THE RIPPLE EFFECT OF THE NEW ORDER.
The Odd Couple, the Mild-Mannered Man and the Well-Worn Woman, live on a ‘Do No Harm’ basis in a modest cottage in a conservative exurban suburb in south east Queensland. They are an excellent fit with the crisis of the day, the Corona Virus Pandemic, and its containment principles of self-isolation, impeccable hygiene and social distancing.
Even as run of the mill contrarians they concede that they must live by the rules of the New Order, but they are more interested in the essential changes in their Activities of Daily Living that flow from this.
This is how it plays out for them.
Their natural fit with the changed rules arises from preferences in the structuring of the time they have at their disposal: his with an obsessive compulsive approach to producing large, but elegant, pot plants from bits and pieces gleaned from heaven knows where, but at a fraction of the cost expected by the market. He works alone and is happy to do so, free from the subjugation of expert opinion and needing neither computer nor phone to direct his activities.
For her part, the Well Worn Woman is a writer, the ultimate in structuring time in isolation, Time which those at the top of the heap declare must be spent limiting the spread of the pesky virus with its threat of sniffles, runny noses and sneezes, for the next six months, anyway.
In the New Order, the first thing to go for the W.W.W. is her weekly, ‘high tea’ at the R.S.L. which she shares with the girls from Silver Shores Village, her recent past domicile. Matriarchs from yester year, she chews the fat about their daily lives and, importantly, enjoys the opportunity to tuck into the forbidden fruits of cheesecakes, delicious pastries and exotic savouries. But alas, no more: this has morphed into daily life, either on the back or front veranda or within their cottage itself.
Back veranda life centres on avian multiculturism as they learn the preferences of a variety of small birds with loud voices when the M.M.M inadequately caters for them with Aldi’s dog sausage. He eventually gets the message, replenishes their begging bowl and peace returns to the land. All seem to be family or friends of the patriarch butcher bird, Ernie, who enamours himself to the M.M.M by perching beside his left hand.
Crossword puzzles from the daily paper and twice weekly Puzzle Magazines are worked on here. The prize winning rate is far from impressive, but amongst the 150,000 entries per week across Australia and New Zealand, the Odd Couple have more ‘knives in their blocks’ than anyone else in the street.
On the wide expanse of lawn, the adult birds scour for worms with their young paying close attention to the techniques involved in this. A concentrating fledgling is a pretty sight.
A couple of weeks back, the W.W.W’s Number One son came galloping in from the west on his trusty ‘fitness’ bicycle with news. He had seen the statistics. Low figures for his sons’ developing the disease, and even for himself, but his 91-year-old Mum was right off the scale – he would have to go and check what she is doing!
Mum listens gravely to the scientific evidence and agrees not to visit Nursing Homes or shopping centres after the first hour, dedicated to the elderly or infirm.
A few days later, the M,M.M’s Number Two son turns up for a routine visit spurred on by the W,W.W’s lack of acknowledgment of ‘Are you all right?’ texts and e-mails. She eats humble pie from the front door and he speaks from the appropriate two arms lengths away. Reassurance all round and she agrees to e-mail daily and phone check three times a day. Yes, life is indeed going to be ‘different’ for this technopeasant.
Then comes the unkindest cut of all….no more C.W.L. meetings! What to do about this below the belt thrust? Try life on the FRONT veranda to compensate……. or smarten up in-house shenanigans, perhaps? Perish that thought: there’s not much happy variation in housework behaviour!
The vista from the front of the cottage is a different matter. Same cream coloured seven-foot-high front fence to dissuade the ever present infidels to keep their distance, a few avian wanderers, but a multitude of, wait for it, butterflies! A sea of fluttering yellow as they go from one ginormous veranda pot plant to the next. Not a flower to be seen but they scramble amongst the desert plant foliage, to feed and lay their eggs, says the M.M.M. No avian flocks to eat them? What mysteries lie here?
But there are a couple of chairs and a small table, so the W,W.W. is content and as she muses on just how quickly ‘Life will change forever’ becomes part of the landscape. But then an alternative explanation occurs to her….
This is not the time for ‘Why?’ and ‘How important is it?’ questions. Things are just what they are, and it is this with which we deal, we all do. Changes? Yes, but these are not monumental. Just the Universe shifting our pivots up and down a bit and we adjust as we always have following other plagues, world wars and the like.
But wait, what if the Universe is being extra smart, saying, “What can I do to get this lot off the hook of having to write three hundred sensible words around ‘frequent’ and ‘scintillating’? Pregnant pause. Then,
“I know – I’ll bring on a pandemic! That’ll stop their gallop!”
You have been warned!