As a cross genre author who dabbles in horror, the Coronavirus that has swept across the globe is reminiscent of so many horror tales that I have read. It feels like a work of fiction but it is very real. I drove to and from work today on half empty roads, knowing full well that in the days to come, things can only get worse. I was reminded of the opening scenes of 28 days Later and 16 days in from an Irish perspective, I dread to imagine what the next 12 days will hold.
In the cold light of what might very well be a new dawn for Irish society, we have been asked to look inside and already we have been found wanting. But don’t panic, we can redeem ourselves in the coming days.
Already in partial shutdown, the painful truth is that closing pubs and other establishments has quickly seen 140,000 people out of a job overnight. It is an horrific prospect with much more to come. To put this in perspective we have made 6% of our workforce unemployed overnight. Every industry will be hit with Ryanair and Aer Lingus, another 2 huge employers here about to pretty much shut up shop in the next week.
Small businesses are all tumbling one after the other and the reality of this is that people will directly and indirectly suffer as a consequence of the coronavirus. But that’s just the economic impact in the short term. We have yet to see the devastation in terms of our healthcare system and I can hear it creaking before the chaos even arrives. We already have 223 cases in 2 weeks with another 54 north of the border. The human tragedy has yet to unfold on this beautiful island of mine.
If this was 1970, we’d have to wait for the Evening Herald to give us an update, which would already be hours behind so we’d watch the evening news on RTE to hear the latest. After that, the next info would come on RTE radio in the morning. In a world of 24-hour news and a visceral desire for increasingly dramatic developments, we turn to social media instead, to be fed a long line of BS that is sometimes self-perpetuating.
In the days before the so called lockdown in Ireland, we watched video clips go viral showing people in other countries lamping seven different colours of sh*te out of each other over a packet of toilet rolls. What did we expect when our government announced things were about to get real? We are not immune to stupidity.
Now me, I am a man of simple tastes. I found no difficulty sourcing Champaign, caviar and oysters. I couldn’t see what the panic was all about. Latter as I sipped on my Dom Perignon, I noted a growing trepidation amongst my work colleagues. I believe it’s best described as twitterpation and twitterdation. Phone watching, constantly dragging the screen up to see if we missed a new tidbit of horrible news that might have been added to our feeds. People are such terrible voyeurs if the truth is not to be denied.
I’ve seen it with my own two eyes, as we watched the awful impact of the virus add statistic after statistic. Sadly behind each number is a death, a mourning, a dreadful painful loss for families and lives destroyed forever. How do we see past that to look for drama is beyond me. Loss is a drama we should not invite.
In recent days, we have had our first two fatalities in Ireland, the first two of who knows how many as the numbers begin to spiral. I’ve read and listened to people who should know better. As it happens we this crises hit following an election where parties are negotiating to go into power. To hear politicians like the Green party use it as an excuse not to go into a government doomed to failure, finally showing their true yellow underbelly when it comes to actually taking responsibility and governing, is sickening. I have no axe to grind but some things need saying.
I’ve seen the twitteridioti abuse those temporarily in charge with vile language and while I may not be a fan of any of the individuals politically, I doubt there is a single one, not trying their best in an unprecedented crisis. It is a situation where no matter who is in charge, they cannot do right for doing wrong.
It is a time that requires calm. We have it in spades here, all we have to do is remember who we are. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst and if you are so inclined, say a prayer. I know many people in my life may potentially be touched by what is about to come and many will find the touch of this sweeping darkness more than just inconsequential. I dare not – cannot imagine it will visit those that I love, for in such imaginings is an entirely different plague called fear. It is a time for courage, a time for action. In my heart I trust that in this little country, the place I call home, we will see the best in us when it matters most.
I once almost drowned trying to pull someone from the sea as a sandbank was washed out from beneath my feet. It is so terrifying to struggle beneath the briny, until your lungs ache and you can no longer hold back the desire to open your mouth. I recall the moment I finally breached the surface, only to be hit with a wave as I gulped for air, and I swallowed water as I was once again pushed back below the waves.
It is the fear that gets you. If you let it in, you panic and all is lost. I stayed calm. Three – four times I was submerged with such force that I really did question if I had the strength to carry on. But I had a purpose and that was my determination to save another. In such distraction we often discover that which helps us overcome fear.
I have no doubt heroes may rise as the tragedy unfolds before us. Instead of worrying if we are about to become the next China or Italy, we need to ask simply, what can I do? How can I help? I read somewhere that leaving China aside, the doubling rate, that is the rate at which infection spreads once it takes hold is 4 days. At the moment the infection rate is doubling here every 48 to 72 hours. Don’t do the math, it will frighten you. But often that’s the point of such data. Look for the blue sky not the clouds.
I grew up in this lovely little country, populated by kind sharing people. The cream will rise and we will survive. the same will apply no matter where you fight this challenge. Five years from now, we will look back on a piece of history, but in the meantime, be careful what you read, be careful what you share, be generous of spirit be brave and above all, calm the fup down and take each day as it comes. Don’t worry it holds no value. Be patient and remember that sometimes the only way to get past it, is to go through it. See you on the other side…
Haven’t read a Max Power book yet? I think it’s time to pick one up.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Larry Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –
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