There are no sleep-ins on the weekend – 7.15am and we are awakened by a sharp knock at the door – “breakfast!” Michael fossicks for his phone and checks the hotel Facebook group – they announce each meal there every day. For Saturday breakfast they are serving a vegetable omlette. He pulls himself out of bed, plasters his mask across his lower face and retrieves the plastic bag sitting on the floor outside our door. I get up, boil the kettle and we resume our places at the small round coffee table. We open the foil containers and assess what appears to be a slab of egg resembling more a frittata than an omlette. It’s hot enough, and I dig around in it looking for the promised veggies. On finding nothing but a slither of onion, I put it aside. The tub of yoghurt will do instead.
The Saturday morning news is filled with the death of Prince Philip. I don’t have much reaction to it. He was 99 after all and I’ve never been particularly interested in the Royals. We scan the channels looking for hard news but find nothing, and soon the TV is turned off. It’s going to be a busy Saturday, despite the fact that I won’t be logging on to my work laptop – I have two calls scheduled, plus my physio exercises and I want to get on the bike again this afternoon. Since it’s Saturday, I am also planning a sort of pseudo “date night” – not something Michael and I do very often and is probably not dissimilar to most couples’ nights in – order some wine, perhaps some food from Uber Eats – although, I am intending to put on some make-up for occasion. Seems somewhat comical and I can see my plans losing steam as the day passes.
On Day 1 we ordered some basic items from the local convenience store – milk, dishwashing detergent and a few bottles of sparkling water. We are already through the sparkling water so we decide to put in an order with Woolworths Online. I set up our account the other day – slightly infuriating as it requires an Australia cell number which we don’t currently have, so we use Michael’s dad’s number instead. I’ll be glad when the world finally defaults to email as the primary mode of contact – surely we all have email on our phone now, and emails unlike phone numbers are effective in that they work all over the world.
I submit the Woolies order, pay $19 for delivery and am notified that it should arrive within 1.5 hours (Michael’s dad also gets a series of SMS’s on the progress of our order). I am on a call with the girls when there is a knock at the door. Michael hauls in the bags and starts putting away the cold snacks – cheese, chilli and garlic olives, and a little tray of salami. But all has not gone to plan – they have forgotten the chips. And the Cadbury chocolate. And the BBQ Shapes. Michael calls up the hotel reception and asks whether they mistakenly forgot to deliver one of our bags (or whether hotel security decided to keep it for themselves). They say they will check with logistics and call us back.
I’m finishing up my call with the girls, when Michael starts brandishing his phone excitedly in my face. He’s won today’s lunch competition – a free cheeseburger. We’ve already inspected the lunch delivery – slices of roast beef with a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce on a pile of salad mix – described on the Facebook group as “Thai beef salad” – so the cheeseburger is a welcome alternative. I get off the call but we still haven’t had a call back from logistics about our missing Woolies bag. Michael calls again, but they don’t have it.
I first try the automated chat bot on the Woolies website, but she only wants to refund me for the missing items. We still want the chips – we’ve been dreaming of Light n Tangy for weeks now – and given we already paid a premium for delivery, I call up the hotline number. A helpful young guys answers and I tell him we still want the missing items delivered – he puts me on hold while he calls the store and confirms that the items were left behind. He promises that they are being put into a taxi right now and should arrive within 30-40 minutes. If not, I should call him back. Luckily, the missing bag arrives not long after the free cheeseburger – which is delicious by the way – good meat, juicy and pink with fat salty chips. Michael is somewhat affronted at competing for the “good” food which is clearly a higher standard than the mass-produced stuff they are delivering as part of the quarantine service – although it didn’t stop him from participating. I think it’s all part of the entertainment – and we can’t (well, shouldn’t) eat cheeseburgers every day.
The afternoon seems to run away from me – our post-lunch crosswords are followed by a call with a friend in London who’s getting ready to go out and brave the frosty, grey city, and it’s almost 5pm by the time I finally get on the bike. After constructing a fort (today’s daily challenge) I shortlist some wine from the in-room menu and get in the shower. Already laziness has taken over – originally intending to put on a full face of make-up, I settle instead for shaving my legs and tapping my eyelashes with some mascara. The bolognese they delivered for dinner is cooling near the TV but on inspection looks okay. Ordering off Uber Eats once again goes out the window – the hotel seems to constantly have international arrivals over the dinner period and regularly blocks out deliveries between 6-8pm. It all seems like too much effort. I’ve ordered a bottle of pinot noir from the hotel anyway so hopefully that will go well enough with the lukewarm pasta.
I put on a dress that I bought over Christmas from a street stall in Dubai and sprinkle some styling dust through my thin, greying hair. I thank the Australian wine industry for its preference for screw-tops – we open the pinot gris and pair with Woolies’ garlic olives for a snack while we sit by the window. The sun has already gone down and there is a party boat hanging out on the Swan River. We take the lid off the pasta and I try the pinot noir – heavier than a usual pinot noir and strikes me as very Australian. It’s better than the white which while inoffensive tasted bland like water.
We’re looking out the window, when we see movement down below at the Novotel across the street. There’s one guy in full blue PPE and security guards have been positioned on the corner about 100 metres from the hotel entrance. Shortly after a bus pulls up – another load of quarantine lepers is arriving. A touch wine-affected we wave at the hotel workers and security as they try to shepherd and coordinate the arriving passengers. They pay close attention to the socially distanced line and try to placate (from a distance) one guy who appears to be becoming somewhat irate as he alights from the bus and joins the queue. Another guy in a baseball cap looks behind him as he waits and returns our frantic waves. The arrival process, where they escort you to your temporary prison while a sense of helplessness and doom sets in, is the lowest point.
Hopefully by waving to the Day 0-ers below, it will help remind them that our situation is temporary – and no matter how slow it may seem, time will continue to pass.