And so ends another surreal week in these corona times. For brief periods in the supermarket or at home, it can seem as though the world is normal. Then reality intrudes and you are in these unprecedented times again, where nobody knows where we are or how this is going to end. Frequently I feel as though I am trapped in the movie Contagion.
Because I work in the Swedish Parliament and government, I am still working, but in a different way. Work that is classified or confidential in any way cannot be done online, so I go in to work. Sweden is running a skeleton parliament, where only 55 of the 349 members are making all the decisions. Those 55 are all alternates in all the committees so it is like a warped version of speed dating or musical chairs. But they are getting the job done, and there are jokes that this proves that Sweden only needs 55 MPs anyway.
Work that is not classified is done online, and I have seen other sides of my clients. I have seen the human side – pets, children, messy kitchens and rumpled hair. And I have seen the worried side, the lonely side and the joint realisation that the world will never be the same again. We will come out the other side, but we will all be changed.
This week I have accidentally worn two different pairs of shoes.
and then, half an hour later, been stuck in an elevator for over an hour because none of the elevator repair people were at work.
The cat had emergency surgery in an almost-deserted veterinary facility. In a way I was grateful because he received immediate care.
My husband and I signed the penultimate papers for our new apartment, while wondering if we will be able to move after all. The movers have notified us that they have a skeleton crew but may not be able to enter homes in two weeks.
I watched as my family and friends in South Africa went into a 21 day lockdown at midnight on Thursday. This stripping of rights will be enforced by an army still viewed with mistrust in reminiscence of the worst of apartheid. I worry about all the people in informal settlements, without water or food, and wonder how on earth they are going to survive in one of the most unequal countries on earth. I have donated to charities – including animal charities, in the hope that it will make a tiny bit of difference, but I doubt it. If the virus gets a good grip on South Africa with it’s crumbling infrastructure, disaster will ensue.
Sweden remains cautiously open, with no gatherings over 50 allowed but a great deal of trust placed in the people to self-isolate and be careful. The Prime Minister has been very clear that if the people do not obey, stricter measures will be put in place.
Stockholm’s exhibition centre is being turned in to a hospital by the military. Measures are in place to help small businesses and make it easier to claim sickness and unemployment benefit. But the economy will be shattered anyway. Even in this rich country, COVID-19 will almost certainly bring about mass unemployment and a deep recession.
One of the good things in this whole disaster is that you do realise what is important – family, health, and being able to get through each day. We don’t need to consume as much as we have been consuming, or travel far away for holidays. My husband and I are supposed to be moving in a month, my daughter is moving to their new apartment 10 days later. We have tickets to travel to South Africa in July and my daughter is getting married in August. All of that is in limbo now but surprisingly, we are taking it in our stride, just taking it day by day. Maybe living in the moment is what it should all be about anyway. What do you think?