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.
Any other time it might look good. But I can sense when people mention it now that they think it's vaguely inappropriate. A tan suggests a certain idleness, like I'm treating all this as some kind of a holiday. It suggests also, at this time, that I am a less-than-serious person, and that I don't care about all the awful things going on around us. People with a tan just tend to look more insouciant. So you get a lot of passive aggressive tan-shaming. I'll be honest: I even judge other people with tans at this stage.
The tan on its own you might get away with. But then you add the shaved head - and not, I should add, an elfin head - and now all I'm missing is a few tattoos and I could be a Millwall fan just back from two weeks on the beer in Benidorm.
I'll give you a tip, though. I have a Philips clippers that I had rarely used, but which has obviously come into its own now. One thing I couldn't figure out was how it only appeared to have two attachments. One gave you a very, very short haircut, and the other gave you a haircut that was still too long. So today I went online to see if I could find a medium-length attachment. Whereupon I found that the new Philips clippers have multiple length settings. Amazing, I thought, how technology has come along. I discovered that the new version has just three attachments, but you can adjust the clippers itself, so each attachment can give many different lengths. It's incredible what they can do now, I thought.
Then something struck me. I went upstairs and got out my clippers. So yep, it turns out I didn't need to arrive into RTE last weekend looking like an escaped convict, even though I had done the head-shaving a full week in advance of going out in public again, in order to let the hair grow in a bit. Turns out that even with my ancient clippers I can have my hair any of 12 different lengths. You learn something new every day. I look forward to a more finely calibrated haircut for the remainder of the proceedings.
I continue to be impressed by children in general. Given the general mollycoddle nature of parenting, you wouldn't have thought they'd be able to handle being cut off from their normal lives. But in fairness to them, most kids seem to have vast stores of acceptance and adaptability, those great qualities that the rest of us spend so much time chasing, through everything from mindfulness courses to consultants from EY and PWC.
Now, don't get me wrong, they will probably all grow up as germaphobic, agoraphobic home bakers with delayed educational development. But given that most adults I know lie awake at 3am worrying about everything from the breakdown of society to the economy, the kids are to be admired in their fortitude.
I see experts worldwide are engaged in a massive big swinging book competition. At the beginning of this pandemic many of them, when Skyping into TV shows, appeared with reasonably neutral backgrounds. But as it has gone on, I notice more of them are remembering to position their computers in front of very impressive book collections. The book collections are a proxy way of showing us what serious people they are.
You could set up a service to deliver fake book collections to people, tailored to different needs, offering packages with everything from Stalingrad to Everything You Need to Know about Pandemics to A Really Big History of the 20th Century. Or you could just give them banners to put behind them. "I've read loads of really serious books so trust me", or just "I've read more books than you have so don't question anything I say". It's only a matter of time now before they put up bookshelves behind NPHET for the daily briefings.
Also you'll notice that none of the experts anywhere have too much of a tan.
I shouldn't bore you with my pandemic dreams but I had the most uncannily real one last night. My aunt Eileen, who was like a second mother to us, was there - she was right there. It was so real. I woke with such a sense of her. I was ecstatic. And she is always the same whenever she appears. I could only describe it as smiling encouragingly.
And I decided in the darkness that we a bit closer to the dead right now. The way the silence has let us hear the birds, maybe it lets us see the dead. In the cold light of day, I realised I probably conjured her because I needed her.
Sunday Indo Living