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

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

President Trump seemed to talk little of the severity of the virus, placing all hope in the imminent distribution of a vaccine.

‘Tis the night before Christmas in that old White House
Not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse
The stockings are hung by the President’s chair
Even though Trump will no longer be there

Donald is nestled all snug in his bed
While visions of viruses dance in his head
Masks and red baseball caps hang on a hook
With scrunched up pages of his niece’s new book

When out on the lawns there arises a clatter
He springs from his bed to see what is the matter
Before his wondering eyes a display
A squillion new cases and that’s just today

With Dasher and Dancer and Vixen and Prancer
They’ve written a question and they want an answer
They look to the top of the stars and stripes flag
Down the pole old St Nicholas slides with his bag

To Melania and Donald says ‘how do ya do?’
Then, as quickly as you can say ‘a little ‘flu’
He gives them a note from the medical crew

Then back up the pole with a quick ‘toodle-ooh’

Leaving them both to read
As he flies out of sight
A vaccine by tomorrow? By Christmas?
Merry Christmas, good night!’

(Our prediction was wrong- the US did manage to rush a release of a vaccine by Christmas.)

YOUR FRIENDLY FRIDGE

In the early days of the pandemic, we, like everyone else, stocked up on a lifetime supply of food and alcohol. That was when we discovered that our kitchen was home to our new best friend- solid, reliable, maybe a little cold, but efficient, and always welcoming.

I’m your friendly fridge
I’m in pride of place
Built of stainless steel
With a solid base
And my freezer door
Masks a thousand crimes
I’m your friendly fridge
In these hard, hard times

My doors are French
Though I’m more Bing Lees
I can take the stench
Of a good blue cheese
And a year’s supply
Of crafty beers and wines
I’m your filled-up fridge
In these hard, hard times

You can fill me more
With goods galore
Cause I won’t care
Make the most
And drink a toast
To my frigid air

Enough chilli sauce
To last me all my days
Every shape and size
Of salad mayonnaise
A tribute to the work
Of a Mr Heinz
I’m your friendly fridge
In these hard, hard times

As you get your elves
To stack my shelves
With caviar
You can celebrate
My energy rating
Of five stars

When the seasons turn
To a better day
There’ll be a monument
At the IGA
And the words will read
On a plaque that shines
To each friendly fridge
In these hard, hard times’
I’m your friendly fridge

In these hard, hard times.

Speaking of fridges- during the fire season, in Bungendore where we live, a local couple put an old fridge at the side of the main road, to support the Firies as they sped back and forth, to and from the bushfires. People wrote kind words on the side of it, and filled it with drinks and goodies.

That fridge, and the wonderful story it represents, is now in the collection of the National Museum of Australia.

HANDWASH 5 AND 6
(IN EINER MOLLTONART/JE ME LAVE LES MAINS)

We witnessed similar acts of kindness from our fans and our choir, who sent us anonymous gift cards, on-line vouchers, cheques, books and regular deliveries of alcohol. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts (and livers).

Whilst the virus had a devastating effect on us all, in the scheme of things, we in Australia have come through it relatively well, especially when you compare us to places like Europe- if only their leaders had listened to my handwash songs.

In einer Molltonart               (In a minor key)
Ein kurzes Lied derart         (A little short song)
So gespielt in Molltonart   (Played in a minor key)
Ist gleich dieses Lied
vorbei                                    (As this song is played)
Sind die Hände
virenfrei                            (Hands will be virus free)
Keine kleinen Keime mehr  (No more little germs)
Oder Krankheit so gemein            ( Or illness)
In einer Molltonart                         (In a minor key)
In einer Molltonart                        ( In a minor key)

Je me lave les mains                    (I wash my hands)
Je me lave les mains                    (I wash my hands)
Le lavabo ou le bidet  (In the bathtub or the bidet)
Un peu d’eau et je suis
prête                           (A little water and I’m ready
)
Je me lave les mains               (I wash my hands.)

 THE LITTLE RED PREMIER

By June, all was going well with controlling COVID until a second spike hit in Melbourne, resulting in an extreme lockdown. The cause was traced to lax enforcement of quarantine, which had been placed in the hands of private security firms. An inquiry was held, heads rolled, no one claimed to know who made the decision to use these companies, and everyone blamed everyone else.

