Covid-era keepers

An Cailín Rua

An Cailín Rua
Anne-Marie Flynn

We’ve been talking about Coronavirus for a long time now, so what’s another column? If only we didn’t have to actually live through it, it would make for fascinating studies in sociology, anthropology, human behaviour and the rest, but for now, it’s something we are stuck with.
Having succumbed to the dreaded Covid myself recently, I would highly recommend avoiding it if you can at all. The only positive I can attribute to it is that for the first time in years, I finally know what people are talking about during Netflix conversations.
Having had a whole lot of time, not a lot of energy and precisely no company on my hands for over two weeks, I found myself feeling deeply grateful for the little things, like a warm fire, food in the fridge (and occasionally, on the doorstep) and a roof over my head.
I was as grumpy as hell throughout, of course, but no-one had to endure me, so everyone was a winner. And bar some residual tiredness and brain fog, I got through it unscathed and kept it to myself, for which I’m most grateful of all.
It got me thinking too about the other upsides of the year we’ve had, which admittedly was a bit of a stretch on the days I could barely drag myself and my inflamed lungs up the stairs.
Now, I don’t mean the lovely positive aspects like the rise in community spirit, the availability of endless cultural content at your fingertips, the reduction in pollution or the generosity towards charities – all of which are great, of course. I mean the things that Covid has basically done away with for the past few months, that I firmly hope will remain in the past when the next version of ‘normal’ kicks in. And I’m only half joking.
Firstly, unwanted physical contact. I am a firm advocate of hugging, but only with people I really, really like. I’m protective of my personal space and a bit allergic to excessive touchy-feeliness or cheek-kissing by people I barely know. As well as being a bit odd, I’m also dreadfully uncoordinated. Nothing beats hugs from loved ones, but if nothing else, hopefully Covid has hopefully done away with unnecessarily awkward which-direction-will-I-go-oops-I-just-stood-on-your-toe hugs with semi-strangers for the foreseeable future. Long live the elbow bump.  
Secondly, from a work perspective, while I know we are all Zoomed out, I for one am overjoyed to see the end of meetings that should have been emails. How many of us have wasted days of our lives driving around the country and sitting at meetings watching our time drain away where a simple phone call could – and should – have sufficed? No, we do not ‘need everyone around the table’. Did we ever even need the table?
Still, I suppose it is nice to resent people in person occasionally. Perhaps the enforced absence will result in a greater appreciation for people’s lovely faces once we get to see them at the next three-hour gathering.
Thirdly, I’ve noticed with no great sorrow that it’s now more acceptable than ever before to be seen around the place looking like a holy show. Roots and bushy brows and natural nails and all sorts of frightfulness can now be attributed sorrowfully to The Covid (‘I just didn’t get in before lockdown’), and no-one bats an unmade-up eyelid to judge you; instead they empathise. High heels are practically a thing of the past, and these feet are not one bit sorry. I even read the other day that the more … ‘untamed’ look is the new body hair trend, and now wouldn’t that save many of us an awful lot of time, cash and pain?  
And for the introverts among us, the life of a home-loving hermit is no bad one – there is a lot to be said for the lack of running around to things and the break from the social anxiety. Still, with a vaccine on the horizon, we can also look forward to the demise of things like banana bread, Dryrobes, cash-free Communions and the urge to paint the house twice a month. But the long-awaited – and heartily solicited – reunion hugs will be the best of all.