Diary of a Cocooner...


Diary of a Cocooner...

Diary of a Cocooner...

Meath County Council Library Service published Paddy Smith’s Cocooner: A Lockdown Diary in November, with the support of the Creative Ireland Programme, Age Friendly Ireland and Healthy Ireland. The book is available in our libraries throughout the county and can also be purchased (€10) from Antonia’s Bookstore, Trim. A recorded version, read by the author, will be available later this spring through the Meath Library Service. The Trim man has continued to keep a diary and here we publish a brief extract of some entries from January 2021. It is also planned that the entire diary will be eventually lodged in the archives of the library.

Sunday, June 7th 2020

Jane was telling us that Lucy was sad today and eventually said she wished things would go back to the way they were. She missed coming to our house and going to school from here in the mornings, sitting with Granny on the couch watching TV programmes after breakfast and before school. Rosie going to her childminder. Doing her homework with Paddy. And she missed Rocco. All this came as a shock to me because I thought Lucy was having a really great time at home every day with her Mammy and Daddy who are working from home, playing outside every day in the glorious weather. Mary and I were very upset over this, sad.

Wednesday, June 10th 2020

Big debate going on about masks/face coverings. Very difficult to know what to do. It’s certainly not black-and-white. That new girl who took over from Sean O’Rourke on Radio One did a brilliant interview with Cillian de Gascun this morning. It was brilliant because she never once interrupted him, yet still managed to keep pressing home some great points.

Sunday, June 14th 2020

We’re lucky that we enjoy each other’s company. That’s not to say . . . ! We do get on each other’s nerves at times.

For example, I try and wash the pots after the dinner because I can’t stand the way Mary does it. She must put them on the hob and boil them before washing them. Me, I just fill them with water, leave them to soak and then wash them.

Other sources of irritation (and I’m purposely not saying who is on which side in these important issues): Saying ‘sorry’ too often for no reason. Being nice (i.e. too nice) in doing little things for the other. Putting the really good teaspoons into the dishwasher and, thus, putting them out of circulation for a day or two when you know that the other person always hand-washes these spoons because they need good thick spoons for squeezing the teabag due to the arthritis in their fingers. Doing too much for each other.  Referring to something that the other enjoys doing as ‘an obsession’ when it’s really only a hobby or a serious enthusiasm. Annoying each other with our niceness (i.e. fussiness). Not getting the correct toilet rolls (Kitten Soft Quilted Dreams) in the weekly shop. Thinking that ‘red’ milk is the same as ‘pink’ milk when it’s blatantly obvious that the red is 1.5% fat and the pink is 0% fat. Not replacing the top on the milk carton. Leaving the top of the milk in a different part of the kitchen to the carton. At breakfast, putting out a place mat for the other when they know that the other always uses a bread board at breakfast time. Not fully finishing a mug of tea so that the cleaner-upper sometimes spills the remnants on the floor.

Wednesday, June 24th 2020

Wedding anniversary, 48 years! We don’t usually do anything much to mark the anniversary but now that we can’t I get a sudden yearning to even go out for a cup of tea somewhere and just sit at a table in a café. Not possible for another week or so, and even then I would be a bit wary about going into any crowded place. What will ‘crowded’ mean any more?

Sunday, 5th July 2020

I had to go out for a message this evening at 7 o’clock or so, and I discovered that our front door hadn’t been unlocked all day. That’s how quiet a life we are leading lately.

Thursday, 9th July 2020

A song that has wormed its way into my head last night and again today: ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’ (Randy Newman, in Toy Story). It puts me in good humour.

I met a woman today who knows someone who actually met Tony Holohan several years ago. Imagine!


More Diary from a Trim Cocooner


Monday, January 4th 2021

A plumber (the third we contacted; the other two were on holidays) arrived and diagnosed the problem with our washing machine. It’s old (just gone 10 years) and we need a new one. He fixed a pipe that I broke while trying to find out what was wrong and charged €100 for less than 45 minutes work. I was a bit annoyed that he wasn’t wearing a mask, but I didn’t bring it up – probably in case he would turn on his heel and walk out before doing the work.


Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Anniversary mass for my parents, Joe and Jane Smith. No access to the church, of course, so we couldn’t attend. But the fact that the mass was said is what matters. I’ll never forget the year we attended their anniversary mass and some other person’s name was read out by the (visiting) priest. Does that mean the mass wasn’t for my parents? Or did the Recorder Up Above simply note it down in their favour and write an explanation in the margin that an error had occurred? Interesting theological question.

Downtown today to collect my prescription from the chemist and I met a woman who told me her daughter and son-in-law have the Covid, and she looked very concerned that their children might get it. We’re standing on the main street, in a very public place, and it’s hard to know what to say, especially when you can’t stand close to them and show your concern. Distancing means safety but also being a bit distant.


Wednesday, January 6th 2021

We went shopping today for a new washing machine. We decided to buy locally even though it will cost us €75 extra compared to on-line; we are a bit old-fashioned and we like the security of being able to go back to the shop if anything goes wrong. Also, we were determined to buy locally because it’s the right thing to do, even if it costs us.

Mary and I stayed up late watching the antics in Washington, the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters. Scary stuff, especially when some (unnamed) senior politician was quoted by CNN as saying that Trump is ‘out of his mind.’ Went to bed hoping Trump wouldn’t press the nuclear button overnight out of sheer pique.


Thursday, January 7th 2021

Snow on the ground, but not a nuclear winter. Covid patients in hospital are now above 1,000 for the first time and things are beginning to get really scary. Lots of discussion about vaccines and jabs. When I was young, we called an injection a prod. Language changes before our eyes, and ears.


Friday, January 8th 2021

Icy footpaths, and icing too on the Christmas cake. Both dangerous.

The washing machine was delivered this morning and everything is back working again. Mary and I have been reminiscing about our first washing machine which replaced our twin tub in the mid-1970s. We recalled how we sat side-by-side on the kitchen step in Avondale, just marvelling at this machine in the utility and how it filled and emptied by itself and spinned like mad, demented, noisy. 

While the washing machine was being installed, Mary was listening to Jackie’s funeral on the church radio station. There was a lovely moment during Fr Warren’s homily about Maureen telling him that they had gone on their honeymoon in 1972, and that she felt they had been on honeymoon ever since. Really touching. When the Mass was coming to an end, we drove in to stand outside the church as a mark of respect. You’d wonder what’s the point because it’s difficult to be seen and recognised by the mourners when you’re masked. But we were both very fond of Jackie and we just wanted to be there.  


Saturday, January 9th 2021

Our home heating oil was delivered just after 10.30 this morning. That’s a relief, especially as the Summerhills (minus Paul) arrived this afternoon to stay overnight tonight and take down and stow away the Christmas decorations. They have come from outside the 5km limit and they are from another household, but we thought a lot about it and discussed it before deciding that it was ok, since both houses are practically cocooned, albeit separately. We also regard ourselves as being in a pod with them. There were no Garda checkpoints on the way in from Summerhill but Jane knew of the regular one beside the fire station in Trim and came a different route. I suppose I would be giving out if I heard of someone else doing this. Also, I couldn’t help but think of the Three Kings who were warned to return by ‘a different route.’ Wise of them.