Once upon a time at the start of 2020, Melburians, much like the rest of the world, had high expectations for this year.
Full of hope and optimism, it was going to be a year to be remembered and somehow it has become that. But not for the reasons we had hoped.
Even just thinking back to January and February, prior to the first March lockdown, seems like years ago. COVID seems to have taken the world by storm and with Melbourne experiencing the worst outbreak in Australia, we, along with the rest of the world, are now deep in lockdown 2.0.
Wondering about this, and how everything seems to have come to a still pause in the space of a few weeks, here are my top ten things that have now changed forever due to COVID.
10. The toilet paper fiasco
Who knew that toilet paper was such a tipping point! Once, it was just the much needed accessory for the dunny. Now it appears that in a crisis, it is THE item for hoarders everywhere, and symbolic for control. The hoarding of toilet paper just proves that one can really become "famous" for just fighting over toilet paper.
We don't have squares to spare!
9. Wi-Fi redefined
If nothing else, it turns out that the internet is the one essential item of the lockdown. With half of the city working from home and the other half home-schooling, it seems everyone needs internet all the time and possibly in every room. Needless to mention the after hours are spent watching Netflix and getting online recipes... which leads on to the next lockdown obsession.
8. Sourdough took on new meaning
People who don't do baking may not know the mesmerising charm of it but making sourdough takes it to the next level. Sourdough is magical because it has the work of yeast and so it has something alive in it, growing to give it a flavour that can be unforgettable! It always feels like a milestone - bread. It also feels like a grown-up thing to make and a good staple, that even a failed sourdough (which can happen the first time) can feel wonderful and be a learning curve and something to savour.
It's still salvageable, right?
7. Takeaway changed forever
Along the same line, takeaway has now gone to the next level! Takeaway is now, more than ever, a gourmet, gastronomic affair, offering food from around the world and delivered straight to your door. And let's not forget the drinks as well, which are also wonderfully available in any combination from your favourite bottleshop with cocktails and umbrellas in tow. Cheers!
6. The science sceptic
The pandemic seems to have given rise and air to all the medical sceptics out there, and also the #COVIDIOT. With the Bunnings video and anti-maskers showing their true colours, it is apparent that Australia has seen an increase in people who question science. While most people are accepting of medical advice during the pandemic, it has also highlighted people's unaccepting approach to the science of climate change. I wonder how the sceptics will respond once a vaccine becomes available?
A Bunnings ad parody circling the web
5. Appreciating the essential worker
Another sign of the times is the rise of the essential worker. Be it stocking shelves, cleaning streets, Bunnings workers, nurses and aged care workers. In the last few days alone, we have seen how their work has been at the forefront of the pandemic and their work significant on who gets the virus or doesn't. (Bunnings workers have never been so widely appreciated!)
4. The daily tally
A morbid interest of mine, with quite a few others, has been watching the daily infection numbers of Melbourne with increasing horror! While we all had hoped it would go down (as what happened in the first lockdown), our hopes still sit quietly with the Premier Daniel Andrews (who himself has become something of an internet superstar) announcing a lifting of restrictions and a green light. But this still feels like a distant point...
Chores = homework.
3. Working from home/homeschooling
Lockdown 2.0 has brought into sharp view the difficulties of homeschooling and working from home. Especially when it comes to the workload of women, suddenly the difficulties of technology, balancing the competing demands are something most people hadn't encountered in the past. What and how the lockdown will affect workplaces permanently next, remains to be seen - leading on to my next item.
2. Zoom meetings
Working from home has given rise to the famous Zoom meetings, and how it can go wrong! It has also given rise to all the other working-from-home technologies like Skype, Facetime and Houseparty, but none of these are as impactful as...
Practical and tasty... but probably not the safest
Yes - once it was accepted that it had to happen. Us Melburnians understood the need and got on with it. As awkward and uncomfortable as it is, face-masks and making them has taken on a life of its own. Sometimes trying to mark the moment with a face-mask that will make us a bit happy about wearing it! Be it a scarf, handkerchief, face-mask, builders mask or even a gas mask, this is the ultimate acceptance that some change is needed to keep the community safe. So wear it like a superhero!
Looking over my top ten, I wonder what other changes we will see as a community by the end of the pandemic? All I can say is: stay safe and carpe diem!