The fun-police state
I am becoming increasingly concerned that this nation is losing its perspective in the face of the Coronavirus. The PM has unleashed an army of jealous wowsers, curtain twitchers and hall monitors to dictate how their neighbours live. We are banned from heading out and being seen to have fun or do something frivolous. Yet we are literally forced to go out and engage in high risk activities so long as it is our least favourite thing to do.
What does this say about our values? I can understand people’s fear of Australia turning into another Italy. And just to be clear, I think we should keep the ban on men hugging men when this is all over (unless they plan to have sex, because there is nothing wrong with that…) Also, wildly gesticulating while you are talking on your mobile phone. You could poke an old lady’s eye out. Pay attention when you gesticulate in public. But we seem to have decided that the virus is God’s retribution on the Italians for the crime of being happy and having more fun than us.
Case in point, children are being forced to attend school until they actually come down with the virus or kill their grandmother, in which case they might be lucky enough to get a rare funeral invite. The apparent reason is that school is both important and urgent, even though the benefit might be more than ten years away. Also, it might stop parents doing something equally miserable - going to work. The real reason is threefold. First, children are less likely to shoot you if you force them to do something they hate (though I acknowledge the land of liberty making inroads here). Second, our country is obsessed with the petty achievements of our children, and this extends way beyond celebrating their first wet dump. We are so obsessed that we are forcing the babysitters at the childcare centres to get a PhD in education so they can invent creative ways to get children to remember things their brains are not yet ready to absorb. We have proof that this ‘works’, because these kids do better than their less fortunate peers in grade 1, which is some kind of end in itself. We even invented the most absurd, convoluted way of doing long division (a key life skill if ever there was one), so that children can now be better than their parents at something, even if they lack the mental capacity to figure out what half a dozen means without a pen, paper and ten minutes to spare. Don’t get distracted, the lesson is not finished yet. Thirdly, there is a good chance they will get bullied at school and have a miserable time. Maybe the little shits will even tease them about their sick grandmother. So sending kids to school is our top priority.
Contrast this to my plight. The Prime Minister appears to have announced that I am not allowed to play tennis or even go fishing. I could be a kilometre offshore, by myself, ten meters underwater, and more likely to get eaten by a shark (by the way, what’s up with all the sharks lately?) than to catch or spread a virus. But someone is going to be pissed off with me for doing the wrong thing. Especially if I catch a big Spanish Mackerel and post a photo on facebook.
Another case in point: We are allowed five people at a wedding and ten at a funeral. This is Australian values distilled down to cold, hard mathematics. But even this understates our wowserness. The minimum requirement for a funeral is 1 person (not counting the guy who fills in the hole afterwards). And this is just a technicality, not a legal requirement. But you actually need 5 people for a legal wedding. One man, one woman (as God/Nature/The Government intended). Two witnesses. And someone official to tell you that you are married. There has never been a legal requirement for witnesses to make sure someone is actually dead before you bury them, which in my opinion is far more important. I now pronounce you legally dead. You may bury the corpse. Please sign here. And you, sign here. Getting back to the maths lesson, you can have ten times the minimum requirement of people at a funeral, but only one times the minimum requirement at a wedding. So that’s actually a 10:1 ratio, not a 2:1 ratio.
I have a better idea. Let’s ban funerals altogether. This is not some kind of macabre weekend at Bernie’s thing, though the jury is still out on how infectious a corpse is. Think about this: we have a lot of unused ice skating rinks, because ice skating is fun, even solo. In fact it is the most fun of all when you are by yourself, because you aren’t going to lose a finger if you end up sprawled on the ice. So let’s put the bodies there. Throw a tarp over the top to keep the cold air in. When summer comes around again, or someone invents a vaccine, or everyone has caught the virus, we can thaw them out (or not) and bury them. We could be as collectively miserable as we want. Maybe then we could have a few extra people at weddings.
A lot of us are getting a six month holiday for the first time in our life. Those of us still working are very concerned about this. You are not allowed to enjoy the holiday, because unemployed people are meant to line up at Centrelink and frown (but not scowl in case that intimidates the bureaucrat and he feels bullied). Sneezing is also acceptable, so long as you use your magic elbow to kill the virus.
The Prime Minister has given his wowser army a sneaky trick in the fight against good times. He has granted them unlimited leeway to interpret what a gathering is. So how do you tell if people are gathering illegally? Look deep inside yourself and ask, do I feel jealous? If the answer is yes, it is a gathering. People queuing at Centrelink? Not a gathering. People stuck in traffic? Not a gathering. But how dare you sit on the beach and enjoy the sun and fresh air when you should be sitting in a windowless office next to sneezy George. If I put my camera down at my ankles I can even take a photo of you smiling with at least 100 other people stretched out in the distant background along the white, sandy gathering.