Family Life Personal

Oh, It’s Prine Time Again …

From magic to melancholy and back in these Covid times

So many thoughts — and just as many false starts.

How do I even begin this morning’s post from way behind the pandemic front lines?

My wife is gone to work, and our two teens are still sleeping, their life-connecting devices charging nearby —  they’ve been well-conditioned to this lockdown business by those countless blue-lit hours already spent in their bedrooms.

Keep the home wifi fires burning … please!!

They’ve been well-conditioned to this lockdown business by those countless blue-lit hours already spent in their bedrooms

These devices aren’t just for fun and FaceTiming either … I’ve just spent five minutes cursing and fighting with the increasingly irascible charger that I must position exactly right, or it won’t fire up the phone that keeps me connected to people, and to work, via the WhatsApp group that is our production desk banter and communications hub these days.

I’m up here in my little home office cocoon, grimacing at the last tepid sips from the coffee by my keyboard, gobbling a clump of illicit Easter Egg chocolate — Cadburys Creme Egg, yummmm! — and wondering what to actually write now that I’m here …

Cadbury Creme Egg
A really good egg …

Maybe something to swell the positive social media vibes out there, add my tiny lighter flame of hope and aspiration to the countless others flickering and swaying at this weird cosmic gig that would put even Live Aid in the shade … even if I have no balcony to sing from, or handy neighbouring rooftop orchestra to toot out a little Verdi.

Even a lone piano would be grand …

Or perhaps I should be offering something practical, like The 5 Greatest Recipes for Wild Garlic and Rare Mongolian Wildebeest Droppings Pesto …

To die for …

Or take a break and get the vitriol out by attacking the government and Trump on Twitter for a bit.

Or just vent about our neighbours for letting that goddamn dog bark way too much in their back garden …

Truth is, I don’t know where to start, or even how I feel.

And then a moment of unaccountable enthusiasm and content is wrecked by a sudden crashing wave of despair and aimless agonising …

See, it keeps changing.

Mostly I am on level ground. Planning dinners, ironing, hoovering, walking the dogs … talking to the dogs … whatever.

Buoyed by unexplainable faith, and a playful play-bite or cuddle from the irrepressible Lily.

And then a moment of unaccountable enthusiasm and content is wrecked by a sudden crashing wave of despair and aimless agonising … 

I fret … and then soar once more as gladdening snippets drop by from my retrospectively gilded youth, or I think of my wife and children, so amazing and fabulous until we actually speak and I’m snapping the head off one of them over the cereal-encrusted bowl they couldn’t even bring over to the dishwasher!

Harrowing thoughts of the awful absurdity of this killer virus … and the next minute, the joyful absurdity of Bella and Lily the other day, doing synchronised poos at the end of the leads I was gripping in both hands.

Two vapour trails dispersing in the bluest of skies above me while I waited for their ladyships to finish … at least someone was travelling somewhere.

Or I am lost in maudlin sentiment and melancholic euphoria as I moisten to  Peter Gabriel’s Mercy Street, or am just plain lifted by the paean of joyously wistful and unintelligible Icelandic gorgeousness that is Sigur Ros’s Godan Daginn… 

So good to be still alive and aware of the sun firing up now, mercifully bright and cheerful these past days … my window gazing out over a reassuring rectangle of regenerating greenery … birds are twittering and chattering, with the odd caw echoing in, and our little bamboo plantation is balletically swaying in the languid breeze …

Those delightful red-tinged yellow tulips are out, and yonder, there’s that bed of lilac daisies where we once photographed the kids’ first pet, Sniffles, the personality-less but awfully cute grey rabbit … summer days to come,  candles to be lit out there again on blissful evenings … I better paint that little wooden table and those chairs, though …

So young when I first fell in awe with that singular talent, and all those albums, and songs to come… right from the youthful and precocious emotional ferocity of Sam Stone, and Angel From Montgomery, to the incomparable Speed Of The Sound of Loneliness,

Life and nature go on, and what dreams and delights may … will …  come.

Or maybe I should be virtue-signalling, telling you all about the apple and chutney pots we filled yesterday, or the stash of beer cans collected by the park wall this morning — one hell of a self-isolating party, that!

But, no, I feel such a tumbling rush of conflicting emotions.

