Day Twenty-one



Three weeks down. The advice from Paul Wood, whose prison experience has formed the basis of his coaching and speaking career, is to stay focussed on the present and not think too much about the parole or release date, because if it's changed the disappointment can be overwhelming. I'm resigned to the fact that it will be a long time before I'll be able to do the things I really want: to swim or to visit my children and their families. The opportunity to go to a few more shops is not a big deal for me – although my socks have holes and I do need a haircut!

With my little solar-powered radio alongside me as I paint or garden, I'm picking up random pieces of news, though I forget most of them. One thing that stayed in my mind was the regular RNZ political commentary 'from the Left and from the Right' in which Matthew from the Right was emphatic in saying that 'Jacinda' (he's already dog-whistling for the election and has been for some time) went too late and wrong with our response to the virus. He repeats the phrase a couple of times, ignoring the input of a number of well-informed health experts and economists, the pandemic plan created in response to SARS but fortunately not needed then, as well as the fact that the decision was made by the entire government with support from the Opposition. Stephen from Left is quick to respond that he would prefer to rely on experts than his or Matthew's uninformed opinions. In a rare moment of vulnerability Matthew tells us the dilemma is right there in his own home where his partner should be secluded to protect her health but his young daughter needs a normal life, with school and friends, and has already learned of a suicide within her friendship group. That's exactly the line we have to tread.

Where I can, I follow the science and I'm happy to be led by those who have studied the behaviour of epidemics, viruses and the like. Our New Zealand scientists are world class and are already contributing to work on vaccines and the strange marker of the effects of the virus, which is the loss of the sense of smell. I've been reading about the research into smell done by Dr Mei Peng at Otago University, via the Royal Society newsletters.

Another source of information is Facebook, which I check each morning before I get out of bed. I learned when the Twin Towers were bombed that a lot of world news happens while we in NZ are asleep, so a morning check often brings new information. Some of that comes from my friends from other parts of the world, for example, one in Cornwall who is good at sharing developments in the UK, mostly ones that make me glad we have Jacinda and the possibility at least of a decent health system. I also read articles from international newspapers such as the Guardian and New Yorker. I realise it sounds like that old excuse for reading Playboy magazine but I get some good analysis from great writers. Rebecca Solnit's essay, shared by a friend in Canada, was impressive.Because I prefer not to start my day angry or depressed, I rarely read comments unless they're from friends and family. I admit, though, I do watch videos of heart-warming stuff such as bands making music from isolation, a great little movie 'Don't Touch That' from a Winton family and the occasional cute pet. No point denying it, you'll find the ones I like and share!

So my 21st day at home has passed calmly with gardening, a run, a few phone calls, the Windsors and the Tudors – more on them tomorrow perhaps.

Kia kaha! Stay safe, we're getting there.