Oh give me land, lots of land, and the starry skies above
Don’t fence me in
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love
Don’t fence me in
‘Don’t Fence Me In’
There’s always something cooking and nothing in the pot
They’re starving back in China so finish what you got
Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Strange days indeed
‘Nobody Told Me’
The global pandemic is highlighting a number of things that only something this colossal could achieve.
It turns out there is no vaccine for stupidity.
Indeed, we will formulate an actual vaccine for Covid-19 in due course. Such is the way with these things. But will we learn valuable lessons? I’d like to think so. But previous events would suggest otherwise. Whatever it is about the human condition that drives us on to do amazing things also entrains in its wake a whole raft of really fucking daft attributes. And some of these are getting highlighted in an unedifying manner lately, in the same way over-adjusting a photograph’s contrast in Photoshop can burn out the white areas and totally black-out the darker ones.
It’s at times like this we need some faith. Not of the religious kind, but in science (and the innate goodness of people, despite what I just said previous to that). Not a blind faith either. But do what science is good at: study, record, test, prove; a sequence of events that has, over time, given mankind all of the technology we enjoy today (and that allows, for example, me to waffle on and publish my views for anyone to see around the world, if they have similar tech).
Science is constantly evolving. And medical science is no different. That’s why we no longer bleed patients with leeches to balance their humours. (And yes, leeches are still used in modern medicine, but for different reasons. Google it). Or perhaps a more prosaic example of things moving on [tangent alert] is that we longer send small boys up chimneys to sweep them clean.
Anyhow, the upshot of this Covid-19 outbreak is that we are heading inexorably towards total lockdown. The benefit of having an older brother living in northern Italy is that I get regular updates of what Ireland will be like in a few weeks’ time. And it’s not great. They are in something akin to total lockdown, though perhaps one step away from the Wuhan-style ‘confined to barracks’ lockdown. That may be next, though there is some suggestion that in Italy, they may finally have a reached a corner, even if they haven’t actually turned it yet. Though I hasten to add the fight against this viral outbreak will have many false dawns and just about all of these will be wildly broadcast across all forms of social media in glorious Technicolor. Best bet? Turn off your phone. The news on all this is changing but not so rapidly that can’t get daily digests and keep up to date. It will do your mental health no harm to turn off the tap for a few hours. Reduce the flow of bad news to a trickle.
Yesterday, Saoirse and I drove for over an hour to get away from the crowded exodus that has been occurring of late from the nation’s capital, and found a quiet beach. I can’t blame people really. Most work is closed, as are all schools, colleges and crèches. And with no cinemas, pubs or restaurants to go to, where else but the Dublin Mountains, and other popular hotspots like Howth Harbour will folks rock up to?
Of course, you don’t have to be a genius to work out where the problem lies with this. Despite the good advice to get out for some fresh air and exercise, you must maintain that social distance. Or, as my brother-in-law reckons we need to rename it: physical distance. He may be right. Yesterday’s news and social media was chock-a-block with images of hundreds of people queuing up buy chips in one of these tourist traps, cheek-by-jowl. Gobshitery of the highest order.
We brought a picnic. It’s not rocket science.
Yesterday evening, I managed a decent long run. I had a few hours off and the weather was fine and sunny. I was still glowing from the fresh, sea air but the legs needed a decent stretch. I managed ten miles in all, heading out through my local park and along the Royal Canal before heading into Castletown House grounds.
Near Louisa Bridge in Leixlip, there is a newly-installed famine memorial. It tells the tale of up to 1,500 tenants (families) who were forced to walk from Strokestown to the docks in Dublin to board coffin ships bound for Canada – a journey by foot of at least 160km (or 100 miles) before you gambled with your life on the squalid conditions below decks for weeks on end. There are about thirty bronze castings of a child’s pair of shoes along the route. If nothing else, it’s a poignant reminder that this is not our first rodeo. We have suffered immense tragedy before, and prevailed. In more modern parlance, the recent online gag goes something like: “your grandparents were called to war. You are being asked to sit on the couch. You can do this…”
As I upload the most recent run from the Garmin, I smile at the tiny phrenological bumps on the GPS route. These tiny deviations usually mark the point where I leave a path and have a quick whizz behind the bushes. All tiny events, lost in the maelstrom of all the other tiny, unimportant events, but captured for posterity on high-end tech. Fascinating stuff…
And now a brief interlude for some all-important dog pictures:
And that just about wraps things up for now. As I suspected, the adventure race in June I am signed up for has been postponed until September. And who knows? The Olympics will be postponed too, not that I am trying to draw any parallels, of course. Cough.
And finally, here is a picture of a mouse:
It took a little patience to capture him as he whizzed around our sitting-room. But perhaps patience is just one of the things we need to work on over the coming weeks. After all, we’ll have plenty of time.