Warning: Readers may find this week’s ruminations from a lockdown kitchen head melting. Whilst every effort has been made to hinder thought ramblings, sure look it, read at your own risk. Like a hop-on hop-off existential tour, feel free to hop-off wherever you like.
There is comfort in the stillness in the morning only because we are non-verbal in the early hours otherwise heads would be taken clean off. Each of us quietly toiling in our own corner, some more than others, I being one of the other. All tuned out and plugged into screens. Himself has colonised the spare room containing the boxes that were never opened after a move 3 years ago including a recent addition is a standy-upy desk that looks like scaffolding for hobbits. I am relegated to the kitchen table. I know, like thousands of others; pity about me. For a couple of hours there is but the muffled hum of strange teleconference voices. That and frustrated yelps of ‘OMG. What is this teacher even on about?!, Where does he think he’s going with all this work like, I just don’t get this maths’. That’s the printable version. Come lunchtime there is a mass movement downstairs, like wildebeests migrating to a watering hole. The kitchen foraging begins and my erstwhile tranquillity ends.
And here’s the deep bit. It is then that I feel the spirit of Samuel Beckett loitering amongst us. It’s tangible. I’m a massive fan of his brilliance and I can’t help but ponder what would he make of this calamity. Welcome to I’m in a Beckett play, Get me outta here.
Now more than ever Vladimir's Habit is a great deadener in Waiting for Godot has never rang more true. The big brained absurdist existentialists like Beckett, Camus and Sartre figured habits are an unavoidable natural mechanism to elude the absurdity or randomness of life. And my Jaysus does this beat Banagher in terms of absurdity. The farcicality of padlocked playgrounds, empty pitches, barred beaches and vacant schools. Restrictions have imprisoned us and clipped our wings. Inmates in our own domesticity we surrender to stasis and habituation. To make sense of it all we cling to routine and the very thing that pledges security exudes monotony. There’s no escaping the quotidian mundanity. Like Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot and Hamm and Clov in Endgame in this lockdown we become all too aware of our interdependency combined with a need to leave whilst rooted in habitual behaviour. I even have a gammy knee, to match Estragon’s limpy foot, from walking the same route every day, the sea teasing me to places I cannot get to. Like Winnie in Beckett’s Happy Days we regurgitate stories and memories to elapse time. Her time is not linear as past, present and future are intertwined and it kind of feels like that now. But at least unlike poor Winnie, buried up to her neck, we have the privilege of movement.
Like Didi and Gogo in Waiting for Godot our own lines trip off the tongue with expert delivery and timing What’s for dinner?, Can you empty the dishwasher? I did it the last time, It’s not my turn, Who ate all the biscuits? Where’s all the ham gone? What’s up with the stupid WiFi?, I don’t want to go for a walk, Who didn’t flush? In the name of God will you open your window? I’m so sick of this f….n house. Just press shuffle and repeat and off you go again. Every day.
And then there’s the waiting. And the talking about the waiting. And the waiting for Leo to come on the telly to bring us hope Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. But it’s not to be and we cannot live in a constant preparation for leave-taking. So what’s to do. Don’t look at me, I don’t have any answers. Best pay heed to Beckett, You must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.