DIARY OF A DEMENTED HOME WORKER It’s week 82 and I’m literally bouncing my way from Communion to Confirmation, and I’m absolutely loving every minute of it
• BOUNCY castles are back, baby, and it’s brilliant! They’re not a regular sight on the landscape at this time of the year, but thanks to our priests who are working around the clock to make sure our youngsters get the sacraments of Communion and Confirmation, it seems like every garden in all the land has something inflatable in it right now and it’s fabulous to see. It has been really lovely for everyone, young and old, to be able to celebrate these milestones without that overwhelming feeling of terror, that has sucked the joy from most every occasion over the past while. Certainly, the bottle of sanitiser is still on the table beside the condiments but I think there’s more fun than fear in the air at such gatherings right now. It’s especially heart warming to see the First Communicants in all their innocence, and while those making Confirmation, in lots of cases, are already in secondary school, everyone turns into a big kid when they’re bopping about on a giant blow-up alligator – and it’s an added bonus if no one ends up in A&E, or with mild concussion. Special shout out to the operator who came to the rescue of a deflated bouncy slide at a Communion I was at last weekend, and stitched it together again in no time, surrounded by at least 20 very sweaty and impatient kids. No pressure at all!
• Lots of people are choosing to celebrate at home so there’s a great spin-off for the local economy, too – with everyone from caterers, hair dressers, balloon artists and wine importers getting a lift. And speaking of lifts, the high heels are being discarded literally as soon as church ceremonies are over – one legacy of lockdown I’m very happy to see continue. Back in my time, you’d go visiting your relatives on your big day, after going out for your dinner (it was definitely dinner and not lunch and usually featured prawn cocktail and a knickerbocker glory, and something breaded inbetween). Visiting as a concept is almost a thing of the past now, isn’t it? I mean we even text before we ring people. Something along the lines of: ‘Are you free for a call? Sometime this month?’ The idea of just arriving into someone unannounced seems totally bonkers – I mean you could be walking in on just about anything, good or bad. My own fear would be getting caught out without the good towels out or not having any biscuits in. I generally need at least two days’ advance notice someone of someone ‘popping in’ and a full week if it’s an overnight visit, but I generally discourage that sort of thing.
• Anyway, I have to admit that I was a bit unsettled to hear Prof Luke O’Neill say in a recent interview that he thinks we should still be keeping up with the contact tracing in schools, and asking for a clearer reason why it’s no longer being followed. He also feels that kids should still self-isolate if exposed to the virus. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a fan of his to the extent that if he said black was white, I’d at least consider it. So when he said that certainly until the end of winter, we should be using every weapon we have, it got me wondering if we’re headed down a bit of a rocky road with this new Covid strategy. Teachers are instead being advised to closely observe kids themselves. Hearing my own five-year-old sneeze or clear her throat is enough to put the fear of God in me so imagine being faced with 30-odd runny noses and trying to decipher what’s normal and what’s not on any given day? While also trying to teach? I think there’s a good argument for teachers to be included in the special recognition bonus the government is considering for those who shouldered the greatest burden during the pandemic.And journalists too, perhaps? That’s quite the can of worms they’re after opening.
• Finally, by now you’re either one of the 250,000 people who has a ticket to see Ed Sheeran when he plays here next year, or you’re not. I’m not. I’ve nothing at all against the pop star. Castle on the Hill is a grand little tune, and he seems like a wholesome lad and a very rich one at that. He even has West Cork credentials to his name! Artists I’ve seen perform live in concert are quite the eclectic bunch and include The Hot House Flowers in City Hall, Robbie Williams in The Point, Daniel O’Donnell in Millstreet (I can verify he gives great value for money with a minimum three-hour performance. Before the encore), Makem and Clancy in the Opera House (What? The Garden Song is an absolute classic) and Aslan in The Parkway, Dunmanway. My problem is that I feel a bit uneasy about booking things too far ahead, best laid plans etc. But I’m going to be first in the queue to see the new Bond film, No Time To Die. Lasting 2hrs and 43 minutes, there’ll probably be time for a quick snooze too, although according to reviews you won’t want to miss a second of it. The big question now is who’ll replace Daniel Craig? See next week’s Southern Star for more.