Plague Diary – Part XI

Sunday, May 17, 2020

A quiet day. We have broken out the jigsaws at last.

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Cleaning rota was implemented as usual. I still feel astonished that this is working some seven weeks in.

Mr. Waffle and I went walking around our area again. We went to a depressed, miserable estate. It’s only a stone’s throw from the very nice estate we walked around last week. The houses are also Victorian and bigger (three stories rather than two) but it is not a pleasant spot. One of the houses is boarded up. The front gardens are unloved and there are no trees or other greenery on the street. Many of the houses are divided into grotty looking flats and bedsits. It’s a mystery why this should be so unattractive and the other estate so nice. It’s also off the main road and, obviously, adjacent to all the same amenities and the houses are bigger so, presumably, better for families but yet, it looks like it’s had almost a century of neglect whereas the neighbouring estate looks like it has had a century of love and affection and you can really tell the difference.

I retired to my bed at 8 in the evening with a nasty headache. Poor me.

Monday, May 18, 2020

I woke up completely recovered. We were all up at the crack of dawn as the boys are doing online exams this week.

My father called me which was exciting. Sadly, he couldn’t hear me at all. It made me so sad. I think he is really lonely and bored and, to be honest, quite unwell and I am afraid that he is going to keel over before I have a chance to talk to him properly again. I don’t know whether to go and visit or not. I mean, it would be just great if I came from Covid ridden Leinster and gave it to my father in Cork. There is absolutely no point in my going and waving from outside the window as he wouldn’t be able to see and hear me. I need to be a metre from him and bellowing to have a conversation.

Herself got a lovely message from her German teacher which perked her up; she’s recorded a video for her project work and the German teacher liked it which was good because she put in an awful lot of work on it. The boys had Irish and maths exams online this morning. Daniel found maths easy and Irish hard and Michael the reverse. A suggestion that they might compare their answers and learn from each other was met with a distinct absence of enthusiasm.

We were going to meet friends for a walk this evening to celebrate the beginning of phase 1 of the end of lock down (up to four people from different households can meet outside maintaining social distancing) but the weather is inclement and we’ve deferred it to tomorrow.

I had my online bookclub and we were a slightly gloomy group. The novelty has truly worn off. Still, things are improving. Slowly.

I stayed up until all hours on my phone. A slight regression caused by not putting it safely in the hall before dinner and ignoring it for the remainder of the evening. I am largely on the wagon again but this was a lapse. Alas.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

All the climbing roses around the front door have come out and when you step out there is a beautiful smell of roses which I don’t think I ever noticed before [insert your own jaded thoughts about slowing down and smelling the flowers here].


Daniel’s year head got in touch with me to tell me that he had not submitted his maths test from yesterday. When he finished his morning’s testing, I enquired. He had failed to press send on the google form but, happily, he had his rough work and was able to re-submit.

Herself went into school to empty her locker on a socially distanced timetable.

After work, Mr. Waffle and I met friends for a sunny and socially distanced walk. It was really lovely. In person is 1000 times better than by vc.


Having cast my phone from me early in the evening, I dutifully went early to bed and felt smugly virtuous.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

I was up at the crack of dawn (8.00) to go to our local hipster cafe for take away fancy bread for breakfast. It was, disappointingly, only alright.

The boys continued their online exams. Some seem very speedy and easy with 20/30 multiple choice questions but some are hard and long (history, for example). They finished their 2 hour science exam in about half an hour and assured me they had checked their answers twice so I sent them off to the local courts for a game of tennis. However, despite tennis courts and golf clubs having reopened on Monday, it appears public courts are not. Alas.

