I've often wondered how useful I'd be when the world went to shit. This isn't something new. I remember being a kid, loving movies such as Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure and Airport. I always wondered whether I'd be Shelly Winters, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Belle Rosen, former competitive swimmer who dives in to save Gene Hackman at a crucial point, a stoic, useful woman. Or some flibbertigibbet running about a burning building in a pair of high heels with not a hair out of place waving my arms around in the air doing nothing of substance.
Forty years down the track I'm still a sucker for disaster movies. Hands up who hasn't downloaded Contagion in the past two weeks. Would I be the adultress Gwyneth Paltrow, also a Beth, blowing on the dice of strange men, among other things, responsible for the downfall of humankind via her infidelity (okay, we read into things as we see fit), or at least her company's destruction of those bat-filled rainforests. (As a complete aside, has anyone been looking at those bats who inhabit the trees near Lake Burley Griffin with a different perspective?) Or would I be Kate Winslet, after the facts, the science, willing to give my own life for the bigger picture?
That's one thing I've started thinking about these past few days even. How this is about much more than the individual. Have a look at the short video doing the rounds where various Italian people send videos to themselves of 10 days ago. In Italy things escalated quickly. Positive cases spiked dramatically, the economy took a nosedive, hospitals were being forced to make decisions about who would live and who might be left to die. Young filmmaker Olmo Parenti, like many Italian citizens, didn't take the threat of the pandemic too seriously. Just days later it was a different story. Curated by The Atlantic, the short film has dozens of Italians giving themselves warnings: "This isn't all bullshit like you thought," says one young man.
As I watch what's happening, in my small little circle, listen to people discussing why schools are still open, what measures restaurants are putting into place, how disappointed my hockey circle of friends are feeling because national old people's championships have been postponed for 2020, even though our season is still going ahead - one of the very, very few Canberra sports which has decided to say bugger it, let's play - I am kind of angry and frustrated and confused by it all. Who knows what is going on. Who knows who we should be listening to. In some ways, it's got me to thinking about whether I am selfish. I've been accused of being the most selfish person in the world several times. Been accused of wanting my own way and ignoring the needs of others, been accused of putting myself first. I know that's not me. Sorry if that's how you've perceived things. But up yours.
Like my desire to get as many women back playing hockey as I possibly can has absolutely nothing to do with me want to win a premiership by stacking my own team. It's about providing a space where women who've been out of the game for a while can find a way back in. I guess you'll understand that when you're my age.
If you get to be my age. Is this the beginning of the end? The boy and I were walking back from the Brumbies Waratah's game the other day - and if this was the last game of live rugby we'll ever get to see, we're happy, what a result! - talking about Foxtel cameramen, who, now they're unemployed due to the lack of sidelines to run up and down, might now have to resort to looting supermarkets in search of toilet paper and cans of tuna. How does anarchy start? Sure it's a long bow to draw. But who can explain the great toilet paper wars of 2020? Or the ridiculous queues? People, get a grip.
If you're thinking about surviving you have to be thinking about more important things. One of my favourite Tweets about the whole mess is from Clementine Ford: "One upside to the probable collapse of civilisation is that we'll finally have an answer to the question of whether or not women really do prefer not to tie their hair back during the apocalypse. At last, clarity."
It's ironic, in some ways, that I can't stand playing hockey with a strand of hair blowing in my face. Tie it back, raise that stick, play on, and be damned.