The very first thing I read on Twitter today was about the great John Prine, already ravaged and bloated by two serious bouts of cancer, and now critical after contact with the dreaded coronavirus.


So young when I first fell in awe with that singular talent, and all those albums, and songs to come… right from the youthful and precocious emotional ferocity of Sam Stone, and Angel From Montgomery, to the incomparable Speed Of The Sound of Loneliness, and on up the years, everything from Sabu to the amiable frivolity of Jesus the Missing Years.

That wonderful drawl of a speaking voice, at once humble and reserved, and slyly gregarious.

And the welling in my wife’s eyes yesterday when she considered her elderly parents and their frailty in the face of this virus.

See, here’s a thing, this notion I keep hearing expressed, how at least the kids are alright — they’re only vectors and carriers — it’s the older ones who are more likely to die.

Making it almost okay.

Survival of the bloody fittest …

Until you think who these elderly folk might actually be … like John Prine, and a certain pair down in a small town in County Kerry.

So, no, it’s not reassuring, or okay. It doesn’t make it better, this idea that it’s what nature does all the time, the frog eats the bugs, the spider keeps the fly numbers down … and everything balances out.

Yes, and the occasional war keeps the human numbers in check too …

It doesn’t feel so good when it’s someone you know, and this shrug of  ‘sure the population of Italy is really old, on average’ …  well, that’s a lot of twinkling nonnos and cranky nonnas, and doting French papys and Spanish abuelitas, for that matter.

Apposite images from Mercy Street are in my head now … 

Looking down on empty streets, all she can see

Are the dreams all made solid

Are the dreams all made real

All of the buildings, all of those cars

Were once just a dream

In somebody’s head

And like a dream once again in mine …

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57 comments on “Oh, It’s Prine Time Again …

  1. After the passing of Joe Diffie yesterday the last thing I wanted to awaken to was news of another country great at risk from Covid. Like you, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him – we can but hope. Thanks for the reminder of some of his songs: Angel From Montgomery is a long-time favourite, with stellar cover versions by Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi. I hope he – and everyone else suffering from this invisible killer – gets through it. Lovely post, Enda.


    • Thanks,Clive. Yeah, literally the first thing I read on social media thus morning was about Mr Prine. Not good, I’m afraid. Can’t see him surviving this. Boy do I hope I’m wrong!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. joarosetintedworld

    I think that this enforced down time we are all getting is going to bring so many thoughts out of our heads. It is such a rollercoaster. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As a person who is in the “red zone” for danger from the virus, thank you, Enda. I think of my 89-year-old in-laws and worry about them. they still live in their home but proudly refuse any assistance, even telling us they don’t want us to bring them groceries, preferring to do it themselves. Yes, it’s nature’s way, but I still shoo a spider outside rather than smashing it, rescue moths out of spider webs, and this morning scared off a hawk who was eyeing a robin in our back yard.

    It’s human nature to be empathetic. In fact, now I want a Cadbury egg! 🙂

    Loved this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So you’ve been upsetting the delicate eco balance again, eh? Hehe. Do you have Cadburys there? — ther best. Thanks, Laurie


  4. You’ve expressed so well what so many of us are feeling.

    Regards Thom

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am going up and down too. You have also given me a craving for a creme egg now and we have already done our weekly shop! #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think this stream of consciousness type purging would do us all some good right now. Visiting you from the global blogging link up.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. All the feelings there Enda, it’s strange to think that we are all in the same boat, riding the same wave, the whole world over. In a way, I’m kind of glad I don’t have elderly parents or grandparents to think about. Just my brother, who is technically old enough to be my Dad, I’m classed as ‘vulnerable’ which is both scary and advantageous. I’m used to being stuck at home and I get a delivery slot for my shopping. On the other hand I don’t fancy being hospitalised with this darn virus. It’s tough for everyone.


    • Hi Anne, naturally I think of yourself when I consider the more vulnerable ones among us. And it does add to the worries abounding in this surreally difficult time. It is strange, as I look out on a bright day here, and it all seems os normal out there. but of course it is anything but. I can only wish you continued hope and fair health


  8. My favourite line in this essay: “amazing and fabulous until we actually speak” – that is a relatable phrase if ever there was one – and it so perfectly, so succinctly sums up family life!!!! well done – on this phrase – and on the entire post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Tanya. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Families do often get along real good when they don’t interact, hehe!


