Monday, 27 April 2020


                         What's up on WhatsApp? These days? Everything.

Ring-ring, ring-ring.
The Mam (on Messenger): Hang on, wait a minute, I have to enter my code. God, what is it now? I have it written down. There it is, I can see you now.
Me: I can't see you. Actually, I'm not sure what I'm looking at.
The Eldest enters the kitchen: Nanny, just move your thumb away from the camera.
The Mam's face appears.
Me: There you are, I can see you now. Don't move anything. No, I mean, you don't have to freeze, you can move your face. Just don't block the camera.
The Mam: Of course I won't block it, I don't even know where it is.
Me: So, what did you get up to today?
Long pause.
The Mam: Well, I've just managed my first video call. That was exciting.

Me: We're having our book club on Zoom.
The Boy: Do you know how to use it?
Me: Nope.
The Boy: I can download it onto your laptop.
One of the book club girls (yes, we're all women, but we refer to each other as girls!) texts into our WhatsApp group, offering to invite us all in on her account, because it's a professional one and we won't have to keep logging back in. That evening, she sends us passwords and because I've still no idea how it works, The Boy logs me in.
There's six of us in the book club. Our faces are arranged on screen in two vertical rows of three. We look like the Brady Bunch.
There, the similarity with the 1970s TV show ends, because we're all drinking wine. The girl who was due to host us, is offering around bowls of crisps and olives. We laugh, delighted to see each other. It's surreal.

Days pass. I walk, I write, I read, I watch Netflix. I try to avoid the news. I clean and cook and develop an interest in gardening, despite the fact that I've no idea what I'm doing. I don't sleep properly. I haven't slept properly since all this began.

Ring-ring, ring-ring.
Close girlfriend: Hi, wow, I didn't realise my WhatsApp video function actually worked.
Me: *Peering closer* Are you in bed?
Herself: Yeah, but I'm grand, just a bit tired. I thought I'd lie down for a few hours.
I know exactly how she feels. Her husband wanders in to fetch something.
Herself: Look who's on the phone, come say hi.
He leans in, beams at me. How's himself doing? Grand, I say, he's working in the other room. They're our closest friends and I feel a sudden rush of love for them. He waves goodbye and leaves again. 
Herself: Any news?
Me: I cut The Boy's hair this week. With one of those electric hair cutting thing-ys.
Herself: Ah Jesus, don't do that to the poor lad. Remember when you cut his hair when he was little? It looked like you put a bowl on his head.
We crack up laughing at the memory. It's enough.

Me: I can't get into my gallery on my phone.
The Middle One: Show me. *Takes my phone.* It won't let you in because you've too much on it. Also because your phone's a hundred years' old.
Me: I bought it three years ago.
The Middle One: Exactly.
Me: What can I do?
The Eldest: Here, I'll do it. You'll have to go to Files. Jeez,you've tonnes of videos on your phone.
There's a puzzled silence.
Me: I know what they are. They're all the funny videos people are sending to my WhatsApp groups.
The Eldest: Yep. *Shakes her head in disbelief.* There's dozens of them.
Me: They're hilarious. I mean, have you seen...?
The Eldest: I'm deleting them.
Me: OK.
It takes quite a while. I'm astonished my phone was even turning on. When she's finished, I put in a video call to The Mam.

Ring-ring, ring-ring.
The Mam: Hang on, I've to put in my code. I just have to find it, it's around here somewhere.
She doesn't have WhatsApp. Probably for the best, I consider, as I wait.


Can anyone else believe a whole month has gone by? Here in Ireland, we're still on lock down. I've forgotten what it's like to be in close contact with people who ARE NOT MY IMMEDIATE FAMILY. (Yes, capital letters in my head too ;)

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Wishing you all good physical and mental health,             
Sharon. xx