Róisín Ingle: 20 things I would put in a time capsule from 2020

From a Normal People DVD to a face mask, these objects represent this bizarre year

We won’t have any trouble remembering this year; in fact we’ll probably be reminiscing and boring much younger people about it for the rest of our lives. Even so, this feels like a good time to contemplate the things we’d gather to help future archaeologists, anthropologists or historians make sense of this time. Here are 20 things I’d put in a time capsule from 2020.

1. A small bag containing a face mask, hand sanitiser and a Covid test
This unholy trinity tells the medical tale of a year when some of us learned how to wash our hands properly and to stop touching our faces. As a bonus, I might also stick in a photo of all the important men at podiums looking grim as they doled out the nightly bad news.

2. Printout of a Zoom link
You are invited to a meeting. Here's the Message ID and Password. I remember feeling freaked out when I got my first Zoom invitation back in March. What exactly was this sorcery? These days I know so much about Zoom I am expecting to be headhunted by them any day now.

3. Sourdough/banana bread recipe
Full disclosure: while I ate a LOT of both in 2020, I made neither of the lockdown essentials myself. In my selfless and exhaustive efforts to discover the best sourdough bread in Ireland, I would have to nominate Bread 41 of Pearse Street, Dublin. The winners of the 2020 Pandemic Banana Bread Championship live in my house. (I don't make the rules.)


4. Picture of Joe Exotic
When Mary Lou McDonald said she'd been watching it, you knew Tiger King had gone mainstream. It was fitting that this bizarre, surreal, grotesque series came out during this bizarre, surreal, grotesque year.

5. Twilight Together
Music photographer and artist Ruth Medjber did the State some service through Lockdown 1 when she took pictures of people, families and pets all over the country standing at the front window of their homes. Her resulting book, Twilight Together, contains some of the most poignant portraits of the pandemic I've seen.

6. Any Seamus Heaney poetry book
From Leo Varadkar to Joe Biden, Heaney's were the words the great and good reached for in 2020. Remember, "if we winter this one out, we can summer anywhere". Allegedly.

7. Empty bottle of wine

8. Lives Lost
It's not surprising that this Irish Times project, edited by Ruadhán Mac Cormaic, won the overall prize at this year's NewsBrands journalism awards. Made up of short pen portraits of people from Ireland who died during the pandemic, it reclaimed each victim featured from being just another anonymous Covid statistic.

9. Hair clippers
In the absence of barbers and hairdressers, there were an awful lot of DIY hairdos (and don'ts) going around.

10. Screengrab of Simon Harris on Instagram
Fine Gael's Simon Harris was a reassuring social media presence for many as he comforted and informed his sizeable following on Instagram Live most evenings.

11. Normal People DVD
I'm. Going to. Um. Talk in, like, very. Short sentences. And just. I suppose. Ah. You know. Say. That this Joe Duffytastic TV adaptation. From Element Pictures. Of the. You know. Sally Rooney. Book. Normal People. And Connell's. Shorts. And Marianne's style. Made Lockdown 1. Kind of. I suppose. Bearable.

12. Six pack of toilet roll
Not since the Beast from the East in 2018 had we stockpiled so many packets of jacks paper. I personally favoured a more luxurious, multi-ply brand in 2020. It's the little things.

13. A chess board
Most of the people I know who watched and adored The Queen's Gambit during Lockdown 2 wouldn't know a knight from a bishop, but it didn't stop us being pandemically distracted by this captivating Netflix series. Speaking of queens, the latest season of The Crown was a godsend too.

14. Download of The Last Great American Dynasty
As if to soothe the soul of the world, Taylor Swift brought out not one but two albums, Folklore and Evermore, full of gorgeous, indie folk. The masterful storytelling on The Last Great American Dynasty from Folklore makes it my song of the pandemic.

15. Cocktail shaker
For all those quarantinis.

16. Adam's virtual hug
It all happened on the best Late Late Toy Show that we've ever seen. Amazing Adam King's "A Hug For You" drawing is now an An Post postmark. File it under Covid silver linings.

17. WhatsApp messages
If you weren't that pushed about it before, this was the year you were never off WhatsApp, and when the groups – not to mention those "hilarious" memes – multiplied like, say, an infectious virus.

18. Tin of chickpeas
I still have at least 72 of them left in my pandemic pantry if anyone's short.

19. Torn-up plane ticket/Irish B&B guide
We weren't going anywhere this year. Instead we "staycationed" at home, reminding ourselves both what a beautiful country we live in and the importance of decent waterproof clothing.

20. Your ukulele
Or your knitting. Or your colouring books. Or your learn-a-language app. This was the year when I finally mastered a few chords on my trusty uke and now can regale you with a word-perfect, musically questionable version of Amanda Palmer's Ukelele Anthem, which is six minutes and 18 seconds long. Wait. Where did you go? Come back!