And just like that…Omicron cases are falling, hospital numbers are stabilising, and Ireland, the country with one of the strictest and longest coronavirus restrictions in Europe, has lifted almost all of its health and safety measures, officially becoming party central once again! Personally, I don’t know whether to be relieved and shout ‘saoirse’ from the top of my voice, or be worried regarding this rapid change of pace.
Maybe I missed a memo, but wasn’t it only a few weeks ago we were debating whether or not schools could reopen safely? And, aren’t the daily case numbers still in their thousands, and won’t incidences of Covid now rise, given many (the vulnerable and the immune-compromised etc.,) are possibly at an even higher risk of infection?
I don’t wish to be a killjoy, and, while last Saturday certainly constitutes a ‘good day’ for our entire nation, lifting our moods for the first time in two years, I’m just a tad concerned – as are readers who’ve spoken to me – about the sudden scrapping of social distancing.
I totally understand. As someone whose personal space bubble shrinks and expands, (depending on my relationship with you), I tend to get very angsty when someone breaches that barrier without receiving a specific invitation; throwing them what my family calls ‘Mam’s back off killer stare’!
Even before Covid was ‘a thing’ I was never comfortable with someone jamming themselves up against me in a supermarket queue. In fact, the only reason I learned to drive as a teenager was because I couldn’t bear to sit so close to a stranger on a crowded bus or train. And, while I know this makes me sound like a real pain in the butt, I flatly refuse to be confined on an aircraft with other people’s screaming kids, especially ones sitting behind me who entertain themselves by kicking my seat.
However, putting my litany of odd little ‘space invader’ quirks aside, I am absolutely thrilled for the people of County Roscommon; especially those resilient Rossies who’ve expertly and inventively adapted and diversified their businesses in order to survive this Covid storm. It must be fantastic for pub, restaurant and café owners to know they’ll no longer be affected by the 8 pm curfew, and that their capacity for indoor dining, drinking, entertaining, and providing general merriment etc., has been restored. Hopefully this is now the end of what has been an extremely stressful time for them.
Walking through the county town this week, the positive change in attitude of a county beaten down by this virus, was almost palpable, with the utter despair we’ve endured over the past two years appearing to completely evaporate.
I believe it’s way too soon for us to know how Micheál Martin’s sudden 360 degree turnaround will unfold; especially with regard to possible new variants emerging. That being said, perhaps we’ll just have to deal with this virus in the same way we’ve dealt with other ones, as in, incorporate it into our winter flu and our winter vomiting bug season; meaning we may just have to ritualise and normalise having a ‘Covid season’. Who knows, in time, due to the amount of people who chose to get vaccinated, we may even see Covid being eliminated altogether. Let’s hope so.
However, even though there’s a lot of apprehension, it appears that 2022 is going to be all about relief, recovery and growth! Therefore, this weekend, while you’re dancing in the streets, or in a nightclub, enjoying high-stool cocktails with friends or having a ‘freedom’ party in your home, can I ask that you please remember every one of those 6,087 souls (and their heartbroken families) who’ve lost their lives to this killer virus. I really hope our Government, in its new-found enthusiasm, finds a way to commemorate and memorialise them. May they all rest in peace.
Rest in peace, Meat Loaf
Given his much-reported ‘anti-vaccine’ stance, it’s now apparent the one thing rocker Meat Loaf wouldn’t do for love was get vaccinated against coronavirus…although I have to say it remains unclear as to whether or not he did give in and get the jab.
Therefore, while many fans around the world, (me included), are shocked at the rocker’s sudden (and allegedly Covid-related) death, I’m not surprised to read that others are mocking him regarding his much-reported opposition to restrictions, lockdowns and mask mandates etc.
Whatever your views on Meat Loaf’s (or Marvin Lee Aday, but often using the name Michael) politics, there’s no denying he enjoyed an impressive career that spanned right across six decades. It’s also clear, given the amount of tributes that poured in following the sad news, the 74-year-old meant so much to so many.
While his iconic ‘I Would do Anything for Love’ reached number one on the Billboard charts, earning him a Grammy, my own personal favourite is, and always will be, his rock classic duet with Cher, ‘Dead Ringer for Love’. Why? Because, as a teenager, I used to perform it in cabaret venues with a member of the ‘band’ I was in (morto)! We would close the show with it. I don’t have many good memories from my childhood, however, being a member of that band/group is certainly one of the few positive aspects from it that I will both hold dear and cherish in equal amounts. RIP Meatloaf.
Political puffery is wasted on me, Frank!
Based on the price of goods, i.e. food and groceries, and services across 139 countries, price-comparison site Numbeo has ranked Ireland as the ‘16th most expensive country in the world to live’. These statistics do not include the cost of rents and mortgages etc.
Given this data, is it any wonder that many of us on minimum wage are now being forced into making the heartbreaking choice of either putting food in our bellies or fuel on our fires?
I know this pandemic has caused a slew of price hikes right across the board; and I know that, as a result of business closures, many of us as have lost work, meaning we all need to tighten our belts. I get it.
However, what I don’t get is, given the county’s state of hardship and austerity, Frank ‘I’m now known as the man who saved Roscommon Hospital’ Feighan appears to be more concerned with pushing his own political puffery as opposed to focusing on what really matters to voters, i.e. feeding their families! I could be wrong; and I don’t wish to make this difference of opinion an issue between myself and the honourable Minister…truthfully I don’t.
But I was amused to read Frank’s lengthy response in this newspaper – from Dáil Éireann by the way, lest we forget his high standing – to one of my many held opinions, (which is all they are…opinions). Indeed his comment, and I quote, ‘politics can be a cruel and lonely vocation’ tickled me so much, I actually laughed out loud.
Fact Frank: Many families are living on the poverty line. Fact Frank: Many parents across this county cannot even afford basic food staples like potatoes, vegetables and rice for their kids! Fact Frank: When a politician feels the need to justify their position ad nauseam, they’re losing! I’m sure you’re a lovely gentleman at heart, and I wish you continued success… but, if I’m being honest, your ill-placed puffery at a time when Roscommon citizens are struggling to make ends meet is totally wasted on me!