GOING VIRAL (a satire for the new normal) Act 1

 INTRODUCTION

20 bloody 20! I thought a leap year had only one extra day in it. This year felt like it had many more than that.

I heard many a writer say that when lockdown became the order of the day, they carried on regardless. That was our experience too, as we spend most days at home in our studio, writing and rehearsing.

Over time, I amassed an enormous amount of material defined by the pandemic. The big missing factor, of course, was performance.

We decided to do a podcast of my new songs and applied for grants to record them properly. No grant was forthcoming, which meant we were left to our own devices, with my limited equipment and tech skills. A recorded show emerged, but it sounded flat without an audience. The idea was abandoned.

For months the material sat there and grew, until restrictions loosened, and we had an email from The Artists Shed in beautiful downtown Fyshwick. They were trying to get Canberra artists working again and could hold a limited audience of 50 per show. Would we be interested?

Would we be interested?

Three dates in November were agreed upon and sold out in days. We added two more. They sold out in record time. Then two more- same result.

Our first performance since February felt weird. Even carrying equipment was alien. It took a couple of shows before we found our rhythm again.

Our audiences were socially distanced (the COVID officers even arrived one night to check this), and that was another challenge- playing to a spread-out crowd. But we were glad to be back, as were many of those in the ‘crowd’ who told us it was their first outing for a long time.

Here it is- Going Viral, a satire for the new normal, a torrid year documented in song. Put down your sanitiser, reschedule your Coronavirus test, let the supermarket shelves stay empty, as we remind you of what we all endured in this most peculiar of years, 2020.

 THEME SONG

No one’s going to the movies
No one’s going to the gym
No one’s going dining
No one’s going Dutch
No one’s going AWOL
Well at least not very much

No one’s going out for dinner
No one’s going to a bar
No one’s going formal
Or going out in style
We’re all just going viral for a while

No one’s going like a rocket
No one’s going to the moon
No one’s going cruising
To a sun-drenched tropic isle
We’re all just going viral for a while
We’re all just going viral for a while.

TRUTH DECAY

The US election was held on November 4, Australian time, and our first show was on November 6. We promised a song about it, with the ink drying on the page.

As is my wont, I watched the coverage on ABC from early morning until the bitter end. When I went to bed it seemed possible that things were tight but going Trump’s way.

By the time I’d woken up, Biden was looking stronger. Trump was in disbelief. Cries of fraud and rigging were emanating from the White House.

That day I had a dental appointment, and listened to News Radio all the way there in the car. Then, as I was sitting in the dentist’s chair, head back, mouth wide, an idea came to me. The song started forming.

The connection to dentistry will become apparent as the song progresses.

MOYA
Oh President Trump. Four years since your last check-up so open wide for me. Oh dear, Mister Trump, that is the worst case of truth decay I’ve ever seen.

JOHN
Trump’s got whoppers on his choppers
Clangers on his fangs
Unfounded claims on his election day
Howlers on his molars
Bullshit in his bite
The signs all say
It’s truth decay

He’s got porkies on his pearlies
Trumpery in his trap
Twenty thousand fibs in his X-ray
Lies on his incisors
Gaffes there in his gob
The signs all say
It’s truth decay

MOYA
COVID- oh we’re going to have to extract that on, Mister Trump. Election fraud. OK, time for a needle. You’ll just feel a little prick.

JOHN
The signs all say
BOTH
It’s truth decay.

A TIME WHEN

Meanwhile in Australia, 2020 was a time when two of our favourite Queensland pollies, Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, and Senator Pauline Hanson, both big supporters of border control, were (surprise, surprise!) calling for their state borders to be opened.

It was a time when Annastacia Palaszczuk romped back in as Premier of Queensland, proving how much the Banana Benders love it when the rest of Australia can’t come and ruin God’s Own Country, unless of course you’re a footballer or Tom Hanks.

It was a time when elections also maintained the status quo in New Zealand with Saint Jacinda, Andrew Barr in the ACT, and in the USA, someone who isn’t Donald Trump.

