Well over a month – nearly two – into the Covid crisis, and it’s now becoming tiresome to muse upon the reality of it, or assess the impact it’s had on our daily lives and the fear it’s injected into the hearts of our communities. It has been ruminated upon at length; to the point of pure saturation; it’s now a case of adapting and turning our faces towards the future as we mourn the loss of loved ones, livelihoods and the sense of invincibility most of us were probably guilty of possessing until early March.
Christmas morning, 1987. A cold one, I recall. Condensation on the windows, and a hint of your breath in the air. Dark and dreary the morning might have been – indeed, it was probably still the middle of the night – but that didn’t matter. Santa had arrived!
As my father laid the fire and cleaned the bould Mr Claus’ footprints from the hearth, I vividly remember tearing open the presents. The yields were modest. A yellow-covered hardback storybook; tales from which I still recall over three decades later. A black-haired, floral-bedecked doll, immediately named Caroline, who would remain a loyal companion for years, despite the subsequent subjecting of her lustrous curls to some unfortunate butcherings behind my mother’s back. And a couple of coloured plastic necklaces. That was all. But it was enough.
A few days ago, Mayo Rape Crisis Centre marked 25 years in existence with a simple ceremony at Lough Lannagh, where the first of 25 trees were planted to mark each year of operation. While the occasion was powerful, and sang of hope and light, the ceremony was also a reminder of just how complex the conversation around rape and sexual abuse is, and how it has continued to evolve in recent years. I left feeling I had gained additional new perspectives and learned new things, but most of all, I felt humbled, hearing from the powerhouses of women who took that initial step to set up the service in what was then a very different Ireland.
There’s nothing quite like a good election, and the last couple of weeks have given many of us food for thought and conversation. Is the Green Wave real? How do we encourage greater female participation in politics? Will the Big Two dominate forever in West of Ireland politics, or does anyone have an interest in taking them on? How do new candidates persuade people to vote for them and not incumbents? Is the loss of posters a good or bad thing? And are “they” really “all the same”? We could talk all day about it and it wouldn’t get any less fascinating, but here are a few things that jumped out at me throughout the election campaign and count.
They say you should do at least one thing a week that scares you. I don’t know who ‘they’ are, but there is nothing like a good dose of paralysing nerves to make you feel alive, so when I was recently invited to open an art exhibition, it was not without some trepidation that I accepted the opportunity to be flung out of my comfort zone. Public speaking and media work has been a part of my working life for over a decade now, and while the fear of making an idiot of yourself in front of an audience never truly deserts you, I’ve reached a point where I’m relatively comfortable with and almost enjoy it. This however was something I’ve never done before, and it brought with it a sense of responsibility, given the special nature of the project.
Happy new year, readers! It’s that time again, when the tinsel and Christmas jumpers have vanished from the shops, to be replaced by a range of items designed to make you hate your body. Lycra, dumbbells, kettlebells, diet pills, skinny tea, diet books and magazines, protein powders. To turn on the TV or open Facebook is to be bombarded by images of skinny, muscled humans advertising weight loss programmes. Just like the relentless fake-happy-clappy magic-of-Christmas advertising onslaught since October, there is no escape. And this writer is having none of it.