Day 9

Social Distancing

Essential oils? Obviously not; I mean they aren’t even necessary never mind essential, and they leave a funny taste on the chips, or on whatever else you are cooking in them. Actually this Kerfuffle is proving the point that no oils are essential, from the crude, unmannerly types we used to pour into our cars, and thence into our skies, all the way down to the refined types that had little or no sexual experience. Fair enough, smart boy at the back of the class, pouring things upwards is a bit of a stretch, I’ll grant you that, but it all depends on perspectives, and those are changing daily.

I mean even here, on the outskirts of deepest, darkest, mid-Ulster, things are changing out of all proportion. Normally, country people would not walk the length of themselves. In PC times, they would hop into the aul Massey or Deere for even the shortest of journeys, especially, or deliberately, if their trip to the shop for more hay or chicken-feed or blue, plastic hollow pipes for whipping cows with could coincide with one of the twice-daily rush-hours and thus irritate those country-dwellers who (used to) do their earning in the city. But now, because blustering Boris told them to, they can be spotted out walking up the middle of the pavementless roads – in family groups sometimes – behaving for all the world like they are actually enjoying all the fresh air and free landscape that enfolds them, and taking some leisure time away from their usual hobby of destroying the same by relentlessly coating it in slurry every day. What next? If Boris turns up on TV tonight and decrees that the use of indicator lights on cars is mandatory in the fight against Covid-19, will they all start using them and thus take a lot of the guesswork, and risk, out of making a right turn onto a road in the country? The traditional reason for not using indicators in the country is the maxim, poured into them (sideways) with their mother’s milk, that you should never let the other fella know what you are planning on doing.

[Oh, by the way, a query flooded in the other day about my use of a minus sign in front of PC to designate the number of days before the plague came, -5PC, for example. The poor wee soul who penned the query pointed out that such a practice was not usual for dates BC and was therefore not necessary either in my system. But, God bless his ignorance, he did not realise the sophistry of the system he – and it was a he, not a they – was criticising. PC in my system can mean either Pre-Covid or Post-Covid, hence the need for the minus sign. QED.]

Speaking of things changing, have you heard the one about the multi-national, faith-based organisation that gave up religion for Lent? This would appear to be the only rational explanation for what the Catholic Church is up to these days, or the Church of the Roman Rite to give it its proper misnomer now that its rite is rarely performed in the tongue of the Romans. It started with emptying the holy water fonts at the entrances (and exits) of chapels in case infected people stuck their hands in them and passed the virus on to non-infected people in the queue behind. C’mon, lads, the hint is in the name! It’s holy water, for Christ’s sake! So have a bit of faith in your own magic and declare that the next guy in the queue will be simultaneously infected and cured of the virus in one swift sign of the cross. Following on from this success (?), the hierarchy soon decreed that the sign of peace during Mass was to be cancelled. They have done this before, though, and it is actually a move us traditionalists favour. I thought this time they might go the whole hog and replace it with a sign of hate, or ask us to flick a quick 666 sign at each other. Despite this anti-climax, the Irish Bishops stormed ahead with their next step by declaring that the compulsion to attend Sunday Mass was suspended. This had little or no effect chez moi where the locals mainly attend to see who else is attending; only a slight change in mindset was required for them to continue to attend but to see who was not attending. So the Church leaders moved swiftly to counter this and advance their aim of removing the practice of religion from Church activities (I think it is called diversification in the business world, where most of the Church leaders seem to spend their time) by then banning audience participation of any kind at Mass. The Mass itself would go ahead, but to an empty chapel, so we have only their word for it that it is actually going ahead. Don’t believe everything you see on those ‘live’ feeds: those could easily be repeats of great Masses of the past, akin to the re-runs of Top of the Pops I occasionally stumble across on BBC4 when I’m not looking where I’m going with a doofer in my hand. Not content with this, the bishops (i bhfad uainn an drochrud) have now locked the chapel doors to any passing trade. Now claiming that this measure is to comply with the new rules about social distancing is a patent lie: aside from the annual gathering of the Marty Morrissey appreciation society (the game is up, Marty: we are not laughing with you, we are laughing at you), a Catholic chapel outside of Mass times was actually one of the best places to practise said social isolation.

The latest – and slightly shocking – move in this attempt to give up religion for Lent comes from my local Bish., who has just announced that he is cutting out the middle man, banning funeral Masses altogether and taking the bodies straight to the cemetery. So that he has more time for playing golf, probably. Let the dead bury the dead, indeed. This is some preparation for Easter, I can tell you. And I doubt if there will be any general or particular resurrection of a moribund Church after this malarkey, innovative and all as the tactic may be. The only real hope of reviving interest in the Catholic Church in Ireland would be to bring back the Penal Laws. Irish people do not take kindly to being told that something is illegal – or did not used to – and will go out of their way to do it if they are banned from so doing. What do you think the other traditional rustic hobby of poaching is all about? Which is why the last thing the Irish-speaking lobby should have been campaigning for was an Irish Language Act. Make the thing illegal and you will have more fluent speakers than you can shake a stick at within a year.

Nihil Obstat. Go dtaga mo racht.

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