Sunday, April 19, 2020

A Mild Case of Cultural Deprivation

I’m not feeling much pain I confess – in fact I’m finding it all quite relaxing. I spent March in Connemara with my dog Missy in a secluded cottage between Clifden and Claddaghduff. Omey Island was nearby and ideal for walking Missy as there were no sheep on the island – and of course the scenery was breath-taking. I had just begun to appraise the local pubs when they were shut down – my initial feeling was that Lowry’’s would be my local - occasional music and decent bar staff. Aside from that deprivation I was quite content – the local supermarket met my modest needs and I am perfectly happy with my own company. The house was well heated and the WiFi was excellent. Sometimes in the wee small hours Missy would wake me barking furiously and I would dutifully get up and check out if marauders were on the premises. They never were so I suspect it was just foxes that pass in the night. My days were spent working on three separate writing projects, going for long walks, and reading in the evenings. I finally tackled two very chunky biographies that had been looking at me accusingly for months. There was no TV but I had access, via my iPad, to anything I desperately wanted to watch. So I didn’t miss Cheltenham. I’d be a hypocrite if I said that I disapproved of the meeting being held. I was pleasantly surprised, if a mite uneasy about the wisdom of it. At the time there were no spatial restrictions and many people felt them unnecessary. We are all much wiser now about the dangers of course.

In April I was hauled back to Dalkey – my adherence to regulations had to be supervised. It was an interesting drive back with almost no traffic heading east apart from trucks. The road west, across the divide, was quite busy. Back in Dublin things are not much different except that I am not alone. In these fraught times we need to keep an eye on each other us lest the plague bites. My routine hasn’t changed much. We’re lucky around here because there are plenty of wide open spaces with Killiney Hill, Killiney Beach and especially Shanganagh Park all nearby. With more people out walking these days I’ve been checking out new routes and have been exploring the various paths that skirt Killiney Golf Club.

What am I missing? Well obviously cultural stuff: art exhibitions, concerts, the cinema and the theatre. I’d attend One or two such events every week, mainly exhibitions – so that’s a loss. And of course, and especially, the attendant company that these events provide. I’m not a great frequenter of pubs (really) but twice a week I like a few pints before dinner in my local with a couple of friends. Having them at home is not the same experience. I certainly miss live racing and the occasional rugby match. Aintree is gone and so is Punchestown – two of the highlights of the racing year. The Six Nations may be concluded in the autumn but it’ll seem perfunctory. And of course we’ll miss the annual sight of Rory McIlroy not winning the Masters (it’s the putting is the problem at this venue). Traveling is out for a while too so trips to Madrid and Trieste (a Joycean pilgrimage) have had to be cancelled. But this is far from tragic deprivation and increasingly I dislike flying so there is even a mild sense of relief.

Overall I’m feeling tranquil and healthy and sleeping well. There’s a lot to be said for this period of extra reflection and catching up on things that should be done. For example, I’ve indicated where I want my ashes scattered and refined my will. Still torn about my funeral music choices though – you need to fall somewhere between the heavily portentous and the trite.