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Oh, to be free as a bird from the Covid naysayers

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'Far from offering protection, dirty masks might be spreading the virus' (stock image)

'Far from offering protection, dirty masks might be spreading the virus' (stock image)

'Far from offering protection, dirty masks might be spreading the virus' (stock image)

And so the lockdown rolls on, this country town confining us like birds to a cage. It seems so empty sometimes that I'm surprised when I see the chemists and butchers open. As the old Morrissey song moans: "Every day is like Sunday". And with endless restrictions on how we can spend it, not one bit independent.

Though it feels like 'Fun Friday' in Dunphy's Foodstore, where the staff are as upbeat as ever. Perhaps that has something to do with the owner's attitude. "I'm lucky to have such great people working for me," he says.

Never a truer word, for surely we pay lip service to so-called frontline workers who are rewarded with little more than that phrase despite working flat out since this crisis began. Going stir-crazy at home is better than playing Russian roulette - or Chinese chances - with a potentially deadly virus. Especially as there is clear evidence that Covid can be caught in shops, adding to the stress levels of employees who also have to contend with careless and even contemptuous customers.

One fellow who works in the local supermarket fumed from beneath his face mask about folk "who don't give a damn, waltzing in and out all day to pick up one or two items" and being disrespectful if staff dare question their protection protocol. And a woman on the check-out in the other supermarket had to ask customers to leave because they wouldn't wear face coverings.

Though some are only going through the motions when it comes to masks, walking around with a disposable one hooked under their chin all day and yanking it up when they enter shops. Far from offering protection, dirty masks might be spreading the virus.

The young at heart had better steer clear of those heartless young who prefer hedonism to heroics, according to a part-time assistant in the local store, one of the thousands of students being cheated out of a real college experience because of Covid. She was seething after serving a teenager who bragged about the house party she was going to that evening.

Little wonder more of us are buying online - though Brexit growing pains have made that a bumpy road as I discovered when I tried to order my regular high-protein bird food from the local Petmania where Deirdre revealed "even my parents are giving out to me". For feeding the birds has been one of very few pleasures during a pandemic that has made them prisoners in their home. "We do our best," Deirdre said, "but we can't beat Brexit."

But actually Deirdre outwitted it, searching other stores to find excellent substitutes that were promptly delivered, along with a note offering an unnecessary apology and the hope that "the birds in Thomastown will be happy".

What, you mean those winged warblers that don't wear masks and can fly beyond 5km, now eating the finest food? Oh, for Covid to end so we can all finally be free as a bird!

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