Lockdown Blues

A Miscellany of Recommendations from a Sydney-Sider

How are you coping with the latest lockdown? I confess to finding this one more difficult; my troubles are minor things really, such as waking during the night, feeling a bit down, not focussing on the book I’m reading, despairing about human weaknesses.

Let me share a few things that have helped me get out of my funk. They won’t necessarily work for everyone. But you might find one or two that help.

The first is reading. I did find one book that held my interest, and concentration, Evelyn Conlon’s Moving About the Place, Black Staff Press, 2021. Maybe it was because I’ve ‘moved about the place’, myself, and I identified with Evelyn’s stories. Or maybe it is because Evelyn is such a great short story writer. Having read the first few of these stories, I was certainly thinking ‘move over Chekhov’. But most of all, Evelyn was making me laugh. “Reasons I Know of That We are Not Allowed to Speak to Our Grandmother” is the perfect pill to make you feel better.  Reading and laughter, laughing with someone you know, are salves for the lockdown blues.

My second suggestion is listen to some podcasts. I’m no expert on what you should listen to. But have you heard any of the ones by the doyenne of podcasting, Irish-Australian, Siobhan McHugh? Have a look at her website, and check out her Radio documentaries and podcast tabs. https://siobhanmchugh.org/

There’s a two-part series on “Marrying Out” about ‘mixed’ marriages and sectarianism which begins here with “Not in front of the Altar”

https://beta.prx.org/stories/57142

Or you might start with “Reconciliation—From Broome to Belfast” which features Pat Dodson and Irish-Aboriginal links

or here

My third suggestion is to explore YouTube, Vimeo and the like.

 I am far from being tech savvy but the internet, for good or bad, is one of the earth-changing ‘revolutions’ of our time, something we all can experiment with.

This, I think, is worth sharing. Many of you will recognize former Melbourne resident, the award-winning Irish poet, Louis de Paor, and the inimitable Kev Carmody. Louis is reading from his poem ‘Didjeridu’, Kev is playing didgeridoo. The Vimeo was made some time ago, to advertise and promote a great documentary by Paula Kehoe, ‘An Dubh ina Gheal: Assimilation’. This one certainly lifted me out of the ‘blues’.

Finally, something from popular culture via YouTube. Do you remember Rory Gallagher, the Irish Rock, Blues guitarist? Some would say, he’s the best ever. Ask the young ones in your family what they think of this, ‘A Million Miles away’, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4X4rdyXIEw

Or this ‘’Bad Penny” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlEfyMoR49M

They should blow the cobwebs away.

Music is one of the best escape hatches for anyone fleeing the Lockdown Blues, whether it’s Rory Gallagher, Thin Lizzy, Seán Ó Riada, Tomas Luis de Victoria, or whoever you like.

Do you have any recommendation you’d like to make?

Keep well, and keep safe.

Trevor McClaughlin

Trevor is a member of the Tinteán editorial collective, living in the northern suburbs of Sydney.

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