Some Good News in the Middle of the Gloom

I had an email from Telstra (our telephone company) advising me that I have now achieved Gold status. Now, I don’t know what this is. I have never applied for it, but now I have it. Maybe it’s like a knighthood. Perhaps they will call me ’sir’ in future conversations. It comes with some very useful features. One benefit is apparently free access to their 24/7 IT help service, but that is closed for the duration. Another seems to be discounted movie tickets but all the theatres are currently closed. Whatever award this is, it seems I can’t gain anything from it, but I will accept it humbly and carry on with life as though nothing has changed.

It was good to hear about what my family were doing on Easter Sunday. Our Perth grand kids had an ester egg hunt in their garden while the girls here in Melbourne had one in their lounge room. Jill made it very easy for me by leaving my eggs in plain sight. It saved a lot of energy and bending over to search, which is getting harder to do at my age.

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A tot of people in Australia are grumbling about the severity and sometime inconsistency of our coronavirus isolation regime. (A man in Perth has just been jailed for six months for repeatedly removing himself from the fourteen day compulsory isolation period in a hotel room after he returned from overseas).

But the good news is that our strict social restrictions are keeping the number of those affected by the virus in Australia very low. When I did a comparison of numbers yesterday, I saw some very good news indeed. I adjusted the following figures to take into account the relative population size of these countries – e.g. America has 13 times our population, Britain 2.6 times and France 2.7 times.

As it stands, across the whole of our country, we have just 14.2% (1/7th) of the number of corona infections that America has and just 3.4% (1/29th) of the number of deaths. Compared to Britain and France our number of infections are 18% and 12.4 % respectively while our number of deaths is just 1.4% of Britain’s number and 1% of the number in France. I think we are benefitting from a number of factors as well as our strict isolation restrictions. We are an island country where we can completely close our borders (although some may argue that it wasn’t done fast enough) and have an excellent public health system that is free. We have very good and well structured bi-partisan government leadership and we probably benefit from a much lower population density than the worst affected areas of the world. 

Long may it continue.

Another piece of good news was an article that I read in the ‘Vet Affairs’ newspaper that I get occasionally from The Australian Department of Veterans Affairs. There was a wonderful story about the amount of donations raised by the citizens of a little village in France, Villers-Bretonneux for our bushfire appeal..

This little village has never forgotten Australia. In April 1918, against all odds, two Australian brigades liberated the French town from the Germans, at a cost of 1200 killed. My grandfather fought there.

The Australian flag still flies over Villers-Bretonneux. A plaque outside the town hall tells the story of the events of 1918, and kangaroos feature over the building’s entrance. The main street is named Rue de Melbourne. We visited there on our European Christmas trip in 1919.

The children of Villers-Bretonneux are especially indebted to Australia. After the war, it was pennies donated by schoolchildren in Victoria that paid for the rebuilding of the town’s school. It was named the Victoria School and a permanent plaque on the school façade recalls the diggers’ sacrifice.



The town launched a fundraiser in February to raise money for our bushfire relief. An online fundraising page received donations from more than 800 people. The town also organised a solidarity march. On 2 February, almost 1,000 people braved the winter weather and walked from the town centre to the Australian National Memorial. There, the local school choir sang a song specially written for the appeal, entitled ‘Australia, Stop Burning’. By late February, some $37,000 had been collected.

This is a remarkable act of generosity and we are very grateful.

I see that in America, other than toilet paper, the next thing to be scarce in supermarkets is women’s hair colour. What was I saying about the importance of women’s hair in my previous post?

I think that this photo originated in Slovenia and was the result of some thinking by an antiquarian book seller in Vilnius. I think that it’s very creative and smart.

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(If you are having trouble working it out, just read the titles from left to right).

Finally, it’s good to know that we are still eating rather well. Bangers and mash with a side of peas was a  delicious and simple meal last night.

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3 thoughts on “Some Good News in the Middle of the Gloom

  1. Bruce: I noticed mention of your trip to France in
    1919. I am impressed how you have been able to maintain such a youthful appearance.


  2. Well written , interesting reading as always , Bruce .
    Only two questions ….have you become a teetotaller ?
    ….is Jill surprised that YOU got the three bangers ?
    Agree with your opinion of the Book List .

    Keep well , Daina .

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