'A pint of Bulmers, a toasted special and a vaccine, please,' writes Billy O'Riordan

This week's column in The Nationalist

Billy O'Riordan


Billy O'Riordan



Tipperary Tipperary Tipperary

File photo

I’d spent several days stuffing my cupboards with tinned soup – all to no avail.

Weather forecasts were forensically studied on an hourly basis, with even an odd glance over at the BBC – who only show Ireland under the forecaster’s left elbow.

The “snow event” that should have happened last week, was a big let-down. In the days leading up to the big happening; I had filled the coal bunker with coal and a few illicit briquettes; warned my mother to stay indoors; stocked up with enough supplies to feed an army on the move and bought several pouches of Columbo’s (an occasional cat visitor) favourite cat treats and, in the end: a bit of sleety rain with a sprinkle up on the Comeragh mountains.

I’m aware that other parts of south Tipp were not so lucky – I have seen the photos on social media. To cap it all, there was only a mention of strong wind as an aside – we were all focused on the snow.

So, there I was up in bed in my thermals, gripping my snow shovel with all my might as I listened to the house shaking for the rest of the week.

With the rain and wind attempting to wobble my house to pieces, I vowed to completely ignore all future snow warnings and instead tie everything down in the garden in expectation of any future snow warnings – which seem to mean wind.
When I read the news my fevered lockdown imagination took over.

It had been announced that: The Park Hotel would be the vaccine centre for the south of the county (see page 11 of this week's Nationalist).

So, there I sat visualising myself heading into The Park striding up to the bar and ordering, “a pint of Bulmers, a toasted special and a vaccine ‘shaken’ not stirred’”.

This is the perfect combination, a vaccine centre with catering and a fully stocked bar. A stroke of genius by the men in suits, which just goes to prove that at least some small remnants of their wit is still functioning.

About all things vaccine related. My mother and several elderly relatives are this week receiving their first jab. This, as our politicians tend to say and overly use is “welcome”.

At least that cohort of local people can look forward to home visits from family members in the coming weeks, which have been a long time coming.

The freedom it will offer a section of society, who have been confined for most of the year, will be unimaginable.

I can only admire the resilience, patience, tolerance and above all compliance, shown by the elderly in our town and county during this horrendous, past year.

I’m delighted that the roll out has started in earnest, just keep it going folks.

Parents are overjoyed that the mid-term break has arrived, this week.

The struggle to get little Jimmy or little Mary - nowadays its more likely to be Archie or Shania - out the door in the morning, checking uniforms or packed lunches.

All that hassle is now gone with the arrival of the mid-term break. On reflection aren’t we all still at home at present, me included from the ETB.

I never thought I’d get used to doing classes online through Zoom and yet it kind of works. You can stand up on a Zoom call, walk over and hit the switch on the kettle, fry an egg, bring the bins in, iron a shirt, or eat a banana, all on Zoom. On second thoughts maybe, I’m not allowed to do any of that or am I?

Still, it helps to keep the students focused on their course work and it brings a certain amount of continuity to the school year which would be lost if the schools were to close. Valentine’s Day this year was a dream for the Clonmel male.

This year men were forced against their will not to spend money on their sweethearts.

Men were able to claim sorry no restaurants, all shut I’m afraid; no jewellery, the same; no presents of hair dos and no new dresses, none to be had.

There is a silver lining in everything. We missed out on the big snowstorm, perhaps it was for the best.

On the plus side, I’m swimming here in vegetable soup, there are plenty of treats for Columbo and I’ve bag of grit for the snow next year or next week, whichever comes first.

Until next time.