The wan fridge bulb has finally shone through the gap left by the removal of the boxes of prawn skewers, duck rolls and various party platters. It was a Newgrange moment to welcome in 2022.
This was the first sign the gorging was over and the soda bread days were on the way back. A time for resolutions and resolve.
The longer evenings and the brighter skies give hope for a new beginning. The number of Covid carriers increases by the day. Is this the darkest hour before the dawn?
You’re no one around here if you haven’t had Covid – and there’s even a type of virus snobbery. I can imagine the old boys sitting around the fire in 60 or 70 years from now, comparing diseases. “Ah, musha man,” one bore will say. “Sure, didn’t I have the first one – the Delta – with ’ere a sign of a vaccine. The free-range Delta was the man to make you say your prayers.”
Omicron will be dismissed as a mere flu. History will be written by the survivors. The older you are, the surer you are to get away uninterrupted with proclaiming the story of personal glory. This man I knew from when we played football wouldn’t kick snow off a rope. He was telling us about all the lads he nearly killed when domestic dinosaurs were sent out grazing to keep the grass down in Frank Sheehy Park.
It was after the North Kerry final win for Castleisland Desmonds last Sunday. Their manager, Dr Dave Geaney, is probably the oldest trainer in the country. Now, there’s a man who never had to mythologise his career. Man and boy he played the game. There’s no better coach. Dave was doctor to the Kerry team for several decades.
But the other laoch was a different story. He was going on and on about how good he was. I’d had enough. This is Gaelic football, after all, the holy game, where the veracity of great deeds must be ruthlessly investigated to ensure the integrity of achievement. But then the bragger bluffer changed tack. He started to praise me. I kept my mouth shut after that.
The pandemic is rife. Sensible people who were vaccinated and pinched again have been struck. Some will suffer more than others. Some will die, but it seems fairly certain now that the Omicron is less severe.
There’s a good news story for men on this the first day of 2021. The “all men are malingerers” claims may be gone forever. There was a time, not that long ago, when a man with flu-like symptoms was diagnosed by those who loved him most as a whinger. The poor man would be there in the bed suffering from the flu and he’s “wake as a sop”. This means he’s as weak as a stem of hay that’s easily broken.
The men in bed with the flu used to have to make do with a tiny 14-inch TV with a clothes hanger sticking out of a port by way of an aerial. Such is the nature of suffering, and he got no sympathy. Now at least we have the phone and the tablet.
The New Year’s good news is that Covid has killed off the so-called man flu. When we men are accused of being weak and giving in at the first sign of a tickly cough or a sandpaper throat, all we have to do is show our cert from the HSE. “There it is,” we say. “Look at the proof before your very eyes. I’m sick. It’s official.”
I’m thinking of inventing a test for the ordinary flu and the men can show the cert.
I’m fairly certain the man flu bias goes back to a comment made by a father from these parts. My mam told me the story. His wife was after going through a particularly tough labour back in the days when the only pain relief for women was to “offer it up”, as in “offer it up to God”.
Mam asked the new mother how the labour went. The husband replied before his wife could answer. “Sure, it was no bother to us,” he said.
His poor wife who had been sundered was angry. Would you blame her? There would be more children to come in days when women were mere incubators for the expansion of the Catholic head count. This may be the origin of the accusation known as man flu.
The whole Covid carry-on has impacted on relationships. One man told me his partner will only let him near her if he follows a safety regime that includes masks, condoms, snap ties, boosters and the snip.
I told ye about the flu cert plan. I was just thinking the flu cert might catch out men who pretend to be sick at times like Cheltenham.
I’m not sure if the cat flap plan will make sex any safer.
The pub trade is tough going right now, even though the government supports are a great help. I’ve had many Leonardo moments lately. Do you know the way dinners and vital supplies such as strong drink have to be left outdoors, or outside the doors of Covid isolators? Well, there are disadvantages, such as the danger of cats robbing the dinner and then the dinner can go cold.
The cat flap will have a hoist for a mini beer beg with a cooler. Lovers can hold hands, with gloves on, through a specially constructed aperture. They can simulate touch or kisses through a glass screen like the lad who was in prison in Midnight Express.
When you’re banged up with the Covid, the day should be planned carefully. I spent the first few days of the lock-up sweating, sleeping and inventing. I had my cert to prove I was really sick. I missed the company.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing more harm than good by staying open, but people tell me the mental health benefits outweigh the Covid dangers. I don’t know what to do. Every day there’s a challenge or a decision to be made. Money doesn’t come into it.
Right now, closing is marginally more profitable than staying open. We were closed this time last year. The empty bar was a lonely place without a soul.
The rest of the good news for this, the first day of 2021, is that the taste is back. The smell isn’t quite there yet, but I do get the occasional malodorous whiff.
I tried out my first pint in six weeks, and it was so nice that more porter had to be drunk to stimulate the taste buds.