Happy song that reminded me to wake up and smell the spring

John Spillane's tune about cherry trees lifted Ailin Quinlan's mood in a difficult week
Happy song that reminded me to wake up and smell the spring

IN TUNE WITH NATURE: Cork singer/songwriter John Spillane

THERE’S a saying that you’re entitled to feel sorry for yourself for a moment, but that after that, you should allocate all your remaining time to finding solutions.

All I can say, to my shame, is that much more than a single moment of self-pity had dragged by when I heard the radio presenter talking about Cherry Trees.

And then the station played this beautiful, wistful song by Cork musician John Spillane.

Hardly anybody sings or dances

Hardly anybody dances or sings

In this town that I call my own.

Yes, well, it’s all been getting a bit much, hasn’t it?

After a rotten 12 months, we were given the gift of what must be the first gorgeous, sun-soaked, non-rainy St Patrick’s Day in Cork in about 50,000 years, and there wasn’t as much as a clot of mashed shamrock in the gutter or a plastic flag to be seen blowing along main street.

Then there’s been the endless feed of bad news — take your pick — which seems to come either in a deluge (mostly) or as a constant drip (the rest of the time), but that’s immaterial because it doesn’t ever seem to stop.

Every time something good happens — the creation of vaccines or a fall in the number of Covid cases — it seems to be automatically followed by something uncontrollably bad, like interrupted roll-outs because of a scare about a vaccine, or because there are simply not enough of them coming into the country.

I was becoming enveloped by the psychological flood-waters of all this dreariness when Spillane’s voice came spilling out of the radio:

Let me tell you ’bout the cherry trees

Every April in our town

They put on the most outrageous clothes

And they sing and they dance around

I paused. When was the last time any of us danced or sang? God, I thought, come on, he’s right. It’s nearly April. We’ve had a year of it. You’re still alive. You need to lighten up. Let’s not go into the job losses caused by this scary viral illness which has killed so many, has almost killed so many more and which, in the form of Long Covid, lasts long beyond what many patients initially presumed was a blessed recovery.

Let’s forget the destruction of a whole cultural and traditional ethos of sociability, smiling at people, handshakes and community support, or the potential effect of all of this on the psychological well-being of our small children.

There’s the disappearance of fun in the grim, endless days when time turns slow and syrupy and everything seems to be the same.

And then there’s the unfairness of the whole thing, because in the face of all this misery and suffering you have so many people who choose to make no sacrifices at all and who leave all of that boring, unprofitable, responsible stuff to others.

And, just in case there’s any smidgen of levity left in you, there’s the economic apocalypse we face once we finally climb out of this hole we’re in.

And the multiple smaller, random, unpleasant stories of a society that sometimes seems, over the past year, as if it’s in a kind of slowed-down meltdown.

A sample: People in cars egging pedestrians with guide dogs. People kicking up an almighty stink when someone doesn’t do something and then neglecting to say thanks when they do. Rubbish and litter everywhere. The careless and lack of caring on behalf of the authorities which has led to, for example, a massive surge in drug crime in Ballymun, with gangs taking over houses while a community lives in fear and garda numbers in the area are slashed and slashed again.

Then there is the destruction by farmers, developers and indeed, the State itself, of the ancient fairy forts which have formed part of the Irish landscape for thousands of years.

Dancing? Singing? When was the last time we did any of that? Actually, what exactly does it feel like to dance? We’ve nearly forgotten.

We’ve somehow gotten lost in the greyest of grey fogs. Stop. Now.

We’re coming into April again and as the boy from Bishopstown advises us:

You have to hand it to the cherry trees

And they seem to be saying,

To me anyway;

“You know we’ve travelled all around the Sun

You know it’s taken us one whole year

Well done everyone, Well Done”

Cherry Blossom in the air

Cherry Blossom on the street

Cherry Blossom in your hair

And a Blossom at your feet

You know we’ve travelled all around the Sun

You know it’s taken us one whole year

Well done everyone, Well Done

On behalf of me and the Cherry Trees, Well Done!

Spillane is right. So many have been lost to Covid, that those of us who are still here to see the arrival of Spring should celebrate, even when there doesn’t seem to be that much to celebrate.

You know me, sometimes I think I’m getting old

Not as young as I used to be

We’ve lost a year to Covid — but we should give ourselves a Well Done. For simply getting through it. And we should try to see the cherry blossoms.

It’s April again, guys, and you’re still here.

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