Don’t’ worry, I’m not drying up or anything (“Chance would be a fine thing”, you might say). For the last few days, I’ve been doing my usual, “Shall I write about this?” or “Shall I write about that?” but, each time, my mind has veered away to something else before I could pin anything down.
It’s hard to focus, you see, when you’re The Worst in the Entire World.
This might not be entirely true, I’m not a statistician after all, but it’s certainly how the narrative feels. Here in Sunny Ireland, we were the envy of many. We kept our Covid figures tamped down pretty well. If they shot up, we shot those buggers right back down again. We weren’t the best in the world but, by golly, we were a long way from being the worst.
Our downfall has been that we love Christmas. Maybe not every Man Jack of us but collectively we lap up the festive season. Our world effectively shuts down for ten days as we eat and watch telly and see each other.
We see each other.
And that’s how we slipped from being a postcard people of pandemic suppression to being a vivid illustration of how it can go when you turn your back for a minute and let that enviable guard of yours down. Covid19 is like a lion and we are the lion tamer. We can manage it and put on a good show and get some applause but when we turn our back on it and spread our arms wide to accept the adulation, that’s when it can pounce and tear our throat out. And that’s kind of what's happened to us.
Christmas was coming. As a people, we were clamouring for a break. And we had done pretty well. The case numbers were down to about 300 per day. “Let them have their Christmas,” was the feeling of many of the powers that be, “Let a few meet up with a few. The figures will rise but we’ll lock everything down after and we’ll bring them straight back down again. Plus, the retailers get to do a bit of business, the food people get to feed a few people, a little coin is changed hands. It will tide us over." It all actually sounded sensible enough.
And so there was Christmas.
But the numbers didn’t just rise, they shot right through the roof and out into space. I’m not sure how Christmas went. I stayed at home and saw nobody but I’m not looking to be ‘Holier Than Thou’, I always do that. But some good people met some other good people and ate and drank a little and now here we are, The Worst in the World or something close to that.
And it’s a different feeling. Where, before, there was a feeling that the virus was out there and one had to be careful, now there is a pervasive sensation that the virus is riding roughshod up and down every laneway and across the roof of every house in this country. There is a feeling that you will now have to be very, very lucky to miss its lick on your face. There is a feeling of doom.
I shouldn’t generalise like this. I don’t have my finger on the pulse of the populace in some special way. All I should really do is write about me. I often reckon I am a bit of an everyman, an ordinary bloke, nothing special, nothing grand, and I often feel that I do or feel what other ordinary blokes do and feel. That’s how I arrive at my generalisations. That’s how I gauge the country.
So, how are you Ken?
I’m a bit anxious, I guess, a bit weary. I feel the getting of the virus is almost an inevitability now, no matter how much care I take. In my mind I plot the logistics of having it, which room I should lock myself into, how to arrange for some shopping, have some Paracetamol ready. But I’ve read too many reports and peered into too many hospitals and ICUs via newspaper stories and first hand accounts from Front Line Staff. That stuff downright scares me. It’s blindingly obvious to say that I don’t want that for me or for any of my family and friends. Shit, I don’t want it for anybody. But I have metaphorically daubed a streak of fresh blood on my front door. “Don’t come in here,” it implores, ”just pass on.”
I debate writing something. A speech that I might wish to deliver when I’m flat in a hospital bed and reliant on tubes to stay alive. But that’s just a writer’s fantasy... or nightmare.
I don’t feel this stuff all the time. I’m not a walking wreck. Matter of fact, I’m really doing okay. But I think we are all haunted by this stuff and I think it’s no harm to admit to that for a moment, before toughening the fuck up and getting on with it.
I’m not sure it’s particularly good to be writing a post which reflects negative thoughts like this but, once in a while, I think that maybe it’s okay. I think it might be helpful for us to see that we are not alone in occasionally feeling a little out of our depth and a little overwhelmed and, damn it, a little bit scared.
Last week I wrote about how we'll get through and I’m not going back on my word here. Our Worst in the World figures will most likely plateau in the next few days, because we have really locked down hard since Christmas. Maybe this time we'll stamp the thing down a bit harder and keep it there. We may well do, 'cos we’ve learned a tough lesson this Winter. We will get through, just like I said last week.
But it’s never going to be sunshine and roses getting there.
If you also believe this, as I do, the least you should know is that you’re not on your own.