COVID-19 Diary: Goodbye To All That


Goodbye To All That

In this edition of my COVID-19 Diaries I traipse from a viral theory of the earworm, through new possibilities of doing nothing, into an account of my first ‘Pair Up’ call.


24th March 2020:


I went to the supermarket with a wheely suitcase today. I don’t have one of those grandma shopping bag/carts, so one must be resourceful with what one has. Nobody else seems to be doing this that I have seen. Perhaps because the sound of those suitcase wheels is so disturbing you have to play music through headphones on the way there and back just to drown it out.

Another recovered word; piety.

Devotion. Strong belief in a religion that is shown in the way someone lives. A conventional belief or standard.

Corona piety? We are renunciating and we are trying to love thy neighbours. Never before have so many smiles been exchanged with those in the surrounding apartments. The virus is making us nicer.



There is a poster on this wall that is starting to really bug me. The previous tenant left it here. It’s by a Swiss artist, and he said we could take it down if we want. There are days when I don’t see it, and days when it is all I see. The phone bothers me far more than the penis. That gross device manifesting all over his naked languid pose and pointing towards the room. I should really take it down but every day I tell myself ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’. There are lots of procrastinations now. Because now (which is really no different than before) we have an excess of healthy tomorrows to put task to. All the time in the world to do chores or make work or achieve those niggly actions that one avoids until it’s too irritating to bear. This poster must not have become totally unbearable yet. Perhaps soon enough it will be too much a part of this room, and this time, to say goodbye to. ‘Goodbye To All That’, Joan Didion’s title for the last piece in her Slouching Towards Bethlehem collection of essays. Those four words ring and ring in my head like an earworm.



COVID-19 Diary: Should I Stay or Should I Go?


Should I Stay Or Should I Go?


20th March 2020:


Empathy! Solidarity! Togetherness!

We are shouting from our balconies in between the intervals of clapping. Buzzwords of the brink. But do we really care beyond the growing walls of our personal void? Have you got the energy to give a shit about everyone else – in a practical and meaningful way? Most of us are too busy constructing our individual coping routines.


8AM: Wake up, thanks to my alarm in the adjacent room. I’m trying to break up with my phone at this time. It’s sort of working, when I don’t get up in the night to listen to a podcast.

8:15AM: New yoga routine. Just fifteen minutes a day but it seems to set up the morning well.

8:30AM Shower. Breakfast. Radio.


I was on a train from Hamburg to Zurich when I had to make a quick decision on whether to abort mission and head back to Amsterdam or not. In 10 minutes I would be in Hannover where I could change onto a train to my current city of abode. A few years ago I immigrated from New Zealand to the Netherlands, where I met my now-boyfriend (a Colombian Swede) who has since moved to Switzerland. When I left Hamburg at 8:30am, I had word from the boyfriend that he had been sent home from the office as a colleague was possibly a positive case. Fuck. This is the closest we have come. Should I stay (on the train Zurich-bound) or should I go (back to Amsterdam, in case a lockdown occurs)? I stayed.

Now I wake each day in a city I do not though. Although that doesn’t matter. We could be anywhere.


‘It is only irritating to think one would like to be somewhere else.
Here we are now.’

– John Cage


It’s Day Three in Zurich. The day rolls on in an oscillation between knowing exactly what I am going to do, and not being sure due to an overabundance of options. In a moment, everything can be possible and everything can matter – and in the next, nothing matters at all.


I’m bored

I’m the chairman of the bored
I’m a lengthy monologue
I’m livin’ like a dog

– I’m Bored, Iggy Pop (1979)