Recently, in some imagined bout of creeping fever, I liberated an old favourite from the surfads bookshelf.
Post-apocalyptic pulp before it was cool.
But not for long.
The novel follows various characters as they go stoically about their business, knowing death is drawing in on them.
Their ends are met in a very formal, downturned, British manner.
Politely. Discreetly. Still doing their jobs and with minimum fuss. Social order maintained until the very last.
A morbid choice, maybe.
But why not now, if ever?
It certainly gives stark contrast to our current bin fire. In 2020, the first whiff of a breakdown in societal mechanics has Australians clawing at each other while simultaneously disregarding the government’s pleas for social distancing.
Grocery workers stabbed for toilet paper.
Medical supplies stolen from hospital loading docks.
Fist fights in waiting lines.
And the worst hasn’t even hit here, yet.
It’s different in Europe, where the dead are piling up. Different in America, too, where the nightmare that is neo-capitalism unravels one uninsured patient at a time. Different in Costa Rica, where cops fire warning shots and arrest pro surfers. Different in South Africa, where Jeffrey’s locals hold firm and do their part for the greater good, even in the face of pumping waves.
Our virus numbers are still sorta kinda low.
The flags are up, for now.
To surf or not to surf?
Working from home, and lucky enough to still have a job. Keeping clean and laying low.
But on the weekend I cracked.
Driving rain, no one about on the usually bustling promenade.
Despite the onshore there was a wave. A small ENE swell pulsing runner lefts and short ramps on the rights.
I paddled out.
There were party wave gals on mini-mals. Hurley/JS/gym bro warriors. Surf dads with groms in tow. Only a handful of regulars.
Who were these cunts?
Were people deliberately defying government recommendations, just ‘cause they can?
I cursed them just for being in the water.
Why were they out here?
Didn’t they know our chief medical officer was enforcing a one-and-a-half-metre distancing rule?
But then I also asked: why was I out here? YOLO too?
Whatever, I grumbled in the realisation I was just as shit as them.
I don’t give a fuck.
I paddled in. Which is rare for me. Rare for anyone, probably.
I was annoyed. Confused.
We’re the same sorta people who will cry out when we’ve run out of ventilators or are stuck overseas and the government won’t rescue us.
But I get it, this is a big change.
The sort of systemic disruption that’s usually only forced by war, or death.
The way we operated in 2019 is not the way we will operate now.
Adjustment will take time.
Plus there’s state v federal confusion in messaging.
We sit in this open but closed, business as sorta usual limbo, where nobody really knows how to act.
To surf or not to surf?
What’s the moral imperative here?
How long can you hold out for?
Are we all fucked until they find a vaccine?
Perturbed, hunky surfer seeking answers.
Post script: The Prime Minister has just announced a ban on public gatherings of more than two people. Skate parks, playgrounds etc are being closed. But does that include the beach? A Monday morning surf check would suggest not. That same bank, even smaller again, had another thirty packed onto it. Surely it won’t be long now ‘til we get the ban hammer too. Cough cough.