COLUMN: 'I glanced furtively...thinking any minute now the 'Covid police' will pounce'

Billy O'Riordan writing this week...

Billy O'Riordan


Billy O'Riordan


'Unacceptable' that 600,000 flu vaccine doses seem to have evaporated

File photo

Rumour has it that my situation is being talked about in ecclesiastical circles – without putting too fine a point on it, in the Vatican.

Yes, word has reached Rome that a certain Clonmel man is leading such a pious, upstanding life, having forsaken all material pleasures that recognition is imminent in the form of a Beatification – an honour rarely bestowed upon the living.

You see, yours truly has, since Christmas, gone without the following: new clothes, haircuts, meals out, trips to a local hostelry for liquid refreshment, new tattoos, top up tans in the local salon, my nails are appalling, my eyebrows were last witnessed in Stone Age times and no one has had a birthday present from me since Christmas.

All the above points to a man who has turned his back on the material world and embraced a new way of life, devoid of all material pleasures. Thus, the interest from the Vatican.

My mother had her first vaccine recently and when I called in on her during the week, she was mopping the kitchen floor. It got me wondering, if the Covid-19 vaccine was after giving her a “boost” in some way?

Perhaps, the relief which it affords the recipient, then frees them up in some shape or form to begin to do normal things again – when the options arise.

The elderly of south Tipperary have been restricted in their movements and social activities for the best part of a year and now with summer on the horizon they can at least live in a less agitated mental state.

They may not have unrestricted freedom of movement or association, but they can live with a new- found sense of relief. We still have a long way to go, in terms of the vaccine rollout, but a start has been made – be it at a snail’s pace.

Keeping with the religious theme loosely running through this week’s column – a miracle happened this week. There I was with another of my mother’s shopping lists clasped tightly in my hand and there right before my eyes it appeared.

I rubbed my eyes, thinking it was some type of grocery shopping mirage which is known to beset shoppers after long periods of lockdown.

I eased the shopping trolley closer and closer, until finally, there they were before my eyes. My heart beat loudly in my chest as I picked the “miraculous summer shirt” from the shelf and yes, they had a size “medium” oh miracle of miracles. I glanced furtively across my right and then left shoulders, thinking any minute now the “Covid police” will pounce.

No, it wasn’t all a mirage, the summer shirts were real, and miracles do happen. I’ll be lighting a few candles this week in the Friary to Saint Anthony or should that be to Saint Bernard.

Walking and cooking are the town’s most popular pursuits in these extraordinary times. We can but dream of perusing a menu, then ordering starters, tucking into a main course and salivating over the colourful pictures on the dessert menus.

Takeaway menus are a welcome alternative, but they are devoid of the ritual surrounding “going out”. So, we are left to walk, cook, and eat or walk, phone, and eat.

Lockdown makes you do odd things with your time. Last week, I chopped the top off an overgrown tree in the garden.

My neighbour held the ladder, while I climbed the rungs, I’m not great with heights after spending six days in hospital last summer with an extreme form of vertigo.

This is what Covid will do to you. A tree that could happily grow for the next twenty years, suddenly becomes a problem which must be sorted out immediately.

If I weren’t at home so much because of Covid the bloody garden could look like Sherwood forest and I normally would not give a hoot.

But, put a man in his house looking out at an oversized tree all day and suddenly he is up a ladder, with a saw in one hand and anti-vertigo meds in the other.

Covid makes us do abnormal things with our free time. In the meantime, I await an invitation to a Papal audience.

Until next time.