As a serious news organisation, we take our cues from Simon Dallow and TVNZ. They have a European Correspondent so we thought it was a smashing idea and scoured our respective Facebook accounts. Our first sixteen options had all been evacuated. Lucky for us, our former Editor Lyam Buchanan is a dual citizen so he is Ireland’s problem now and our weekly crisis correspondent.
In terms of quarantine, supermarket chaos, and stunted cunts who think social distancing doesn’t apply to them, there’s little difference between non-continental Europe and New Zealand. We’ve probably got more cases, deaths, and the chance for it to get out of hand – but when you’re living in a melting pot of culture that’s to be expected. Despite this, xenophobia really is the flavour of the month.
While you could pin it to misinformation and scaremongering, there’s still a subset of blatant racists admitting themselves to hospital because a Chinese takeaway gave them every COVID-19 symptom they’ve skim-read online. It’s embarrassing, moderately entertaining, but still embarrassing.
I’m not saying this is an issue specific to Europe, but for somewhere so fluid with cultural integration, you’d think the average person would realise life exists outside their own little bubble. Sadly not. Without the accent of where you’re living, you’re a threat, and dependent on the pandemic status of where your accent originates, you could quite quickly become vilified. As a Kiwi I’m lucky to get off scot-free, nobody seems threatened by my ‘Australian-Esque twang’ as I buy my third Red Bull of the day, but you can genuinely watch the Tesco’s checkout queue ascend into silent panic when someone sounds even vaguely Italian.
As the lockdown increases in severity, these issues seem to be mellowing out. Maybe it’s because all the hearty racists are staying locked in, or maybe the fear has spread from specific cultural groups to just everyone who isn’t part of your own household. Either way, once this all passes hopefully this can just be another ‘one of those things’ that we sweep under the rug and pretend never happened.
We might be living in the cruel wet dream of Auckland’s white supremacist community, but surely it’s not all doom and gloom. There’s no doubt that the introverts could quite happily keep posting about how they’ve “accidentally been quarantined for years” – but a lot of us are making an active effort to not fall into an endless state of cabin fever and boredom wanks.
It’s all good and well to remind yourself to be thankful you’re not currently stuck in the red zones of South Korea, Italy, or New York, but with the way everything is going, we could probably reach those points quite easily. I’ve found popping out for my daily ‘state-sanctioned outdoor activity’ brings me far more joy than any previous freedom ever could have; nothing beats the feeling of bounding down the street, laden in activewear that’s never seen the light of day, heaving through tar coated lungs as pedestrians panic to maintain the recommended 2-metre distance, the subtle nods of solidarity between runners who’ve also never ventured beyond treadmills prior to pandemic. It’s thrilling.
Beyond the distanced and brief outdoor social interactions, I now so dearly crave, there’s really fuck all else going on. Working from home is what it is, my diet still consists solely of meals that require a microwave and no preparation, the BBC has a steady stream of depressing news to remind us how pointless existence really is, and I still wake up dusty and alone on a Sunday morning. We’ve just gotta ride it out. As European correspondent, I hope to have more exciting news as quarantine progresses, but for now, the summary remains “cunts love racism, running is hard, and if Boris Johnson carks it by the end of next week someone owes me £20”.