Friday 26 November 2021

How to be An Old

More than a year ago, in the middle of the Summer lockdown, by virtue of my aged bones, I became eligible for a Free Travel Pass. I characterised this as the start of my Lunch in Longford Years. With Coronarama blazing through the country, I wasn't in a tearing hurry to vindicate my entitlements. But in the last week of November 2021, I was induced to take the train to Dublin to inch forward a venture which had been started as a WFH research project when scientific labs across the country were closed in a vain attempt to contain the spread of SARS-CoV2. 

[It is not without irony that I spent a chunk of the morning in the very building where one of the earliest cases of "Skiing in Italy" covid made the news in early March 2020. At the time, TCD thought that sanitizing the lift to the 4th Floor would be sufficient response . . . hollow larf, lads!]

I'll also note that between booking the meeting in early November and actually being in the meeting, the daily covid cases doubled from 3K to 6K and the government started to tighten the screws on containment.  I tend to mild travel anxiety, especially when venturing into unknown territory, which includes public transport during a plague year. But it turned out to be super easy because Irish Rail - a notoriously feather-bedded and inefficient quango - has made pre-booking and ticketing super easy and intuitive. There is a clear [travel pass] button which sets all the costs to €0 instead of €28. Having selected seats in both directions, you are delivered an 11 digit reservation number. The fancy new touch-screen ticket machines have a truly enormous key-pad that could be operated with the stump of a severed arm and the numbers are echoed of a size and contrast sufficient for all but the most severely vision-impaired. Those 11 digits, sufficient to count every human that has ever lived, is also enough to print a unique creditcard-sized paper ticket. Masks are obligatory as are selfies [R at the end of a 12 hour day in town].

Did someone say in Town? Might projects are afoot in the Capital. The scheduled meeting was held in the EM Forster Seminar Room With A View on in the 6th floor of Trinity's TBSI. This is what you see looking NE over Docklands and Dublin Port - count the T-cranes! - it's like the Celtic Tiger all over again . . . but no accommodation for the homeless.

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