Author Paul Kestell
Right from the word “go”, this country was setting itself up for a hysterical journey to deal with the pandemic Covid-19, the coronavirus.
There are various arguments about the justification of the lockdown. Some people argue that the lockdown saved many healthy people from getting the virus and thus there was no epidemic within the pandemic, and our acute hospitals didn’t come under severe pressure.
Others argue that locking down healthy people didn’t do enough to create a resistance to the virus within the community and thus we will be at the mercy of a second wave, if it should come.
There are rows about social distancing, the breaking of the guidelines on the same and some reports say we will need to adhere to social distancing indefinitely until a vaccine becomes available.
All well and good and there are many comments and angry ones at the brewing scandal about the elderly and how it was deliberate policy to expose them in favour of keeping the acute hospital beds free for the so-called healthy.
However it’s the total unfairness, socially, of the social distancing rules that I want to rant about today. They are totally unfair, unequal and based on someone’s idea of the perfect society.
“OK but it saves lives,” you might say, “we can’t have contact”. And I say back: “Who can’t have contact?”
For example, there’s a married man who works for the Cork County Council who has been outside my window for six months, digging and banging and drilling. He goes home to his wife and three kids each evening after a tough day. He can eat with his wife and family, he can sleep with his wife, he can watch The Tonight Show on the couch with his eldest son.
All day he mixes with other men talking to engineers, goes to SuperValu and gets a coffee and a roll, eat it while sitting on the wall with his mates, or in a car or a council vehicle. Each day he does the same thing.
Here I am, looking out the window at him as a single man living alone. I haven’t seen my son or daughter, or my two ten-year-old granchildren since early February. I can’t meet colleagues to discuss joint arts projects. I can’t have friends visit or I can’t visit friends. Not only am I self-isolating, I am living in forced celibacy with no prospect of that dark fog lifting until a vaccine becomes available.
Meanwhile ‘Mr Married Council Worker’ is grand. He sees his wife, his kids, his work pals and he can engage with all in a proper and appropriate manner and go about his day.
You could, in all honesty, say I’m one of thousands. How many people in lockdown, young and old, live alone? But who cares? Not the mainly married or partnered-up liberals who scream social distancing guidelines down the megaphone of social media.
They don’t mention the truly isolated who must obey the two-metre rule or be damned and shit if it isn’t our bad luck to have been alone at the start of this thing?
We should have moved our friends in or they should have moved us in. But the biggest mistake we made was not to be part of a working family or live with our partner or be married because you see the rules are different. For them, life continues, somewhat, as normal.
The Catholic Church, in its heyday, couldn’t have introduced a more draconian diktat for the already isolated if they tried.
Seriously. When will this nonsense end? To the best of my knowledge, as I write, I don’t have the virus. None of my friends or family thankfully have the virus either. But I’m not allowed see them. Until when?
When can I give a girlfriend a kiss? When can I give my son and daughter a hug? When can I drive my grandkids to the beach?
Why is there one rule for the married and the hitched but another one for the isolated, those who chose to, or through no choice, live alone?
What happens when the nightclubs come back, and Johnny meets Mary and they have a snog. Will they do it two metres apart?
To me this doesn’t end until a vaccine is found, unless Leo Varadkar and his gang are only messing about, like having a laugh.
Paul Kestell is a novelist –short story and novelette writer –with six books released. He lives in Skibbereen County Cork.