Róisín Ingle: This Lent is not one for giving stuff up. It’s time for a shot of tequila with breakfast

If I wasn’t crying or shouting last week I was under the duvet. I didn’t go outside for five days

‘Remember you are dust and unto dust you will return.” As if to further cement the cheery message of Ash Wednesday, there’s no longer any denying the dusty grey stripe running through my hair. I am starting to resemble a badger.

Like many of you, I’ve been debating whether to go the home hair-dye route or learn to love my inner badger woman. It’s a dilemma. Should I continue to wear her, like a badge(r) of pandemic pride, or should I kill off the badger with a toxic array of chemicals from a box that features the photo of a smiling woman who would rather die than “give in” to the grey?

My inner badger is winning this battle. The thought of standing in front of a pharmacy shelf trying to figure out which home-dye kit will be the least stressful to apply is a mountain I cannot currently climb.

There were moments when I nearly went out, such as the morning both arms on my reading glasses broke, which felt like an emergency worth putting shoes on for. But in the end I sent a child to get new ones

I thought I had loads of tether left, but finally, last week, I reached the end of mine. When I wasn't crying I was shouting. When I wasn't crying or shouting I was hiding under the duvet in my bedroom. When I wasn't crying, shouting or hiding I was trying to work. But mostly I was watching back-to-back episodes of Married at First Sight: Australia.


I thought going full hermit might help, so I didn’t go outside the door for five days. There were moments when I nearly went out. For example, there was the morning both arms on my reading glasses broke, which felt like an emergency worth putting shoes on for, but in the end I sent a child out to get new ones.

“Plus-3 ones,” I instructed her. “Also, ones that won’t make me look like an ancient.” Wisely, the child said nothing, only repeating to herself “plus-3, not ancient” as she sallied forth on her errand. She returned home with two styles of spectacle, sensibly hedging her bets.

I’m trying to convince myself they make me look like one of those teenagers who wear glasses as a cool fashion accessory and not because they need them to read the instructions on the back of a stock-cube box. In reality I look like a learned, ancient badger.

Eventually, an emergency too urgent to ignore occurred. I developed a craving for a sausage roll. Not just any sausage roll. Apart from the sausage roll my friend Gerry makes, the only other sausage roll worth getting out of bed for in Dublin comes from Bread 41, on Pearse Street. Fortunately, this emporium of sourdough bread and inconceivably tasty cinnamon rolls is within my 5km.

I put on some shoes, wiped the sleety rain off my saddle and set forth with a child in search of a sausage roll. Some people order from this place online 48 hours in advance, so they can avoid the queue and casually stroll up to the hatch where their online orders are collected.

The rest of us prefer to earn our pastries, so we stand in line in the rain for up to an hour, feeling superior. “Queue hard or go home for your flour-based treats” is our vibe.

In the queue I killed time by rhapsodising aloud about the impending sausage roll. The flaky pastry. The succulent, perfectly seasoned pork filling.

I fretted about whether there would be enough sausage rolls left by the time we got to the top of the queue. I talked so much about the sausage roll’s perfection that the young man in front of me in the queue said, “Are they really that good?” When I said yes, he said he would get one. It was his first time at Bread 41. He was buying one of everything for his housemates. What a kind young man, I thought, as I fantasised about biting into my sausage roll.

At the top of queue I asked the woman for a sausage roll. “That man just bought the last one,” she said, pointing at Mr Housemate of the Year. Me and my big mouth.

Lent sounds suspiciously like what we've all been doing for most of the past year. If they're saying we'll be locked down until May, surely we deserve more of what we fancy, not less

The man who had bought my sausage roll did try to give it to me, but I wouldn’t hear of it. I had previously tasted the porky perfection, but this young man had not yet had the privilege.

Sausageless, I cycled away with my daughter, who wanted to know why I hadn’t accepted his offer. Sometimes you have to know when to walk away from a sausage roll, I told her, but I wasn’t even convincing myself.

Lent begins today. Dust unto dust. The churches are doing takeaway ashes, and we are so used to every new piece of oddness you wouldn’t be surprised if food-delivery companies were planning a pivot by transporting them to the doors of the faithful.

I’ve never been on board with the season of ashes and sackcloth and self-sacrifice. And I am even less on board these days. Lent sounds suspiciously like what we’ve all been doing for most of the past year. If they’re saying we’ll be locked down until May, surely we deserve more of what we fancy, not less of it.

This is not the time for giving stuff up. It’s the time for trying new things and the time for desperate measures, such as a shot of tequila with breakfast.

In short, embrace your badger, be at one with your hermit and eat more sausage rolls.