I got a parcel from a lovely shop in Leap which I saw referred to on instagram. The parcel was satisfactory – candles and writing paper (neither of which I would call a need, as such but definitely nice to have) – and I will give them a plug here for all your nice things needs (no free goods were given in exchange for this post, regrettably). The shop is called the Old Mill Stores and I desperately want their laundry thing that you hang from the ceiling. Our utility room ceiling is the old scullery and the ceiling slopes. I emailed to ask whether they thought it would work. They replied with commendable speed and said that they thought yes but I should check with a local handyman perhaps. Mr. Waffle who, you will recall, has established his temporary office in the utility room was a bit unsure about having a cast iron structure above his head. Particularly if it were installed by either of us. The Princess has taken to calling the device “the widow maker” so with one thing and another I’m holding off for the meanwhile but feel free to go for it yourself.

The weather was so nice that I decided we should have a barbecue and I went up to the butcher to buy necessary material. It felt like traffic was back to pre-Covid levels, I must say. I’m a bit worried we’ll be going backwards soon.

We ceremoniously turned off the Aga, it was just too warm. I will miss my environmental crime scene over the summer months. I have to say, it’s really come into its own during lock down – it’s very cozy when you’re home full time and who doesn’t need three ovens?


Herself met her friends in the park for a socially distanced walk which was fine but, I think probably not as exciting as she had been hoping. The 2 metres is a bit miserable for everyone but children and teenagers in particular, I think.

Mr. Waffle and I went for a mild walk in the, very warm, evening sunshine and then we had our barbecue in the garden which was lovely. Though the barbecue probably needs a wash (I assured them that all of the germs inside the barbecue were dealt with by the heat – hoping for the best here). Another exciting lock down project.

Thursday, 21 May, 2020

We woke up to no wifi and when you have two people doing online exams, two people doing online work and one person doing online school, that’s a bit of a disaster. Happily it came back at 8.55 but it was on and off all day which was very tense making.

The boys had their German exam. Daniel decided to try the French exam as well on a “why not?” basis. Michael decided that there were lots of reasons why not and didn’t bother. Later in the day, Dan had his business exam. I asked him to show me his French paper and in doing so he inadvertently deleted his business exam and had to start again. This online examination system needs some work.

Herself arrived down to breakfast with a heart tattoo on her chest and I nearly had heart failure before having had time to reflect that there was nowhere to get tattooed and being reassured that it was a temporary tattoo. It took a lot out of me.

As I was finishing work for the day, the phone rang from an unknown number. It was IPSOS/MRBI polling about public health. Lads, I love a survey. I always answer surveys. I’ve never met a survey I didn’t like. For years I have been looking at IPSOS surveys in the paper wondering bitterly why I have never been surveyed. I was delighted. The conversation went as follows:

Her: Would you be prepared to take a call from IPSOS/MRBI?

Me: Yes, very much so, I would love to, I’ve been waiting for this moment for 51 years.

Her (laughing): OK, your data will be anonymised, you won’t be identifiable, GDPR, call recorded etc. etc.

Me: Fine, fine, I’m ready.

Her: Do you have anyone between 15-34 living in the house?

Me: Yes, my daughter is 17.

Her: Do you think she’d be prepared to take the survey, it’s very hard to get people between 15 and 34.

Me: Yeah, I’d say she would. I’ll ask her. [Talk to herself, yes, back to pollster]. Yes, she’ll do it.

Pollster: You’re going to hate me.

Me: What, you’re going to survey her instead of me??

Her: Um, yes, I’m afraid so.

Bitter isn’t the word for me. Herself, myself and Mr. Waffle went out for a walk afterwards and she told us about the questions. Lots about the nation’s reaction to coronavirus and who we trust the most. She spent the rest of the evening prefacing her views with “Nation’s representative 17 year old about to speak”. Bitter.

On the plus side, I was out in the front garden cutting some roses for the house and a lovely young person passing by said, “You have a beautiful garden.” Of course, credit goes entirely to the people who lived here before us but I was pleased all the same.

Friday, 22 May, 2020

The boys did their last online exam and are finished school for the year. It was lovely to see them so genuinely delighted. Mr. Waffle had bought them a new game for the x-box and we let them play it together (it’s quite an innocent thing about preparing food in a restaurant with cartoons and we were rather touched as we’d been quite prepared to pay for the more standard shoot-em-up offering).