It’s a time when our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has actually been heeding the words of our medical experts- listening to the science- something he rarely does. Could it be that with planes grounded, cruise ships anchored, cars in the driveway and factories closed, he’s leading us to zero emissions. Who would have thought!

And not only that, he now takes pride of place as the most Socialist Prime Minister in our country’s history, handing out squillions for Seeking and Keeping jobs, even for the likes of us. And, treasurer Josh Freidenberg managed to do that with only one tiny miscalculation of 60 billion dollars.

RUNNING OUT ON ME

In March, we went to Wagga to sing at a friend’s birthday party. This was the weekend when it became obvious that COVID was serious. The town’s gay and lesbian parade, scheduled for that weekend, was cancelled. The pubs were almost empty, with screens showing football being played before almost no crowds.

In our motel, we watched as our PM announced that gatherings would be restricted, except that he’d still be going to the footie to watch his beloved Sharks play, a statement he very quickly retracted.

This was the time of panic buying, and of empty supermarket shelves. Toilet paper, tinned and dried foods, and hand sanitiser were the big sellers. As soon as I was back in Bungendore, I wrote and recorded my Dunny Paper song.

We had to cancel sessions with our community choir, Worldly Goods, group singing being seen as a risky proposition. Instead, we invited them to join in this song by recording their parts on their phones, and sending them to us. I then mixed their vocal tracks (33 of them) into the recording, which we used in the show.

I’m showing true resistance
Sitting on my toilet bowl
Two metres social distance
Between each toilet roll
Another can of kidney beans
For breakfast, lunch and tea
No wonder the dunny paper keeps on running out on me

Running out on me
Running out on me
No wonder the dunny paper keeps on
Running out on me

I’ve made the big decision
I’m at home to stay
So I’m watching television
Sixteen hours a day
My neighbour’s brought a curry in
It’s ScoMo’s recipe
So no wonder the dunny paper keeps on running out on me

Running out on me
Running out on me
No wonder the dunny paper keeps on
Running out on me

I’m panic buying (Panic buying)
Buying everything in sight
If the virus doesn’t get me
Then the TV dinners might

To fit my brand new freezer in
I’ve had to renovate
Now that I have food to last
Till twenty-twenty-eight
All those frozen pizzas
Jalapeno, pepperoni
No wonder the dunny paper keeps on running out on me

Running out on me
Running out on me
No wonder the dunny paper keeps on
Running out on me
Running out
Running out
Running out on me.

SOUNDS OF VIRUS

That was in March, and around the same time we had a call from ABC radio in Canberra, asking us if we could do a couple of virus-related parodies. So I went out for my daily walk around the municipal ponds of Bungendore and, as I passed joggers and dog-walkers (socially distanced of course), I got to thinking.

(To the tune of Sounds of Silence)
Hello virus, my new friend
I’ve come to cough with you again
Another hour or two of FaceTiming
Two screaming parents up the wall climbing
Who can still hear the steady hum
Of another Netflix show
Turned down low
These are the sounds of virus

In empty streets I walk alone
Through the deserted shopping zone
I greet a jogger who’s on her lone run
I meet a dog who’s sniffing his own bum
My attention’s grabbed when a patrolling copper roars
‘Stay indoors’
These are the sounds of virus.

My dodgy technical ability came to the fore again, as I recorded it at home and sent it in by email. The interview was done live-to-air on our phones.

HANDWASH 1– SHORTER THAN YOU THINK

These days we seem to cover our hands in sanitiser about 50 times a day, each time we go anywhere. But in the early days of the pandemic, we were told to wash our hands for 20 seconds at a time, the length of two renditions of Happy Birthday To You. Thinking that might wear thin after a while, I decided to write my own handwash ditties, all of which popped up throughout the show- each lasting, of course, 20 seconds.

I reckon
Twenty seconds
Is shorter than you think
By the time this
Little rhyme is
Over
You’ll have flushed your handwash down the sink.

