Skip to main content
CultureCurrent affairs

Life before Lockdown: What Esther O’Moore Donohoe misses most

Esther O’Moore Donohoe lists some of the less obvious things she misses from life before lockdown…


Listen to Esther’s piece here:


Picture it. You, miserable, on your daily miserable walk. Up ahead you think you can make out a miserable pal on her misery jaunt. The two of you are dressed like weather-appropriate streaks of doom and while you’re glad to see someone new, as you get closer you think ‘I’ve nothing to say to this person. I’ve done nothing’.

Before you know it, you’re upon each other. You smile, compliment each other’s tracksuit bottoms and then say ‘…….. Any news?’ To which she replies ‘No. You?’ You go to say ‘no’ but then you remember the incredibly hilarious thing that happened at the weekend! She’s bored out of her brain too so the slightest inkling of a story has her dopamine synapses fired up. ‘Wait ‘til I tell you what happened to me on Saturday’ you say. ‘OMG. Tell me! I’m DYING to hear this!’ she replies.

You then launch into your 24 carat tale about being at the bottle bank. You go into way too much detail, amping it up to Titanic proportions before bringing it in to an incredible close ‘And at the bottom of the bag there was one jar left and I wasn’t sure if it was greeny-brown or browny-green and didn’t know where to put it. So in the end I threw it into the green section because it had to go somewhere! Ahahahaha’.

You both double over in laughter at this absolute turd of a story, tears of joy pumping from your stupid eyes. The ‘any news’ bar is now so low that a trip to do the recycling has become newsworthy. But we will return to ourselves. If we winter this one blah blah blah, we can shitetalk anywhere.


The Earwigging Industry has been hit hard by Covid. The physical barriers we now live with challenge even the most dedicated earwiggers amongst us. I’ll be blunt, I am concerned that when this whole thing is over, the art of the earwig will be lost to us. We might sit down beside total strangers and not even bother trying to figure out how they all know each other and why the Sean Murphy they keep bringing up is such a shitehawk. Just what did he do to Yvonne?

A great earwigging session needs an open face, unadorned by masks or shields. In peace times, a seasoned earwigger can have a full blown silent conversation with their friend via eye contact whilst also maintaining a fake out loud conversation in addition to eating a crunchy, three-course meal. Hopefully, we can get back to being nosey fecks very soon. Shitehawk Seans beware.


I wish I could pretend that I can’t identify a sparrowhawk, a blue tit and a thrush with confidence but alas, this is what the pandemic has done to me. Hanging in the window opposite my desk I have a rarely visited, but much cherished, bird feeder. If all this time at home has taught me anything, it’s that birds never truly shut up.

But also, why are so few of them visiting my feeders? Are birds food snobs? Are they design snobs? Who knows what goes through their teeny, tiny heads? I love them so. However, despite my passion for my avian friends, my pest control man told me to take them down recently as they attract rats. One friend supported his claim and told me that when she hung up her feeder, she came back to find five rodents hanging off it, like they were furry Miley Cyruses on their own seedy wrecking ball.


On the eve of this lockdown, my main thoughts weren’t about getting one last visit in with goddaughter or seeing my mum. We could always Facetime, I told myself. Instead, I chose to spend my last few hours of freedom as a consumer. Like a puffer jacket wearing Bilbo Baggins, I set out from my house in search of my Precious aka the Tiger in Rathmines. I had to get One Last Browse in before the world shut up again. Three packets of oversized cinnamon sticks was not what I went in there for but lo, we were where we were and… we were in Tiger. But never fear – we will buy shite in person once again!


Ah. I remember fondly the olden days when washing your hands meant waving them in the general direction of some soap for half a moment and then shoving them under an ice cold tap for three seconds. We didn’t know how good we had it or how riddled our hands were. They were halcyon days that we’ll surely tell our grandchildren about. Now, when I wash my hands it’s like I’m scrubbing in for an episode of Casualty.

‘Just wave them under the tap like it’s December 2019 Esther. No one’s going to know’ my inner devil whispers. ‘No Inner Devil. My digits could be killers.’ Once I step in front of a sink, I am George Clooney in ER. I am Meredith Grey in Grey’s Anatomy. I am Doc Mc Stuffins in Doc Mc Stuffins. ‘Now pass me 50ccs of the organic sea salt and rosebud liquid soap, stat!’ 


Our family and friends are essential for plot development in the films that are our lives, of course. But it’s the background extras that add random colour to our days. Since WFH full-time, there are so many minor cast members that I simply have not clapped eyes on. Take Early Morning Cyclist Man – how is he coping? E.M.C.M is one of the most reliable performers on my roster and never misses his cues.

Without fail, he’d say one of the following things to me every single day about my hi-viz bits: ‘They’ll see you comin.’ ‘Extra points if they get you, wha?’ ‘Woah. I need me sunglasses this morning’. Still, showbiz is tough and there’s always some new cutie pies looking to get their 15 minutes. Currently, my favourite featured extras include Valentin, the DPD Driver and Young Paul, the An Post Postman.


Ah the vending machine and the way he might look at you. A trip to the vending machine in work was like when your primary school teacher sent you with a note to another teacher across the hall. It offered us a little pause in the day and also rewarded us with a chilled Twirl for our efforts. Home vending machines aka kitchen presses just don’t have the same showbiz pizazz as a vendo.

Kitchen presses open easily and you can safely grab what you want. Whereas the ones in work would often get stuck and you never turn your back on a stuck vending machine. More than once, the CEO would come into the work canteen as I clung on like an octopus, my arms and legs hugging each side, desperate to release the Walkers Oven Baked trapped beside a Kinder Bueno bar. Once I shook the vending machine so successfully, I came away with three Oven Bakes for the price of one, plus a bonus Nature Valley bar. One of the great days.


Photo by Manuel Peris Tirado on Unsplash