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Meanwhile, herself started her exams which seemed tough enough. Three hours of English. She hates Paul Durcan, I’m afraid.

I had a coffee break with a friend based in Brussels. We would never have done this in peace time but I must say, it was quite satisfactory in its way. VC is better than a phone call. Begium is further along in its re-opening than Ireland and she told me that she and her husband were getting the tram into town that afternoon to go to the gallery on a socially distanced pre-booked visit. I nearly expired from envy.

My afternoon off was not what it might have been due to a number of work queries. One of which came as I closed the boot of the car (first vehicular outing in many weeks) and due to distraction, I brought it down on my poor daughter’s head. She has a bruise the size of a duck egg.

Mr. Waffle took the boys out with a kite as it was windy. Some success. The wind also brought down the climbing roses at the front of the house so I spent some time with twine and nails pinning it back. It fought back and I may have permanently embedded a number of thorns in my person.

We watched “The Social Network” for our film. Not a bad choice but three of us had already seen it. I was amazed to discover that none of my children had heard of Napster.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

I was up bright and early. Dan had a training session via zoom. I sat in the back garden in the rain holding my phone. Better than doing the plank, I suppose.

I tried out the new x-box game we bought for the boys. Very wholesome but still too hard for me.

Mr. Waffle and I cycled in to town in the rain. Town was busy enough. We tested out the new cycle infrastructure. It’s a start. Better than it was but not reaching the lofty heights of “good”. We walked around Stephen’s Green in the rain.

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We wondered, as never before, about whether the sculptors of the statuary in the Green would entirely approve of the gardeners’ placing of pots of geraniums. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that they probably don’t enhance the vision the sculptors had for, respectively, a famine group and Robert Emmet.

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We had a zoom quiz night organised by my friend. We won. As ever, first prize, organising next weekend’s quiz night.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

My sister tells me that my brother has spent all weekend at his tennis club rejoicing at the re-opening of the courts. I note that the public courts in the park up the road from me still haven’t re-opened. This seems a pity. I am regretting letting my tennis club membership slide.

Yet again, the cleaning rota went off without a hitch. Miraculous. Entropy is against us and it will all be to do again next week. Sigh.

I met a colleague in the park for a socially distanced work gossip which we both enjoyed very much.

Daniel, Michael and I cycled 10 kms (5 out, 5 back) to look at the sea. Although the weather was beautiful, we were all a little grumpy. I met a former book club member on our cycle and could not remember her name although she clearly knew mine. Alas.

We started another jigsaw. I stayed up until all hours working away. Alas.


It’s all go here, how are things in your own Corona virus location?

Plague Diary – Part X

Sunday, May 10, 2020

I had a cold shower again. Just not a delightful start to the day. It was cold and overcast.

We cleaned in accordance with the cleaning rota which is succeeding beyond my wildest dreams. It’s also bringing us together as a family because we all hate it but, like the Leaving Cert, it is tough but fair as we all rotate through all the jobs.

Mr. Waffle and I went for a cycle which was grand though a bit repetitive. And it did not rain on us which was very welcome. Small triumphs.

Monday, May 11, 2020

I started the day with another cold shower. The plumber came at lunch time and fixed the shower. There was great rejoicing.

Delivery of the Irish Times every morning continues to bring joy although the paper is pretty slim. Monday is the sports supplement day and there are still a lot of sports pages which is quite amazing given how little sport is actually continuing. Mr. Waffle wrote a letter to the paper last week and I read it out to him over breakfast without realising it was his (he’s a secretive soul). He got a great kick from saying, “Mmm, but can we trust this random letter writer?” and having me look to see who sent the letter and realise it was him. This is how we amuse ourselves in lock down.

I cycled out to our nearby village with herself which was pretty chilly but probably good for us. It felt a bit worthy.