 MISTER SCOMO

But were we in safe hands with ScoMo at the wheel?

He certainly did a better job of this than he did at leading us through the bushfire crisis. At least he didn’t bugger off to Hawaii this time.

But he did revert to form when he first announced that restrictions could relax a little, by telling us that he was going to give us an ‘early mark’ for being such good little boys and girls.

Mister ScoMo says we’re oh so good
Us girls and boys
For hearing him and staying in
And playing with our toys
I smiled all night
When he said we might
Be given an early mark
Can’t wait for the trip to the slippery dip
And the seesaws at the park

But Mister ScoMo says
I’m good, good, good
But gooder still if I’d shown
That I’d installed his app, app, app,
But Mummy won’t let me have an iPhone

Mister ScoMo says we should go
Quickly back to school
But Mr Andrews, there’s one man who’s
Breaking every rule
On-line learning’s got me turning
Into a naughty child
I once was gentle, now I’m mental
Mummy says I’m wild

She says that when I’m good
I’m very, very good
And when I’m bad I’m horrid
So here I go
Now Mister ScoMo’s
Stuck a gold star on my forehead

Mister ScoMo says we’re oh so good
Us girls and boys.

 COBARGO SHOWGROUND

If there’s one place that symbolises Mister ScoMo’s lack of leadership pre-virus, it’s the Cobargo Showground, site of the famous refusal by a local to shake his hand. The showground has a long history, going back thousands of years for the local indigenous people. It’s where the Cobargo Show is held, it became the centre for bushfire recovery after the devastating New Year’s Eve fires, and for 25 years it has been the home of the Cobargo Folk Festival. The first gig of the year for us and many other musicians was to be that festival, celebrating 25 years, but instead it became our February fundraiser for the traumatised Cobargo community. I wrote this for that show.

Show us the ground that has something to show
And we’ll show you a sacred site
Show us the way to the heart of the town
Where community can unite
Take us to rooms where the singing’s as strong
As a fiddler’s lilting sound
Yes, show us the ground that has something to show
Cobargo Showground, Cobargo Showground

Show us the ring where the cattle are judged
And the fanciest dress gets a prize
Show us the hall where the spongiest cakes
Have risen to double their size
Show us pavilions of satin and lace
Where the fanciest work can be found
Yes, show us the ground that has something to show
Cobargo Showground, Cobargo Showground

A meeting place
A greeting place
For so long
Hallowed sand,
On borrowed land

Where we belong

As the temperatures soar and the brutal winds roar
And the midday darkness it falls
With the main street on fire, and the flames reaching higher
The welcoming haven, it calls
So point to the track that will take us all back
To the walls where we’re safe and we’re sound
Yes, show us the ground that has something to show
Cobargo Showground, Cobargo Showground

Show us the spot where a leader is not
As welcome as you would suppose
Show us the land where the shake of a hand
Is a prospect that’s more on the nose
Show us the thrills as he heads for the hills
And the footage is spread all around
Yes, show us the ground that has something to show
Cobargo Showground, Cobargo Showground

A meeting place
A greeting place
For so long
Hallowed sand
On borrowed land
Where we belong

Show us the stage where a festival’s age
Of 25 years brings a cheer
Show us the scene where the purpose has been
To survive the last day of the year
Show us the shed where we all find a bed
Where relief is not thin on the ground
Yes, show us the ground that has something to show
Cobargo Showground, Cobargo Showground
Yes, show us the ground that has something to show
Cobargo Showground, Cobargo Showground.

 NOW WE JUST BUMP ELBOWS

ScoMo was in his element in the new normal- no hugs, no kisses, and no hand shaking.

