Counting blessings during the lockdown

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

So, how have all the readers been since we last spoke together? I feel the good weather has had a restorative effect on all us who are cocooning. Somehow, it doesn’t seem so lonely or so bleak when the sun is shining and you can take out your chair and sit down and revel, even for a short while, in the sunshine.

Like all of you, I have been following the whole political and medical commentary on the coronavirus. However, I have decided that I will only look at the six o’clock news in the evening when they give the latest statistics, and we have Dr Holohan and we also have George Lee and other people who speak common sense.

I had never realised until now that there were so many eminent professors of all sorts of aspects of health knowledge in Ireland, and indeed in the UK also. I can understand how the RTÉ people are anxious for fresh voices and fresh news, whereas I have decided that I will only trust one set of news and one set of people talking about it. I think it’s good advice, and I’m glad I’m sharing it with you, the Advertiser readers.

The birdsong is wonderful, and it is amazing how we never heard it much before, but now if you sit quietly out in your garden you can hear it so loud and the birds are all so busy, rushing, rushing, always with something to do, another song to sing, another couple of birds to meet up with. They make me, lying in my chair, feel so lazy.

All of us will have noticed in the last few days, much of the talk is about opening up the lockdown. Now, there is no one would like an opening up more than me. I so miss my grandchildren, even though Aengus, when he comes in the evening with food, brings one or other of them and they stay outside the window and we kiss and hug and make faces at one another through the window. But I would love to see my grandchildren really close and hugging again.

What I miss most is the casual going up to the local shop to get my papers in the morning, the easy banter you exchange with fellow shoppers, and how bright it always seems to be when somebody has something funny to say or there is some news which is interesting. Of course I miss all of that, and yet I am not part of the brigade that is demanding that we lift the lockdown. I am of the opinion that caution should be the watchword. Now I know Denmark has opened up, the young children are back at school, but as the prime minister said, it’s like living always on a tightrope – we don’t know how far to go, we don’t know can we go a bit further or will we have to come back if the pandemic appears again.

So all of that combines to instil in me a note of caution, much as I would love to even have a small breakthrough where I could do a small walk outside and other things like meeting my grandchildren. But that will have to wait until we are sure that the horrible coronavirus has gone.

I notice that all newspapers are getting slimmer. Of course, advertising has weakened in all of the papers. To my mind, the Advertiser is great to continue to issue its papers, and in that way to keep in touch with its readership so that hopefully when the lockdown begins to lift, they will be able to switch into gear again with their advertising offers and other matters.

I had a telephone call during the week from Ger Kennedy of Portmagee. Some readers may remember Portmagee is where my niece Anita Lenihan and myself went last year for our summer break in August. We stayed four or five days in that magical part of County Kerry, and we had a wonderful break. Ger told me such a tale of desolation of all of County Kerry, particularly Portmagee, where no place is open, no café, no pub, no restaurant, all bookings had to be cancelled and there is a complete absence of what would generally be the merriment and good humour of the beginning of the spring/summer season. I felt so sorry for him; they run a great business and they honestly think they will have no summer season now, not to count the spring season, and then it will be autumn and they close in October. So everyone you hear from, and everywhere you look, and everything you read, speaks of desolation, speaks of loneliness, speaks of constant worry about what life will be like.

Most importantly, the whole passage of coronavirus speaks of the determination of those within the health system to work as hard as they can to bring the proper health remedies to those who need them. Yes, we the people have been very good at cocooning, even though I hate the word. I think it’s a complete misapplication of the word ‘cocoon’ – cocoon means everything warm and comfortable and cosy; this kind of cocoon speaks of isolation, loneliness, and a general being cut off from life.

Much has been made of social media and how one can keep in contact with so many people through it. For me, there is nothing to beat the plain telephone. It can immediately summon up a well-loved voice, a friend, or a political friend with whom one wants to discuss the latest development in the political framework document. So a telephone is immediate, it’s quick, and as long as you keep it charged it will always work.

So I have taken to ringing people I didn’t hear from for a long time, or I haven’t telephoned them, and every day I am talking to people again who say they should have kept in touch with me and I with them. But it is, in its own way, exhilarating to so do, and again I repeat, your best ally in cocoon-land is your telephone in your hand and to know your number, and away you go.

That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, please go safely and stay at home.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke.

 

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