Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Catherine Drea


As I See It: Catherine Drea’s fortnightly column as published in the Waterford News & Star


AFTER reading that Michelle Obama says she is suffering from low grade depression, I began to wonder if I am running out of steam too?

The new normal is proving to be more and more difficult. I hate to even bring it up, I’d love to just change the subject. But for the last week I’ve noticed it’s become harder to reach for positivity.

It’s not just me. I find a lot of us are flagging now. The realisation that this new normal will be with us for quite some time, is harder to bear than the earlier prospect of a short sharp shut down. The prospect of the long dark winter evenings fill me with gloom.


‘I’m told that craic is only in stolen guilty hours. Everyone feels like they are taking a risk going out at night.’


There are many people for whom this past few months has been their busiest and most challenging ever. Essential workers have kept going to work and continued to do their jobs with some bewildering extra procedures.

Parents of young people have been put to the pin of their collars to sustain home education and peace between siblings. Health care workers have come through an incredible period with flying colours.

For others home working is continuing and the isolation is more tedious. Funnily enough the novelty of Skypes and Zooms has worn off. Since I have worked from home for 10 years, I went back to ordinary phone calls as a preference long ago. It’s tiring staring at screens all day.

I ask people how things are “out there.” Is there normal hugging and warm greetings when they are out? Is there craic? I’m told that craic is only in stolen guilty hours. Everyone feels like they are taking a risk going out at night. There have been a few nights out, but it doesn’t feel altogether relaxed. The reality hits in the end of the night that even craic is limited.

The new going out is staying in. As for hugging, generally it’s a mix. Mostly elbow bumping I am told.

My son went out in Dublin on the infamous first weekend in July when pubs and restaurants opened for the first time.

On the Friday night, 14 of them had a meal, a few drinks and met for brunch the following morning. A week later, two of them were very ill and tested positive for Covid-19. The 12 others were traced and tested thanks to the app. Seven of them were positive. My son who only attended the brunch got a negative result.

Since then the numbers of cases in Ireland first stabilised and then started creeping up again. So the Covid-19 Hokey Cokey of ‘put your left toe in and then pull your left toe out’ continues.

Younger people who have been caught up in their most disappointing summer ever, have had to find other ways of filling time.

Do you remember summer jobs and summer camps? Do you remember exam celebrations and trips to Ibiza? Or hanging out chatting about where to go for college? Instead this year, with no organised activities teenagers are again falling back on their worn-out parents to provide action.

Alternatively, they are walking the hills around here looking for secret spots to gather. They have lit fires, camped out and had beer parties. It’s not unlike other years in many ways until you realise that they now have very few other alternatives.

Fires get out of control, or are set deliberately and eventually the hills are ablaze. While I’m upset, I’m not surprised or even angry. I get the frustration of it.

For older people like myself, and for people with underlying conditions, the unraveling of lockdown is somewhat confusing. It’s not a big celebration and free for all now is it?

While I love that mask wearing is happening, there’s a coldness in the world of the masked. For older people the friendly chat in the street or in the supermarket is an important part of the day. It’s much harder to have that without seeing faces.

Picking up any kind of social life in the new normal is based on outdoor coffees and ice creams. It’s going well for now. But how this will pan out in the winter months will be interesting. I remember so many winter cafes in Sweden with rugs for customers to stay warm in the freezing conditions. Maybe we can each bring our own rug and minimise rug sharing that way?

As ever I come back to one of my main strategies for getting through this. If I stay in the present and as Patsy Cline once sang, deal with one day at a time, everything seems a bit more normal.

Today a long-eared owl, slept in a tree in our garden for two hours. When he opened his amber-coloured eyes I was right there to take a photo. Bingo! This is a good day.

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By Catherine Drea
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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