Tuesday, April 14, 2020

By Timmy Ryan, Broadcaster and Liquorist


Timmy Ryan’s weekly column for the Waterford News & Star


Are you getting through the lockdown then? It’s really a case of “keep on keepin’ on”. How’s that online guitar tutoring going? Or the art course? Or the decluttering?

I’ve been buried in all kinds of music and loving it. I’ve even made a return to Facebook after a couple of months’ sabbatical. I wanted to keep in touch with a select bunch of people who might not be on the page I maintain just for rock music pursuits.

As a quarantine project, I also recorded a two-hour online show last week and was pleasantly surprised by the positive reaction. I feel I should warn you now that another episode is looming.

I figured it as one of a series of programmes purely for the folks in lockdown that I follow and vice versa, but having seen how much time it took to do just those two hours, I may be more sporadic in my future output. As it is, I’m busy enough on the broadcasting side of things. Saturday and Sunday shows on WLR mean a fair bit of attention beforehand to get the music I want to include sorted and my weekly online rock show on Zenith also takes its fair share of time to put together.


‘Previously, the “I haven’t got time” excuse may have held some water but I think that’s been royally dismantled by current circumstances. Even if you are working from home you have all that getting ready and commute time to play with.’

It’s why I’m inclined to roll my eyes skyward when I hear people say they’re “bored” during this time of home incarceration. If you haven’t developed or enjoyed some hobbies up to now, what have you been doing with your life? Now is the perfect time to get going on something new.

Previously, the “I haven’t got time” excuse may have held some water but I think that’s been royally dismantled by current circumstances. Even if you are working from home you have all that getting ready and commute time to play with.

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said I could easily spend three to five hours daily trying to keep up with the new rock releases and acquainting myself with the tons of retro stuff I have missed over the years.

I can identify King Canute. No matter how far I delve in, the deluge is overwhelming and I end up with at best, a smattering of what I’d like to discover. A scattergun approach it might be, but I love it. Much of my online output is unpaid and just for the love of it, so maybe that’s an indication of how much fun I’m having.

Strangely, with all the perceived uncertainty in the air right now, it’s almost refreshing to pretty much return to the very beginning when the whole radio thing started for me. No dosh, no guarantees and a lot of talk about Government clampdowns and, at one stage, a dire warning of the risk of jail for pirate radio involvement.

Hard to credit today but I can still see the newspaper headline stating precisely that. The powers that be were out to get us and, in the end, sadly they succeeded.

Wind on to 2020 and there’s still pirate activity speckled across the nation, but that ship has largely sailed although the desire to broadcast hasn’t and now it’s just moved online.

It’s great to see people pursue their passions and you only need to scroll down your timeline on Facebook or Instagram to see how many people are now “entertainers” and “writers” and “broadcasters” from their own homes. Open up Zoom and you can have an army with you in no time.

Loneliness? With a bit of technology, it’s avoidable. Watch party anyone? For the voyeur it’s a real boon, “Look at yer wan’s curtains!”, “Is that a framed picture of a hamster on the dresser?”, “Are they in a shed or is that a home sauna?”

There’s a glut of baking and cooking afoot so at least we all seem to be eating fairly well. Jamie Oliver is cooking up a storm daily from his domicile in England and he’s not alone. My other half has been playing a blinder with the grub and I can honestly say I have been spoiled rotten on the domestic front.

Frivolity is breaking out all over. One guy recently whipped out some disco decks in his front room and bopped along with the tunes, all the while welcoming an online plethora of pals to join in the craic.

Put us up against the wall in Ireland and we’ll find a way of knocking some fun out of it regardless of the circumstances. It was like that in the early 80s too. Prison? Do your worst lads, the radio kept on growing and we had about ten years of ‘illegal’ activity that the country will never experience again.

If the current incarceration period drags on much longer, TV viewing will decline because we’re all listening to radio or online instead, acting the goat or sniggering at others doing just that.

The endless stream of “funny” memes and jokes I’m being swamped with prove to me that the Irish have the ability to laugh at anything, anytime. Humour is one of our biggest weapons.

I hear our Diaspora commenting how they watch events here from abroad and feel an enormous sense of pride at how Ireland has been handling this crisis.

There are great stories emerging of community kindness and lots of volunteering, especially when it comes to looking after those who are cocooning.

Of course, not everyone is either off work or working from home. Many are still going to work everyday with a good attitude. Delivery drivers, supermarket and food shop staff, chemist staff, gardai, firemen and anyone in a medical or healthcare setting.

These people are beyond busy at the moment. I have no doubt that when the going gets tough in any one of those environments there may be a little ‘lockdown envy’ and who could blame them.

To all of you, you are doing a tremendous job. We can never thank you enough for your amazing dedication that goes beyond a mere profession.

So here’s to flattening curves and hopefully not too many widening waistlines as we keep on keeping on.

I’m heading back to my little studio now where there’s a stack of tunes piled up that I want to get through before nightfall. Stay well, stay safe and keep washing your hands.

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By Timmy Ryan
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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