Premier Dan Andrews was heavily criticised by the federal government and by certain sections of the media. The right wing press christened him ‘Chairman Dan.’

(Based on The Little Red Hen)
As you’ve been such good girls and boys, and washed your hands so beautifully, I think you deserve a story. .Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Once upon a time, there was a Little Red Premier who lived in Melbourne. He was friends with a policeman, two Departmental Secretaries, the big boss of all the Public Service, and three cabinet ministers.

One day the Little Red Premier found to his surprise that some naughty private security guards were making a big mess of hotel quarantine. The Little Red Premier had no idea who decided to give them these jobs so he asked his friends ‘Who will help me find out?’

‘Not I’, barked the plodding policeman. ‘I can’t help you because, even though I didn’t want to stand outside hotels all day, I don’t know who gave the jobs to those naughty security guards.

‘Not us’, purred the sleepy Secretaries of Government Departments. ‘We can’t help you because even though we each had responsibility, we blame each other.’

‘Not I’, quacked the noisy boss of all the Public Service. ‘I can’t help you because even though I’m the big boss I refer you to Referring Officer.’

‘Not us’, roared the busy Cabinet Ministers. ‘We can’t help you because we know nothing.’ ‘Then I will find out’ bleated the Little Red Premier, and he called an inquiry all by himself.

‘Who will help me tell the inquiry whose idea it was to give jobs to these naughty security guards?’ asked the Little Red Premier.

‘Not I’ barked the plodding policeman. ‘I can’t help you because it was the responsibility of the government departments.’

‘Not us’, purred the sleepy Secretaries of the Government Departments. ‘We can’t help you because it was controlled by the big boss of the Public Service’.

‘Not I’, quacked the noisy boss of the Public Service. ‘I can’t help you because even though I’m the big boss it was the Cabinet Ministers’ fault’.

‘Not us’, roared the busy Cabinet Ministers. ‘We can’t help you because it’s the Premier who’s in charge’.

‘Then I will tell the enquiry all by myself’, said the Little Red Premier.

And after 25 days of hearings, 62 witnesses, 200 000 pages, 3 million dollars, and a lost email or two, the Little Red Premier said something about the buck stopping here.

TIME OF THE SIGNS

After an initial surge, Canberra was mercifully free of infections for quite a while. So we were able to get our choir back together in the second half of 2020, with 2 metres distance between each singer. About 30 of the 50 members came back, and continue to do so, with numbers gradually increasing. It’s been a bit weird though, because without the other singers right next to you, you feel like you’re singing on your own, which is not why people join community choirs.

With singing actually banned in some states, I decided to come up with a COVID-safe song- one that could be performed without singing all the way.

The idea came to me from a common sight on our TV screens throughout all the dramas of 2020. As our political leaders, fire commissioners, health officers and the like kept the community up to date on the latest threats and dangers, and how to stay safe, one constant feature has been the wonderfully animated and expressive sign language interpreters.

Moya and I looked up key words online, and we came up with a way to sign throughout the song. We took liberties with some of the signs, but our main intention was to pay tribute to these interpreters.

In the version in the show, we cut short the section that is signs only. When the choir does it, they sign their way through all the lyrics, without singing.

Koala
Your home is
In danger
Koala
No time could
Be stranger
Red the sky
Search for safer ground
Flames on high
Flames on high
Koala
Your home is
In danger

Musician
Your work is
In danger
Musician
No time could
Be stranger
Your notes fill the air
But no one is listening
Except for a chair
Empty chair

Musician
Your work is
In danger

It’s the time of the signs
Of reading between the lines
It’s the time
Of the signs
The time of the signs

SIGNS

REPEAT CHORUS

Koala, musician, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh.

BARILARO/ALBO/JOEL

Our local member is the deputy premier of NSW, John Barilaro. He is also one of the reasons the NSW government had some fun and games with their koala habitat protection legislation. Barilaro’s objection was that it would make it hard for farmers to clear land.

One thing you can’t accuse Mr B of is keeping a low profile- we can’t open a paper or put on the tellie without seeing yet another photo opportunity featuring his hair-gelled visage.

(To the tune of Little Arrows)
Barilaro in your paper
Barilaro on your screen
Barilaro on your radio
And all places in between
Barilaro’s there on Facebook
Barilaro’s in your hair
So pity us in Bungers
Barilaro’s everywhere

(To the tune of Roll Out the Barrel)
Roll out the Barilaro
He’s a Barilaro of fun
The Member for Monaro
He’s got the news on the run
Save the koala
They don’t need no gel in their hair
How much Mr. Barilaro
Can a koala bear?