Once upon each time we met
We’d hug or shake a hand oh
It was the norm to be as warm
As sunlight on the sand
Though we took it all for granted
Till the day that time would tell
Those days are done, no war’s been won
So now we just bump elbows

Back when we kissed our friends goodbye
Well it was no big deal, oh
So discreet, each peck of cheek
But now our lips are sealed

No friendly clutch or tender touch
Instead the tolling bell
Those days gone by, they bring a sigh
For now we just bump elbows

The very same elbows where we sniffle, wheeze and sneeze
Snuffle, snivel, splutter, cough and sniff
The very same elbows that we’ll bend
To celebrate the end
Of the second spike, we all don’t like
Oh if, If only

Should the sun come out again
And trees return to green-o
And not-so-social distances
No longer come between-o
Can’t wait to see how warm we’ll be
As each of us just mellows
Will we hug and kiss, shake hands, what bliss!
Or will we still bump elbows?
Hug and kiss, shake, what bliss!
Or will we still bump elbows?

 WE COULD HAVE HAD BILL

The virus struck just seven months after a federal election that saw Bill Shorten presenting a major collection of changes, like scaling down franking credits, abolishing negative gearing, giving tax cuts to lower income earners, zero emissions by 2050. Scott Morrison, on the other hand, offered us a policy-free-zone that was based mostly on the coalition being better money managers, and not doing what Labor was going to do. Just as well we got the latter, though. I think Bill might have been too busy reforming to fit a virus in.

We coulda had Bill in all his splendour
We coulda had Bill and his bold agenda
We coulda had Bill, hey hey big spender
If he had not
Lost the plot

We coulda had Bill in charge of steering
We coulda had Bill being so endearing
We coulda had Bill, so positively gearing
But for better or not
We got Scott

Outnumbered
By a man who’s not encumbered
By trivialities
Like policies

We coulda had Bill trying to inspire us
No franking credits to retire us
Too busy to notice there’s a virus
Corona who? Covid what?

We coulda had Bill to lead the nation
Drowning in a sea of legislation
Health and wealth and education
But for better or not
We got Scott

Outwitted
By a man
Who was committed
To keep the status quo
How did that go?

We didn’t get Bill
So it’s academic
We didn’t get Bill
We got a grand pandemic
But to keep us all hygienic
For better or not (we coulda had Bill)
We got Scott ( we coulda had Bill).

HANDWASH 2- I JUST WANT THIS SONG TO GO VIRAL

Time for another handwash song.

I just want this song to go viral
I want it spread about
So the whole wide worldly choir’ll scrub
Until the hand wash time is out
I just want this song to go viral. Ooh!

COVID APP RAP

One of the things I did with too much time on my hands was to explore the music program on my computer. I’m not exactly a tech head, so my use of it has been fairly limited. I built up a rhythm track from sounds that were lurking in there beyond the standard instruments, and used it as a basis for a pretend rap song about the Covid-Safe App.

What a success story that App was! We were told that, by downloading it, we would be facilitate the process of tracing COVID cases. Well, it cost $70 million, and traced something like 17 cases.

I was wary as I don’t take to apps easily, especially as my old phone is never on the internet. Then, when I heard the opinions of two maverick Australian pollies- Pauline Hanson and Barnaby Joyce, I thought twice.

JOHN
I’m not one to rap
But this Covid app
Is crap and I cannot condone it
So I’ve opened my trap
In these isolated times
Without much reason
But with plenty of rhymes
And my only crime
Is to say that I’m
Not gonna download it
Yes my only crime
Is to say that I’m
Not gonna download it

App app a Covid rap app
App app a Covid app
App app a Covid rap app
App app a Covid app

You might ask why
Well it’s my privacy, you see
And I own it
And you must be
Kinda having me on
If you think that I’d trust Amazon
So I’m inclined
Made up my mind
Not gonna download it
So I’m inclined
Made up my mind
Not gonna download it

App app a Covid rap app
App app a Covid app
App app a Covid rap app
App app a Covid aap

I’ve no Bluetooth
Mine’s green
That’s the truth
I’ve drawn a line
And I’ve toed it
And you must be
Kinda hopin’ and wishin’
If you think that I’d trust
Every politician
They’re out of time
And that’s why I’m
Not gonna download it
They’re out of time
And that’s why I’m
Not gonna download it

PAULINE
My choice is I’m not going to do it. So anyway, do I trust the government? No, I don’t.

