Day Eight



We start Week Two.

After the initial flurry of calls as we contacted each other to make sure we were all right, things have grown quieter. I still don't seem to achieve much but I stick to my routine and make sure that every day I have completed a few chores, done my piano practice, cooked a good meal.

Sad news at the beginning of the day – Bauer, the German media company which we somehow allowed to control our magazines, is closing their New Zealand operation forthwith. It's a lesson in the pitfalls of globalisation – why would they care about us when the chips are down? And yet we will suffer enormously from loss of long-standing publications which reflect our culture and provide information and entertainment. I'll particularly miss the Listener – I was delighted this week to find it arrived in the post as usual. I hope it can be saved.

I go quietly from one thing to another through the day. The sounds from the still-working port rise above the very small amount of traffic noise and are somehow comforting. When I was a young teen we lived at the end of the wharf at Mt Maunganui and I found the life of the port very interesting. We could wander around quite close to the ships and I remember marvelling at the huge archimedes screws which unloaded wheat for the Ireland Company silos and loaded fertiliser into the holds of the ships. We saw how the lines held the ships to the bollards and how the discs attached were intended to prevent rats runing down (or up?) the lines – not very effectively, my father trapped rats at the house.

With those memories in mind I take my walk round by the gates of the port and beside the marina to Talley's fish factory, enjoying the views of the water and the friendly families out biking. I decide to vary my return by cutting through to the other side, closer to the yachts. I skirt some orange cones, wondering why they're there. Up ahead a middle-aged man with a bare, tanned torso is standing, dangling something which could be a power tool or a weapon from one hand. He stares as I come level with him and asks, 'Are you living aboard?' 'No.' 'Then you shouldn't be here.' 'How would I know that?' He points to a tiny sign some distance away. I turn away, saying, I'm just walking, don't panic.'

Have I met my first prepper? Are there people on boats in quarantine or defending their stores to the last? There are more cones across the path and as I step through I turn back to see a rough hand-made sign saying, 'Carpark closed. Authorised vehicles only.' That still doens't apply to a walker but I won't go back there.

Back home (motto: don't die wondering) I go online and, finding nothing on the marina's website, I make some calls. I explain what happened and say I'm concerned because there are families walking and biking in the area and there need to be clearer signs or a less vigilantee approach. The woman I'm speaking to says the marina is closed to new arrivals, which still doesn't explain why I couldn't walk through there. She apologises that I had an unpleasant experience and says she'll look into it.

I end the afternoon with calls from each of my children. I tell the story with a mix of concern and amusement. Preppers are humorous at a distance, their fear and distrust fuelling a ridiculous individualism that ignores the fact that we are social creatures, all in this together. Closer up, they could be frightening. Let's hope the explanation is more benign.