So, yesterday, I had a bit of a moan about the shops and services that shut down during the lockdown, leaving us all bereft of boozers, bistros and, most importantly, haircuts, lol. Today, let’s talk about… the News!
8. The News, with a capital ‘N,’ became a lifeline for my family and me during the pandemic. No matter what else we’d be doing during the day, the three of us would come together at half-five every day for The News. First on TV3, then the hour-long News on RTÉ One, a good-value-for-money bulletin that nicely bridged the gap between afternoon and evening for us as well.
We hung on the newsreader’s every word. How many deaths today? How many new cases of the virus? How are we doing for deliveries of PPE (personal protective equipment)? How many kilometres can we travel from home, and how long do the elderly have to stay home for?
What are the government doing about everything? How long are we likely to be in ‘severe’ lockdown, and when will we be able to ease up on restrictions? We lapped it all up. The News was- and still is- our main link to the outside world (topped up daily by online news reports). Sometimes, when one bulletin ended, we’d switch over to Sky News and watch that until we felt we’d had our fill.
The world news was even worse. Ireland actually seemed to be doing better than some other poor countries, who were hit extremely hard by the insidious coronavirus. China, of course, then Spain, Italy, the UK, our nearest neighbours, and now Brazil, all experienced (some are still experiencing) literally thousands of deaths. We saw pictures of eerily silent, empty European capitals that mirrored our own people-free streets, all as quiet as your average Christmas Eve night. The whole thing was chillingly apocalyptic.
We came to regard the newsreaders almost as friends. We commented daily on the womens’ attire and hairstyles, deciding together almost gleefully whether an outfit was flattering or not to a certain person’s height or figure, and we could tell when a male reporter had had his hair cut, or his ears lowered, as we say here in Ireland. A lot of the out-of-studio reports were delivered from streets near where we live, so we had great fun identifying the locations and saying things like: ‘I was only down there the other day,’ lol.
9. The personalities who have become the collective ‘face’ of the fight against coronavirus for the country as a whole are definitely worth a mention : our lovely kindly Chief Medical Officer, Tony Holohan, and the man who looks a bit like him who stands behind him and signs the news for the deaf; our super-concerned, super-posh Minister for Health, Simon Harris (no relation… I think!); and our esteemed Taoiseach (pronounced Tee-shock), Leo Varadkar, a trendy, young-ish guy whose speech-writers get him to quote from movies and popular culture in his lockdown speeches so that he’ll seem ‘down with the kids.’ Hmmmmm.
Never mind that we more or less voted his party out of power four months ago; he’s been clinging on to the virus for dear life for the duration of the lockdown (like a drowning man to a lifeline), garnering as much attention for himself as he can before he eventually has to make way for the even less charismatic Míchael Martin, who by all reports will become our first ‘rotating’ Taoiseach at the end of the month. Oh joy unconfined. La plus ca change around here, la plus c’est la bleedin’ meme chose. Capiche?
10. The familiar faces from other countries this lockdown include the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who proved he was human by catching the virus himself and nearly dying of it, and who staunchly stood by his adviser, the surly and rather ungracious Dominic Cummings, when the latter shamelessly flouted his own travel restrictions during the pandemic and got off pretty much scot-free, to the outrage of the UK’s more law-abiding citizens.
The ordinary people of Britain were busy enduring all the hardships and privations of the lockdown at its height, but seemingly the rules and regulations didn’t apply to the toffs and aristos, only to the plebs. Well, they could at least have told people…!
America’s President Donald Trump has become an object of fascination for us during the pandemic. We tune in to the News to watch his exploits the way that our eyes would be unerringly drawn to a terrible car crash on the side of the road as we drive by. What enormous gaffe has he committed today, we’d wonder; which country has he insulted now?
He’s had it in for China all lockdown, of course, accusing the Chinese of starting and spreading COVID-19, and even withdrawing America’s funding from the WHO (the World Health Organisation, not the dinosaur rock band) because he believes them to be too ‘China-centric’ in their dealings. Wow. He really doesn’t like China.
Then there was the time he appeared to be advocating the ingestion of household bleach to combat the coronavirus (the bleach companies were quick to disassociate themselves!), and the time- well, this was only yesterday- when he allowed thousands of Americans (though not as many as he’d have liked, apparently) to gather in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for one of his massive re-election rallies.
This, despite the fact that; A, the virus is still killing people in large numbers over there and the attendees weren’t even required to wear masks, and B, the place he’d chosen to hold his rally was once the site of a White Supremacist massacre. Not exactly great timing, right in the midst of the George Floyd-inspired ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign…
I’ve been thinking a lot about Trump’s wife Melania too, this lockdown. Yes, she’s beautiful, but is she happy? What’s it like being married to Trump? Is he kind to her? Do they have proper conversations, other than just, we’ve got that function tonight so be ready at five-thirty, or pass the jam, dear?
Does he cheat on her? Do they have sex, and is he a selfish lover? What’s he like to have sex with? Does he favour the traditional man-on-top missionary position, or does he like to be dominated? Can he give a woman an orgasm? Does he have a big or small willy, and is it at least functional? Does she have boyfriends? These are things we’ll probably never know the answers to for sure, but it’s fascinating to speculate, and there’s no point saying it’s not…!
11. We’ve had to get used to a whole new vocabulary connected to living side-by-side with this virus. We’ve learned phrases like social distancing, no bloody harm if you ask me, because Irish people for far too long have all crowded together to eat, drink, dance, socialise, shop, bury our dead, marry our couples and protest against various injustices, and all one on top of the other like a horrible conjoined blob-monster from a science fiction movie. It’d be no bloody harm, as I said, if we learned to put a little bit of distance between ourselves and our fellow man for a while.
Other phrases/words we’ve picked up include self-isolation, PPE, the containment phase, ‘the new normal’ and ‘cocooning,’ a word invented by the government to try and keep the elderly safe at home while the worst of the virus rampaged through the country. I’m not sure how successful they were at this, unfortunately.
I asked one elderly lady from my community how she’d gotten on while cocooning. She looked at me blankly and said: ‘Cocooning? What’s that, lovey?’ Another elderly person of our acquaintance, an old man, replied: ‘Was I cocooning? I was, in me hole!’ when asked about his lockdown experience. That means no, he wasn’t cocooning in the slightest, by the way.
So, um, there you have it, anyway. This just confirms my own personal long-held views that old people (like cyclists!) don’t think that the laws of the land apply to them, and they can just do whatever they feel like doing, whenever they feel like it. When I get to that age, I am so going to do the same…! And the numbers of people I’m going to shove out of my way just because I’m an old person going somewhere will be too many to count.
More new vocabulary for these strange and unusual times included ‘flattening the curve,’ ‘furlough,’ ‘easing out of lockdown,’ ‘a step-wise plan for easing out of lockdown,’ ‘full lockdown,’ ‘partial lockdown,’ a ‘spike in the statistics’ and, finally, the infamous ‘second wave.’ This is the wave you give someone when they failed to see your first effort, lol.
That’s it for now; I’ll finish up the few remaining bits and pieces of my list of lockdown oddities during the week to come (including the no-sex-during-quarantine thing!), and I’ll see you guys then!
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
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: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
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