Two weeks of lockdown over; three weeks more to come - and even then, not even any vestige of a lifting of any of the strictures of the lockdown.
In three weeks' time, we will have the May bank holiday weekend. I remember so well it was Ruairí Quinn who, as the Labour Minister for Enterprise and Employment, brought in that May Day bank holiday weekend. He had told the unions that, if he found himself in a position of power, he would do so, and he very swiftly followed up on it.
That May Day holiday was already, at the time, in many countries like France and others in Europe, where the Socialist idea of a May break had been evident for years. So Ruairí Quinn brought in his May bank holiday weekend.
By this time three weeks, we will have gone through altogether more than five weeks of the extreme social and economic strictures. We all know they have to be done, there is no doubt about it, and yet it is so difficult not to be able to go to the front door, open it, step into the car and drive up the road. I feel it so deeply, and I know so many others do as well.
Aren't An Post doing remarkable work since all this happened? David McRedmond, who is the CEO of An Post, has brought about so many wonderful people-based reliefs that it is truly amazing. The first thing was that he didn't go ahead with the increase in the price of the postage stamp, which had already been announced - that was cancelled. With the help of the Communications Workers Union, all the staff of An Post set to work on a response within the community.
After all, it's the one service which inevitably will end up at everyone's door, and they were in a position to have a unique overview of the people they serve when they deliver post. So they are now looking after the solitary person, enquiring what they can do for them. Allied to that, they have got into the delivery of newspapers, again through the postman or postwoman. They will take away your letters if you have them ready for posting, and they have delivered a wonderful array of free postage postcards all around the country; it is amazing to receive one of them in the mail from somebody living far away who decided to use the opportunity to get in touch with a person again.
Well done, An Post, for all of your various activities.
We had the sad death during last week of Dr John Lynch, who in his day had been a public servant who did much for this country. In the 1980s he was the head of Bord Gáis. He went on to be the head of FÁS, and later the executive chairman of all of the CIÉ companies.
He always said that he was appointed by ministers of the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and Progressive Democrat variety, so he served no one political master, but he served Ireland well. He was a very valued contributor to the Irish Independent, and I understand that his regular Monday columns had a cult following. He discussed shares and the economic outlook of the various countries.
I knew him well and worked well with him, and I would like to offer my sympathy to his partner Cathy and to his extended family and friends.
Putting up with, and living with, social isolation has been that bit easier because of the wonderful weather of the last number of days - to be able to sit out and read your paper, even at home, and to forget for a moment the isolation in which we are living.
I wanted to end with a cheerful note, and I think the following quartet of lines says it all:
'My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
It gives a lovely light!'
The title of the quartet is Figs From Thistles by the American poet Edna St Vincent Millay. This has echoes of Horace's Carpe Diem, and of the following lines by Robert Herrick:
'Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And that same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.'
Even saying these words gives me hope, that the good times will come again.
Slán ó Áth Luain,
Tomorrow: Sophie White on why Room to Improve is the ultimate pandemic comfort watch
So what have I been doing since we last spoke together? Not much - like anyone else of my age. However, last Friday I decided that I saw no forbidding of driving, so I dressed myself up, put on my smart red jacket, got my car keys and proceeded to drive down through the town of Athlone.
Life is all changed, changed utterly, since the Taoiseach gave last Friday night's declaration. People of my age are really in lockdown; you simply cannot leave the house. I find this restriction very difficult, as I had got used to taking off in my car and having a little drive, just a few miles here and there, and coming back home refreshed again.