COLM TOBIN COLUMN: Footballers, itchy feet and foot-falls

April 11th, 2021 8:00 AM

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WHAT time is it? What day is it? Why are you standing in front of the fridge staring into the middle distance trying to remember what you opened it for in the first place? What’s a cinema? Will we ever get to take the horse to France again? I don’t know about you, dear reader, but these are the kinds of questions I’ve been asking myself in recent weeks. It’s fair to say that pandemic fatigue has well and truly set in.

And it’s understandable, too, after a year of rolling lockdowns, various hard-to-decipher restrictions and far too many instances of Ryan Tubridy talking to himself in a TV studio. It’s been arduous and feels unrelenting at this stage and with vaccines on the way, it’s fair to say that people are getting itchy feet.

Children, it seems, have been getting particularly itchy feet this week after it emerged that ‘specialist shoe fitting services’ (I call them shoe shops myself) were not deemed an essential service under the current restrictions. Once a paediatrician sounded the alarm bell on Twitter that children’s development could be stunted by ill-fitting shoes and that, if the matter wasn’t urgently addressed, they could all end up hobbling around the place like Stephen Kenny’s Ireland team, the government finally saw the light. Fine Gael, of course, have had their own particular potted history with podiatry. When John Bruton, then finance minister, put VAT on children’s shoes in his 1982 budget, it brought down the Fine Gael/Labour coalition government, so it’s no wonder they were anxious to walk this one back.

It was one in a series of unfortunate stories that emerged and took the joy out of Micheál Martin’s announcement (Address To The Nation No 21!) that there would be a light, staged easing of restrictions in the coming weeks. It seems the government was banking on offering a tired population some good news and a sense of better days ahead to give them some much-needed relief at the polls. The next morning, the wheels were already coming off.

First up was the Dublin senior men’s team, or at least a few of them, out training as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth, squeezing every last drop of competitive advantage out of the situation. You wouldn’t see the Cork team at that sort of carry-on! This was hot on the heels of some very objectionable activities surrounding the distribution of vaccines at the Beacon Hospital. And if all that wasn’t enough, the story emerged over the weekend concerning two women who travelled to Dubai for cosmetic surgery. If #DubGate and #BeaconGate were enough to make you want to jump in your car and cross the country like Thelma & Louise then #BoobGate was quite possibly the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it’s plonk

OF course, it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s somehow comforting to know that as well as saving us all from a deadly virus, scientists can still find time to just do mad stuff under the banner of ‘research’.

The latest case in point (no pun intended) involved sending 12 bottles of wine into space for a year.

When the plonk re-entered the atmosphere and was analysed, connoisseurs found the wine ‘just felt a little bit older, a bit more evolved than the wine that had remained on Earth’. Out of this world, I’d say.

Seeds of hope

ON a personal note, to distract from all the news, I planted out some seeds for the vegetable patch last week, with some tiny sprouts of hope popping up in the shed.

I’ve planted out beetroot, rocket, mint, parsley, and various types of tomato.

Now, I realise most people in West Cork couldn’t actually fathom the idea of someone exiled in Dublin growing their own vegetables.

Most people will presumably picture me being chased up and down the M50 by the Kinahans or standing in the rain watching my son training in a Dublin jersey.

But, believe it or not, I’ve been in the process of starting my own little subsistence farm since the start of the pandemic.

Don’t get me wrong – we’d be starving if the family depended on what I grow to survive, but as the grocery delivery man says to me every week when he delivers the shopping ‘Every little helps’.

Follow Colm Tobin on Twitter.

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