Autumn 2020

My Autumn 2020 daily video compilation was almost #CancelledByCovid back in March. The videos I'd been expecting to make - nights out at the Fringe Festival, trips to the pub, the first footy game of the season, the city's transition from shorts and thongs into puffy jackets and scarves - all suddenly seemed very far away.

But as I kept filming I realised what I was recording was snapshots of my life as my society adjusted to a pandemic. The Autumn video was always going to be the season that showed the most dramatic of changes. What I ended up capturing would be a historic record of the transition to a new way of living. Which, in Adelaide, was kind of anti-climatic and the new normal turned out to be a lot of videos of trees.


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If you met yourself from the future, what would you ask your future self?
What if they wont tell you anything?


The Wave - A Reflection

I’ve written a lot about COVID19 and its impact on Bradism at a micro - down to the legume - level, but I’ve touched less on the macro. I have also been reading The Splendid and the Vile this past week which is a narrative retelling of Churchill and the Battle of Britain, sourced by Erik Larson from a multitude of personal diaries and other secondary sources. I’ve found it fascinating.

South Australia marked the end of all known cases of coronavirus yesterday (for how long, who knows) and I thought it was a good a time as any to reflect on the events of the past few months, and hope that someday perhaps a narrative retelling of Coronavirus might feature some of my words read in the audiobook in a suitably formal Adelaide accent. I wanted to remember what the new normal was before it became the new normal.

Adelaide Oval and the empty footbridge.

No football crowds on this sunny Sunday afternoon.


I flew domestically to Brisbane in early January, not fully appreciating it might be the last opportunity in a long time to stand in a packed queue at an airport; sit shoulder and knee to shoulder and knee in an aeroplane seat. I’m not sure where breastfeeding in the back row of the plane will land in the new normal, but back then I just read my book and watched the outback stretch by without a second thought.
At the hotel I stayed at with my brothers we had a stack of board games. Steve had brought Pandemic, but something we shared in our hearts meant it was the only game we didn’t touch that weekend.

From an Australian point of view, previous attempts by the world to spawn a pandemic during my existence have petered out well before they affected my life beyond something I read on a news website while drinking a smoothie, or eating cereal and yogurt. In February 2020 it became clear to me COVID19 was something different. Maybe it is South Australia, where isolation is almost like elevation, that allows a perspective different to other places in the world. COVID19 was a wave, a zerg creep spreading through the transport hubs of the world towards Australia, Adelaide. In late February in the office I was advising my team to buy sanitiser, and wash their hands. Actually I did that last year too, but in mid-March when the stores were all out and every craft gin distillery was horizontally diversifying I felt a little bit proud to see one litre tubs of sanitiser on each of my staff members' desks. Of course by that time almost all of them were working from home. On my final day in the office - March 25 - it did cross my mind that I could probably harvest a few gallons of sanitiser from the hundreds of empty desks on my level alone, to augment my income throughout the economic apocalypse which was sure to come.

The first wave broke over Adelaide that week of March. Seventeen cases, 31, 38, it seemed inevitable that the virus would run rampant, there’d be exponential growth in infections, everyone would shit blood and die, I’d never eat four bean mix again. I felt relatively safe myself. I already had exceptional hand hygiene, I protect my personal space on public transport and I keep my mouth shut when I’m walking. Back then it wasn’t as evident that surface transmissions were so potent. It was hard not to take a little delight in the available seats on the tram in peak hour, or the quietness of the gym despite knowing these were signs of circumstances that could negatively impact me and my family immensely. (Though the squat rack always seemed to be occupied regardless.)

And then the staying home intensified. For weeks all we did was stay home, other than essential trips once or twice a day to the supermarket, or Big Box Hardware, or some other shop to buy the things we'd need to continue staying home. (Plus extra trips back to the supermarket due to half the shopping list being out of stock that morning. To be fair, at the time I did unfortunately have to deal with two homes). The streets were quieter during my morning walks around the block. South Road as desolate as the toilet paper aisle at the shops. The malls were empty. The parks were empty. It felt not like everyone was staying home, but that everyone had been eradicated. Like most westerners I’m more familiar with zombie movie tropes than I am with epidemiology and while I wanted a more comprehensive understanding of the latter the day to day experience was like the former.

A highway with only a single car.

Peak hour on a Thursday morning in April.


Venturing out to the supermarket in particular felt like being a hunter/gatherer when man first picked up tools. Survival instincts flushed me with adrenaline. Free hand sanitizer flushed me with adrenaline (and sanitizer). You could trust no-one. Everyone was a carrier. Supermarket shopping had already been an all-senses experience before COVID19, satisfying my lizard brain with food and my monkey brain with bargains and pretty colours. Now it took on a new dimension, triggering gambling pleasure centres. Getting discounted steak and not having coronavirus a week later felt like a jackpot.

