Weather Alert

There will be weather.

This is the import of all the messages that have flooded the internet and the news broadcasts these last two days. The chatterers have screeched what they hope will be bad news at the top of their lungs – they’ll be so disappointed if no-one’s fence blows down. Likewise the emergency services are gearing up to pull trees off houses and houses off residents. They, at least, have some stake in the game.

We have rolled up the old awnings that tear in high winds – and cursed the fact that this will hasten their expensive replacement. We have put all the lawn furniture into the shed, and staked the rose bushes tighter. I advocated for tripod masts like a British battlecruiser but the gardeners saw it as overkill.

The damn cat – the most sensitive organism in the place – has opted to curl up on an outside sofa, exposed to the wind. I think it is bravado and misplaced contempt upon his part, but I will let him in when he realises his mistake. Master Of The Universe and Captain Of The Storm is all very well, but when you weigh 3 Kg it is a bit hard to maintain the facade.

A Good Week Of Train Wrecking

Who amongst us has not enjoyed strapping explosives to the rails of the local transport system, leading the detonating wires back to a hillside, and  then calmly turning the handle just as the 5:32 Express roared over the viaduct. For myself, I like nothing more than this and a warm dinner to follow – cooked if possible over the flames of the sleeping carriages.

Of course you can only do this sort of thing a half-dozen times before you get something of a reputation. That, and you run out of viaducts. You need to do something different for a thrill. This is where writing vicious little pieces for the internet comes in handy. You may choose social media memes and posts, savage websites, or…and this is the one I like…a daily web column.

You can be as cheerful bright, kindly, vitriolic, cynical, or vague as you like. You are without an editor, but are honour-bound to perform that function before you publish. And as editor/publisher you can as readily bin your material as you can broadcast it. Therein lies the salvation of the sanity.

I regularly write what you don’t read. It is sometimes maudlin, sometimes horrific. Sometimes very funny. The pieces that make their way to the billboard are good, but the tatters in the bin can sometimes be better. They are never discarded for being boring – rather they are suppressed for being hurtful. Oddly enough, I do consider the emotions of others and spare them if it can be decently done.

It was not always so. I have published and been damned before and felt bad for it. No-one died from my wit but no happiness sprang from it, either. So now I make it a habit to write scathingly salty criticisms and biting little essays and send them to the trash. I can vent steam without scalding the thin-skinned.

One vital precaution: I always empty the electronic trash and make sure no-one paws through it. In the old days of crumpled paper letters left unattended, neglect of this simple precaution cost me dearly. I’ve learned.

” Are You In The Queue? “

A question addressed to me in our local grocery store as I stood 1.6 metres away from the next shopper.

She, in turn, was 1.6 metres away from the one in front…but the consequence of having a half dozen shoppers was the queue stretched down into the actual shelving aisles. If we were trying to prevent physical touch it was working, but the possibility of getting adequate air exchange to blow away the cooties was never going to happen.

Hopefully all is well, and I am back home holed up behind the glacis of goodness. I am not touching my face with hand sanitiser or coughing into anyone’s elbow. I’m not even posting  lockdown ikewl2 anti-Trump messages on Facebook.

Home Port

I was always impressed with the Panamanian merchant marine. And that of the Bahamas and Sierra Leone. I had grown up supposing the most powerful merchant fleets were from Britain, the US, or other allied countries – but so few of the ships that came into port seemed to be registered there. The Sierra Leonians and Panamanians had advanced to being the sailors of the world…

The penny dropped later – the ships were registered in countries that demanded no taxes from the owners, yet benefitted from whatever anyone else did as far as maritime organisation and safety. It was surprising that so few of them were not home-ported in Switzerland or Leichtenstein…

It all worked until this year when the Asian virus was found to infect the ships of the cruise lines. We’ve seen the horrid results of ships refused entry and stranded off any number of out-of-the-way ports. They’re gradually repatriating the passengers, well or otherwise, and the crews are being kept abord many of the vessels.

Time for them to go home. Not to Miami or Sydney or New York. Not to the ports where they hoovered up the money. To the ports where they cached it – their tax-free home ports. That’s where they said they were from, and that’s where they can finish up. The various governments that were taking the registration fees and banking the profits can now spend that money cleaning out the ships and turning them into low-cost floating housing for their citizens. Like the Queen Mary.

Or do a Queen Elizabeth and have a mysterious fire start in the harbour…

Semi-Extensive Plans*

I was searching for a more polite word to use than ” Euphemism “. I’m that kind of a writer. A horrible person, mind, but my essays are smooth things to read. I tone them down for the milksops in the readership.

