• Lara Flanagan

Thoughts of Italy, the virus and fupping phones

(I take no credit for the image above - it is one that has been widely shared on Instagram and I can't find the name of the creator.)

Presently, it is hard to get thoughts of Italy out of my head. Archie, Rissie and I consider it to be our second home and we love our Italian family and friends dearly. With a nationwide lock down continuing, I can’t but help think of the people, paths and cobbled lane ways that we adore.

This is a nasty virus. It is so easily able to be dismissed as being no worse than the flu, but it is in fact a hell of a lot deadlier than the flu. It is also bringing with it waves of panic and hysteria. It is so sad to think that while the awful drought and unprecedented bush fires brought out the best in us, this virus and the fear that comes with it, is bringing out the worst in us.

I have just been to Coles for the 2nd time today as I was told this morning that there was going to be a delivery of toilet paper. However, the shelves are still bare, and the truck has been and gone. When I expressed surprise to someone I knew that the day’s delivery had already disappeared, I was told that the toilet paper is not even making it to the shop floor. Apparently, all the staff and motels in town are snaffling it first. Conspiracy theories abound. I ducked around to Foodworks, but the shelves were bare there as well.

There is a notable absence of things like hand sanitizer, wipes, paper towels, tinned tomatoes and bloody lentils!!! There are maximum limits on items such as mince, pasta etc. I don’t get it. Sure enough, stock up a little but the most you are going to quarantined for, if you are not seriously ill, is 14 days. If you are seriously ill you will be in hospital and they have toilet paper and food. If you have no friends or family who can get things for you, then shop online. That might not be possible in little towns like Tenterfield, but I know one of our local supermarkets does home delivery. It is not like anyone is going to be left in the lurch with an overwhelming need to use 36 rolls of toilet paper in quick succession.

I don’t get the whole toilet paper thing. Say if you had a weak bladder and terrible bowels, then maybe you could go through a roll or two every 2 or 3 days. That is about 7 rolls for someone with a bad tummy for two weeks. So why are people buying enough to stock their toilets for a year?! It is not like the virus is known to give people the shits either. I just think it is an example of how stupid and selfish some people can be.

Tiney and I were obsessed with Walking Dead. I still think it is one of the best television series around. The reason I loved it was not because of the zombies, even though it was a zombie apocalypse series. It was because it was an incredible story of what human beings are capable of doing in the most extraordinary circumstances. Both the good and the downright ugly. I think what is happening in Australia, and probably all around the world, is a good indication that people are capable of truly great and truly terrible things.

The other thing I think about Italy (and China and Iran and Korea) is that they have given us the gift of foresight. We have been shown what is going to happen and if we react aggressively and quickly we might well be able to stop this virus in its tracks. But I don’t think we are going to do that. There is talk of putting the badly affected areas into lock down in the coming weeks. Talk like that makes me want to sit in a corner, rocking and beating my forehead against a wall. How about lock down and quarantine now, so that for the sake of 14 days of shutting this country down, we don’t have to deal with months and months of chaos? It does my bloody head in.

Enough talk of the virus as I need to put that horse back in the stable.

I told Archie and Rissie a few years ago that I would never buy them a phone. However, I have had to retract my words and rewrite them a little. Now that they are going to Stanthorpe High School which happens to be in a different state and time zone, things have changed. The kids catch the bus every day which takes just under an hour each way. We are also coordinating netball training, futsal games and soccer training which involves Archie catching a different bus.

One afternoon I was catching up with a friend and I had organised for the kids to walk from school and meet me at a cafe when a large thunderstorm rolled through town. After realising I had no way of contacting them, I knew I had to eat my words and get them a phone. Luckily mum had two old flip top phones hat she gave to me for the kids. An ALDI sim card and they were good to go. I have now recanted my words and changed them to “I will never buy you data or a smart phone.” If they want either of those two things and they consider them to be vital for their existence, then they can pay for them themselves.

The look on Archie and Rissie’s faces when I gave them their phones was priceless. I use the word priceless as they way that Rissie looked at me could be described in a few other ways that aren’t quite so perky. Archie asked me if he could download something (I forget what it was) and I said no, no downloads, these phones are for texting and phoning only. I was asked how I managed in the olden days. (In the **###** olden days???) As I said to them, I managed just fine, and we did not even have phones when I went to school. Then I showed them how to text. I had forgotten about the whole working your way through the alphabet thing and it was a joyful experience for us all.

Archie came out later that night and told me that he and Rissie had decided to call their phones the fupping phones. I did a double take and looked at him out of the corner of my eye and asked him if he was being rude? He explained that they were flip up phones and thus they were calling them the fupping phones. I explained to him that they were actually flip top phones and they were pretty cool in their day. He said they preferred calling them the fupping phones. Once again I had to double check my hearing.

Now my only problem is that I have children who have no desire to use their phones so 9 times out of 10 they are left behind in their bedrooms. Next time I am in Stanthorpe central when a big storm hits and one of them is netballing and one of them is soccering and we don’t get home until after 7pm, I am sure I will be asking in an exasperated fashion, “for god’s sake where are your fupping phones?”

It's the little things that make me smile. Always a reminder that even when the world seems as if it has gone mad, it is also a place that is capable of things both great and small that warm the heart.

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