I needed to get out of Dublin. I needed a change of scene. I needed to break out of the 20 or so square kilometres I had been pacing like a caged beast for three months. The day before I left, I met a woman from Cork. I was getting out of the sea and she just walked up to me and said: "I'm going to Cork tomorrow. I'm going to swim in Myrtleville, and I might swing by Youghal for a swim too, because that's where we used to go on holidays when I was young".
Who knew it would be the 6th class graduation on Zoom that would be the catalyst? I didn't even want to go, if 'go' is the right word for something on Zoom. But I went. I went to the couch and sat with them and peered into the screen.
I think I speak for many of the fathers when I say that we are secretly glad of some aspects of this time. Indeed I'm sure I speak for many of the mothers too. But today, for once, let's focus on the men (joking - relax). And of course I speak for nobody but me. But let me generalise, so that I can be more honest than I might be if I just put it all in the first person.
His colleagues, his family and friends, and the whole country, want Detective Garda Colm Horkan to get the funeral he deserves. The fact that his people are undertakers, who have already buried two of their own, somehow makes it more important.
It's beginning to feel a lot like summer. The weather has turned rotten and our thoughts are turning to how we will save the holiday season. The main plan seems to be that we are all going to 'descend on' our own country and 'congregate' there, in hotels that are full while being half-empty and in over-priced Airbnbs.
I had a pint last Sunday. Two pints. I won't say where. But it was all legal. Insofar as anyone knows what's legal anymore. The guards seem to have been dropping by and keeping an eye on the situation, and while they weren't exactly happy, they weren't exactly unhappy either.
We knew we should disapprove when the CMO mentioned in one of his latest sermons about people holding house parties "with abandon". He said the words with disdain. You suspect the CMO might disapprove of partying with abandon even if there wasn't a pandemic. Which is something we will never know. Because when there is no longer a pandemic, we won't have to listen to the sermons. Indeed, there is a sense his power is ebbing already.
The elder daughter comes on the weekly shop with me. She is now allowed to actually come into the shop rather than just sit in the car. I can tell this week she thinks it's not as fun as it used to be. I suppose it was more exotic before, when it was the only place we went all week, and the roads were deserted, and you might get stopped by the guards. We added a stop in Aldi a few weeks ago, which injected some novelty into the proceedings. But it doesn't feel as adventurous anymore.
We had always suspected it, but on Thursday night's Prime Time we finally got the proof that The Experts are the fun police. There was a conversation going on about the generally agreed truth that the chances of contracting Covid outdoors are fairly minimal. A cranky-looking expert from England looming down at us from a big screen said that, in fact, it was practically zero.
The risks that really matter in life are not the small, day-to-day ones. The risks that matter in life are the things that hardly ever occur, but when they do occur, they are catastrophic. Rare but high impact. You really only need one of these doozies to occur to upend everything. And they do occur. So if we take one thing away from all this, it's got to be that we shouldn't, as the saying goes, sweat the small stuff.
Monday: I'm not sure I've got an appropriate look for the pandemic. First there's the tan. I have a pretty serious tan at this stage. Not totally deliberate, it has to be said. It is my cross to bear that I take a tan easily. It's my dark West Cork blood. While I conduct a certain amount of my business in the back garden, I generally wear a straw hat. But the running cannot be conducted in a straw hat. Neither, as I have discovered, can it be conducted with sun-cream on the face, most of which will end up pooled in your eyes. So I find myself with this very visible tan, which can't be covered by clothes or even a face-mask.
Every other day can feel like a bank holiday and a bank holiday can feel like every other day but just a bit longer, so we need to make a special effort today to do something different. Just to set it apart from the other days. The problem is, when you can't really go anywhere, most things you can do take about an hour at most. So you need a lot of things to do.
As much as we've all been asking for more transparency from the people in charge, it's clear now that the last thing they should have done is given us a plan. And of course when they did give us the so-called roadmap out of lockdown, they stupidly told us it was a "living document", and that it was subject to change.
Current phase, tweaked: people allowed to go 5km for exercise. Cocooners, who were actually allowed to go for a walk before, are now allowed to go for a walk without getting dirty looks. Cocooners can go 5km from their houses like the rest of us, so they can walk 10km, there and back.
Sunday: I don't even like cocktails in real life, but somehow, right now, my week builds up to five o'clock on Sunday. I'm clearly not alone in having cocktail hour. Never have so many been able to have cocktails delivered by so many others. We've graduated onto making our own - more cost effective, and possibly stronger.
You know my love goes with you, as your love stays with me/It's just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea/But let's not talk of love or chains and things we can't untie/Your eyes are soft with sorrow/Hey, that's no way to say goodbye Leonard Cohen
Sunday: I know this might sound a bit eccentric, but today I fashioned a pub in the garage. In between the bikes and various crap, I placed two garden chairs. I dragged out the scraps of carpet that were piled in a corner and layered them down. My wife got in the spirit of it and found an old standing lamp from Ikea. We have a plug-in radiator that we've been using as an outside heater recently, so we moved that into the garage. And I brought out my good Bose bluetooth speaker.
Let’s face it. We needed a good old-fashioned Irish barney. Things had all been too nice. We were all on the same page, in it together, behind the Government, even though they got a hiding in the election. Life was monotonous. There was only a collective destiny.
Sunday night is party night in our house. This means a takeaway and half a bottle of wine. It works for about an hour. Last week we got Thai food from Nightmarket, and it was a refined kind of Thai with lots of different elements and condiments, so for a while we felt quite civilised, like monkeys wearing tuxedos.
Monday: I have come to realise that pretty much everything I do is aimed at preventing depression. The problem, as I see it, is that the way we are being asked to live now looks, from the outside, like depression, so your mind could easily be fooled into thinking you are depressed.
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