EXCERPT: “Stay back,” I said, feeling uncomfortable that in Covid days kindness includes talking to people like they are a dog.
“I haven’t got it, I’ve had the cure.”
“Bull – no one has a cure.”
“I’m telling you I do.”

We had a fire call late last night. Nothing major, a small bog fire in a local beauty spot. We donned goggles and N95 masks to protect us from each other and drove around the back roads in three vehicles.

It wasn’t spectacular, no roaring flames to guide us to ground zero. We smelt the smoke and followed our noses to the smouldering pile of peat and gorse branches. We laid out the forestry hose and stumbled our way through the darkness and undergrowth towards the fire.

We have a great team spirit in our crew. I have an unspoken deal with another newbie that we take it in turns to attack the fire. It was his turn, but he turned back to fetch something leaving me, hose branch in hand. I was ordered up the smoking heap.

I’m quite possibly the worst firefighter in Ireland, but I have always enjoyed climbing things, especially when it is pitch dark and they are on fire. Which sounds way more heroic than it actually was. I’m not the boy I used to be though, which is a good thing – last night I dreamed I jumped off a roof, which I definitely did in reality once before into a pile of sand. I’m a little more careful now my bones are beginning to creak.

The lads were in great form, we laugh a lot. I love the slagging – it makes the waiting for calls worth it. I generally leave with a spring in my step, and last night was no different, so I celebrated with a takeout pizza and watched Contagion on Netflix. A really good movie but possibly a bad choice in the current context. It left me convinced the garlic mayo was incubating covid.

I’m sure you can think your way into symptoms. I spent a sleepless night wondering was it the pepperoni and chilli that was drying my throat or was I coming down with something? I woke up phlegmy and the boy just coughed but it is pollen season. Christ, the paranoia!

A young Traveller couple knocked on the door to use the toilet. I guessed she might be pregnant so I let them in. I have a strong core belief around not shutting the door on people.

While the girl went upstairs, the boy moved towards the couch.
“Stay back,” I said, feeling uncomfortable that, in Covid days, kindness includes talking to people like they are a dog.
“I haven’t got it, I’ve had the cure.”
“Bull – no one has a cure.”
“I’m telling you I do.”
This was going nowhere, so I kept my distance until the girl had finished her ablutions. I felt a bit bad about the skidmarks on the toilet. Still, beggars can’t be choosers.
“Thanks Harry.” He wanted to start chatting.
“Go, I’ll see you another time.”

I read a first hand account of a nurse in New York and it broke my heart. While I sit around eating lots and reflecting on the minuscule issues of my life, there are people out there fighting to keep people alive, risking their own lives in the process and I’m powerless to do anything about it. The HSE emailed me with a ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ in response to my application.

So, the best I can do for them right now is tighten my lockdown. Morals will have to be reviewed: No more public lavatory service, no more take-out food and no trips to the Spar close-by for Kit-Kats.

I’m a little behind the curve in all these social changes. I naturally resist perceived erosions to freedoms. It takes me a day or two to catch up with popular thinking, so it took me a while to jump onto the kill-holiday-home-refugees bandwagon. I know morality changes depending on circumstances. There is a rising movement threatening direct action against second properties – from people who would normally be way left of that type of thinking. I get that, in times of famine there is an argument for eating babies, but I need to get my head around it first, just in case the groupthink is wrong.

Interesting times for social scientists. ‘Shifting ethics in Pandemic Times,’’ which might make a PhD proposal for someone with the inclination.

People are not staying put. Last night’s figures scared me and the first-hand account scared me more. There might be another little spike in a week or two as a result of the Easter mobility. This week we have gone from “seeing the peak,” to “the surge is yet to come.” It’s a roller coaster with lows of sanguine acceptance and peaks of hyper-vigilance.

I resolved to stay vigilant. Other people can do what they want.