Paddy Murray: Restrictions are lifted, but I’m not sure that’s going to help me much

I can’t help thinking that removing the requirement to show a Covid pass is a mistake

And so, with one bound, we were free!

The world, or at least Ireland, has returned to "normal". We can sit at bars, drink until the early hours, have a late meal, go shopping without a mask and, well, live almost normally.

Sorry. I shouldn’t have said “we”.

Because for me and thousands like me, the recent lifting of restrictions makes not one jot of difference to the way we will live our lives. Restrictions or no, we can’t go into crowded pubs, we can’t pack into small music venues, we can’t even sit beside unmasked strangers in a big sport stadium.

We are the people chronically ill with respiratory illnesses. And there are, literally, tens of thousands of us.

Good days come a plenty. In fact, every day you wake up is a good day. So when I see and hear Connie and Charlotte first thing in the morning, it's a good day

I am genuinely delighted for those who can now get back to something approaching normal in their social lives. I hope, sincerely, they have many, many great nights out.

But I can’t help thinking that removing the requirement to show a Covid passport to gain entry to a pub or venue or sports stadium, is a mistake.

Certainly, many people, healthy people, have told me that they simply won’t go into places where the unvaccinated can roam free.

They are a tiny minority. But for reasons which have more to do with popularity than common sense, the decision has been made.

Anyway, there aren’t many great days when you are chronically ill, fewer still when that illness is terminal.

Good days come a plenty. In fact, every day you wake up is a good day. So when I see and hear Connie and Charlotte first thing in the morning, it’s a good day.

But I did have a great day recently.

You may remember that I was unable to go The Stunning’s gig in the Olympia last year. I had hoped against hope that I’d get there, but it wasn’t to be.

Then, a couple of days after the gig, I got a message from Steve Wall who, with his brother Joe, established The Walls and then The Stunning back in the '90s.

He is a neighbour, and daughter Charlotte was happy to doggysit their pet when they were away for a while last year.

And I had interviewed him about the struggles of the live music industry way back at the start of the pandemic.

So he had my number.

Steve’s message said he was sorry I’d missed the gig, and then to my astonishment he said he’d call around some day for a chat and he’d play a few tunes.

And he did.

He texted me beforehand, we agreed a time, and he said he’d be around at 4pm on a Wednesday.

He said he’d be at my house at 4pm. So I thought he’d likely be gone by 5pm.

But it wasn’t like that at all. Steve played music, and chatted for a couple of hours or more.

He has so many stories he could have kept us rapt until 10pm.

He treated us to a new song, not yet recorded, called Rain on the Wind. I hope he records it. It was magic.

And when a friend I had invited to join us us asked him about a little known Elvis song called Crawfish, he sang it.

And then, after more than two and a half hours, Steve said, “Let’s finish on a high”, he gave us Brewing Up A Storm.

I’m beginning to think the health service should employ our musicians to visit people because it gave me such a lift – way more than all my drugs could – that I felt great for days afterwards.

Anyway, life goes on, thank God.

Restrictions are lifted but I’m not sure that’s going to help me much. It’s going to be difficult for me to get the confidence to go anywhere people are gathered.

I might start with an outdoor pint in Terenure Sports Club and work my way up to that long-awaited pint in Toners. And wouldn't it be great if The Stunning did a gig in Toner's Yard supported, maybe, by another Irish group, one which needs a bit of a boost at the moment. (Anyone got Bono's number?)

That’s going to be one of the new battles facing, well, everyone in business – instilling confidence in people so they will feel comfortable going indoors to shop, drink, eat – whatever.

I speak to friends younger and healthier than I and some are chomping at the bit waiting to go into pubs and restaurants at “normal”, ie late evening, times. Other though, tell me that if a pub or restaurant is too crowded, they’ll turn away.

There is a long road ahead of us.

I hope I can stay on it.