I must admit, yesterday, the first full day of the big lockdown here in Ireland (I’m in Dublin), was a rough day for me. I had a touch of cabin fever (well, more than a touch, I had the whole cabin, log fire, moose head over the fireplace, the log-pile outside the back door, the zombies in the forest getting closer and closer, the works!), having been in the house voluntarily self-isolating since Monday.

Two days is a long time for me to be in, okay? I’d normally be buzzing around the place like a busy bee, taking the son and heir to and from school, doing my bits and pieces of shopping, chewing the fat with shop assistants and neighbours and other local characters, then trying to get some writing done before the school day ends and I have to spend the rest of the day feeding a teenage boy with hollow legs, lol.

Now, of course, the schools are closed, so feeding the Boy has become a full-time job. I’m not kidding, he slinks back into the kitchen after meals, going, are there any snacks? Any snacks? I’ve just fed you a meal so enormous that even Henry the Eighth himself would have difficulty finishing it and you’re looking for snacks? Ye Gods . . . !

My daughter’s work is closed for the duration now as well, thanks to COVID-19, because apparently a bookshop is not an essential service (I thoroughly disagree, by the way!), and the government has ordered all non-essential shops and businesses to close. She’s helping out with the Boy’s ‘distance learning,’ which takes about forty-five minutes a day or as long as his ADHD will allow for.

The pubs, of course, have all been closed for nearly a fortnight now (not that I ever get near them anyway, sadly), and will presumably remain shut until at least mid-to-late April, 2020, which is the absolute earliest the schools will re-open.

All our favourite cafés and restaurants have either closed (McDonalds’ is shut, and they never shut!) for the moment or can only run a takeaway/delivery service. This means that, in the whole of Dublin, or, more correctly, the whole of Ireland, there’s currently nowhere you can go, outside of your own home, to sit with a cup of coffee and a sandwich and watch the world go by for half an hour. This is pretty much an unprecedented situation in a country as sociable as Ireland, and an upsetting one.

So, anyway, getting back to yesterday, I was stressed to the max. Cabin fever, panic about the virus affecting me or my children, panic about getting to the shops and pharmacy for essential supplies, feelings of irritability, loneliness, isolation and even boredom, which was odd considering I have so much to do.

I’m having my trilogy of romantic fiction books published by a traditional publisher starting this summer, but only two of them are written, lol. I still write a film-and-book blog, which means more and more to me as the years go by, and I self-publish my erotic horror fiction and film reviews and erotic poetry with Kindle Direct Publishing, so it’s really not like I’m short of things to do. I guess the virus-worry was getting to me.

We all decided on an early night last night, anyway, so as to bring that awful day to a close, a day in which I’d binged on all the bad news and had grown more agitated and doom-and-gloom-laden with each passing hour. Yes, I snapped at my kids, but don’t worry, the little blighters snapped right back with all the entitlement and confidence of kids born from the ‘Nineties onwards. Don’t forget, they have all the answers, so ask them if you have a question about anything at all . . . !

Today was a much better day in a hundred different ways. The sun continued to shine, as indeed it has all week, and my son and I ventured out this morning to do little jobs while my daughter had a much-needed lie-in, the kind she can’t normally get while the shop where she works is open for business. Every cloud, eh . . .?

The fresh air definitely blew a few coronavirus-encrusted cobwebs away. You simply cannot over-emphasise how much good you can derive from a simple walk in the sunshine. We walked through the park and sat on a bench and watched the daffodils dancing in the breeze. There was life before the coronavirus, I reminded myself, and there will be again.

Everyone we passed was behaving beautifully under the new restrictions and social guidelines. Friends, colleagues and even married couples were all ‘social distancing,’ leaving at least two metres between themselves and everyone else.

It was so heartening to see people actually following and respecting the guidelines laid down by our Health Service Executive, because it’s only by observing these guidelines that we can ever hope to pull ourselves out of this morass in which we’ve found ourselves, through no fault of our own. It depressed me greatly during the week to hear reports of people ignoring the recommendations and flocking in their droves to local beauty spots and other places, but today, at least, everyone we met was playing a blinder.

I felt ridiculously emotional and, yes, grateful as we went into all the shops and businesses we’d normally visit at least once a week, and found all the staff working away cheerfully there as usual, albeit wearing masks and gloves and a further distance away than normal, but still there, still providing us with the goods and services without which we’d be hard put to survive.

I genuinely feel as grateful to these guys (and gals!) as people do to the veterans who fought for their freedom in the two world wars. No exaggeration, but they’re risking their health to bring us a continued service and I want to thank them for it. What I really want is to hug them for it, but in the current climate, that’s maybe not such a great ideal, lol. But I certainly had tears in my eyes, much to my poor son’s bemusement, as we started for home.

Mammy, are you crying about a writing thing?” he ventured, because that’s apparently the subject I cry about the most.

No, lovey, I’m just crying because I’m happy today went so well,” I told him, but he still rolled his eyes. Oh, the joys of pandemic parenting!

On the way home, we encountered two community guards of our acquaintance who were patrolling the park, making sure everything was nice and safe for the people using it. Did I feel protected, looked after, as we stopped for a chinwag? You bet I did. And then, before we finally reached home, a neighbour whom I know only slightly did us a stunning and unexpected kindness, which I won’t go into here, but let’s just say it was the icing on the cake of a lovely morning.

Then, when we got home, first my son’s special school and then what I call his ‘Autism service providers,’ the clinical services folks, each got in touch by phone to ask if there was any extra help or support we needed during this stressful time. And then, my lovely editor emailed me a preliminary sketch of the cover for my first traditionally-published book and I loved it! My cup of love and goodwill towards all men literally runneth over right now. I feel blessed.

Yesterday I felt like throwing in the towel. Today I have hope and things look much brighter. That’s the power of fresh air, a little exercise and sunshine and making contact (safely, from a distance of two metres!) with people who care. Tomorrow, I may be back binge-watching the terrifying statistics and biting the heads off loved ones or anyone else who looks crooked at me, but for today, I’m fine. It’s enough.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

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