I had my online book club again, we have even begun, tentatively, speaking about books again. In our new zoom format, I’ve become much more aware of who the quiet ones are and who the talkers are. Lads, I’m a big talker.

I am delighted that we have a) got a new e-reader and b) worked out how to download library books on to it. Mind you, the recommended book club read (“Such a Fun Age”) is only available in August, still something to look forward to for the holidays.

Speaking of holidays, I have resigned myself to the loss of the money paid for flights for five of us to America this summer (out to NY back from LA, let us never speak of it again) and am turning my attention to possible summer holiday locations in Ireland. Our friend who is holed up in West Cork for the duration says that holiday houses for August are going fast. Is this just an opportunity to throw good money after bad? Will we actually be able to go anywhere in August? Should I just look forward to a fortnight at home exploring in the Dublin region? Thoughts?

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

I started the day with a warm shower. That is an awful lot better than a cold shower.

Herself got up early and watched “Normal People” on the telly. Mr. Waffle found her downstairs at 8. She told him she was going to be discussing it in her French conversation class at 9.30. “I understand there’s a lot of sex in it,” said Mr. Waffle bravely. “Yes,” she said, “that’s why I’m watching it at 8 in the morning without my parents.” Fair enough.

Mr. Waffle asked me recently what we would have done differently, if we’d known the pandemic was coming. Probably not an awful lot (with the exception of booking and paying for so much travel). Last year when we got the kitchen done, I would have been a bit more insistent about getting a loan to do the utility room as well (we wanted to turn it into a kids’ games room, place where they could gather, it would have been pretty handy as a home office in current circumstances), however, Mr. Waffle assures me that he would not have agreed to a loan, even had he known about the pandemic, so I suppose that’s not really a lost chance. Mr. Waffle is cautious and dislikes being in debt more than I can say. Lengthy diversion follows to describe how, when he was a student in Paris, he used to walk to the distant suburb where he lived rather than get the RER as he didn’t have enough money and didn’t want to ask his parents for more. I particularly like to hear about the time he walked out from the centre of Paris, in the snow, with a hole in his shoe. You might think based on this story that his parents were unable or unwilling to fund him but, on the contrary, they were generous and quite willing. He is not a man for depending on others when he can manage by himself.

We were going to get a job done on the bathroom this summer and I suppose we could have speeded that up a bit, particularly as we have now had to spend money to fix the old shower but it’s alright really.

What about you? Are there things you would have done differently, had you known that the pandemic was coming? I’m not talking about investing in disinfectant, zoom and face mask shares but more in the domestic and personal sphere.

In going through old files (Mr. Waffle and I are the king and queen of filing) looking for our gas reference number from our former supplier (which I needed for reasons to do with my own idiocy covered in a previous post), I found a folder with insurance documents for the car we brought back from Brussels in 2008. The car went to my sister in, maybe, 2011 and she got rid of it a number of years ago. I suggested that the papers might go but he is reluctant to part with them. The folder has moved under the stairs with a view to subsequently, perhaps, going to the shed and, ultimately, perhaps, whisper it, disposal. I suppose if it goes, I’ll be compelled to review my folder of payslips from the 90s. We’re all on a journey here.

Mr. Waffle and I went for our evening walk in the 5km zone. Not much by way of novelty, I fear.


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Woke up and had absolutely no idea what day of the week it was. I worked it out later. I had a warm shower, again. Very pleasing.

I have been reflecting on the joy of lunch. The five of us have lunch together every day. Dinner is a constant source of disappointment to me. I am a poor cook and my children are picky eaters (perhaps these are related things). But lunch is easy – just a collection of left overs from the fridge arranged nicely and usually everyone eats something (though Michael has been known to hold out, he sometimes also nibbles a little chorizo).

It was absolutely freezing and I apologise to no one for having spent the day with a hot water bottle at my feet.

