I find all this kind of startling — oughtn't they be at home, shaking with fear? — and also immensely reassuring. This was dismissed as a weak pun when it appeared the other day on an Australian news show but I rather like it: "Keep calm and Corona on."
I'm not doing a very good job of taking that advice onboard but many other people seem to be achieving it.
Here we are, on the onset of some kind of crisis, and everywhere I see people staying calm, actually having fun, and going about their business leading that most precious thing we have — the Kiwi way of life.
Pasifika, cancelled. Some important game of rugby, cancelled. Good precautions, very wise, no complaints from me, but there I was on Saturday getting in among a gathering of surely more than the advisable limits of 500 people at the Te Atatu South annual fair.
Beautiful day for it. Always is, in West Auckland, in the distant blue-green shade of the Waitākeres, with the running waters of Henderson Creek to the west and the Whau River to the east. There were loads of kids, loads of old people, a couple of sheep — I think one was called Henry.
Henry looked happy. Everyone looked happy. I was happy; I operated a bookstall, and sold out six of the seven boxes of books that I took to the fair. Capitalism in a time of plague will keep us alive.
It went from 10am till 2pm and it was pretty much the only four hours I've had this past week when I didn't think or fret about the virus.
Kids were throwing themselves down bouncy castles. Parents were buying them candyfloss. I talked to a lovely psychotherapist, a really nice gay couple (hi Victor and Eric!), a retired lawyer who went by the name of Gramps — everyone who I talked to was smart, friendly, interesting, the kind of Kiwis who make this place great, and not a single soul was beset with panic or gloom about this new age of disaster.
It was just another awesome day of the best, longest summer we've had in Auckland for years.
Later that afternoon my daughter had her birthday party. Sweet 13, as adorable now as the day Emily gave birth to her after a long and difficult delivery, and a nurse said: "We have a baby!" And now we have a teenager.
Emily put on a great party. There were balloons, cake, pizza, a treasure hunt. Minka invited 15 friends and not a single parent cancelled. I wouldn't have blamed anyone if they had, but no, there they all were, new friends from college, a gang from intermediate, and Abbie, Lucy and Zahra, her three great pals since Year 1. How lovely, and how natural: Kids, handing over presents and wolfing sweets, and yes of course Emily made them wash their hands.
Later that evening, I saw people in bars, eating in restaurants, ordering burgers in the bright light of takeaway joints. They were also drinking al fresco — leaning against their cars with cans in their hands. Classic. I find all this kind of startling — oughtn't they be at home, shaking with fear? — and also immensely reassuring. Saturday night in Auckland, good times.
I find Jacinda Ardern immensely reassuring. Things seemed to be terrifying on two fronts — an outbreak of the virus, and economic collapse — and I'm duly terrified. But Ardern is fronting up, and being swift and decisive, and answering every question put to her.
Yes, she said, there will be more cases. About 7 per cent, she estimated, would be "acute". But 80 per cent would be mild or moderate.
Ninety per cent would be better. Ideally, 100 per cent. But 80 isn't bad. The odds are in our favour. We're going to have to Corona on. The puns will surely improve, and hopefully our chances — of living, and keeping our jobs — will as well. We're all in this together. Let's do this, calmly.