I’ve been thinking about class. Or rather, wealth. If you have a flat with a garden, or a house with a garden, or a large house with a garden, or several large houses with large gardens including one in the country such as a minister of state might have, it is really not so hard to isolate. Your flatmate or your friend or your partner or your housekeeper or your maid or your permanent under-secretary might bring out a cup of tea and leave it at a respectful distance, in accordance with governmental guidelines, while you sit with your head back and your face to the sun, soaking up rays this afternoon. You might even feel a flash of the joy of Spring, on an unexpectedly fine, still and warm day. And you might read about the people who are filling the parks of the cities and give a little frown, or think of writing a letter or posting a Tweet or issuing a statement or making an order or calling a chief constable or closing a park, or several parks, to stop this dangerous behaviour, for the benefit of all at this difficult time when what matters above all is to stop Coronavirus. You might think, why can’t people stay home? Don’t they realise how dangerous this is? And you might close your eyes, feeling satisfied with the thought or the action or the order or the decree, and drift away into a pleasant slumber. But if you live in a flat that has no garden, or a shared flat in which you have just the one room, or a room you share with someone else, or a room you share with your family or your extended family, and the flat is cramped and the windows don’t open, or if they do they open on a fetid space between walls or the thundering, half-broken ventilation system from the chicken shop downstairs or you share your tiny, claustrophobic space with someone who hates you or hits you because you have nowhere else to go, then you might stumble outside on a day like this, gasping for air, head in a vice, soul thirsting for the wide sky, and make for the park, to get some rest, some space, some release some escape. Some breath, just for a while. And you might think of the police who moved you on from a bench there yesterday and decide to risk it today because you need to be out, you need to be somewhere else, with an urgency and a desperation that would frighten you if you could think or feel at all. And you might remember the sweet freedom of the moment you lay back and closed your eyes and drifted away in slumber, before the officer shook you and woke you and told you to move on. So you might stagger to the park, heart racing. And you might find it closed, by order of the minister. The one who was a success in business or the law before he entered politics. The one who has a fine home, or several fine homes with gardens. The one who was saying, just a few days ago, that it was important for everyone to be able to get out and exercise even in this lockdown. The one who has no idea of your tears, your fears, your frustration, your despair as you grip the iron gate that bars your way to the one open space available to you in the fevered city. The one who is at home in the garden, half-listening to birdsong as he slowly, slowly drifts away.

Published by Cole Moreton

Award-winning interviewer, writer and broadcaster.

8 thoughts on “Lockdown

    1. I don’t understand why we have shut all NT gardens, RSPB sites and Wetland gardens exactly when people need somewhere outside to go. Surely if people can be spaced in supermarkets etc then can issue timed tickets on line and ensure people park 2 metres apart etc, surely its not beyond human intelligence to do this and ask people to bring their own loo paper and sanatising wipes etc so loos only need cleaning once a day. I thought that we were becoming aware that mental health is as important as physical health yet it has been completely abandoned. Make all these sites open to everyone for free, on time tickets please as not everyone has a huge garden as I do and must be suffering.

  1. Yes it’s much harder for some than others. We live in a flat but we are fortunate enough to have access to 2 trees and we have been feeding the birds. Other than that we just walk the dog round the block. Conflicting advice doesn’t help people either. Government says that we can go out for certain reasons, yet, where we live, a man in a council van is driving round the streets with a loud speaker telling us to stay in or risk being questioned by the police.

    1. So the answer is to go out then, what ever your circumstance! Really if we are being asked to stsy home and self isolate whatever your circumstance! Then we may all emerge from this dreadful situation. This unseen killer. Whether you have a big house abd garden or a flat without. I suppose you would all rather be out abd then possibly die from this. Stay home, be thankful for the smallest of mercies. Read the story if Ann Frank! Stay safe🙏🌈ķ

  2. penhanley – For me, books and writing come first, followed closely by the cinema. I've always been in love with words. I combined both of these passions by being a film critic for a few years, writing for various local arts magazines and reviewing films on 2XX and local ABC radio stations. I even went to the Cannes Film Festival once. It was while I was travelling in the area and before I started writing but I pretended to be a journalist and managed to get a Press Card, which got me into any film I wanted to see. It was bliss! This brings me to travel. I've travelled a lot in Europe, mainly in the Mediterranean areas, the former Yugoslavia etc, bits of the Middle East and a little in Asia and more recently in the US. I love boats and the water and I've done a bit of sailing, in the Mediterranean and Adriatic and up the Straits of Malacca. I sailed down the Nile in a felucca back in 1985. It's the best way to travel, followed by the train. I'm also a fan of cycling and walking - two ways to get to know a place in a different way than speeding through it in a car. Wherever I go I'm always drawn to art. I'm passionate about colour and texture. I'm good at interior design and have transformed many an unprepossessing place into a harmonious, vibrant and cheerful-looking space. I practised art myself (painting, photography, off-loom weaving) before writing took over when I came to Canberra over 20 years ago. Recently I combined art and writing in my PhD (University of Canberra 2009) where I wrote a novel, Forty Shades of Green, about three generations of women artists and did a great deal of research in art history plus took some art classes for empirical experience. The novel is about history and creativity, migration and family secrets, and the conflict in women's lives between love and freedom. I'm currently trying to get this novel published. Three excerpts of it appeared in Hecate (Vol. 35, nos 2/2, 2009). I also love music and yoga and the Argentine tango. The musician and teacher, Joaquín Amenábar, visited Canberra recently, and he states in his book, Tango: Let's dance to the music! (2009), '...just as a musician in an orchestra uses his instrument to play a tango, we dancers can play the tango with the instrument that is our body.'
    penhanley says:

    Brilliant, Cole Morton. If only politicians were people like you. Those in power have no idea how ordinary people live.

  3. Excellent. I remember going through a seriously penniless phase, living in a freezing flat in Greenwich, and realising that wealth was about being able to afford to stay warm.

  4. Nothing to do with class or wealth, just circumstances! Believe me as a widow @ 50 I’d rather be in isolation with someone even in a small place than 24/7 completely on my own.

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