bayonet. I hope they don’t intend to test you EVERY time you cross the border?? That wait time has to be kill for a man in a profession whose motto is “time is money.”

    Indiana now has a state-wide mask mandate. Originally, it would be a misdemeanor if someone did not comply, but the other conservatives decided that was too mean and they took away any penalties. Basically, it’s for show, though I’m not sure that a showing by example is such a bad thing. The governor said that if this mandate doesn’t work, he will go back and add the penalty aspect again. The county next to ours is doing online school because they’re a hot spot. Today, 13.4% of people tested in my county for COVID are positive. *gulp*

    What is something positive you noticed today? Anything good? A particularly tasty sandwich? A saucy text from Milly? Anything?


    • I think they do intend to test me every time I cross the border. The pictures I’ve seen show a swab disappearing up your nose and into the distant recesses of your skull.

      A quarter of a century since my last saucy message from Milly, but a couple of friends wrote me nice emails, that will have to do.


      • I had a test this morning, and trust me, it was no big deal and all over in 20 seconds anyway.
        (I had a test because I’ve got sniffles all the time from hay fever, but when I went to the eye specialist last week he was refusing to wear a mask. I should have walked out, but my headaches are back and I needed to see him. So now, unlike before, because of him, I’m not 100% sure that I’m not infected so a test seemed like a good idea).
        My guess/hope is that if they have a testing station at the border, they’ll have a popup food truck to feed the staff and you too….


      • The test a truckie stories are all over the place. NSW now requires drivers to be tested every seven days. This conflicts with the rule that says you must isolate until you have a test result. Something will change or business activity will cease. That is the problem I started this post with, not the time taken to test but the time waiting for results.
        I can’t believe the eye specialist was so careless of his own safety, let alone yours.


  9. I’ve only read one book by Ernaux, but it was beautifully crafted; I’ve always meant to read more. All of the changing requirements/demands must be so difficult to negotiate and, yes, of course it’s HOW you’re wearing your mask. Fforde’s stories seem like a good distraction for these days. I watched the CSpan testimony (via Twitter) earlier this week, in which Barr’s criticism of the vote-by-mail mechanism was challenged (feeding into the idea that 45 is gearing up to deny the results) and it was so frustrating to watch. Anyone who thinks that his base of supporters will be changing their minds, because of the economic or health realities around them, isn’t paying attention. As another outsider viewing American politics from afar (but not AS afar as you), I really enjoy the public radio broadcast, 1A Friday News shows (via podcast). As public radio, they are left-leaning, but they always include a conservative reporter (or two) and I really appreciate their segments overall, for a sense of balance and filling-in-the-gaps with things about the U.S. systems that I don’t quite get. (Link) And, yes, Portland. Now Chicago? Next NYC? Really? *gulps*


  10. […] When last we spoke I was masked up in Melbourne, loading for home, looking forward with some trepidation to crossing from Victoria into SA and more particularly from SA into WA. I loaded three trailers with steel, topped up with cars and set out once more, on Thursday, up through the Mallee to Ouyen and into SA at Pinnaroo. SA require drivers to obtain an entry permit on line. I’d submitted an application but been refused. I complained. Two very nice clerks from SAPol phoned me separately to get me going. Turns out my permit for my previous trip was valid for six months. Problem solved. […]


  11. You spoke about even handedness somewhere else but I am perfectly happy to get all my news from the left. I generally recognise and screen out hyperbole and exaggeration (I hope!).

    As you might see today I have gone from being quarantined to being regularly/frequently tested (and masked in mostly unmasked WA). It might get wearing.

    I meant to write more about Fforde. Jane, his heroine, really got to me. Interesting, because she is nowhere described, except for a ‘cute nose’, so the reader only knows her by her actions. I was genuinely sorry when I got to the end.

    Trump and his henchmen are obviously building a case for disregarding the election result. I am quietly confident that it will be too great a landslide to be ignored, though there is still plenty of time for the Murdoch press to manufacture a scandal around Biden or his running mate. The later the better from their point of view, like Comrey’s letter.


  12. Another one I’ve missed.

    I don’t know who Fforde’s character ended up with, but in my life I’ve not been attracted to the pretty boys, the smooth guys, but not to the bad boys either – often because the bad boys emulated cool-ness and that wasn’t me. No, for me, it tended to be the ones with the interesting faces, but not too nerdy (as in obsessed with a narrow interest).

    As for Portland – I watched all that with horror. First Trump’s henchmen, and then the fires. Portland is a lovely city, and one that felt a little alternative, a little edgy, when I visited there in 2001. After all it has America’s (or one of America’s) biggest independent bookstores, Powell’s. It’s a wonder, or was when I went there. Portland is also the home-town of my dear Trump-hating California-based friend, who has watched all this with horror.


    • No one ended up with anyone, from memory.
      I’ve been reading stories of armed and violent right wing militias attacking protesters in the streets of Portland while the police look the other way.
      There is going to be a lot of violence after 3 Nov when Trump calls his supporters out onto the streets.


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