From a distance – Day 8: The Coronavirus Diaries and a trip to the theatre

covid1Thursday was the day that I had planned to travel to Latvia and Lithuania for the first time. With the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic running amok, my plans were altered last week as soon as Ryanair announced that it would not be charging passengers to rebook flights for later in the year. Here’s hoping that by August this incredibly weird, semi-lockdown experience might have passed.

The scary element is that by all expert accounts things are only starting to get bad. Thursday saw an increase of 191 in new cases in Ireland to a total of almost 600. A third death was also announced. The social distancing measures announced last Thursday will take a fortnight to take effect so for the next week the numbers of infections (and deaths) will probably keep rising sharply each day. We’ve all seen the pictures from Italy. It is quite terrifying.

It is distressting and worrying for everyone – but particularly for those at ‘high risk’ – elderly people and those with ‘underlying conditions’. Unfortunately my Type 1 diabetes is one of those ‘underlying conditions’.  I also live alone in a (tastefully appointed) flat in the Docklands. It’s comfortable and pleasant but it’s a touch claustrophobic. I really don’t want to catch it. If I do, hopefully it will be a mild version.

What if though… Banish the thought.

Medical advice indicates that so long as you keep a distance of two metres from other people then there is no risk in going outdoors. Getting out each day for an hour long walk after a day working from home is a real stress buster. Each day I am trying a new route.

Last weekend I walked to the Poolbeg Lighthouse and back – a sturdy ten mile walk in total. This week I have walked the length of the quays from my house in the IFSC to the Point, over to Ringsend and the Grand Canal Dock. On Wednesday I walked up to Connolly Staion, and on to Fairview Park, out to Clontarf.

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Yesterday was the most eerie. I strolled to Temple Bar. Temple Bar is a neigbhourhood notorious for its overpriced nightlife, that is particularly attractive to foreign tourists. Irish people find it less appealing, as we know that the astronomical prices charged for food and drinks in the area are outrageous even by Ireland’s expensive standards. It is typically heaving with partiers and drunken revellers. Well with most international flights cancelled most of the country self-quarantining, it was a changed neighbourhood. It’s actually a really pretty and charismatic part of town – with the cobbled streets and narrow laneways that make it appealing to revellers. I have never seen it like this before- almost entirely deserted – apart from a few small shops that had no customers inside.

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I wandered over to Dublin Castle – also usually teeming with tourists. Again it was deserted, Very spooky.

I walked along the quays back home –  walking through red lights all the way. Not because I have a death wish – more because there was so little traffic on the road. The social distancing measures seem to be sticking. My paranoia when I get too close to another person can’t be healthy though – although thinking about it, it probably is…

After my spaghetti bolognaise dinner – made with the finest ingredients known to Lidl – I went to the theatre.

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The theatre, I hear you ask? Well not the physical theatre – as those have shuttered their doors for the duration of the crisis – which will have a devastating impact on those souls who work in the theatrical arts. It’s a precarious existence at the best of times. These are not the best of times.

Bottom Dog Theatre from Limerick produced a show in the Belltable Theatre in Limerick last November. It was called ‘A Wilde fan’. It is a one man show, written and performed by Limerick actor Myles Breen and directed by Liam O’Brien. Last night it was streamed live from the Belltable on Youtube.

The premise of the show is that Myles Breen – a lifelong fan of the legendary poet, storyteller, playwright and wit – is expecting Oscar Wilde for dinner. It juxtaposes the important events of Wilde’s own life with Breen’s own life. The reaction that this icon to gay people and Ireland and literature had on one person’s life and on the society as a whole.

It was a very clever and imaginative play – with Breen performing some of Wilde’s legendary writing, interspersed with his own witty observations about his own life.

The sound and lighting effects were impressive – never having seen live theatre on a screen before I am not sure whether technological wizardry was applied to this new broadcast. The set looked elegant and refined – appropriate for Monsieur Wilde.

An engaging and entertaining experience and welcome in these strange days. I am not sure it matched the excitement of being in an actual theatre – nothing does of course. In these unsettling times it was a satisfying way to pass the time – rather than worrying about the plague.

Today is Friday – I wonder what time the Botanic Gardens close this evening? I fancy a walk.

 

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