Friday, January 1, 2021

New Year 2021 Janette Miller

Watercolour swatches 

Welcome, 2021! I think I can safely say that most of the world will be pleased to greet you. Your predecessor was a hell of a disappointment and life for many, including me will never be the same again. Covid-19 has changed many lives mine included and without it I should not be here today. 

I began this blog in 2010, eleven years ago and for a few years, I was very keen. Then I discovered Facebook and In the early days I loved it and I gave away my blog. FaceBook then was very different from the FB of today. It was fun, you met your friends who you hadn't seen in yonks and we chatted and it was delightful. Gradually as FB became monetised it has changed to what it is today which to me is a platform for unwanted advertising and political comment. The content of the latter grew and grew and my friends although they obviously read my comments hardly ever commented back except perhaps for the occasional like. With FB algorithms being as they are I expect many friends never saw my posts.

Corvid-19 was the final straw for me. Living in New Zealand which took a very tough line on the infection right from the start, Covid-19 is under control and life here is  almost normal. This has not occurred in many countries, although it has in the East. I find reading about the horrors of the USA. EU, UK, the country of my birth unbearable because it is absolutely obvious that if firmer leadership and self-restraint had been shown by both leaders and citizens the disaster now being experienced should never have happened. Regretfully many FB friends took a dim view of the fact that life for me was perfectly normal when life for them became increasingly inconvenient. I just did not know what to comment so I have decided to give FB a rest until Covid-19 is over.

But Covid-19 has altered my life too. I am elderly and I live entirely alone as my family lives on another Island. I have been alone for much of my life as my job as a performing artist meant that my life was constantly changing and it was hard to make long-lasting relationships under these circumstances but until NZ's first lockdown I had no idea of what "Alone" meant. I found out.

In NZ there was no notice about the lockdown. Our PM went on the TV and announced that it had begun. A few hours were given but for all over 65 the lockdown started at that moment. No dashing out to the shops for a few rolls of toilet paper and a bottle of milk. Somebody would have to go and buy it for you. Well, l I had the bog roll but no milk.

I had no idea at that moment how alone I was and how hard it would be to get a bottle of milk. I rang five of my neighbours and friends and to my horror and surprise not one them would go and buy me a bottle of milk and a few eggs. Each just said "NO"! Each of them could have gone as they were not in the forbidden age bracket and each of them knew I lived alone and had no family in Auckland but such was the panic not one of them would initially. It was a shock.

I was not alone in being alone, a very dear friend I met at croquet was in the same position. She lives alone too. She had no eggs. I had a very bad night. The next morning I rang my MP to find out if there was an organisation that could help people in my position. My MP was brilliant and gave me the link to an organisation of young volunteers who might help and if that failed he would buy the milk for me himself.  However this is election year in NZ and his opposition candidate was on the button and their candidate rang me, asked if I was OK and actually went and bought the bottle of milk for me himself and did this for a few days until I got fixed up with a delightful young helper.

My friends and neighbours on this occasion were useless but two felt guilty and eggs and milk arrived on my doorstep the next day but I can never forget their immediate rejection. When the chips are down I am on my own. There is no doubt at all I was not in their lifeboat. 

That was the beginning of months of isolation. No one entered my house for months except for two emergencies. All my shopping was done by a young stranger for whom I am extremely grateful I did not know but unlike my friends and neighbours helped me. She even emailed me to make sure I was alright but I never met her when she came to my house as we had to maintain social distance. When I tried to give her a gift she refused to take it. When this is truly over and even in NZ it isn't over yet I shall take her out to dinner at the best restaurant. 

I was not in anyone's bubble and I have learned to live with this and as the months went on it became easier and easier and now I like it, in fact I love it One can live alone. It is not necessary to be one of a crowd. I think I have always known this but I believed the myth. I still enjoy my firends and neighbours even if not one of them gives a thought about me. I do care about them. After 45 years of living next to four large families, I should like to be included sometimes say for Xmas or anniversaries but I am not and that is how it is. It is not their fault and in truth one cannot pick one's neighbours. I am not their responsibility but the good news is I have learned to live with it. I used to think people would help me because I was there but thanks to Covid-19 I don't any more. At 77 I have grown up, I have to be totally self-reliant. Help is there from outside if I ask for it and it is up to me to ask for it and it is my personal responsibility to look after myself.

Today most of us have to learn to live by ourselves if we are to remain safe. The vaccines may eventually halt the infection but until then some form of isolation is the only answer. Humans are adaptable creatures and when one door closes they soon find another. I found my watercolour paintbox and my garden. Both been a revelation and so far have not disapointed. 

But I do enjoy sharing my very strange life and believe me my life has been very strange! I have a special blog for my granddaughter for her to read in the future when she grows up and wonders about her eccentric grandmother. Janette Miller's Strange Life. This gives my history and I do have one or two projects that might be of interest. My world of live theatre and music has collapsed but something needs to replace it. The question is what?

Now I am off to enjoy my day, my garden and my watercolours. I wish everyone a Happy New Year, wash your hands, wear a mask and keep your distance till this has gone.  I might even begin blogging again. Janette