WASN’T it great to be back together properly again this Christmas? It’s hard not to take it for granted but it struck me all of a sudden as I stood down on Red Strand on New Year’s Day with the Galley Head shrouded in sea mist beyond - how great to be home and with loved ones once again.
I breathed in the view as a group of hardy swimmers left the water and entered the mobile sauna which was still doing business at the top of the strand. More power to them I thought, but I didn’t linger and soon ran back to the warmth of the car.
Unfortunately, being together again means we’ve completely abandoned any hint of social distancing so, like nearly everybody else in the country, we spent the entire Christmas battling off various bugs and winter maladies in our house.
I’m glad to be back at work for a bit of a break.
Seriously, I’ve never witnessed a holiday season like it. Every second person we spoke to seemed to have been struck down in some way – sore throats, runny noses, weird fevers that went on for weeks, coughs that emerged like earthquakes from the bowels of the Earth – at one stage there, people were dropping like soldiers in the trenches in World War One.
And how disappointing to see the return to crisis levels again in our hospitals, coming around like some intractable Groundhog Day. It’s amazing how our system could rise to the once-in-a-generation challenge of Covid-19 but we seem to be accepting the same old status quo of trolleys in waiting rooms and exhausted hospital staff again this winter.
It’s hard to believe that only this time last year Covid was very much in the news, as there were still concerns over Omicron and whether we were really out of the woods yet, after two years of restrictions and false dawns.
It seems like years ago that we were having those debates.
And we may be set to relive it in some way in the years ahead with Leo Varadkar announcing that an official inquiry into the State’s handling of Covid-19 is to be set up in 2023.
I’m not sure if I’m emotionally ready for a post-mortem just yet, to be quite honest, even if it’s vital that a proper assessment be made on how we fared and, more importantly, what we are doing to prepare for the next one.
Given the state of our hospital EDs at the moment, would you be filled with hope that we’ve learned any lessons?
OF course, hope is all the rage at this time on the calendar.
Cometh the new year, cometh the daunting sense of possibility and the promise of a newer, better you.
The #DryJanuary hashtags are in full swing. The fad diets are being launched in earnest.
Well, I have one thing to say about this so-called newer, better you. Stay a hundred miles away from it.
This newer, better you is most likely a myth sold to you by some mindfulness podcaster or Gwyneth Paltrow. Every time I log into social media I see messages like ‘Bring it, 2023!’ or ‘I’m ready for you January!’
Well, I’m here today to tell you that you are absolutely grand the way you are. My social media slogan for the new year is ‘I refuse to be blackmailed into some spurious lifestyle change by the random human delineation of time’. Granted, this isn’t likely to catch on. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with personal change and good intentions. And we can all hope to do better as we embark on 2023. But if some influencer is selling you a new-fangled version of ‘you’ involving hunter-gatherer Paleo diets, Brazilian butt lifts or Mongolian face stretches, I urge you to ask - what’s in it for them? I would urge you all to go back and check out the brilliant BBC Christmas animated special The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse for some real wisdom. In one of many moving and memorable moments, one of the animal characters, a mole, asks the story’s lead character ‘What’s your best discovery?’ ‘That I’m enough as I am,’ said the boy. Words of wisdom, if you ask me.
Dickensian little twist
OF course, there are some people who are more than enough and a bit too much, if anything.
One such person is Andrew Tate III, the American-British social media personality, businessman and former professional kickboxer who was absolutely owned by Greta Thunberg on Twitter his week.
Tate taunted the teenage activist in a video which included him boasting about his gas-guzzling collection of cars and saw him receiving a delivery of pizzas in boxes, which he was clear to point out he wouldn’t be recycling. In a twist of fate worthy of Dickens, the pathetic video allegedly led Romanian police directly to his address, where Tate was arrested on suspicion of people trafficking. In a tweet following the news of his arrest, Thunberg simply said: ‘This is what happens when you don’t recycle your pizza boxes.’ The future may be bright and full of hope after all.