Now then listen up, you people

This time of unprecedented crisis has had many previous examples. The Red, Black, Bubonic, and Trudeau Plagues of the Middle Ages. The attacks of Mongols, Tatars, and other community organisers. The world has had many stressful centuries. We are unlucky in being alive while this one is raging and are only going to see an improvement in our luck if we are alive when it has passed.

I have consulted the rest of the family and concerted a course of action – it is informed by the most authoritative scientific research and backed by governmental approval and the blessing of Mark Zukerberg.

I am going to stay home, stay in and stay busy. I shall build 12 model aircraft over a series of months and then come up for air. I shall speak to others on computers and telephones and not worry who is eavesdropping. I shall take my daily tot of ethanol and not feel worried about the effect it might have on my morals. I shall exercise my morals in full view of the neighbours.

I shall cheerfully ditch plans to go overseas by any means short of a Heinkel 111 bomber. Ditto over east for at least 6 months and likely longer. I shall store up my wanderlust and only let it out in a year’s time. The desire to appear sophisticated and well-travelled has evaporated.

I shall read the library again. Already I have read something that was put on hold for 50 years. There are books at the back of the stack that are nearly as old and neglected and i will likely have forgotten whodunnit by now.

I shall learn to bake. Expect smoke and indigestion for awhile.

And I shall continue to say my piece and speak my mind as the weeks unfold. I’ll lose Facebook friends, I’m sure, but I won’t lose my soul.

*  Half-vast.

How To Spy On Your Neighbour

Don’t turn away. This’ll come in handy when your government declares that you are locked into your house for three months. You’ll need more than food and toilet paper – you’ll need something to do. And what better activity than watching the neighbour to see if he is complying with the law.

Now you’ll need to make sure you understand the law as it is announced for your local area. If you are to be locked up in your houses with no external travel whatsoever it will be quite different from the suburb that is allowed out to the shops and cinemas. If your local police force has a shoot-t0-kill policy for most of the rest of the year, the quarantine period will be noisy. I should not stand near the windows lest someone get too zealous.

If you are allowed out to the end of your property, make the best of your garden or back yard. This does not include going to the edge of the footpath and coughing on passers-by. You may have trouble taking the dog for a walk, but nowhere near the trouble the dog will be experiencing. Let us hope it doesn’t come to that.

But back to the spying. If there are restrictions on movement that are punishable by fines, you can be sure that there will be money available for rewarding informers. This is your opportunity to get your share of the pie. All you need are restless neighbours, a pair of binoculars, and a small camera. In a pinch, a mobile phone will do.

There is no substitute for constant surveillance. If you have a number of people in your family, organise a roster for one person to be stationed at each window with a camera or other device and make sure they know which sector they are to watch. Have reliefs posted to allow toilet breaks, but make sure that there is never a time when the neighbour’s door is not under direct observation.

Write or record everything. Even random movements show that there will come a time when they make a break for it and that is when you’ve got ’em. If you suspect that they are slipping out after sunset and having a good time, arrange for the hire of a night-time heat image sensor so that you can see in the dark.

Do you need to be armed? A tough question, as we don’t know the firearm laws in your state. But nearly everywhere will allow you to have a bow and arrow or a bag of sharp rocks so if you catch your neighbour off base feel free to loose off at them. They will not be able to complain as they would then be revealing that they broke quarantine.

Remember, if they are dragged off to prison, you can loot their house for toilet paper with a clear conscience.

Day Two From Fort Onkaparinga

Australians will get that one. For North Americans and Brits, think ” blanket fort “.

All good. Wife collected yesterday from airport amongst scenes of no panic at all. Has not grown another head. All in agreement with 14 day self-isolation.

One little reporter and cameraman from a local TV channel seen at the airport looking to beat something up amongst the first arrivals of the morning. Only a few fools stopped to answer questions. Few aircraft actually scheduled to come in – the Cathay Pacific ones are cancelled, of course, and some of the other carriers are dropping services.

Less traffic on some roads, but that didn’t seem to include the ones I was on. The morning tradies raged their way to work at each other’s bumpers. Thank goodness it was a light drizzle and the roads were slippery – makes the tailgating that much more exciting. For the next two weeks I wish them all the speed they need and frequent sudden meetings.

And now it’s time to draw up a schedule of things to do within the fort. This may result in accomplishing a lot of the maintenance that has been put off for years.