  9. I can totally relate to this. I feel exactly the same – so many conflicting emotions x #GlobalBlogging


  10. Rosie Doal

    I can totally relate to this – so many conflicting emotions at the moment x #GlobalBlogging

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Not heard of John Prine, but just looked him up on YouTube – he’s rather good – wonderful clear finger guitar style.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, he’s great, Tasker … and really laconic and funny as a raconteur also. A singular talent and good guy. Married and living in Ireland for a good while now


  12. I’m very concerned for the old and frail as well. It’s hard for us to lose our independence and freedom and be forced into lock-down but I’m coping much better than my 85 yr old mother-in-law who has always been a social butterfly. She kept going to the club to play bingo until the government closed all the clubs. My niece had to plead with my parents in law for them to concede defeat and stay home. That generation has survived many changes in the world – my father-in-law was in Korea when he was barely in his 20’s, so they’re built of strong stuff. Both have emphysema and one has lung cancer but that doesn’t stop them! I hope they get through this year without contracting this virus but they’re both ready to go if their time is up – so brave! Meanwhile we all just worry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Christina, yes it is a worry for anyone with older relatives. or ones with underlying conditions. We can only hope they stay clear of the dangers, and their sacrifices don’t have to continue for too long. But I can’t help feeling this is going on for some time yet, and the economic hardships haven’t really hit home yet.


  13. I have no idea what to feel right now either – the message is changing by the day, the news is updating even faster than that. As an aside, I’ve seen some good recipes featuring wild garlic of late floating in from the UK & am wishing we had it here in Aus. #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, that’s one thing we are not short of, the old wild garlic! By the way, I hate pesto, but my daughter and wife love it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not a massive fan of pesto either – in small quantities for me… but my dauhter & husband love it.


  14. Hi Enda – it’s so interesting to see how COVID-19 is affecting different people and different countries. I live in Western Australia and the govt has taken very stringent measures to contain the virus. We’re all staying home, working from home, not going out much. I’m loving the quiet and the peace that comes with it. I’m choosing to stay positive and to steer away from the doom and gloom – but that’s easy when I know my loved ones are safe and my world hasn’t changed much.
    I hope you find your balance and that positivity outweighs the not so great stuff for you and your family.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Leanne. Luckily none of our families, or indeed anyone we are close to has been affected, yet. so I guess I can be more philosophical. And luckily enough, the weather has been quite good. A little chilly betimes, but bright and airy, which helps a lot. So, so far, so okay!


  15. Christie Hawkes

    Thank you, Enda. You described perfectly how so many of us are feeling…up, then down…laughing, then crying. And I miss my dog…even the having to wait while he did his business. My husband and I are also concerned for his mother, who is 93 years old, living on her own, and suddenly devoid of visitors, except for us, as we are her primary caregivers. Every time we check on her, we do our best to make sure we are sanitized of any germs, and keep our distance, but you still worry. On the other hand, she needs someone to bring her food, take out her garbage, and just say “Hello. You aren’t alone.” Difficult times, these. I hope you continue to find the joyful moments…and don’t kill your family. 🙂


  16. Enda it is hard to believe that our wonderful, relatively carefree 21st century lives have been so rapidly upended by this virus in so many ways, made worse for many of us with elderly parents who are literally left to fend for themselves. In the early days it felt like a bad dream but I felt calm, now as the days go past and the news stories escalate of so many people’s worlds destroyed it is sometimes hard to keep on top of the anxiety, but as parents too we must for our teens. The sunshine offers some respite and I am glad of a garden to retreat to when the suffocation of being indoors gets too much. Take care. Jo

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really is hard, Jo. It is getting harder as the days go by, with no real end in sight. But like you say, we have to stay strong, both for ourselves and for those around us. Take care you too


  17. Pradeep

    Hi Enda,
    The world hasn’t seen anything like this pandemic in modern times.
    No one knows when it will end.
    But one thing is sure, we won’t be same when it’s all over.
    This microscopic pathogen has managed to change the lifestyle of the entire humanity.
    Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m in the same boat, tons of half written scratches in a note book, some even partially typed out in draft. They range from the hopeful to the silly to honest ramblings about anxiety. None of them ever seem just right, my mood changing quicker than I can finish a thought #KCACOLS


