OPINION: 'I will just sit it out and hope that the Government sees sense...'

Billy O'Riordan writing in this week's Nationalist...

Billy O'Riordan

Reporter:

Billy O'Riordan

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Dáil Éireann

Charlie Chaplin in the film The Gold Rush famously cooks and eats his shoe.

Charlie, forever down on his luck and starving proceeds to boil his boot, garnish it, plate it up – removing the laces -sharpens his knife and fork and hungrily tucks into the banquet with gusto.

Charlie twirls the shoelaces like spaghetti, finishing it off with a contented gulp followed by - some gentle chest tapping - signs of slight indigestion.

I’m not, dear reader, about to follow in Charlie’s footsteps and begin a new culinary experiment as part of my post-Easter (egg) diet plans.

No, unlike Charlie my problems are the reverse. You see, Charlie at least has a spare shoe to eat, I alas, am on the hunt for a new pair of shoes to wear as I head into the summer months.

I’ve taken to strolling through the precincts of the town, gazing, as I saunter by, at Clonmel’s finest shoe emporiums. There they appear before my eyes, row upon row of every size, colour, and style of footwear imaginable.

So close but so far.

You see, the Government have deemed it non-essential that I along with my fellow citizens should contemplate the purchase of an item of personal wear that has been around for 10,000 years.

A pair of Sagebrush bark sandals dating back to 8,000 BC was discovered in a cave in the US state of Oregon in 1938.

This is one of the earliest pairs of shoes ever made and was, no doubt, deemed “essential” at the time. So, here I stand today with not even a pair of sagebrush bark sandals in the offing, due to Government policy.

I have considered dusting off my old High School uniform to pass myself off as a “student” to purchase the illicit item.

Unfortunately, despite my years of marathon running, weight training, endurance training and generally treating my body as a temple; I don’t believe I could pass myself off as a 17-year-old boy.

By the way, I’ve never taken part in any of the above.

No, I must wait for the powers that be to place shoes on a par with cases of beer, before I can enjoy that lovely “new runner feeling” on my feet.

I’m sure you remember what that feels like.

I arrived at my mother’s house for dinner on Easter Sunday – one o’clock on the dot, what else.

As I turned the key in the door and entered the living room my mother was standing staring at the television.

I was instructed not to speak with the words, “The Pope is giving his blessing,” every Irish son knows that to speak over a papal blessing sets a bad precedent for the remainder of a visit.

I kept my mouth tightly shut. I enjoy all these uniquely Irish traditions, which are distinctive to every family.

This Easter was a particularly difficult one for our family because of my father’s recent passing.

I’m sure this is the case for all those who have lost loved ones since the beginning of the pandemic.

There remains in such families a lingering feeling of regret for time taken from us by the Covid measures – necessary of course – which will never be given back.

Also, there endures in us a feeling that things weren’t done “the Irish way” in terms of the funeral and the wake.

There will be a lot of unfinished business tidied up by families when this pandemic is over. In the meantime, my search will continue for a pair of summer shoes.

People have advised me to buy online - I know someone waiting three months for a fridge - and what if they don’t fit?

No, I’ll just sit it out and hope that the Government sees sense over the next few weeks.

If not, I’ve plenty of trees in the garden covered in lots of bark and if I’m feeling peckish, a large “shoe sized” pot, ready to go.

Until next time.