With so many state and federal leaders in the limelight throughout this weird time, Opposition leaders have had a hard time being heard. Take Albo for instance. Did he go missing in action? He said he was back, ‘no more Mister Nice Guy,’ but do we even remember how to pronounce his name?

(To the tune of Funiculi Funicula)
Albo, Albo, will you help us please?
Is it Al-ba-neas-y, or is it Al-ban-ease?
Or Al-ba-naise, or Al-ba-nais-ey, Al-ba-neas-y, Al-ba-nease
We think we’re going crazy, Albo, will you help us please?

In the wake of its devastating loss at the last election, the poor old Labor Party experienced some internal troubles in 2020, when it came to reaching a unified stand on fossil fuels. Do they support the blue collar voters, or cosy up to the latte-sippers in the inner city? The former Shadow Minister for Agriculture, federal Member for Hunter, Mister Joel Fitzgibbon thought he had the answer.

(To the tune of Ol’ Man River)
Joel Fitzgibbon
Dat Joel Fitzgibbon
He always says somethin’
But don’t know nuthin’
Dat Joel Fitzgibbon
He just keeps coalin’ along

The ALP
Think Joel’s insane
Butler is subtler
Says Joel’s a pain
Pipe that gas
And mine that seam
No wind farming
In Joel’s pipe dream

Joel gits weary
And tired of drooling
Over coal firing
And fossil fuelling
Dat Joel Fitzgibbon
He just keeps coalin’ along.

EVERY TIME THAT YOU LOG ON TO ZOOM

One of the changes that affected us all in 2020 was the difficulty in being able to communicate face-to-face with family, friends, colleagues, clients etc, which led to the incredibly increased use of a certain online platform.

(To the tune of When You Walk in the Room)
I can feel a new obsession on your face
As another online session’s taking place
Voices from your past life you exhume
Every time that you log on to Zoom

I prick my ears for a second, that’s the moment I think
That I’ll only understand you out of sync
When you’re on that screen you’re so over the moon
Every time that you log on to Zoom

Maybe it’s a dream come true
All those people in the room with you
Wish I could tell you that they’re not really there
But I only have the nerve to stare

I can feel a nervous shaking in my knee
Every time you get a new ID
Another bookcase in yet another room
Every time that you log on to Zoom
Every time that you log on to Zoom.

ANOTHER TUESDAY NIGHT IN BRUNSWICK

Like many other NSW and ACT residents, we have good friends and close family in Melbourne- all my children, grandchildren, and sons and daughters-in-law live there.

During the height of the long second lockdown, I was on the phone to my daughter, and she had the speaker on so that I was talking to the whole family. At the end of the conversation, without thinking, I said ‘I have to go now because we’re going out to dinner with friends.’ This did not go down well.

During that second spike down south, I heard a segment on Radio National in which a journalist had gained permission to venture onto the city streets after curfew and described what he saw. It was so eerie and evocative, with tales of foxes and empty trams. Then a friend told me how she was paranoid about forgetting to put the garbage out and having to do it after curfew. And one night, when I was talking to one of my sons, he was very envious when I told him I was going to the movies. He reacted by saying that his big night out is garbage night. With all that in mind, I wrote this, with some make-up advice from Moya.

The night before I wrote it, we were rehearsing a Polish folk song with the choir, and the tune was buzzing around my head. Consequently, there is a certain Polish atmosphere to my song.

(Garbage night in Brunswick is actually Monday, but Tuesday sounded better when sung.)

