7 November, 2021.
We started this blog in March 2020 with the bold plan to record stories from connected friends and colleagues across the world. There was hope that we would all find the strength to adapt to Covid-19. There was a certain sense of excitement: a challenge, something that would cause our communities to work together to survive. Our diary was an ambitious plan to chronicle the events of our far-flung lives during Covid-19. We were energised; we were going to be proactive.
However, I don’t think any of us imagined that the pandemic would last as long as it has, nor that it would change the world in the ways that it has. The numbers are staggering – between 10.5 and 19.7 million people have died. The story of Covid-19 will take years to process.
Here below are the November 2021 numbers of people who have died: on the left are the official statistics, on the right the excess deaths calculated by the Economist using a statistical model. It is more likely to be the true story of the devastation of Covid-19.
November 2021. Twenty months later. Slowly, our writers have stopped writing for this blog: for many reasons. As any writer will tell you, it is hard keeping up the energy and enthusiasm month after month. The pandemic has been exhausting. We all hoped for more out of life; our world has been squeezed shut. Being of an age, we did not have the sense of having a wealth of years left in which to travel, to feel free, to have options. Health issues are getting more stark for all of us. (For example, I asked a provider if I could get travel insurance that covered the possibility of getting Covid-19 while overseas. I found out that some insurance providers will comply – but at a price, and the cover is limited. Can I travel to the USA without Covid-19 cover? Not advisable.)
Recently, there were two of us still submitting entries to this blog: David Maughan-Brown and me. Gradually we have become more and more intermittent. For me, it is becoming harder to write. Do we want to spend our hours staring at a computer screen?
However, there are reasons to celebrate. The original team of writers have all survived Covid-19. Maybe we are coming to the beginning of the end of the pandemic. We are getting on with the minutiae of our private lives. My USA friends are visiting Greece, and our Australian borders have started the process of opening. Already our local skies have contrails: dissolving white lines across the blue.
The devastating effects of Covid-19 are known to all of us. The onslaught of news might be one of the reasons for our exhaustion.
In what ways has Covid-19 had a positive influence on our lives and the broader world? At first, I struggled to find any good news, but there is some.
- A great value has been placed on medical research and innovation.
- We have become closer to friends and family.
- We are encouraged to be more aware of our health challenges: we appreciate good health. We have enjoyed meals at home more often, and we have tried to be more careful with our food choices.
- More social services are available: many countries have rolled our financial support during Covid-19.
- Working from home became a new normal for many people and will influence work routines of the future.
- Online events posted by museums and art institutions became available.
- The environment has had a breather. Emissions are down; biodiversity improved in many places as tourists were grounded.
- Online learning techniques were improved: the classroom was digitised.
- Where possible, we have exercised more!
So it’s goodbye!
Thank you to all who have taken part: the writers for their commitment to write and the readers who have taken the time to be with us. Take care of yourselves.
As Lewis Carroll said, so well, the time comes … but remember to avoid suspicious invitations!
O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter,
You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none —