Hello to all the readers of this fine newspaper, which has kept going despite the difficulties we are all encountering.
I know that many of you are experiencing cocooning, or lockdown as it more properly should be known. I’m in that same boat myself, and every day feels like a week. The only good thing about last week was the beautiful weather and that, like many of you, I was able to sit out for at least a half an hour to an hour in the bright sunshine, with the birds singing away all around me. I have only a small back garden, but the birds were really active. It seems that I never before heard them in such musical array. Also, they seem to move with a purpose, as if they’re going to do something or they’re off on a project, and I feel they were saying to me, “Get up, you’re so lazy to be idling like that in a chair when we are so busy!”
Anyway, I have noticed that, before all this happened, we always had time for engagement with one another about global issues, but they seem to have gone out the window.
So I hope in these few paragraphs that we might touch on some such issues.
Let’s take the USA and the upcoming November presidential election between Donald Trump, and as we now know his opponent will be the Democrat Joe Biden. This is because Senator Bernie Sanders has pulled out of the race, though he says he will continue to leave his name on the ticket and that he will work closely with Joe Biden to ensure that his action programme for the presidential election will contain many of the socialist policies which Bernie Sanders was promoting.
Donald Trump is in charge of the US while the coronavirus sweeps the land. It was interesting to see that, in the beginning when the virus appeared in the US, Donald Trump was frequently saying it was all a Democrat hoax to get early electoral advantage. He dropped that after a while and then began to cite other things wrong, but it was never the US.
Of course, events caught up with him, and having told all of the US that by Easter they would be back in the churches and that the churches would be full praising God, he quickly had to drop that when the terrible devastation in New York and in many other US states became clear.
Throughout it all, Donald Trump appears to want to portray himself as the brave, good guy who will finally vanquish the coronavirus epidemic, and will continue to say it would have been so much worse except that he was in charge to guard it and to guide it.
So the November election, as of now, is wide open, and I know that many of us would long for a change of president. But I also know that many of us quite understand that in some way, the current president will be able to envisage and craft a way out of the economic and social havoc wrought by the epidemic, and portray himself somewhat like Tarzan coming through the jungle to save everyone.
Now, we have gone through the whole sports matters in the last two weeks. Just to say, the only sport item we hear from time to time now is another cancellation, another write-off until at least 2021. The sport I had forgotten about was tennis until I heard that Wimbledon had been cancelled, to join all the golf tournaments, the Olympics, and so many other matters.
Somehow, Wimbledon is such an epitome of summer – huge crowds in sunglasses and light clothes, wonderful movements and play on the courts, and all in all, a huge manifestation of what summer is really about. Goodbye to all of that until 2021.
The really important subject, about which we hear absolutely nothing now, is the matter of Brexit.
Do you remember before coronavirus (BC ), all the talk from Boris Johnson was that he would conclude his talks with Europe in 2020, and if he didn’t see early signs of proper decision-making by May, he might just walk away from the whole thing? Where is everybody now? Boris Johnson is out of intensive care and home from hospital, but he has been told that it will be many weeks, even some months, before he is well enough to take up the reins of government again. That puts an end to Brexit, I feel, for the moment. It could well be, come the end of 2020, that Boris Johnson will say he has to look for a further extension of time because of the social and economic meltdown we have all been through. If that comes to be, well then that in itself will be a good thing.
Both Boris Johnson and Michel Barnier have one thing in common right now. They each got coronavirus – Michael Barnier way back at the beginning, and now, as we know, Boris Johnson.
If there is ever a positive to be got out of all of this, it will be that Brexit will be further delayed, with the hope that there will eventually be a better outcome to all of the talks.
I found it very comforting in a way, when all of the well-known names came out and acknowledged that they had coronavirus – people like Michel Barnier, Boris Johnson, Dr Ciara Kelly, and so many, many others. When we heard all of their details, we somehow, I think, felt strangely comforted while of course wishing them well in recovery.
We had An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar coming out last Friday saying there would be no loosening of the lockdown come April 12 (Easter Sunday ), and referencing the sacrifices of the original Good Friday and eventual resurrection; likewise, of course, the Good Friday which brought peace to Northern Ireland. His speech-writer is certainly pulling out all of the stops and, combines with Leo’s own personal authority to give us very good speeches, even though they do not contain any optimistic news.
That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go fóill.