April turned into May and staying home became less intense, and more normal. New routines emerged. I walked thousands of steps without leaving my neighbourhood. We stopped experimenting in the kitchen and live streaming events we wouldn’t have gone to in normal times anyway. On Zoom even the managers had stopped wearing collared shirts.
Everyone else in Adelaide must have been getting used to staying home too. The new daily cases kept going down. The testing coverage expanded, hunting for the infected and coming back with nearly nothing. Somehow - with respect to the handful who lost their lives and livelihoods - in South Australia the first wave hadn’t even touched the goolies. There’s almost, almost the feeling like we missed out on the adventure. 2020 FOMO. I’m sickened and heartbroken for some of the cities I’ve had the privilege of visiting in the past, and thrilled my state has been relatively unscathed healthwise. I recognise these thoughts are irrational, survivor’s guilt, the implication I’m a bystander in the universe. But honestly I wouldn’t want to be any other place in the world this year. At least so far, it’s only May after all. Who knows what twists the remaining seven months of 2020 have in store? Maybe a second wave, the collapse of society, the rapture - dinosaurs raised from their graves, roaming the earth. That banana fungus taking out Cavendishes. I’m counting nothing out. Maybe 2021 is going to be even worse?

Play equipment covered in warning tape that has come loose.

Playground throwing off the shackles of government restrictions.


What I hope is that there’s a vaccine, we all learn a valuable lesson and all subplots are wrapped up in a satisfying way. I will settle for the world going almost back to normal, but there's more hand sanitiser everywhere and everybody else is as hesitant to shake hands with people as I am.

Whatever happens next, I’ll try to journal it.

Countdown to the Past

There was a public holiday today.

image 2019 from bradism.com

Double J spent most of the day playing back the Hottest 100 of 1999. I listened to it on digital radio as I cleaned my kitchen and drove around to buy packing boxes off gumtree. Listening made me nostalgic. Nostalgic for last year, when I was made to feel nostalgic by the Hottest 100 of 1998 on Double J. The classic tunes themselves also made me nostalgic for 20 years ago (and also yesterday) when I was playing Age of Empires II. How much and how little things change.

As the countdown went longer, and Filter's Take a Picture's opening riffs failed to emerge from my bluetooth speakers I was forced to check the track-listing and realised that it was January 26, 2001 that I spent a post-shinding day alternating between napping on the couch during the cricket, and creating Age of Empires scenarios on my computer which - much like my novels - consumed a lot of time and led to not much.

That's the problem with nostalgia. It feels nice, but it's not too connected to reality. Who knows what I really felt during the final days of the millennium when those songs played and I did my things. Oh well. Only two years to go until I can rely on early bradisms to confirm.


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2019

Walking out of the train station this morning, tried to sidestep someone's massive vape cloud and stumbled over a pile of knocked over e-scooters. Then thought I was getting a friendly hand up from a stranger, but actually had an Uber Eats coupon thrust in my face.

Unseasonal

Spring used to be my favourite season. Blooming flowers were the tonic for grey, winter skies, and some mornings in the sunshine my endocrine system would leave me feeling no more sophisticated a creature than the bees that buzzed about the swollen stamens around me.

image 1975 from bradism.com

I've been around the sun enough times now to recognise spring for what it really is: A blind, reckless orgy. And it sickens me. On a dry continent, in an era where we must be frugal with resources, this exhibition is mostly a brief and wasteful burst of Instagram-esque vibrance which doesn't represent reality. Literally days later the seeds are swaying in the breeze, the petals are rotted and falling, and the desiccated creepers are flopped and curled across the footpath in perfect postures of post-climatic clarity. Fuck Spring. Those weeks of blossom and sweet fragrances weren't worth the coming summer of prickles in socks, the withered, brown vines, or the extreme fire danger. Spring is nothing but a microcosm of life, a brief vignette of hormones followed quickly by decay. I don't need to see that every October.

Yes my favourite jasmine plant is dying, and no I'm not happy about it.

Sorted

I sort my trash for recycling into plastic bottles, aluminium cans, brown glass, green glass, clear glass, soft plastics, coffee pods, mixed recycling, lids and bread ties, batteries, organic waste, and - if anything is left - it goes into garbage.
So I should be safe from climate change.

The Precipice

image 1888 from bradism.com
We've been balancing a fine line the past months between living in the present, and planning our hiking holiday. Fortunately I don't need to learn any new languages to order beers this time.

Part of that balance involves the occasional practice hike to ensure equipment and processes are all good for the real thing. We've been up and down the Adelaide ranges testing shoes and learning lessons.

Lesson one: when taking a pre-walk selfie, find a background nicer than the toilet block.

Lesson one: when taking a pre-walk selfie, find a background nicer than the toilet block.


This weekend we did Lofty the long way, an 18km walk starting in Chamber's Gully. I don't think there will be many cafes with hot, fresh coffee on the summits of the mountains we're going to, but when we reach the top you can always rely on a view to make all the hard work worth it.
image 1890 from bradism.com

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