Mr. Waffle and I went for an evening walk but didn’t really find any fresh fields to conquer. The school contacted us to encourage one of our children to put in a bit more homework than had been received to date. There was some unhappiness but all was forgiven and the child expressed a firm purpose of amendment. It is very tough on them as the expectation level is so unclear. I cannot wait for the summer holidays to start at the end of the month.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Today was a day filled with meetings which is tricky from home. Not as tricky for me as for one of my colleagues who presented to 40 people with great aplomb on an interesting and complex topic. Doing this online is tough anyhow but when your two year old and your four year old children are with you and are being minded by the TV (as his were, he confided to me later), it is even tougher. He was great but the meeting ran over and he was still fielding questions when an irate child in the background asked about lunch in imperious tones. I thought he handled it really well, saying calmly, “I’ll just mute my mic for a moment.” We wound up shortly afterwards all the same. I mean, just as well really, I wanted my own lunch.

Daniel had to do his home ec practical exam and he made dough balls and bruschetta. We had them for dinner last night and very nice they were too. Herself made risotto for our main course. She makes wonderful risotto. While my children were slaving over a hot stove, I went for a cycle and I ran into a friend in the park. We were both unaccompanied so I hopped off my bike and we went for a socially distant walk and chat which was lovely. Zoom is all very well but it’s no substitute for meeting people.


I like to tell my children stories about my parents and relatives but, I suppose, they may have heard some of them before. A recent practice has sprung up where when people have heard a story before they raise their hands. Michael generally doesn’t to the intense chagrin of the others; mostly because he doesn’t seem to have listened the first 14 times I’ve told the story. I embarked on a story last night and it was greeted by a forest of hands. “She’s concerned about the Library of Alexandria,” explained the Princess. I came across a phrase recently, “Every time an old person dies, the Library of Alexandria burns to the ground.” It really struck me. I think probably because my father is so old and knows so much. I turn to him for information on all historical 20th century events (he was born in 1925 so he has personal experience of most of it) and questions about family and relatives and I am increasingly conscious that he won’t live forever. Until, the Princess made her announcement last night, I hadn’t really thought of myself as being the Library of Alexandria and trying to drum in family stories and facts to the children to ensure they survive after I’m gone but I suppose that is exactly what I’m doing. Anyhow, I looked a bit balefully at the Princess and she added, “Though, in this case, I wouldn’t say the Library of Alexandria is particularly strong on trigonometry.” Oh how we laughed.

Friday, May 15, 2020

We got a bread and croissant delivery for breakfast to celebrate the start of the weekend. Hurrah. The orthodontist texted that he is re-opening mid June. Further rejoicing.

Mr. Waffle and I cycled to the sea which is within our 5 km zone. It remains unchanged from when we last inspected it on my birthday (March 10) but it was nice to the see the sea, I have to say.


We had cinema night. It continues satisfactory. Herself chose the film. We had a Will Ferrell offering called “Stranger than Fiction” which wasn’t bad. Great cast and a clever idea. Some problems in execution though. But PG 13 which was a huge relief to everyone.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

It was my niece’s birthday and we skype called her to wish her a happy 12th birthday. She seemed cheerful notwithstanding lock down. She is re-watching all of the “Friends” episodes for the fourth time so she and I had some discussion on this shared cultural endeavour.

I retired some of Michael’s (very small) t-shirts and bought more online. Now that he is basically an adult size, this is not as cheap as it once was. We bought a shirt for Daniel, a shirt for me and a couple of items for herself as well. I have never bought an item of clothing online for myself before and I await with mild interest the outcome of this foray into a brave new world. I have, depressingly, ordered face masks for all of us as well. As I understand it we are encouraged to wear them in shops and on public transport. Something to look forward to.

Mr. Waffle and I went out for a cycle; we thought we might have a walk in the cemetery (all the thrills) but it was locked up.

We took part in an online quiz and we didn’t do too badly considering that due to technical issues we missed all the questions in one round. The wifi continues to be delicate.

I await your pandemic news with bated breath etc.