Enniscorthy Guardian

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Five steps to a world of pure imagination

Straight Talking

Well, are ye excited? I know I am.

Who knows what's out there, beyond those 2km? This must be how Darwin felt when he discovered new lands.

That interesting looking field in the distance. That bend in the road. The dimly lit settlement frustratingly out of reach. They're all going to be explored, their indigenous flora and fauna gawped at in wonder while the local tribes-people wave at us, hesitantly, from a distance.

That will keep us entertained until May 18, at which point all manner of new and exotic activities will be made available. On that day four people, not of the same household, will be allowed to meet outdoors.

So one Lannister, one Stark, a Targaryen, and say, a wildling? It'll be great. But we'll still have to maintain social distancing. So no fighting lads, and certainly none of that other thing, you know what I'm talking about.

The beaches will also reopen; good luck socially distancing on that day - I live near Curracloe in Wexford and it will resemble the Copacabana on festival weekend. Tennis courts and golf courses will also welcome back their regulars, no problem there. But pitches, whether soccer, GAA or rugby, are no place for polite groups of four; give a man a football and there'll always be another man looking to take it off him.

Also on May 18 some people will be allowed to go back to work: builders, gardeners, outdoorsy types who aren't afraid of getting their hands dirty. Basically all those who've been showing off since the lockdown began; posting pictures of well-mown lawns, pruned bushes and elaborate DIY projects, renovating houses, constructing sheds and complaining of being bored.

No harm for them to be busy again. Meanwhile the rest of us, those with an innate aversion to manual labour, must continue to work remotely until at least Phase 4 which begins on July 20.

I'm not complaining - I'm one of the lucky ones after all - but I have assembled a variety Star Wars figurines beside my laptop and assigned them names eerily similar to those of my work colleagues. Not that I'm missing the office or anything, perish the thought.

Some retailers will reopen on May 18 too. Hardware, homeware and electrical stores will offer a welcome alternative to the supermarket and a chance to try out one of the many new outfits we've bought online since this all began.

That's Phase 1. It will probably be like Caligula's last days. And just when the excitement of it all is beginning to waver, they'll give us more things with which to amuse ourselves.

Remember those outdoor meetings between four members of different households? Come June 8 you'll be able to have them indoors. I don't want to put ideas into anyone's head, but I think we all know what this means; expect the 'coronababies' to start appearing sometime around March 2021.

And having exhausted the 5km radius, met all the different tribespeople, examined the nice flowers over the side of the hill, we'll be flung into the hinterlands, given license to roam 20km from our homes. The thought scares me, who knows what's out there? I'll stay where I am thanks.

Restaurants and cafés will reopen on June 29 (Phase 3), with all those promises to 'take you out when this is all over' finally coming home to roost. But when you emerge, tipsy from the wine, the couple of beers, eager to continue the night, there won't be any pubs waiting to take you in. It'll be back to the house, back to staring at one another over a few cans from the off-license.

But maybe it's just as well you go home early. Because the hairdressers, barbers and salons don't open until Phase 4 (July 20). Yes lads, the shaved-head look was fun at the start, but it's time you let a professional take over. As for the women, well yeah, you're all still beautiful, but here's a voucher for that salon you like.

By the end, by August 10, the cinemas will be back, the pubs, the schools; there'll be festivals, hurling, rugby, with spectators, hugging, kissing and fighting. The old normal will become the normal normal, and this normal will recede into the distance. Plenty to be excited about then. But do you really think it will all go according to plan?

Enniscorthy Guardian