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Big blue cart eclipsed by the little grey mare

Tom McCaughren


Limitations of lockdown remind Tom McCaughren about life on the farm in the quieter days before television and telephones

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Restored: The old cart that Tom McCaughren's father and his friend William Rodgers built

Restored: The old cart that Tom McCaughren's father and his friend William Rodgers built

Restored: The old cart that Tom McCaughren's father and his friend William Rodgers built

One of the things we miss most at the moment is to be able to call in to one another, sit down, have a coffee and a nice chat. True, we are able to talk on the phone and see one another as we do so. Those of us with the technical know-how can even talk to and see several family members or friends at the same time on our computer or laptop. It's all a great advance in technology and a wonderful moment at a time of lockdown and self-isolation. But it isn't really the same as meeting our family and friends in person when we can give them a big hug and welcome them into the warmth of our home.

It set me thinking that in the days before television, telephones and all the modern gadgets we now enjoy, social contact was even more important to people. In Co Antrim, where I lived, the custom was to leave the back door on the latch so that neighbours could open it with a press of their thumb and drop in any time they liked.

Ours was a farming community and during the week some of our neighbours, mostly men, would come into the kitchen for a chat and a cup of tea. There was no coffee in those days.