  19. Hi Enda it certainly is a time where emotions are running high and stress and anxiety threaten to overwhelm us. Living in Australia, we are all in isolation except for essential services. We may visit the supermarket to buy essential groceries, we can exercise outdoors but no more than two people together with the correct social distance between them. For me, I’m feeling quite calm. My almost 94 year old MIL is in locked down at her aged care home and is safe and happy, my family are all well. The only downside is not being able to visit my grandsons but we are turning to technology to overcome this. I’m also using this time to reflect on my life, what I want to change and what I want to keep when all of this is over. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and chocolate egg with us at #MLSTL.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sue. This really is a wonderful link up for sharing stuff and commenting, and receiving comments and feedback. As ylu say, at least technology has come into its own in terms of maintaining contact, and linking up to family and loved ones. And I throughly recommend Cadburys easter eggs!


  20. It’s been so interesting to read your thoughts Enda and there is so much uncertainty and anxiety in the world today. I’m in Australia and one of my daughters lives in the UK and has a premature baby still on oxygen, despite being 7 months old now. It’s a worry being so far away. Another daughter has a newborn at home ion another state to me, so it’s a difficult time for us all. Take care. Visiting from #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Debbie … that’s a lot to think about. I’ve never been to Australia, but there are a number of Sheppard cousins living there. It’s amazing to think how the whole world has been brought together, and isolated, by this whole business. It really is amazing that these wonderful medical people are still working, and taking care of your daughter’s baby. Take care, and hoping it all works out to the good.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. A very confusing time for us all and you are not alone in the conflicting feelings. I try to stay positive and enjoy the extra family time in the knowledge that though this feels never ending it is only a tiny part of our life timespan. Thanks for linking up with #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Steve. You are right, but it’s still hard to cope sometimes … and other moments, it’s great to have this time together


  22. I feel the same, though I must admit although obviously I worry about my parents it turns out they are more organised than me when it comes to this stay home business.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. There is a huge rollercoaster of emotions In many ways when we are hidden in our house we are having some lovely family times, but then I need to go to the supermarket and the fear sets in again or I turn on the news and the tragedy is real again. It is a lot to manage. Thanks for being with us on the #DreamTeam

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sure is a hell of a lot to manage, Kirsty. My wife is the only one who is really going out, as her job is a designated one, and she does the shopping as well … so we are here all the time, and it is quite surreal


  24. Pingback: DreamTeam Bloggers Linky Week 199 - Navigating Baby

  25. This crazy and uncertain time certainly does bring a whole host of conflicting emotions. I’m with you in that it’s not okay to shrug off the notion that it’s mostly old people who will fall victim to the coronavirus – there’s a lot of elderly loved ones out there and just because they may have lived fairly full lives does not make it any easier to potentially lose them before their time. I try and focus on getting outside in the garden and taking in nature as much as possible – it all feels much less scary when I’m sitting in the garden listening to the birds singing. #WotW

    Liked by 1 person

    • It certainly does Louise. It is so strange, when I too am out in the garden, and the sun is out and the birds are chirping, to consider what is going on elsewhere! It helps to stay positive

      Liked by 1 person

  26. We were meant to see John Prine at Bluesfest next weekend – but next year, I guess. Still fighting so still good. Take care. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well I’d say that’s not going ahead, now Lydia … hopefully he will make the next one. Look after yourself


  27. We’ve just never been here before. Most of the time everything feels normal and then there is the sudden, rude awakening of all that can go wrong. How to control it, when staying put is the advise. I’m sure when we look back, it will still seem so surreal. #wotw

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I’m so looking forward to the time we are all looking back on the surreality of it, Cheryl!


  29. Enda, I try not to think about wifi disappearing. We have a dog issue, too. Noise cancelling headphones help, yet we still hear the dog(s). I agree with the roller coaster of emotions and “conflicting” emotions. Reading through some of the comments, I must find a Cadbury egg. I have never tried one. It is always the little things. Take care.


    • Barking dogs are the pits, aren’t they… it’s like some people are impervious to the their own hound’s baying!! Oh, yes, do try Cadbury’s … pity I have no affiliate link-up for promoting them!

      Liked by 1 person

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