Róisín Ingle: A tale of two Irelands on a Saturday night in November 2020

Some drink on the streets ‘for their mental health’. Others stay home, judging them

Róisín Ingle: “We’re bingeing. We’re whingeing. We’re doing everything we’re told. We’re obsessed with those who aren’t.” Photograph: via Twitter

Róisín Ingle: “We’re bingeing. We’re whingeing. We’re doing everything we’re told. We’re obsessed with those who aren’t.” Photograph: via Twitter

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A tale of two Irelands on a Saturday night in November 2020.

Look at us. We’ve packed for the night like we used to pack for Electric Picnic. We’ve got the fold-up chairs, the woolly hats, the baby wipes. We’ve got one last joint. We’ve got cabin fever. We’ve got to get out or we’ll go mad.

We’re on the streets. We’re in the parks, the ones that don’t close the gates at night. We’re right beside those handy bushes. We call them the jacks. We’re dropping litter and dodging the gardaí. We’re drinking slabs of cans and eating chips. It’s cold. And it might rain. But it’s Saturday night. It’s not like drinking on the street is illegal. Anyway, there’s a pandemic on. But we’re not thinking about the ’rona.

All bets are off. We’ve never felt so alive.

Look at us. We’re at home. Again. In front of the telly. It’s Saturday night. We’re snapping at the kids and we’re bored looking at each other’s miserable gobs.

And us. We’re living on our own and we’ve watched all of Netflix, even the new season of The Crown that only came out five minutes ago. Yes, Queen’s Gambit too, and I wouldn’t mind but we don’t know one end of a knight from the other.

We’re bingeing. We’re whingeing. We’re doing everything we’re told. We’re obsessed with those who aren’t. We don’t mean to be judgmental. We can’t help being judgmental. Our nerves are itching. Our curtains are twitching.

If you like Pina Colada and getting caught in the rain then come on down. Feck Covid. Feck it all. For one night only

We’re raging. How dare they? Acting like there’s no pandemic, living like there’s no tomorrow. Living. We remember living.

Here we are now. Making our own entertainment. In the leafy middle-class suburbs, in the concrete jungles, in the regional towns, on the beaches. We’ve got the tunes. We’ve got the banter. We’re gathering. We’re not supposed to be gathering. But this is lockdown 2. It’s different.

We’re feeling immune. And there’ll be a vaccine soon. The bar is selling takeaway drinks and we’re hardly going to bring them home to have them there now are we? It’s not our fault they are serving us pints. And so much more.

We’re having Sex on the Beach. We’re knocking back the Baby Guinness. If you like Pina Colada and getting caught in the rain then come on down. Feck Covid. Feck it all. For one night only.

We’re sick looking at those curtains. But we’re doing what needs to be done. And do you know what else needs to be done? They need to lock Dublin down. The capital needs a curfew. Blast them all with water cannons; that’ll put a stop to their selfish gallop. Who knew Level 5 meant takeaway pints? Blame the young people. Blame the pint sellers. Blame the cocktail shakers.

Who else is to blame? It couldn’t be the people in charge, could it? The experts. The Government. But we trusted them. We’re doing what they told us. Interesting that Australia and New Zealand are pretty much back to normal. They closed their borders early before the pandemic horse had bolted.

But no point looking back. We are where we are. And we’re all in this together. Well most of us, anyway. Obligatory Seamus Heaney quote. Pass the wine. Give me that remote control. I said, give me the control.

If you could see all the can’ts that are cantering around our heads while the clumps of drinkers create clusters

Location scouting. What about that place down by the canal? Or near the red sticks? Or that car park? Haven’t seen you in months. Great to be out, isn’t it? Sure even the old pair have a few friends around tonight. In their 60s, planning a little dinner party. They say they’re not locking down again, Covid or no Covid.

What’s that? Did you see that? Torch light, it’s the cops. Sketch. We haven’t said sketch in years. Who knows when things will be back to normal. So we’re making a new normal. It’s gas. It’s good for our mental health. Ask that Bressie fella.

There are cans all over the place. If you could see all the can’ts that are cantering around our heads while the clumps of drinkers create clusters. We can’t go to the gym. We can’t go to the hospital with our pregnant partners. We can’t help our 92-year-old mother blow out her birthday candles. We can’t go to our neighbour’s funeral. We can’t. . . but oh look, there’s a mardi gras going on all along South William Street. What do the Americans say? We can’t even.

Put Dublin on another level. Make it Level 10. Arrest them in the streets. Freedom is a small price to pay for an end to this pandemic. Bloody can’ts.

Lockdowns don’t work, anyway.

Lockdowns are the only way to reduce cases.

Killjoys.

Killers.

It’s late. We might get going. We lost our face masks somewhere down a lane while we were taking a piss.

They’re taking the piss.

Plenty more facemasks at home. That was some night. Feel a cold coming on but worth it. It’s not natural being cooped up inside for weeks on end. It’s just not natural.

Wake up on the sofa. Watch another Call My Agent. Make sure the fire is out. Climb into bed. The worst thing? The absolute worst? There’s nothing to look forward to.

Back home. Making plans. For next Saturday night. End of the day, everybody needs something to look forward to.

roisin@irishtimes.com