MOYA
But who’s that talking on the TV screen?
It’s the ‘please explaining’ Senator Pauline
She says she’s gonna blackball it
No, she’s not gonna install it.

BARNABY
And who’s that fuming on the evening news
Could it be Barnaby a-spewing out his views?
He’s sure the world can decode it
So he’s not gonna download it.

JOHN
I was sure as eggs
That it had no legs
And the government had blown it
Then Pauline H and Mister Joyce
Go and make their choice
And that’s enough reason
To change my mind
So that’s why I’m
Gonna download it
Yes I’ve changed my mind
And that’s why I’m
Gonna download it

App app a Covid rap app
Download that Covid app
App app a Covid rap app
Download that Covid app

But the Covid app it’s all claptrap
It’s a furphy I’ve been sold
I can’t download that Covid app
MOYA
‘Cos his phone’s too bloody old!

 HANDWASH 3- MINOR KEY

In an App-free zone- time for another handwash.

This song it won’t take long
And it’s in a minor key
This tune will be over soon
When my hands are virus free
No more bacteria
Or parthogens for me
In a minor key, in a minor key.

RUBY PRINCESS/THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME

One of the many industries hit by the virus was the tourism industry, so many of the early cases being carried across the world via international travel. The most notorious case was that of the cruise ship, the Ruby Princess, so I decided to look it up on-line to be reminded of the story, only to find that right at the top of the Google listing was the Ruby Princess website, no acknowledgement of what happened, just outrageously cheery ads for the ‘trip of a lifetime’

(To the tune of Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town)
The princess of all ships, yes there is nothing to compare
Ruby are you contemplating cruising out somewhere?
The many Covid cases say there’s no jewel there in your crown
Oh Ruby, won’t you take your website down.

But for most of us in this new real world, a trip of a lifetime was a bit closer to home.

I’ve travelled round the world so many ways
Now I’m dreaming up a journey in my isolated haze
It’s closer than Vienna, Paris, Tokyo or Rome
It’s weatherproof, it’s further proof
That there’s no place like home

The first stop is the greatest site of all
You’ll find it if you follow me
Down through the hallowed hall
See my lounge room, be transported
To the dawn of time
Find relics of past dinners
And the art of spilled red wine

It’s the trip of a lifetime
Can’t you see
No pocket hit
My lifetime trip is free

Now we’ll do the balcony, I think
I’ve stocked up on alcohol
So why not have a drink?
A whisky sour, the cocktail hour’s the time I love the best
I come to heel when my Tequila Sunrise faces west

It’s the trip of a lifetime
Can’t you see
No customs slip
My lifetime trip’s care free

The bathroom, the bathroom
It’s high season in there
Such little room in the little room
Excitement in the air
Like Venice in mid-summer
But the crowd’s not tourist types
It’s Sorbent, or it’s Kleenex
Or it’s anything that wipes

At last, the room where I lay down my head
On my isolated pillow
On my isolated bed
While my doona covered, dear beloved snores from far away
A mercy small, that’s what I call a perfect holiday

It’s the trip of a lifetime
Can’t you see
It might be shit
But it’s the trip for me.

SPANISH FLU

One aspect of research I love doing is looking at old newspapers. I tend to go for the Sydney Morning Herald as I was brought up on it. This time, it was newspapers of just over 100 years ago, the time of the last universally destructive pandemic.

It was in the last years of World War I that it struck in Europe, and was censored by many European countries, in order to keep up morale. One nation, where newspapers were free to report it though, was neutral Spain. So it was wrongly assumed that this was the source of the disease, and it was soon christened the Spanish Flu.

Spanish Flu, I’m talking to you
When will you vanish?
Spanish Flu, you’re not really flu
And you’re not really Spanish.

Here in Australia it was referred to as ‘pneumatic influenza.’

Not unlike the current situation, it was carried by overseas travel- in the many ships that were bringing troops back from Europe. They certainly weren’t cruise ships.