Another Tuesday night in Brunswick
Garbage night, the highlight of the week
Another chance to meet my neighbours
And check the busy nightlife on my street

But first some time to put my face on
That’s one thing I can’t go out without
Some lipstick, blusher and mascara
Garbage night, my big night out

My hairstyle it is still in lockdown
In need of mousse and hairspray by the ton
I choose my outfit with such relish
And earrings that will dazzle everyone

From my exclusive range of mask wear
I choose the most alluring I can flout
So I’ll look good beneath the lamplight
Garbage night, my big night out

And now I grab each wheelie bin
On cold cement, they make a din
Recycled bottles clink and clank
I don’t remember drinking that

A canine chorus is responding
They appreciate the effort I have made
The bloke across the road is dancing
Neath the twinkle of the stars on my parade

I hear two cars out in the distance
It’s almost peak hour in the roundabout
An empty tram, its bell is ringing
Garbage night, my big night out

The bins attract a prowling cat
A fox pops up to have a chat
They both come by to get a bite
Like me they love a garbage night

Another Tuesday night in Brunswick
The Town Hall clock will soon be striking nine
So much excitement for one evening
But must be back inside by curfew time

Goodbye to foxes, cats and dancers
And cars and trams, I’ll see you soon, no doubt
We’ll do it all again next Tuesday
Garbage night, my big night out
Garbage night, my big night out
Another Tuesday night in Brunswick.

ELECTION FEVER

Just before our show started, there was a run of elections, here and around the world.

In New Zealand, Jacinda Ahern was returned as Labour Prime Minister with an increased majority.

In Queensland, it was Labor’s Annastacia Palaszczuk who romped back in, also with an increased majority, proving that closing borders was popular.

In the USA, Joe Biden became President-elect.

And in the ACT, Labor’s Andrew Barr beat opposition leader, Alistair Coe, but both main parties lost seats to the Greens.

All of these took place within weeks of each other, so it was a case of election fever.

(To the tune of Fever)
Andrew Barr of Canberra Labor
Gave young Alistair the boot
Another four years of Andrew
Before we see another corflute

Election fever
At postal voting
Fever at opinion polls
Election fever
When you’re losing
Fever when you’re on a roll

Everybody loved Jacinda
Everybody felt the same
The country put their arms around her
And she only has herself to blame

Election fever
In a landslide
Fever when the count is tight
Election fever
On the ballot
Fever on election night

Annastacia up in Queensland
Now she’s got another go
Will she open up the borders
Is she Queensland’s friend or foe?

Election fever
At the football
Fever

Trump he’s stayin’ in the White House
There’s no way he’s gonna go
He says it was a rigged election
Engineered by Sleepy Joe

Election fever
On the hustings
Fever in a fiery debate
Election fever
In the fake news
Yeah, he’ll make America great

Now you’ve listened to my story
Here’s the point that I have made
Democracy’ll give you fever
Be it Fahrenheit or Centigrade

Election fever
Sausage sizzle
Fever with each snag you turn
Fever, watch ‘em sizzle
What a lovely way to burn
What a lovely way to burn
What a lovely way to burn.

LEARLESS FEEDERS

The Two Ronnies popularised spoonerisms with their Rindercella many years ago, and Washington’s political satire group, Capitol Steps, have continued the tradition. We always end our shows with our take on this- Learless Feeders.

JOHN
The first learless feeder is a former Mime Prinister, Ony Tabbott- One Prick Tony himself. They let him lie to Flondon so he could burk for Wrexit. Was it a case of sending bumone sack where he frame com.

MOYA
But aren’t we glad he’s issed poff! If he packed his Smudgie Bugglers, will he wear them in the widdle of minter? He’ll breeze his falls off.

JOHN
Same with Cardinal Peorge Gell. During the Coyal Romission, he was too fick to sly. But now, bo and lehold, they let him iss poff to Rome.

MOYA
Pro nobs. Will his absence make the fart grow honder? I thon’t dink so.

JOHN
And Talcolm Murnbull? After being a big pissadointment, he’s gone back to being a bealthy wanker. And now he’s bitten a rook. And that rook nigs the dife into Deter Putton and Cathias Mormann. And the title of that rook? A Pigger Bitcher.

MOYA
Then there’s our current Mime Prinister, Mott Scorrison, MoSco a mappily harried mamily fan. Always looking out for Ken and the jids.

JOHN
But MoSco’s not a very fart smeller. He wants to build a fas-gired stower pation in the Vunter Halley.

MOYA
He might have chitten off more than he can bew.

JOHN
And thanks to COVID 91, the hit shit the fan, and the economy’s up crit sheek. pithout a waddle.

MOYA
So our Treasurer, Frosh Jeidenberg, has brought down a new Budget – but what a Bokey Bludget ….it promises wuck all for fimmen.

JOHN
As for the Pabour Larty, they’re in sheep dit. They can’t get a doe in toor. They can’t see the trood for the wees. They’re in trig bubble.

