On 25 March 2020 New Zealand went into lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19. For the next five weeks our ‘team of five million’ endured the unprecedented experience of being required to stay home to save lives. The lockdown was different for everyone – for some it was a reprieve from ordinary life, even a holiday; for others it was a challenging, at times harrowing, experience. Anxiety, boredom, fear, frustration and loneliness became daily companions for many.
Anxious Autumn tells just a small part of this nationwide story: how one couple in a provincial city lived through a strange and historic period, when the traffic stopped, the skies cleared of pollution and the natural world reasserted itself.
Historian Chris Maclean’s readable record of lockdown life focuses on both the domestic – food, alcohol, Netflix – and the wider national and international picture, as the world changed with frightening speed. Some leaders, like New Zealand’s, shone in the crisis; many others were found wanting.
The sun shone, too, in an endless autumn of glorious weather.
None of us will ever forget this time but Chris Maclean’s thoughtful, funny and touching diary will remain a vital and accessible record in whatever future may lie ahead.