You struck at the end of a war
A war we call Great but we shouldn’t
Someone tried keeping the score
Of the dead and the wounded, but couldn’t
It felt like you came with the chiming of peace
It seemed like you waited till the firing had ceased

You boarded the ships unannounced
With the diggers whose home fires were burning
Your effect on those troops was pronounced
And the families for which they were yearning
You spread through the cities and spread through the towns
Like wildfire on fire, you sure did the rounds

Spanish Flu, I’m talking to you
When will you vanish?
Spanish Flu, you’re not really flu
And you’re not really Spanish.

The number of cases diminished until a second spike began in, of all places, Melbourne. Borders were closed, masks were compulsory, cities and towns were in lockdown. Sound familiar?

You witnessed the closing of schools
The darkening theatre stages
You sat through the downing of tools
You noticed the losing of wages
The wearing of masks in each long city street
The silence of pubs where we once used to meet

Spanish Flu, I’m talking to you
When will you vanish?
Spanish Flu, you’re not really flu
And you’re not really Spanish.

DOCTOR DONALD

Ironically, the Spanish Flu is said to have originated in America. Funny that Trump never calls it ‘the American Flu!’

One hundred years ago, masks were not very popular with the masses. But to make it more bearable, some fashion-conscious ladies started wearing colour-coordinated masks to match their hats and handbags. Sound familiar? There was even a design proposed for a mask that could be worn by smokers.

And there were some seriously dubious recommendations of how to avoid the pandemic- like eating boiled red peppers, or drinking a mixture of turps and milk.

Aren’t we lucky that in this pandemic, we have a brilliant role model in the form of Donald Trump, Leader of the Free World.

TRUMP
Well I took the Regeneron. And just within a period of 24 hours I felt very different. I think I could have left the hospital a lot earlier. I’m going to send it to everybody that’s got the problem and we’re gonna send it free of charge. Regeneron.

MOYA (to the tune of Da Doo Ron Ron)
Saw him at the White House he was looking ill
Regeneron-ron, Regeneron

Somebody told him he should take a pill
Regeneron-ron, Regeneron.

BOTH
Yeah he’s looking ill
Yeah he took a pill
Side effects unknown
Regeneron-ron, Regeneron

(To the tune of Yellow Submarine)
We’re all taking Hydroxichloroquine
Hydroxichloroquine, Hydroxichloroquine.

TRUMP
And a lot of good things have come out about the Hydroxi, a lot of good things have come out. The front line workers, many many are taking it. I happen to be taking it. I happen to be taking it.

BOTH
We’re all taking Hydroxichloroquine
Hydroxichloroquine, Hydroxichloroquine.

MOYA
A man of such supreme advice and innate wisdom.

TRUMP
Then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that- the disinfectant.

BOTH (as a round)
Then I see the disinfectant
Then I see the disinfectant
Where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute
And is there a way?
Is there a way?
Where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute
And is there a way?
Is there a way?

MOYA
Then I see the disinfectant.

TRUMP
That sounds interesting!

 HANDWASH 4- RUB, SOAP, RUB

Before we finish Act One, please pay attention to the World Health Organisation’s official guide to hand washing:

MOYA JOHN
Rub hands palm to palm
Right palm over left dorsum with interlaced fingers and vice versa.
Palm to palm with fingers interlaced.
Backs of fingers to opposing palms with fingers interlocked.
Rotational rubbing of left hand clasped in right palm and vice versa.
Rotational rubbing backwards and forwards with clasped fingers of right hand in left palm and vice versa.
Rinse hands with water.
Dry hands thoroughly with a single use towel.
Use towel to turn off faucet.Your hands are now safe.Please use the sanitizer before you come back for the second act.
 

 

 

 

Rub soap, rub, that’s awesome
And rub post haste
Scrub right over the dorsum
Fingers interlaced
Rub soap, rub, rotational
Never asking why
Rinse, rinse, rinse-pirational
Dry, dry, dry!

Doo dood odo doo doo doo doo

Double U, H O. WHO?