DIARY OF A DEMENTED HOME WORKER: The times they are a-changin’ thanks to Joe

May 23rd, 2021 6:25 PM

By Emma Connolly

What do Garinish Island, Joe Duffy and Paul Reid have in common? Absolutely nothing, but they all feature in my column this week!

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DIARY OF A DEMENTED HOME WORKER: It’s Week 62 and we’re enjoying the freedom but are looking mainly for places to go where we won’t be forced into buying plastic tat

• QUESTION of the week has to be: what used we talk about before the menopause? I honestly can’t remember. Everywhere I went this week (not that many places but still) it was the topic du jour. Mná na hÉireann will surely erect a statue to Joe Duffy after starting a national conversation that’s showing no signs of stopping. Brain fog, HRT, sleepless nights and the like are now all being discussed openly around the dinner table (we’re not back around the water cooler yet) which has to be a good thing. It’s high time we left behind the days of suffering in silence, or worse still, attaching a sort of faux humour (exaggerated fanning and the like) to the debilitating symptoms some women experience when there’s absolutely nothing funny about them. A whole generation of women, myself included, are now far better equipped with proper information, and will hopefully get more compassion heading into this stage of our lives. Thank goodness the Liveline is open for business!

• Anyway, without fail, at this time of the year you will find me lamenting not becoming a teacher. I know the job is far from easy (despite some people’s perception), in fact it’s a job that’s getting more challenging all the time, but my god, the holidays would be sweet wouldn’t they? Growing up my mother used to repeatedly advise us that teaching was ‘a great job for a girl.’ I wish I hadn’t been so quick to pooh-pooh her, unlike my older sister (yup, she’s a secondary school teacher). Granted, I didn’t have any burning desire as such to be a teacher, but as an adult the only thing I really have a burning desire for is time off. Presented with the hard facts  (midterm, Easter, Christmas and Summer holidays – with pay) I could have been coaxed around to the idea. Yes, I know there’s nothing stopping me retraining (I’ve googled the options many times), but sure what would I complain about then?

• Jeepers, director general of the HSE Paul Reid can’t catch break can he? He’s only two years in the job and he’s already had a global pandemic and a ransomware attack to deal with. Good for the CV, not great for the stress levels. Strangely we had a long internet outage over the weekend, and were joking we were the latest target, which was vaguely funny until our provider sent us an update informing us there had been a DDoS attack. A what now? A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, which ‘is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a targeted server, service or network by overwhelming the target or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of Internet traffic.’ It suddenly didn’t seem so funny. Neither was the five-year-old’s constant complaining at having to watch ‘natural TV’ (anything that’s not Netflix). We were all at a bit of a loss without the internet to be honest, but that’s for another column.

• After all my talk last week I’m still very slow out of the blocks and haven’t had anyone on my patio yet besides the bloody crows. My desire to go places has diminished greatly over the past few months. I’m sure I’ll get into the swing of things again but right now it all seems like a massive effort. And really exhausting! We did venture as far as Charles Fort in Kinsale where we passed a few windy but very enjoyable few hours on a Saturday afternoon. I thought we were in trouble when on the drive over the five-year-old pipes up that she couldn’t wait to go on all the rides in ‘Child’s Fort.’ There had clearly been a bit of a communication breakdown but thankfully the bastion fort proved a big hit. It’s one of the many OPW sites in the country that are free to enter for the rest of the year in a bid to  support Irish tourism. Also, and at the risk of sounding tight, what I loved about the place was that there was absolutely nothing to buy in there which totally eliminated the usual ‘can I have..,’ ‘why can’t I have..,’ ‘it’s not fair…,’ exchange that usually happens when you bring kids out. Next stop Garinish Island.

• It was an entirely different experience when I had to run into a shop to return something and had the five-year -old with me. Over lockdowns we’ve had  lots of chats about how we don’t need more ‘stuff’ to make us happy, how we should enjoy what we have etc. I thought we had made great progress, but clearly it was all forgotten when confronted by displays of cheap tat strategically placed by the check-out. There should be a law against it because the fall out is always ugly. Apologies to anyone who witnessed it, and it’s back to the drawing board for me.

• So what do we make of some employers considering using artificial intelligence to monitor remote workers? The technology can track the number of mouse clicks by a worker, how many emails they send in an hour and time spent on social media. A ‘friend’ was wondering would it expose her tendency to start the day with a weather check (to know whether to hang the clothes out or not), followed by a horoscope update, a quick scan to see if there’s any nice gazebos in stock anywhere, and a brisk perusal of Instagram before getting stuck into the emails? I’m, I mean she’s probably goosed isn’t she?

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