Grumpiness pervades in this round of being stuck at home

Cabin fever? Teddies take tea and sample homemade digestive biscuits on the recently completed...
Cabin fever? Teddies take tea and sample homemade digestive biscuits on the recently completed baby blanket. PHOTO: ELSPETH MCLEAN
Let's face it. Second time round there is no novelty about lockdown.

What a stupid redundant sentence that was. There can be no novelty about something that happens more than once, surely. While I am on the subject of grating expressions, what about the ludicrous GOAT acronym which pervaded recent Olympics coverage? If something is the Greatest, it has to be Of All Time, doesn’t it? It is as silly as saying best ever, worst ever. Best or worst, please.

And please, please Jacinda, Ashley et al, do not talk about the (expletive deleted) team of five million any more. Also, if you do not want to answer a question, or cannot, say so. Do not avoid a curly question by saying ‘‘What I can say is...’’ or ‘‘What I would say is...’’ It is infuriating.

Grumpy. That’s what I am in lockdown this time, in case you haven’t guessed.

It is hard to explain. I have no issue with the necessity for the lockdown, but as valid as criticisms might be about the slowness of the vaccination programme and other shortcomings in our creaking system, I am sick of hearing about them. I wonder instead how it feels to be listening to all of that when you are one of those overworked vaccinators, testers, lab technicians, contact tracers, supermarket workers or anyone else considered part of essential services.

Swanning around at home not doing very much makes me feel useless rather than a member of any team, especially when I know for some people being at home will be dangerous and depressing. Also, compared with the ongoing misery people in many other countries have had to endure, our lockdown concerns seem piffling.

Whereas last time, in the countdown to lockdown I was scrubbing the kitchen floor and thinking deeply, this year the floor is filthy, and my annoying leaking fridge is in danger of rotting the floorboards.

Day one was no better. In a fit of enthusiasm, I decided to turn rotting bananas into muffins, kidding myself that though I haven’t made them for years, I knew what I was doing and no recipe would be required.

Spooning the stiff batter into the muffin tray made me wonder if milk should have been included, so the mess was spooned back into the bowl and milk added.

The strange growths emerging from the oven would not have looked out of place in a gruesome illustrated oncology textbook. The maxim ‘‘never beat a muffin it will toughen’’ had also been ignored. They were only edible toasted and slathered with butter.

News of this failure led to some strange culinary text correspondence with my sister, the Earthquake Baby, in Murchison. In every text we each assumed the identity of a different well-known chef or cook. At one point when she was doing a Gordon Ramsay, I had to pull an Aunt Daisy and tell her not to be so unladylike. After we had gone through about 14 celebrities, I was having an identity crisis and my cooking had not improved.

At least my companion provided some light relief trying to follow instructions from afar from the Last Born to download the Covid Tracer app since he has recently upgraded from a burner phone to a smartphone.

We were expecting a swipe-by-swipe account of his first use when he went to the supermarket, but he was too worried he would be faffing about and holding up other shoppers to attempt it.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards understandably has reservations about the practicalities of recently announced moves to mandatory scanning/contact recording.

How will those managing the places where this is required ensure people are doing it properly, not faking using the app or putting down false contact details?

Most places which have had pen and paper contact systems up until now have given little regard to the privacy of anyone’s details. The best place I’ve seen (my phone is appless and I am hapless) for privacy is the Dunedin Library where contact details are written on individual forms and popped into a ballot box.

By the end of the first week, I had completed a baby blanket begun months ago. But when I assembled teddies for a tea party (with real tea) on it so they could test my homemade digestive biscuits, the First Born politely inquired if I had cabin fever. (The biscuit-making was to appease the designated supermarket shopper, upset that I and one of the offspring had scoffed most of his packet of digestives.)

When I sent the tea party pic with explanation to the Murchison-dwelling sisters, they were quick to suggest cabin fever might be the least of my worries. It was hard to argue with that.

  • Elspeth McLean is a Dunedin writer.


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