Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Dublin. It was sunny and warm. T-shirt weather. Today it’s supposed to be warmer again, and as this is Easter weekend, there are concerns that this will change people’s behaviour.
It’s purely anecdotal but I could see it yesterday. A large group congregating on the green at the top of the road; the next door neighbour brought chairs out into their front garden to chat with a friend – although they did maintain their social distance; and while walking the dogs in the evening, four topless lads played football in the park.
Being inside is tough. And in Ireland, when we have good weather we embrace it because it’s not something we get all the time. That means public amenities are packed; mountains, parks, seaside villages etc, and already there are calls from government not to be influenced by the sunshine.
I don’t know what you can do about human nature though. It’s not easy spending day after day mostly at home, albeit in the grand scheme of things it’s not the biggest sacrifice anyone has been asked to make. Nevertheless, it’s easy to get a bit down about the sameness of every day, and the fact that our freedom has been curtailed in a way we never thought possible until recently. Lockdowns were things that happened in authoritarian states far away from us.
Yet sunshine doesn’t change our responsibility at the moment. You look at what is happening in some places in the world and the numbers of sick and dying people are so high they’re surreal. It’s hard to rationalise them. 731 in New York State yesterday. 743 in Spain – and they’re into their fourth week of extremely strict lockdown there. My daughter is in Barcelona, in her apartment with her cat the entire time apart from brief visits to the supermarket. 604 deaths in Italy, and again they are experiencing much stricter conditions than we are in Ireland, and certainly in the UK or the US.
Those figures, it’s worth pointing out, are daily. All of those people lost their lives yesterday. So, while the sun coming out provides some temptation, please don’t think it means we can just swan around enjoying it because we can’t. That’s hard, especially for people who don’t have gardens, for people who are cooped up with restless kids, but sunshine is no protection from Covid-19. I would love to just go to the Phoenix Park with the dogs, but it’s better to miss this summer and enjoy many more than risk the alternative.
I wrote yesterday about how this could potentially change football, but more and more I find myself wondering what kind of impact it will have on society. On a basic level it’s hard not to worry that something like this will fundamentally alter many of things we’ve taken for granted in our lifetimes. Extra powers given to those in authority, the ability to restrict movement and so on, often become part of a new normal even if they are initially meant to be temporary. Airplane travel is an example of how seismic events change things.
The virus is clearly the most dangerous thing right now, but we have to be vigilant because as we’ve seen through profiteering companies, and governments which are basically criminal enterprises always looking for the next grift, there are people who see this as an opportunity for their own gain. The need to read up on and support groups whose focus is on civil liberties seems important to me.
What about what it’s going to do to people directly afflicted by it though? Someone dying alone in ICUs rob them of that bedside presence in their final days/hours, and family members, friends etc, of the comfort of being with them. Funerals are not pleasant things, but they serve a very important purpose. The sharing of grief helps people cope, the support they get from those closest to them as they say goodbye to a loved one is the very start of the process of continuing with their own life.
Without that, what happens? We don’t know yet, because we’re still in the midst of it all, but when we’re out the far side, there will be a societal cost. There will likely be support groups and so on, and those will help, but as Coronavirus wreaks havoc on our physical health, the mental health consequences are sure to be significant too. It’s a bit sunshine and lollipops to think that one day we’ll turn on the news to discover this is all over and we go back to normal. Maybe the sooner we adjust our thinking to understand there will be a long process of recovery – for some much more difficult than others – the easier it will be cope.
I’m sorry if it’s all a bit heavy this morning, but what I’ve done with this blog every day since I started is get up, and write what’s in my head. Today is no different, and I’m not immune to the weight of this thing any more than you are. I’ll try make tomorrow more upbeat, or different at least.
For Patreon members, James and I are recording a new episode of Waffle today, the podcast in which we chat about anything and everything except Arsenal. That’ll be available late afternoon for your aural pleasure.
Until then, have a good day.