By now I am sure some of you at least have seen last Monday night's 'Claire Byrne Live' on RTÉ One.
But before we go any further I have to declare an interest. Is this the first time ever a TV contributor critiqued a show he appeared in himself?
Guess what part I played on the set of 'Fair City'. I was barman. It was a classic case of art imitating life. John B's was always more of a stage than a bar. Life is a soap anyway and us bar staff are the actors.
Ours is a small pub. The intimacy that was once our strength is now our weakness.
There are two possible systems that can be put in place come opening day. One is the crude two-metre rule put in place by the HSE, and the other is the WHO proposal which allows one metre between customers.
It hasn't yet been decided which system will operate.
I had only the three customers, which was a poor enough turn-out when you consider McCoys of Carrigstown was probably the only pub in Ireland serving drink.
The punters weren't exactly a band of raving drunks. Claire Byrne and Nuala Carey were on the water. Joe Duffy had a half of Guinness out of a warm can. It was tough on Joe. There he was, worn out after listening and talking to a load of people who wanted to vent their troubles on 'Liveline'. Then, at the end of a tough week, all he gets to drink is a can. I'd rather drink out of a pee pot than a can. RTÉ should have hired a stunt man. There is no substitute for a pint of draught.
Claire is not only a wonderful journalist but she is also a people person who put me at ease. I'd say Nuala hates giving out bad weather forecasts.
Joe is a pro. He is old school. His first duty is to the listeners and viewers. Joe said he wouldn't be going to the pub in August. He felt it was too soon. Joe was entitled to hold that view. Joe loves having a drink in his local. He may be right. He may be wrong. Only time will tell.
I never get nervous before a TV show. I get nervous after, because of what I said, or should have said, or didn't say. I had to tell it as it was. I'm not only a barman but a citizen of the Republic of Ireland. The return of the pubs poses problems and I'm not sure how this will play out. I'm hoping and praying we will be able to open up and keep everyone fairly safe.
Fairly safe is as good as it gets. Not just for pubs but for every shop in Ireland.
I have been having these terrible dreams since Covid-19 started. On Monday night I was killed by a crazed customer. Now I know how Lazarus felt when he walked out of his tomb. The relief at being born again.
Sometimes the night amplifies our problems but the troubles were all still there when the sun rose the next morning.
Hundreds of thousands of people watched 'Claire Byrne Live'. I felt the heat all this week. Some of the pubs were not happy but most of the bar people I spoke to were supportive.
I got a fair hearing. The main reason I spoke was to open the debate and show people the problems facing pubs. The studio showed Joe and Nuala sitting two metres apart. McCoys looked lonesome, and there was a sense of foreboding, what with the crime scene-style tape and the emptiness.
There was no other way of showing how the two-metre rule would work in practice. TV is about seeing.
A real pub wouldn't have the tape. We would get the aesthetics right and there would be people sitting together, if they are from the same household. I am certain the customers will talk up and those who are quiet people will love listening in. This is what happened in McCoy's. We were lost in conversation.
Private whispers and cutting up will have to be kept for the phone. The pub will become a people's parliament. We are a nation of talkers. All we have to do is talk louder.
There is no way the two-metre rule will work for most pubs. We just wouldn't take in enough money. There are extra overheads and costs associated with keeping people safe and separated.
At some stage Ireland is going to have to take some level of risk with people's health and the customers will have to make up their own minds.
The situation is not unlike going out for a drive in the car. There will be fatalities and injuries. This is a risk we take every day of our lives.
So what, then, is an acceptable level of risk? This is almost like a mathematical equation.
Yet these are people's lives we are dealing with here, not numbers or stats. And this is why I'm not sleeping at night.
The very low rate of herd immunity will lead to more deaths if we have another outbreak. The economy will not be able to sustain the Covid payments. People get sick too from money worries, and loneliness. The risk/reward balance works if you do not get sick, and it fails if you do.
In time, there will be an inquiry as to how the decision was arrived at, by the incoming government. Theirs is an impossible task.
The responsibility must be shared and must be all-party. This is practical patriotism.
As for me, in my small pub, all I can do is wait and see how this plays out over the coming weeks.
How we manage the crisis and how the dice rolls will decide the course of the rest of all our lives.
When I was a kid I could never understand why Jackie McGillicuddy, who owns Corbett's Toy Shop, didn't give the whole day to playing with the toys.
I have my own toy shop, but I don't drink in it right now. The pub is too lonesome, especially at night. I keep looking around trying to figure out how the spacing will work, but John B's is still the same size.
On Tuesday I sent the black dog packing to the pound, with his tail between his legs. He is barred and I hope no-one takes him as a rescue dog. In the end I got sick of myself. The mourning is over.
Do not despair. Pubs will breathe freedom again. It's a question of how and when.
Some of you will drink the sweetest pints ever when we are up and running. As for me, there will be no drinking, I'm going to give the whole day to talking.