The View from the Blue, as featured in this week’s edition.
TWO things are dominating my thoughts this week. Firstly, I’m writing this only hours after the news that Waterford has had its first new confirmed case of Covid-19 since the start of June. It can’t come as a surprise to most people as we knew that the virus wasn’t gone. Still, I think people were really starting to believe that we had turned a corner and there was nothing but open road ahead (emphasis on the word open).
Let me paint a little picture for you. Pubs are opening again in July. Last week, publicans received a 20 page document filled with all the necessary guidelines to facilitate the reopening of their venues. They contain things like appointing a Covid-19 Response Team/Coordinator (that’ll be Paddy behind the bar so); a requirement for full training to allow all employees to manage the threat of the virus; an OCD like level of cleaning throughout the pub; PPE for staff. All this is in addition to the shields, stickers and labyrinths that will be installed in each premises to make sure that you get from chair to pint without touching, and possibly even looking at another human being. Now, think about your local pub and think about the chances of all this happening properly, and if by some miracle they do adhere to the 20 pages of guidelines, how long is it going to last for?
The Galway Races will take place this year, albeit behind closed doors. Do you think that will stop people descending on the pubs of Galway for the week, in the same way that they always do? In other parts of the country, people will flock to the pubs like they always do, in and out of them like a blue arse fly so they can head over to the nearest bookies and place their bets like they always have before.
You can send out guidelines to people all you like but unless you have SS levels of security enforcing those guidelines, then you’ll probably see anarchy by August. As I’ve said, time and time again, there’s not one person alive today who actually knows what this virus is going to do. It could die away (there are still positive cases happening so it’s not dead yet), or it could simply be waiting for a cooler climate to mutate again. This is what viruses do you see, they mutate, over and over. Sometimes they mutate for the better… in that they become fairly ineffective and sometimes they mutate for the worst, in that they get stronger and kill more people. We don’t know what its plans are, yet we don’t have time to hang around to find out.
We have to carry on with our lives. We have to reopen businesses to save livelihoods, we have to reopen society to save sanity. But, as we do that, we have to remember that the person in front of us in the queue, or across from us in the pub, could just have spent some time with a person who is positive with the virus but never even knew it. Presume everyone has it and you’ll be surprised at how compliant you can become.
There’s lots of really good advice when it comes to looking after your mental health. Exercise often. Eat nice things in moderation, and healthy things in rotation. Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself, and try and stay away from people who drag you down. But one that applies to us all, only since the last 25 years or so, the following: Take everything you read on the internet with a pinch of salt and never, ever read the comments under news stories or anything even remotely controversial.
I stopped doing it a long time ago because I began losing faith in humanity. It was also making me quite angry. People instinctively commenting on news articles, in many cases without actually reading the article in question, simply because they wanted to inflict their ill thought out opinions on as many people as possible.
Social Media has given a soapbox to people who used to rely on the high chair in the pub for their ignorant rants. These are the birthplace of every conspiracy theory you’ve ever heard, and now it’s fuel injected on the internet. These people, who get their information from fake news headlines, Whatsapp groups and weird internet forums, are free to pedal their angry thoughts to everyone and anyone. The biggest enemy of ignorance is knowledge and it amazes me how many people go out of their way to avoid it. What does it cause? Brexit, Boris Johnson and the most ridiculous eventuality of them all… Donald Trump. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, but the power has to be acquired in the first place and the amount of people that are rising from the ashes of complete and utter ignorance is, frankly, terrifying.