I have delayed writing this post as I have been so angry, that I was at risk of filling it with profanity and inappropriate language.
We are in the middle of our sixth lockdown here in Melbourne – one that has now taken us to being the most locked down city in the world – 235 days since March 2020. Over the last year, we have spent more time in lockdown than not. Our state government initially planned to maintain a virus free state and we did well with that (for a while). Now, with the Delta variant of Covid-19, it is clear that we have to learn to live with this virus, so the focus now is getting the community vaccinated so that we can go back to our normal activities. The government has determined that when the community is 80% double vaxxed, our lockdown will be lifted and we will progress to further freedoms. We expect to reach that position by sometime in November.
It appears that being double vaxxed will be a requirement for us to resume a normal life again. – going to restaurants, sporting events, pubs and nearly all social activities. As we would expect, there is a small hard core of anti vaxxers who resent this but my attitude is that if they choose not to get vaccinated, they can pay the price of getting sick, being excluded or whatever fate may come along to them.
Over recent weeks, the building and construction industry (which has largely been protected from the lockdown), has been ignoring most Covid safety protocols. They have recently been responsible for most of the covid infections in this state. As a result, the government has mandated vaccination for all construction workers and has shut the industry down.
So what have a small group of idiot protesters done? Over three days, they have blocked city streets, damaged buildings and even spat on health workers at vaccination clinics. This behaviour is simply disgusting. Worst of all, they invaded our Shrine of Remembrance and occupied it for an entire afternoon in the name of “Freedom’.
For us veterans, the Shrine of Remembrance (or Shrine for short) is a sacred place. It is our war memorial, initially built to honour the men and women of Victoria who served in World War One, but it now functions as a memorial to all Australians who have served in any war. It is a symbol of valour, courage, and above all, sacrifice. None of these characteristics do these protesters possess or even understand. They desecrated the Shrine with with their presence, by throwing rubbish around and even urinating on its walls. I can’t think of words strong enough to condemn their behaviour. All servicemen and women have fought for the right to protest but not in this way and certainly not at this place.
Some protesters said that they were fighting for freedom, they chanted ‘Lest We Forget’ as they ascended the Shrine steps, but these idiots have nothing to forget. At the ripe old age of twenty one, I was lugging a rifle or a machine gun around Vietnam. Some of these morons have done nothing more in their lives than hold up a ‘Stop and Go Sign’ on a building site! How dare they equate themselves to servicemen and women and who put their life on the line on active duty. They are a rabble, not patriots and their behaviour is deplorable and unforgivable.
Having now dealt with my anger, I can now talk about my bemusement.
Yesterday, of alll things, we had an earthquake in Melbourne. It was somewhere around 5.8 on the Richter scale so it was a rather reasonable one. It’s epicentre was near the ghost town of Licola, some 150 kms from Melbourne. Eathquakes are very unusual for us as Australia sits in the middle of a tectonic plate and is quite geologically stable. Apparently this earthquake was a result of strains and stresses in the the adjoining tectonic plate near New Zealand. For some reason, these stresses peaked near Melbourne and resulted in this earthquake.
It was (in real terms) a small quake – not much more than a large tremor. A few bricks fell of some old buildings and people got excited about something that they had never felt before. Of course, the media built it up to be far more significant than it was. I was having a lazy morning and still under the shower at 9.15 am when it occurred. All I felt was a little bit of shaking and seeing the glass sower screen vibrating.
With all the hype, I can’t help but compare this little tremor with our experience of the Great Hanshin Earthquake while we in Kyotio, Japan, in 1995. We woke at 5.45 am on January 17, 1995 to a violent shaking of our hotel room and a noise like the sound of an express train coming through our room. This was the Great Hanshin Earthquake that killed 6,400 people and left 120,000 people homeless. It was 6.9 in magnitude.
This occurred well before I started writing my blog. Our son, David, had spent a year as an exchange student with a family in nearby Nara. We were on our way to visit them. I remember shutters sliding side to side across the full extent of their tracks, objects falling off cupboards and glass windows as large as sliding doors shattering. It seemed to last for a long time, but it was probably just a minute or so. Then came the aftershocks that were large enough over the next hour to concern us further.
There were announcements over he hotel PA system but we couldn’t understand them in Japanese. I called our kids in their nearby room and asked whether we should be concerned but David who spoke good Japanese simply said “Don’t worry, can’t you tell by their tone of Voice”. As it became light, I decided that it would be a good idea to go out on the street and take some photos. There wasn’t a great deal of destruction near our hotel, although the Fire Brigade had already arrived at the railway station across the road to cut of the gas and electricity. Building fires actually cause more deaths than the earthquake does!. I came back to our room after 30 – 40 minutes and by this time the hotel asked all guests to gather in the dining room. As we entered it, the Hotel Manager welcomed us with a glass of orange juice and the words ‘So sorry to terrify!”
Our travel plans for the next few days were shot as all the roads and railway lines were shut down. We walked through the old area of Kyoto to one of the historic temples. We could see some evidence of the damage all around us and the TV set at the temple was showing the extent of the major earthquake damage. It was then that we thought we should find a phone and call home to tell our families that were safe and OK.
Over the next few days we made up some local trips on railway lines that were open and operating. It was an exciting few days but an experience that we don’t want to live though again.