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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I can tell you exactly when Covid started to bite. It was the day I decided the Stage 4 Melbourne lockdown would be the perfect opportunity to read A Tale of Two Cities. I ordered a copy from Book Depository, the first step, though I didn’t know it, in an inexorable downward spiral. A few days later the parcel arrived, so exciting, like a gift from a thoughtful friend. Having read it, and shed a tear at the death of Sydney Carton (so brave, so noble) and the little French seamstress, I thought, why stop there? So I went back to Book Depository and ordered the complete works of Charles Dickens. A large package duly arrived: Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend, Little Dorrit, Bleak House, etc. Still, even with Dickens, time hung heavy. But thank goodness for television. One by one I expanded my inventory of streaming services: Netflix, Stan, Disney+, Foxtel, Apple TV. Then, fateful day, I added Amazon Prime, which of course opened up a whole world of online shopping possibilities. The Romoss Phone Charger and Power Bank, how could I live without it? Likewise the Milwaukee M18 FUEL 1/2″ Hammer Drill/Driver, so reasonably priced. The Lodge 5 Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven, for the sourdough. A Diesel Gen 4 Smartwatch. Wireless earbuds. A ValueHall Electric Fly Swatter. A set of NUMYTON microfiber sand free beach towels for, you know, when we could go to the beach. A Microsoft Flight Simulator, if I couldn’t fly I could at least learn how to take off and land. Call of Duty Black Ops, to feed my inner warrior. More and more deliveries, also bigger and bigger (eg the Rocket Appartamento coffee machine). I discovered art, how easy it is to acquire, say, a small sketch “attributed to” Matisse. And antique auctions, so simple, a click of the mouse and a collection of old Japanese porcelain is yours, or an art deco liquor cabinet (contents also purchased online), or a grandfather clock by James Howden of Edinburgh (A/F no weights or pendulum, but it looks lovely on the antique Tabriz rug). By late August the packages were arriving daily, by mid-September I’d taken it up a notch. I found a 1955 BSA Super Rocket café racer in “concours d’elegance condition”, and bought a 1948 Citroen Traction Avant. It was in Queensland, but they put it on a truck and shipped it to Melbourne. The “Ring of Steel” was no barrier to my purchasing.

The lockdown is over now, however I’ve entered a different sort of lockdown. They’ve frozen my assets, confiscated my credit cards, taken away my computer, sold the BSA and the Citroen, and I’ve had to tell the Nigerian bank manager that sadly I cannot send any more funds to facilitate the release of $189,319,540.17 left by my distant relative, the spectacularly successful oil tycoon. My doctor says I’m making excellent progress. Classic oniomania she calls it, but personally I blame Dickens.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

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