March 12th, when we were all told to go home from our lovely new adventure in UCD, seems like a lifetime ago. Here we are, six weeks in and the lockdown has gone from being wildly unintelligible, dare I say it, to somewhat normal and ok. I do catch myself daydreaming this as a young childless couple and enjoying it thoroughly, but the struggle remains real for those being laid off, working from home, zoom calls being hijacked, studying, home-schooling etc. In our little open plan house in Terenure, it has given us pause for thought. Now hear me out, it’s far from perfect. We all want things to return to normal just as much as the next guy but amazingly, into our sixth week, we are all still laughing together.
So, the offspring and I are on our Easter hols, them from primary school, me from virtual UCD Brightspace. And despite them threatening yet another Disney Princess fashion show, the garden has never looked better and I have a pressing urge to wallpaper our bedroom – something with giant palm leaves and some sparkly gilding. Pseudo husband, an acclimatised remote worker, (I still don’t have a clue what he actually does), isn’t overly keen but he’s in such a good mood these days that I’m sure he can be swayed. We tune in to Mubi a couple of times a week for a good old cultured foreign movie when the offspring have exhausted themselves from the home-school Olympics. Last night it was ‘L’eclisse’, a 1962 black and white formidable Italian classic. Thanks, UCD cinema and Mubi. This is an asset. Furthermore, pseudo husband has been found exploring the kitchen quarters occasionally and has been spotted turning the crank on the unearthed pasta machine whilst belting out a few bars of ‘O Sole Mio, just like a proper Italian signore. At last!
As my far-flung wallpaper fantasy sits at the back of my mind, (I’ve even dug the paint brushes out, desperate to give the skirting boards a lick), my sewing machine hasn’t seen this much action since pre offspring. My desire for paraben free, organic oatmeal and honey soap bars still burns, (but we are far from destitute with Lidl’s own brand) and although my daughter’s eczema has made a brief reappearance, it’s nothing that a dollop of silcock’s base can’t remedy. But what tops it all is when pseudo husband is sent on a foodstuffs crusade. Without fail, he returns with at least one remarkable purchase. He was applauded yesterday for scoring a multi pack of fast action dried yeast from Lidl. A win! That stuff is gold! Yes, I know I know, it’s easy for me I hear you say. I don’t have a job. But let me ask you this: With everyone being laid off and the aul’ jobseekers expiring next month, could someone please tell me, who the heck is hiring?
My point is, it’s all about the little things now. I have never appreciated them more. No amount of whinging will bring me back to my short-lived student experience on campus in UCD but I have a suspicion that I will look back on this time with a peculiar nostalgia. There are days when we remain in our jammies all day and I read excerpts from Louisa May Alcott novels to the offspring and blubber at the various tragedies within. I find myself scheduling shopping dates and messaging for impromptu socially spaced out coffees on the back lane with my neighbours for a proper catch up. A quick fix but a fix, nonetheless. Zoom calls will never make up for human contact, but for now it is a necessary and tolerable substitute. Virtual dinners may become the new norm and what about that working from home on flexi time malarkey? Not to be dismissed!
Excuse me-doorbell. Woohoo! The postie just arrived with my wallpaper samples. Yes!!
Rachel Thornburgh – Columnist