Steve Waterson

Postcard From Sydney

by Steve Waterson Personal hygiene's a funny thing. What’s important to one person is of little significance to another, which I suppose explains the range of odours that perfume public transport. Last Saturday I was waiting behind an old lady in my local greengrocers on Sydney’s north shore. She was evidently searching for the city’s most texturally perfect tomato, touching, squeezing and caressing every one her little arms could reach, between making small adjustments to her ill-fitting and slightly sodden blue-paper mask. I was tempted, as I always am in these circumstances, to lean over, point and say to her, “Excuse me, there’s one there you haven't touched.” Instead what fascinated me was that here she was, engaged in a super-smearer event, picking up whatever microbes the previous old lady had left behind, but sufficiently frightened of coronavirus to wear a useless mask: useless not because she wasn't wearing it properly, but because evidence suggests cheap masks offer at best minimal protection from the virus, whose nanometre particles go through the weave like a golf ball through the Harbour Tunnel (I know, it travels in larger droplets, but droplets dry, and then what?); at worst they concentrate and nurture whatever germs land on them in a hospitably warm and moist environment. Masks, of course, serve higher purposes: worn voluntarily, they...

June 2022
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