Ailin Quinlan: How I’ll get through this Covid hell... one little step at a time

In her weekly column Ailin Quinlan reflects on 2020 and looks to 2021... the year that the Covid-19 vaccine will be rolled out
Ailin Quinlan: How I’ll get through this Covid hell... one little step at a time

HORRIFIC SCENES: Grave diggers in protective suits carry the coffin of a Covid-19 victim in Kolpino, outside St Petersburg, Russia

YOU can google all you like about the mental health benefits of New Year’s resolutions and lowering your expectations; it won’t help.

The bell-ringing, the fireworks, the balloons and good cheer of New Year’s Eve rang very hollow the other night.

Anyone who wanted to strip naked and dance around a bonfire under the stars with a torch in their hand to see in 2021 was welcome to do so — as long as they were alone and out in a field — because, after all, nobody should ever be stood up against a wall and shot for displaying optimism.

However, I would condone the immediate, indefinite imprisonment of anybody parroting the line so beloved of the martyred Irish:

Sure, it could be worse.

Of course it could be worse! It probably will be worse. In fact, it will probably get way, way worse before it gets anywhere near better, I feel like screaming when somebody parrots this sanctimonious little phrase at me.

Things are bad enough! Why remind us they could get worse?

Personally, I am increasingly tending towards the opinion that the wisest thing to do is to abandon all and every optimistic thought or expectation about what might now happen in your life and hunker down, correctly masked, with your (sanitised) hands over your head to protect you from 2021. Just blindly hope for the best outcome and stop thinking about the future.

In other words, get through each day on a day by day basis.

Everyone is on the same rough sea caused by Covid, but, as someone said to me recently, we’re all in different boats so now might be a good time to check that yours hasn’t sprung a leak.

Psychologically speaking, I’ll be hiding in a cupboard with a duvet over my head, refusing to think about what happens next and dealing with each day as it comes, something I have never achieved in my life, because I’m a worrier by nature.

But Covid-19 changed all that. Covid-19 came roaring out of the blue yonder last spring from over there, as Trump used to say; from CHINA.

It hit us such a sucker punch in the gut that we just staggered around seeing stars and trying not to fall down.

One minute we were listening to news about a young doctor in Wuhan being locked up, next minute we were all locked up.

We had no idea what was happening — and we certainly never realised that several months later everyone would be walking around in masks, Christmas would pose a major health risk, and we’d be banning flights from the UK.

We could never have dreamed what would happen next.

There were locked-ins singing arias from balconies in Italy and wild goats sauntering through the streets of some town in Wales. Where was it now again; I had to look it up, so much else has happened. Ah, yes, Llandudno.

Across the pond in New York, the coffins were being stored on the side of the street in refrigerated lorries. Another tiny town, again in Italy, became instantly recognisable all over the world shortly after St Patrick’s Day when the Italian government ordered the army to move bodies from Bergamo, north-east of Milan, which was at the centre of the Coronavirus outbreak, as funeral services had been overwhelmed and the government was preparing to prolong emergency lockdown measures across the entire country.

The video footage, shot by local residents, showed a long column of military trucks driving through the streets overnight and removing coffins from the town’s cemetery.

Over here, some good people went into overdrive, trying to help the elderly and the vulnerable. They, along with the gardaí and the paramedics and the postmen and the community groups, went the extra mile all day, every day to help.

And they did help — look, for example, at the students and teachers of Kinsale Community College, if you want an example of nothing short of genius, inspiration and a passion to help.

This whole Covid-19 thing, we told ourselves and each other early on, was just crazy. A once off. A once-in-a-millennium event which luckily brought out the best in so many good people, and the worst in the bad eggs, if you think about all those millions in illegal PUP payments siphoned out of the Exchequer by gangs of criminals while Social Welfare officials were busy hectoring honest people about their eligibility; busy cutting off the payment from people who were, suddenly, amazingly, no longer eligible once the department had quietly changed the rules.

Except all of the madness — and it truly was mad, so mad that we hardly managed to process the result of the general election, and we didn’t really care about the endless delay in forming a government — wasn’t a once-off, because Covid-19 is rolling into this year and quite possibly some way beyond.

Can you stand the thought of going in and out of lockdowns until the vaccine is rolled out — and then the next big controversy about the vaccine and whether you should actually trust it or not?

Can you?


Then don’t entertain any thoughts about it.

Just get through it, step by step, and wait for the vaccine

That’s my solution.

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