Sunday, January 3, 2021

A covidious year


 Dear friends, it’s been a covidious year,

A testing time for all of us here—

Citizens of an island nation

In a state of managed isolation,

A team (someone said) five million strong,

Making it up as we went along:

Somehow in typical Kiwi fashion,

Without any wild excess of passion,

Without circus acts and political nonsense

As spouted by various Trumps and Johnsons

And braggadocious Brazilians

Prepared to endanger millions.

No, on the whole, we haven’t done badly,

Going hard and early like Richard Hadlee.

The level-4 lockdown’s rigorous rules

Were broken by only a handful of fools,

Including, alas, a cabinet minister;

But nothing really particularly sinister

Happened to send us into a spiral

Where—God forbid—we all went viral.


Yes, there were some who got a bit glum,

As if the end of the world had come:

Some businesspersons who seemed to feel

That this Covid caper wasn’t quite real

And that boosting their profits mattered more

Than saving lives and shutting the door

On a disease that with just one sneeze

Could have brought this nation to its knees.

But most of us, I think you could say,

Accepted the parts we had to play:

We put on our masks in public places,

Which improved our looks in certain cases,

We social-distanced, two metres apart,

Well, one metre anyway, which was a start.

We planned, we scanned to beat the band,

We worked from home, we bubbled and

We exercised; we sanitized;

Our hands have never been so surprised.

In fact we were so damned keen

To be seen as squeaky-clean

It was all we could do not to reach

For a decent swig of bleach.

 We avoided sport; we panic-bought,

And just in case of being caught short,

We fulfilled important personal goals

By buying hundreds of toilet rolls.

But wipe that memory from your mind,

Leave that kind of thing behind,

And focus instead on nobler deeds

Before the memory of them recedes:

Please, join me in a Christmas toast

To those who did the most.


To Jacinda Ardern, who led the way;

And to Ashley Bloomfield, who every day

Delivered the news, bad and good,

In the way that a public servant should.

But just as important, here’s to all

The unsung ones who answered the call,

The scientists doggedly keeping tabs

On genome sequencing in their labs,

The nurses, the doctors, the hospital staff—

They weren’t doing this just for a laugh—

The border workers, the airport squads

Who held the line—what were the odds

Of the coronavirus sneaking through:

Thanks for doing that, and for all you still do,

Ensuring constant protection

From this most unwelcome infection.


And here’s to the rest of us carrying on

In the hope that one day this thing will be gone,

This thing that’s constantly shadowed us all

Through the strangest year anyone can recall,

During which we were ruled, sometimes frighteningly,

Not by a dictator or tyranny

But by an invisible enemy

That still has its eye on you and me

And may be with us for some yet,

Which is why we shouldn’t forget

To do what the experts are asking:

The future is ours for the masking.


In the meantime, friends, good cheer:

Merry Christmas and happy New Year.

Though by Covid we’ve been burnt,

Some lessons may yet be learnt:

From the experience of the virus,

May we take what can inspire us,

Retaining a sense of the common good

In our nation as well as our neighbourhood.

For every Max and Maxine,

May there be an effective vaccine.

And when all’s said and done,

Now that 2020 has had its run,

May Covid-19 not become Covid-21:

And let us breathe freely under the sun.