The hard-won lessons we have learned from Covid

From finances to the arts, to learning to live with yourself... COLETTE SHERIDAN assesses the lessons we have learned from the pandemic
The hard-won lessons we have learned from Covid

Many women have learned to embrace their steely greyness or attractive white hue during Covid. Picture: iStock, posed by model

WHAT have we learned from Covid?

It’s a nasty, virulent virus that has curtailed so many aspects of our lives. From going for a quiet pint in the local pub to going out to dinner, it now involves such a palaver that you’d settle for a barbecue in the back garden.

Pubs may be allowed to open now, but fair play to Cork publican Benny McCabe for postponing the opening of his hostelries until his young staff are fully vaccinated. Other bar owners are following suit.

Health triumphing over capitalism is welcome.


Money — a bottomless pit?

Growing up, we were always told that money doesn’t grow on trees, in an effort to make us respect dosh.

But the pandemic has seen our government shell out money just to keep things (and people) going.

Pandemic spending will be more than €30 billion over a 22-month period to the end of this year. What’s more, some employers who pay the minimum wage are finding it hard to retain or recruit staff because, it seems, the PUP (Pandemic Unemployment Payment) is more attractive in real terms than the hourly rate.

But it can’t go on indefinitely. Expect penalties. We don’t live in a socialist country after all.

Money saved rather than spent

We’ve been noticing how low our outgoings are during this time of privation. The daily coffee habit, en route to work and during work, has been replaced by brewing up at home.

Obviously much cheaper than buying coffee in the course of work outside of the home, the boring old home brew, however, isn’t quite the same as what a barista will pour for you.

Still, paying €3 for a carton of flat white, or whatever your order is, seems pricey now that we’re in the habit of inadvertently saving money.

Hair? The DIY option

Most of us women would spend a small fortune on our hair, from weekly blow dries to colour and stylish cuts (or necessary trims.) We’ve always thought we were worth it. (Or we couldn’t look in the mirror unless our tresses were looking their best.)

But when hairdressers were closed earlier on in the pandemic, we learned to do without. Some of us, hating our grey roots, bought sprays to touch them up.

But the prize for creative parsimony goes to women who’ve developed the habit of DIY cuts and colour. And then there are those utterly authentic women who’ve ditched the dyeing of their hair altogether, allowing their crowning glory to be seen in all its steely greyness or attractive white hue.

Two friends of mine have even taken to cutting their own hair. And do you know what? You couldn’t tell the difference between a hairdresser’s trim and their own home job. However, if you look very closely, sometimes the hair on one side is slightly longer than on the other.

We all love the arts — all of a sudden

Ireland has always traded on its rich artistic heritage, as well as current exponents of art forms from visual artists to writers, singers and actors.

From Samuel Beckett to Sinead O’Connor, we like to drop such names, even if the proportion of Irish people that have seen — and appreciated — Waiting For Godot is miniscule. And as for Ulysses, it seems the only way to get through James Joyce’s tome is to read it as part of a reading group (a kind of support group.)

Nonetheless, we have been woken up to the fact that artists are worthy of financial support from the State and, indeed, could have done with a lot more support in the time before Covid.

Now, thanks to the virus, artists don’t have to fully starve in their garrets. Which is only right, given that most of us consume material that comes under the heading of ‘the arts’.


Some might call us anti-social, but I refer to those of us who have discovered our inner introvert as self-contained.

To be self-contained as a child was praise-worthy when I was growing up. It meant that you didn’t try and cajole your parents to amuse you and pay you loads of attention. Instead, you had a hobby that you indulged. It could be reading or drawing or swimming.

The point was that you were quiet and capable of occupying yourself.

During Covid, many of us discovered that we didn’t mind our own company, after all. I can count one on hand the amount of times I’ve been out socialising at night since January of this year.

When is a vaccination actually a vaccination?

You’d think that being vaccinated would mean a return to our old selves. But that might never happen as we can still contract Covid despite it. Maybe less consumerism will be the offshoot. More authentic living, anyone?

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