MOYA
Will Ablo ever be Mime Prinister? Nuck foes.

JOHN
Then there’s Bladys Geragicklian…. She lell in fove with a podgy dolitician who kept pining his lockets while he was gonking Bladys.

MOYA
And Tronald Dump- a dealer wheeler who’s as mad as a snut cake. With a Q.I. in dingle sigits! He may have a Wophy Trife, but he’s not exactly hung and yandsome!

JOHN
Who could forget that rain treck of a debate when Tronald Dump kept on utting bin, till Boe Jiden told him to ut the shuck fup.

MOYA
That’s when Dump’s poll numbers started to flop off like dries. So he throws a Parden Garty at the Hite Wouse. And foo hor? The jew nudge- Amy Boney Carrot.

JOHN
Then he goes and gets the Vorona Cirus, calls it a flittle loo. In no time at all, he gets a clean hill of bealth. Was it all nake fews?

MOYA
After all the blow lows and trirty dicks, Boe Jiden, a man who can barely string woo turds together, will soon be Freeder of the Wee Lorld. Let’s hope someone somewhere can give us some hoy in our jarts, some soap in our holes,

BOTH
and a hand grope for the future.

THE WAY WE WERE

After a year like this, will we ever return to the way we were?

(To the tune of The Way We Were)
Memories
Of the life we left behind
Misty rosy-coloured memories
Of the way we were

Toilet paper
We bought 6 rolls at a time
Hugs we gave to one another
That’s the way we were

Can it be that we were all so social then
When we were working overtime
If we had the chance to be employed again
Tell me, would we?
Should we?

Global emissions
Oh how high they used to get
They decreased by late September
From levels we will not forget
Now they’re back up in November
Even higher by December
Is that when we’ll remember
The way we were
The way we were.

GOING VIRAL THEME

We finished our show with a poem that did the rounds via the internet during lockdown. We thought it was written 150 years ago, and reprinted during the 1919 pandemic.

Proving that you shouldn’t believe everything that’s stated as truth on the internet, we later discovered that it was actually written in 2020 by Kitty O’Meara.

The poem was integrated into our closing song, a reprise of the opener, Going Viral.

POEM
And people stayed at home
And read books
And listened
And did exercises
And made art and played
And learned new ways of being
And stopped and listened
More deeply

Someone meditated, someone prayed
Someone met their shadow
And people began to think differently
And people healed
And in the absence of people who
Lived in ignorant ways
Dangerous, meaningless and heartless
The earth also began to heal.

SONG
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.

POEM
And when the danger ended and
People found themselves
They grieved for the dead
And made new choices
And dreamed of new visions
And created new ways of living
And completely healed the earth
Just as they were healed.

SONG
No one’s going to the footy
No one’s going to the gym
No-one’s going begging
For a night out on the tiles
We’re all just going viral
For a while
We’re all just going viral for a while.

NOTES

Songs and credits
All songs and parody lyrics by John Shortis
In Einer Molltonart (translation by Gisela Pullen, Karl Gordon, Jean-Yves Poncelet)
Je Me Lave Les Mains
(translation by Jean-Yves Poncelet)
Sounds of Silence
by Paul Simon
Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town by Mel Tillis
Da Doo Ron Ron by Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry, Phil Spector
Yellow Submarine by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore
The Little Red Hen, a traditional folk tale
A Policeman’s Lot Is Not a Happy One by W S Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan
Rock-a-Bye Baby
, a traditional nursery rhyme
Kalinka
by Ivan Larionov
Theme from Fawlty Towers
by Dennis Wilson
Little Arrows by Mike Hazlewood and Albert Hammond
Funiculi Funicula by Luigi Denza and Peppino Turco
Ol’ Man River by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II
When You Walk In The Room by Jackie De Shannon
Fever by Otis Blackwell and Eddie Cooley
The Way We Were by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Marvin Hamlisch Jr
And The People Stayed Home by Kitty O’Meara.

Books
Deadly Encounters- (how infectious diseases helped shape Australia) by Peter Curson

Newspapers
Sydney Morning Herald Nov 1918-Sept 1919

Online
How Australia’s response to the Spanish Flu of 1919 sounds warnings on dealing with Coronavirus by Frank Bongiorno (The Conversation-March 22, 2020)

Show performed Nov 2020
Essay written March 2021