DIARY OF A DEMENTED HOME WORKER: Hands up who is planning a patio party for six?

May 16th, 2021 6:25 PM

By Emma Connolly

A full-on foam party or a more tasteful evening of wine and nibbles? I can’t quite decide on the vibe of my first socially distanced soirée of six. One thing for sure is that it will be hard to get used to having to share my stash of crisps again!

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DIARY OF A DEMENTED HOME WORKER It’s Week 61 and one that has brought us the most freedom since December. There were tearful reunions, haircuts, and garden gatherings – and all with Dr Tony’s blessing

• SO we’re five months into 2021, and this is the first week it’s occurred to me that I don’t have a diary. Not surprisingly I haven’t needed one and Google calendar has done the job for anything work related (most of the time. The odd WhatsApp reminder of ‘Where are you? The meeting has started’ has been helpful too). But with a hair appointment, a car service, and a visit to a friend’s garden all scheduled in,  I’ve had to pull out last year’s one to keep me on track – just as well there were plenty of blank pages to work with!

• It’s a very big week for us all though, isn’t it? And this weekend will be even bigger still when exiled West Corkies will be hitting the road to be reunited with family and friends they haven’t seen since Christmas. If they were lucky. There’s going to be tears, lots of them, and hugs too! Dr Tony Holohan has even given grandparents his full approval for that long awaited embrace, so be sure to make it a good firm one and none of that back tapping malarkey, either. I imagine there’ll be lots of buns and sponge cakes baked this week and the table will be set with the good cups. Nothing will be spared. I’ve been really lucky to have had most of my nearest and dearest within my 5km all this time (yes, for all of it!), but I don’t underestimate how hard it must have been for others. I’m getting teary at the thoughts of it all. Oh, and don’t mind recording them either. Get right in that moment and feel all that joy.

• It’s very reassuring that Dr Tony has told us all to go out and participate in society again. And it’s not some sort of a test either. At least I don’t think it is (you go first, just in case!). But for lots of us it won’t be as simple as flicking a switch – one minute we’re in lockdown, and the next minute, off we go. I think your appetite for getting back out there will depend on how the past few months have been for you. For some they’ve been idyllic (really trying not to envy those people too much), while others have endured serious trauma. Personally I’ve found that not having to tolerate too many other people, has made me more intolerant than ever, but I’m working on it. Regardless, if you’re going to bounce right back out there, or are going to need a little more time, remember we can all go at our own pace.

• It’s going to be quite the novelty being allowed to have up to six people from individual households in our own garden. The luxury of it –  no more having to meet up in damp woods, windswept beaches, or worst of all, playgrounds. This effectively means the return of a socially distanced, social life of sorts. What it also means, though, is that I’ll have to start weaning myself off my nightly Netflix marathons and will have to get my head around the idea of sharing my gin and crisps with guests. Like I said, we can all go at our own pace.

• I’ve actually started planning my first soirée (aka ‘Patio P*** Up.’) I’m still working on the guest list but am going to pick a diverse crew to keep things lively – and ensure that at least one person has a bit of news to carry the rest of us. Topics we’ll try to avoid but which we’ll invariably end up talking about will include: how much weight we’ve gained during lockdown; how sea swimming has saved us; how our partners have nearly pushed us over the edge, and who has the best staycation planned (this last one is bound to be controversial and depending on the stage of the evening could prompt a catty comment or two. Bring it on!).

• There’s also the question of what to wear. That’s tricky. Probably not your Sweaty Bettys, but if it’s an evening gathering, not any of the 10 floral dresses you bought over lockdown and have yet to wear, either. Aim for a middle ground and sure we all know you’ll end throwing on your Dryrobe at some stage because it will be Baltic. I saw someone wearing a hot water bottle belt thing over their ‘outfit of the night.’ Ok, it was on Instagram, but it could catch on (and help disguise the lockdown pounds).

• Next, the vibe. It may be the first meet-up in months but it’s still important not to go too over the top or appear too eager. I’m thinking pizza (no sourdough) and West Cork gin cocktails – too ordinary? Or maybe Aperol Spritz and sushi – too much like hard work? In my crazier moments I’m thinking a full-on foam party with a Nikki Beach soundtrack playing in the background. Too try hard, right? There’ll be no sharing plates, though, which is a shame as  I’ve a lovely new platter I’d like to show off.

• Despite all my faffing about online, I still haven’t found the perfect gazebo. I think there’s around two left in the country and I’m wondering if I order now, will it be here by the weekend?  And, in no particular order: When should I start the fake tan layering to get the perfect glow by Saturday night? Selfies or a social media black out? And how awful would it be if I binned (or hid) my struggling/possibly dead vegetable seeds and bought in some fully fledged plants to pass off as my own?

• I’ll have to come straight out and say I’ve been one of Dr Tony’s most obedient pupils. It’s a personality thing with me – I like to follow rules. So I’m also wondering what will I do if any of the six try to move the gathering inside? I mean I wouldn’t mind them seeing what I’ve done with the lounge, but still. Should I dive at them with a mask and start spritzing them in sanitiser? Over the top? Also, what if they stay so late I can’t fit in an episode of Modern Family before bed? My nerves are shot and I haven’t even created the WhatsApp group yet.

• Also, who else has heard that the weather is meant to be a bit all over the place until August at least? Apparently someone who knows someone, who knows about such things, has declared this to be the case. That would be a right setback altogether. But hopefully, with the exams coming up, it will bring a warm spell, and sure we’ve always the hot water belts to try out.

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