THE title of the book says it all: 2020 a year like no other.
While nothing could have prepared Victorians for tragic surprises and uncertainties of this year, the writers’ group of U3a Dromana, has completed a book of short lockdown observations to illustrate how individual members fared during the pandemic.
“Despite all the upheaval this year we kept on meeting virtually and decided to write a series of poetry and micro stories in the form of a journal,” organiser Sue Brown said.
Nine others recorded their thoughts and observations on a weekly basis.
“The writers’ group members have led diverse and interesting lives enhanced by education, travel and personal success,” Ms Brown said.
“The one abiding sentiment throughout these journals is hope for a better future for all.
“The year 2020 has taught us acceptance, patience – and a new set of values. Late September – as we go to print, Victorian daily cases have fallen markedly, and stage 4 lockdown is easing. Our journey continues.”
Excerpts from the 42-page book:
Jan Hall (3/4/20): “We have just arrived back from six days in Healesville with Probus Happy Wanderers group. We were lucky with our timing because one week later and we could not have gone. My food cupboard was empty, and I hit the supermarket. Empty shelves. Knowing that we needed to self-isolate I stocked up on what I could. I hit Bunnings, my favourite shop, for plants, potting mix and hanging baskets. This should keep me busy. I have been on fire all week. Making curtains for an old church manse awaiting rental, also helping to clear its overgrown garden. Then my own garden. I’m exhausted.”
Christine Andrews (17/4/20): “I noticed a swing in mood this week. I am happy. Not just grateful for being loved by the family, or my home, or friends, but really happy. The happiness that comes from letting go. I cannot control the events going on in the outer world. I do not have the wellbeing of millions in my hands. However, I can smile and give comfort to people around me who are more affected with this isolation than I. I can keep in touch and listen, yes listen. I am usually so vocal when given the chance, it comes from living alone, but listening is a gift we can give. Happy with that.”
John Trainor (24/4/20): “Another month of self-isolation has gone. We’re weathering the lockdown and other restrictions and are even daring to look and plan ahead. News reports suggest that some of the constraints may be eased soon, given the substantial reduction in virus victims. Fortunately, vital rules like 1.5 metre separation should remain for some time yet. I’ve even started looking at options for renewed holiday plans for 2021, but not as ambitiously as earlier this year – certainly not to Los Angeles. There’s also the pleasing prospect of continuing on with more writing, reading, phone calls, barbecues and walks, plus the vital matters of watching sport – and playing golf again.”
Rosamund Champion (8/5/20): “I have spent numerous hours over the past few weeks in battle with my computer, iPad, laptop (whatever). We have been thrashing out how I can master Zoom. Now I’m not sure if it’s me or the computer, but as I am not the smartest with IT technology, it is most likely me. I have endured many tense moments with the stupid thing and, unfortunately, cross words have been exchanged between my husband and me. Not really cross words. More like a barrage of insults. As a result, I should admit defeat, but have decided to soldier on, and when and if I ever succeed, be warned. I will become a blooming Zooming expert.”
Penny Liddiard (12/6/20): “Like many of you, I long to return to the easy lifestyle before COVID-19. Weeks spiced with activities to keep mind and body as agile as possible – plus the prospect of catching up with friends and acquaintances who, like us, have been in self-preservation. I ventured to a small gathering last week – but was uncomfortable. I recoil if anyone invades ‘my space’ at the supermarket. I choose where – and when – I walk a footpath or cross a road. Has this pandemic fostered a new paranoia – or am I just being careful?”
Max Evans (21/8/20): “Thursday evening, time for my dog Bucket’s walk down to the beach. Nepean Highway traffic is horrendous. Strange, during lockdown. But then again, these bloody terrorists have been arriving like a swarm of locusts every weekend for five months. It resembles a COVID conga-line of dissolute escapees from the big smoke. We stand in awe awaiting a break in the traffic. Come Friday it is all go at the shops, beach, pier, cafes, jogging, walking. No masks, no space, no manners. They have run amok through the entire lockdown. Enough. I pulled up a group last Saturday and asked, ‘What are you doing here?’ They replied: ‘We refuse to be dictated to by anyone’. I knew it. I mumbled, Go home.”
Anne George (28/8/20): “Week four of stage 4 lockdown. What do I miss in lockdown? I miss my family. I miss face-to-face contact with my friends – I miss our card games. I miss going to lunch and coffee with my friends. I miss being able to make plans. I miss getting my hair cut. I miss freedom. How trivial that sounds – I feel so guilty when people are losing their jobs, their businesses. I don’t want to feel guilty; I just want to feel normal. I sound as if I’m miserable – I’m not – I’m in lockdown mood. How much longer – who knows – we just have to hang in there.”