Paddy Murray: You’re probably thinking I have little to complain about

Covid ensures that, for those who suffer from chronic respiratory ailments, there is no opening up

Paddy and Nova at home: ‘Sure, the illnesses get me down occasionally. But rather than depressing me, they just make me grumpy. Or grumpier friends would say.’

Paddy and Nova at home: ‘Sure, the illnesses get me down occasionally. But rather than depressing me, they just make me grumpy. Or grumpier friends would say.’

 

I am in danger of becoming even more of a Grumpy Old Man than I already am.

Because as most, or at least many, people are delighted to see the country – and pubs, nightclubs and venues in particular – opening again, I’m not so sure.

And I’ll be honest here. The main reason I’m not so sure is I’m selfish. I am 100 per cent sure I’m not ready to risk it.

I almost went to a gig the other night.
We almost went out for a meal in a local restaurant we know and trust.
I almost went for a pint in my sports club.
But in the end, I funked all three.

I’m beginning to remind myself of that great rock musician Rick Wakeman who, on one of his appearances on that excellent programme Grumpy Old Men, was asked by the narrator Geoffrey Palmer, what annoyed him.

Rick thought about it for about ten seconds and then replied: “Everything.”

I’ve turned into Rick Wakeman – without the talent.

But there has been good news or, at least, there hasn’t been bad news.

I never thought I’d smile at being told a tumour on my lung hasn’t grown. But smile I did a few days ago when my consultant gave me the news after studying my latest X-ray.

Other than the damned thing vanishing altogether as a result of divine intervention, the fact that it hasn’t grown is as good as it gets.

Other news didn’t cheer me up quite as much. My consultant’s advice is still to be extremely cautious and avoid anywhere crowds, even small crowds, might gather.

And, of course, flying is and has been off the agenda for ten years. It’s probably the restriction which hurts most. I can’t believe that, between illness and treatment and that advice, it’s been 20 years since I visited New York.

I always imagined myself walking down Fifth Avenue with Connie and Charlotte some day. But it’s not going to happen.

You’re probably thinking I have little to complain about. And you’re right.

While I am always aware of my chronic and indeed, terminal conditions, the worry which dominates now is the same one which has dominated for 20 months now – Covid.

I’m beginning to think that one of the worst side effects of this damned pandemic is the divisions it is creating in our society and, indeed, everywhere in the world it strikes.

Big conspiracy

Leaving aside the deniers and the ones who think it’s all a big conspiracy to control us, there is deep division about what to open up and when and deep divisions about which country has it right and which one is wrong and ultimately, deep divisions about who is to blame for the fact that almost two years on, we’re still struggling with Covid in a way we could never have imagined.

For me, and the many thousands like me who suffer from chronic respiratory ailments, there is no division. We’re locked down and we’re staying locked down.

I envy those who can go out and sit in a pub and have a pint. But I don’t envy those I see packed closely together queuing to get into nightclubs.

With typical double standard, I cannot understand how they don’t see the risks involved though if the queue was to see a band in Whelans or the Grand Social, I’d probably look at it jealously. I seriously miss live music.

That’s the hard part.

I’m alive. I have a wonderful wife and a beautiful daughter and friends and family who visit and I have books to read and music to listen to. But I know there are things I used to do that I will never do again because of my health.

Go to packed gigs. Go into a big shop and browse. Spend an hour in Hanna’s in Rathmines looking at books. I browse online but it’s not the same.

But that doesn’t mean I’m depressed. Sure, the illnesses get me down occasionally. But rather than depressing me, they just make me grumpy.

Or grumpier, friends would say.
I was never otherwise.

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