It was the week that went on forever. Kim Knight reflects on the return to level 4.
Does anybody have a solid Peking Duck recipe?
I'm asking for the man on my social media feed who suddenly discovered the only one in his cookbook collection was written by mad genius British chef Heston Blumenthal. It was 39 pages long.
The first week of the second national lockdown was at least 39 pages long. On Friday I thought it was still Tuesday and then I remembered that, on Tuesday, I was wearing a bra and mascara.
There was carrot cake with lemon and cream cheese icing but we never made it out the door for the birthday dinner. The traffic was diabolical and my household had already had one argument with an Uber driver who wasn't wearing a mask because "this isn't public transport". We stayed in for the 6pm announcement. Now we're all wearing masks.
Remember when we used to joke about how much we'd hate having our daily Covid Tracer app diary read out loud on television? Denny's-McDonald's-Farro. Kmart-Countdown-Knobs and Knockers. New Zealand, this is your life in 300-and-counting locations of interest. Covid-19 partied with hardware store sales staff and real estate agents. It went to a student ball. It got on a plane to Wellington. It is not a very discerning virus.
I forget how we filled the hours last time. Tiger King on the television? Sourdough in the hot water cupboard? On Friday, I dropped a container of saffron all over a dirty kitchen floor and destroyed a perfectly good cup of sushi rice in a microwave. In these uncertain times, it is fine and normal to order two frozen lobster tails for $40 because who knows when we'll next be able to fly to Te Papa and see the Surrealist show. The whole world is surreal now. In Wellington, they have questions:
"Does anyone know if the tinny house in Aro will be open during level 4?"
"Has anyone actually worked out how to get into a packet of Golden crumpets yet?"
They say social media is bad for you, but (see above) it often makes me laugh. Also, when the Covid-19 Response Minister suggests "it's a challenge for people who live in higher density areas to get outside and spread their legs" only a fool would deny themselves repeat viewings of Ashley Bloomfield raised eyebrow memes. That was on Sunday, when we had 71 more cases of Covid in the community than we knew about on Tuesday night. Yesterday, we clocked over more than 100.
I wish I had a proper office chair. I wish my partner's students had paints and brushes and wet strength paper. On Saturday, he put together a Powerpoint demonstrating how to make a manulua design with twigs and scraps of cardboard and then he scratched traditional bark cloth patterns into our driveway with a nail. Making art and making do. He'll be lucky if more than one student in 10 shows up to the Zoom lesson.
In week one, we ran out of coffee and hair salon-only shampoo. The supermarket momentarily ran out of meat, bread, potatoes and staff who weren't subject to a stay-at-home order because they were among the 13,000-and-counting who had been identified as a close contact of a positive case. Early indications are broccoli is the new toilet paper.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced more than one million of us were now fully vaccinated. At a mass drive-through event near Auckland airport, 1577 people rolled up their sleeves and rolled down their windows like they were at an A and P show in Ashburton or a give way sign in Greymouth. She'll be right, mate.
I made a map of our house and our workplaces and the locations of interest and the buses we ride and realised it was a miracle we too weren't stuck at home refreshing the page for online grocery delivery slots. Does all of this feel like an annoying novelty to the rest of the country? In Auckland lockdown number five, I can't believe we bought tickets to Dimmer when we should have been shopping for a bigger freezer.
My friends text and phone and talk about Zoom drinks, but our hearts are not in it like they were the first, or even the second time. On Saturday night, even the "this is a Covid-19 announcement" woman sounded like she had a cold. Yesterday afternoon, as 4pm crept closer, the pundits were online early, second guessing the Government.
Ardern took the podium and said "more certainty is needed" and we all knew there was only one certainty coming. All of New Zealand in level 4 until at least 11.59pm on Friday; Auckland in level 4 until at least 11.59pm on August 31.
It had been a long week. The next one week feels even longer.