Reporters Lisa Urbani and Gianina Schwanecke attempting to work from home with little help from new colleague ‘Gerry’ [Gerry is a combination of a Tupperware container, a jersey, a bunya pinecone, and assorted accessories]. PHOTO/REINHARD SCHWANECKE

With news production listed as an essential service, Wairarapa Times-Age reporters have been working hard over lockdown to bring great local stories to readers. The world may have slowed down but the news never stops.

LISA URBANI
lisa.urbani@age.co.nz

I had been working officially at the Times-Age, and more specifically the Wairarapa Midweek, for two weeks when we had to go into lockdown.

Ensconced at the dining room table in a quiet part of our house, we are being well looked after by our three menfolk.

My sons Reinhard and Jurgen are shopping and cooking.

My husband Konrad wields a vacuum cleaner with great skill, when not fixing his tractor.

He does dishes and laundry too, although he is very surprised at the amount we generate, in our household of five.

His constant refrain is, “but I just did the dishes/washing?!!”

Now he feels my pain over the past 18 years of domesticity.

It’s not entirely unpleasant going into our “office” each morning to work, while the lads take care of household chores.

I am so proud of them, and of Gianina, my daughter, who always gives of her best, and has taught me a lot.

All the same, we miss being at the office and being able to interact with our colleagues, and people we interview.

Luckily, we have ‘Gerry’, our mysterious imaginary colleague.

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

He’s a quiet chap, our new colleague Gerry.

But he’s certainly always willing to lend an ear when there’s a problem.

Sources not getting back to you? Internet suddenly slow? Coffee cups all over your workspace? Blame it on Gerry.

Our real colleagues may have to get used to us randomly talking to wisps of air when life gets back to normal and we return to the office.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the opportunity to spread out across the dining room table which can easily accommodate 10 people.

Regular cups of tea and a view of our garden, much happier after the rain, also make for a good work environment.

I’m now more convinced than ever that we need an office dog with ready access to pats and cuddles from three of our best.

Even Kim, my brother’s supposed farm dog has been caught in our office at least once making herself at home.

It’s something I might push for when we get back.

If it’s Gerry or an office dog I know what my choice is.

Sorry Gerry.

MARCUS ANSELM
marcus.anselm@age.co.nz

Local Democracy Reporter Marcus Anselm is usually based at the Wairarapa Times-Age office. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Herding cats and dealing with IT problems have been the main hurdles in week one of the lockdown.

Our two pet moggies are always floating around the kitchen in the afternoon.

I’ve locked myself in a bedroom and they don’t seem to be interested, as it’s a bit cold and there’s no food – just lots and lots of black coffee.

Here’s me at my better half’s temporary workspace in our kitchen.

She’s already had to call her organisation’s IT department when her laptop crashed.

They recommended turning it on and off again, of course.

That did not work. A replacement is not imminent.

The Times-Age’s technology has been seamless as ever [so far!].

Many thanks to operations manager Bevan and the team.

My wife and I worked in the same building for the best part of the past decade, so the proximity isn’t a problem.

The major issue is that I have been tasked as designated shopper.

I’m never the best at grocery shopping – it was actually a relief to see the store fairly empty – and a few other men who looked as scared as I.

Of course, I forgot at least three essential items.

Interviews over video are interesting – I had views of different angles of certain local elected representatives this week – and I wish I had bought shares in Zoom a while back.

Also, not getting out and about means we’re using a lot of file photos, so please be kind if you’re interviewed and we use an old image.

And I’ve had at least one old colleague contact us for royalty payments.

Stay safe, stay home, and take care.

It will be great to see everyone again, hopefully as soon as possible.

ARTHUR HAWKES
arthur.hawkes@age.co.nz

Arthur Hawkes only had one day in the Times-Age office before having to work from home. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

My journey to New Zealand comprised numerous airports, a lot of miscommunication, cancellation, and finally a 12-hour layover in Sydney to top it all off.

When I got into Wellington I could’ve kissed the tarmac, had I not been strictly adhering to covid-19 intimacy policy.

While it was before the mandatory self-isolation for arrivals, when I got here, I still kept a good distance from my gracious host and dear uncle, John – and after 40 hours with no showering, he needed
little convincing.

My next task was to buy a car, which resulted in a 20-year-old two-litre Nissan sedan, in a colour you could very optimistically call red.

I was all set to start writing for the Times-Age, where I’d been offered a job from an application I sent from my small village in southwest England, Stogursey, christened so by the court of William the Conqueror in the 11th century.

After a few weeks ‘chilling’ –time I now wish I’d spent being aggressively gregarious – my first day rolled around.

Everything went well and I was so glad to finally meet all my talented colleagues.

Then, at lunchtime, Monday, March 23, the government announced the lockdown.

It’s certainly been a weird anticlimax.

So, I’m working from home, awaiting my official day number two in the office!

It’s not all bad, though – there are dogs at home.