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George Hook
George Hook

George Hook (78): 'The fella who invented the term cocooning should be sacked'

Former rugby pundit George Hook confessed that he ventured out shopping despite Government warnings for over-70s to stay indoors during the current pandemic. 

The Cork man said he was confused by the restrictions introduced to combat Covid-19, which included the cocooning of elderly people.

The Taoiseach made an announcement last Friday that everybody would have to stay at home except in specific circumstances. Elderly citizens were told to cocoon or in simpler terms “stay indoors”.

George described the language as both confusing and enraging and how it led him to inadvertently go against Government advice.

An empty Fountainstown beach in Co. Cork during the current Covid-19 restrictions.Picture Denis Minihane.
An empty Fountainstown beach in Co. Cork during the current Covid-19 restrictions.
Picture Denis Minihane.

“The fella who invented the term cocooning should be sacked,” he said. 

“I’ll be 79 in a month. It’s an established fact that when you’re talking to older people you need to use plain language. I have no idea what cocooning means.”

He described how people’s misunderstanding around restrictions may add to the crisis.

“Let’s take what happened to George Hook, who isn’t exactly an eejit,” joked the Cork man. 

“What did George Hook do the first day of cocooning? He went to the shop and bought the paper.”

The 78-year-old said: “I turned to my wife Ingrid to make sure that Paddy, the owner of the local shop, was less than 2km away.

“I was aware of the essentials part, and the 2km radius. Somewhere buried in there was the part about cocooning.

"When I got to the shop Paddy looked at me and asked, ‘what are you doing, George?’”

Mr Hook warned that there are other older people who are also unsure about restrictions.

“I didn’t get the critical significance of the part about the over-70s. I was raging mad that they didn’t just tell it like it was. 

"Lockdown would have meant something to me but cocooning is just too vague. 

"If it had been put plainly I would have stayed at home and shouted it from the rooftops.

“I am so upset with myself because I would never go against advice that helps reduce the transfer of cases. 

"That’s not the kind of person I am. 

The South Link road in Cork at lunchtime on Tuesday during the current Covid-19 pandemic.Picture: Eddie O'Hare
The South Link road in Cork at lunchtime on Tuesday during the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

"Ingrid didn’t get the message either and there are other older people out on the streets doing the same as I was.”

He spoke of how the crisis has led him to reflect on his own mortality. 

“There’s a greater possibility now that if I might get this thing, if I do get it I’m going to die. 

"I happen to believe in Heaven which is a help but what I find most devastating at the moment is not being able to see my three children and nine grandchildren. 

"I miss them terribly.”

He added: “When I asked if we were safe in the house Ingrid replied, ‘well it’s not going to come through the window!’. 

"There’s a certain sense of security in that. Paddy brings us everything we need from the shop so we don’t need to go. 

"I’m digging into Netflix. Ingrid and I are surviving well. This has actually brought us closer.”

He pleaded with everyone to play their part in combatting Covid-19.

 “We are at war and every person has a part to play,” he said. 

“If we can keep older people away we are taking pressure off the hospitals. 

"Language is so very important. We need to get words out that convey the seriousness of this situation instead of dancing around it. 

"Only the Irish could invent the phrase ‘there’s a cheque in the post’ instead of saying ‘I can’t pay you’.

“The same could be said for cocooning.”