This year – A Victorian perspective

| November 16, 2020

As we approach the end of a year to forget I think back on what I have learned to appreciate. Although we live in a Melbourne suburb we are very lucky in that we are surrounded by bike paths in all directions.

We can ride 20 – 30 k through trees and bushland while appreciating the local flora and all the walkers, joggers and other cyclists who are generally happy to chat, wave or just continue in companionable silence.

In order to keep fairly fit, I have taken to mowing the entire nature strip of ourselves and the next door neighbour. In response, he has started speaking to us and helping with some of the chores which I am finding a bit difficult.

He is Chinese with good English and tells us that our neighbour on the other side, who is also Chinese, has no English, is illiterate in his own language and speaks a country dialect other Chinese find difficult to understand. It must be very hard to live in a strange country, unable to communicate to one’s neighbours.

We have therefore developed a simple sign language and they are slowly showing their appreciation by waving and smiling whenever they see us walking around the block. The lockdown has thrown people on to their own devices and forced us to communicate a lot more with those around us.

The internet has helped us in many ways – not only with shopping, etc but also by teaching us about visual communication. The local Men’s Group has started fortnightly meetings on Zoom and this idea has spread to various other clubs. Our daughters are far afield so this is a good way to communicate.

Most of our communication now with friends and relatives is via e-mail and many of them are sending pictures or short movies which are often very clever – it seems many people world-wide have a lot of time on their hands which they are putting to good use. Not only do we appreciate these e-mails but they also show new sides of people we thought we knew well.

Being unable to attend the local library, I have become a client of New Scientist and Scientific American which keep my 81 year old brain active and I have found ways to download interesting books gratis whilst keeping on the right side of the law.

We feel very sorry for the police who have been put into the invidious position of enforcing unpopular laws which many people find difficult to understand or appreciate.

We have found that most people have come through this year pretty well. It has changed our lives permanently, in our case for the better – we appreciate our neighbours, communicate more with them and have learned that we can cooperate without interfering with their way of life.


One Comment

  1. Max Thomas

    Max Thomas

    November 17, 2020 at 9:28 am

    Good on you Alan. My place is in Gippsland, but I have spent a lot of time in Melbourne with my partner. We both have large animals that need special care and attention. Fortunately, the virus has awakened the sense of community that you have alluded to. There’s always a brighter side…

    I too like to ride my bike and also do some canoeing on the Yarra. I think you have my email so let me know if you’d be interested in getting out and about occasionally.