There were a couple of revealing pieces in the press this week, in relation to the lockdown.

On Sunday the Observer published the results of a survey that showed that just 20% of the British public want the lockdown to be eased. And an article in The Times the following day had the headline: “Six weeks in and the house is spotless, but you’ve got serious Zoom fatigue”.

I have to say I’m still liking zoom, although I try to limit it to two per working day, plus an occasional ‘social’ zoom in the evening. I was due to have one such social last Friday night. A friend and I were going to have a ‘beer zoom’ and I had a couple of cans chilling in the fridge in preparation (and even had a picture of a pub ready as a zoom virtual background!). In the end, my friend had to cancel, declaring himself ‘zoom dead’; and anyway, I’d come down to the kitchen on Friday morning to discover my cans by the sink, empty, together with a couple of similarly empty bottles. Our youngest had been doing another virtual session with his mates the night before, and has clearly not tired yet of zoom catch-ups and quizzes and beers with a variety of groups.

I have very much enjoyed speaking to my mum via Skype, and it is touching to see the mutual excitement when I pass the laptop on to the two of her grandchildren who are at home at present and they exchange a few words. The Irish Chaplaincy Seniors’ Project is currently trialling a new project which we may name ‘Keeping Connected’, by which we hope to supply some of those elderly, isolated Irish that we support with electronic devices like Tablets which, besides giving the opportunity for face to face conversation, would have various things programmed in: masses from Ireland, for example, with just a swipe needed.

And there was another first for me this week: my first zoom meeting in French (this truly is a time for trying new things), and it was fun! It was the team who organises the annual L’Arche retreat in the French Alps, cancelled now for this year. One of the participants at the meeting, Alienor, was sitting out in her garden in the South of France! Another, Odile, told of how two of the learning-disabled women in the L’Arche house where she helps have died of Covid-19 but that nobody was able to see the bodies or attend any kind of funeral service. “It’s like they just disappeared”, she remarked, sadly. I explained how moved I’d been to be part of a zoom remembrance service, with almost 40 others, for a friend, Pam, who died recently.

In relation to the Observer poll, I’m very much part of the 80% who are reluctant to see a quick easing of lockdown and when I mentioned this to a parish priest I know in London he replied: “I agree, and while others are having a rough time it is unseemly to be bemoaning one’s lot in between bread making, zoom parties and the like. It’s given me time to think as well without having to struggle for the time. So I’m with the 80% too.”

I know as he does that this period has not been kind to everyone. Calls to domestic abuse helplines have shot up; many people will be losing their job (and I’m having a zoom call this week with one such person to try to offer a little bit of comfort); and the elderly Galwayman in London who I call every week was feeling lonely and isolated even before coronavirus came along.

But I’m also relishing the time to think and to live life a little more simply and a little more slowly; and to be able to take the time to see and hear and smell and touch the things of such incredible beauty in our garden and elsewhere. I’m grateful for this time with the family at home, so too for my ‘virtual’ connections, and with those people, known or unknown, who I bump into when out on my daily exercise. How nice that we’re not all in such a hurry these days..

And, like the 80% in the survey, I’m certainly in no great hurry to return to ‘normal’.

Eddie Gilmore

Author Eddie Gilmore

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