Friday, May 29, 2020

A Lockdown Vision

I wrote this piece of silliness for the library staff bulletin. Who knows if they'll publish it?

Apologies for the continuing absence from blogging and other online activities.

‘Twas the night after Leo’s historic address to the nation. As I drifted to sleep, terms such as “social distancing”, “flatten the curve”, and “self-isolate” echoed in my mind. I found myself hearing the opening narration of The Lord of the Rings movies: “The world has changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air.” Except, instead of being spoken by Cate Blanchett as the Elf-Queen Galadriel, they were spoken by Michael D. Higgins, who was wearing a flowing robe and pointy ears. This disturbed me.

I fell into deep sleep, and within moments, I was standing on level two of the James Joyce Library. A strange unearthly light hung in the air. There was nobody to be seen.

“What’s going on?”, I asked aloud.

Suddenly, from behind me, a deep voice began to speak in Latin. I turned around. A tall dude in a toga and a crown of laurel leaves was speaking to me.

“Sorry, I don’t speak Latin”, I said.

“Hmph!”, said the apparition. “Well, barbarian, know that I am Virgil, author of the immortal Aeneid and Georgics. No doubt you have read them, albeit in translation?”

“Well”, I stammered, “never quite got round to it… started it once… so little time…”

“And yet it says here”, he replied, drawing a scroll from his toga, “that you have seen every one of the Resident Evil movies. You had time for that, it seems.”

“Um, yeah”, I said. “Visually very stylish, actually…”

“Silence, wretch!’, he cried. “Now and again I’m known to give tours. I am now going to give you a tour of this library where you have worked for so many years. Let us see how it has improved you.”

Section by section, we made our way through the shelves. My phantasmal guide quizzed me on my knowledge of every subject. History, linguistics, politics, philosophy, art—one by one, vast tracts of my ignorance opened before me.

“I see you are beyond redemption”, he said, finally. “Surrounded by all these books, for so many years, and yet as ignorant as a babe in arms. I hereby sentence you to eternity attending a never-ending library conference.”

“No, anything but that!”, I cried. “Can’t you give me another chance?”

“Very well”, said the apparition. “This lockdown is going to go on longer than you expect. If, when it finally ends, you haven’t used that time to improve your mind, to attain some vestige of culture, then—abandon all hope!”

I opened my eyes with a cry, and sat up. The beautiful lockdown sunshine streamed through the window. Thank goodness—I was spared!

I made myself breakfast, sat down before the television, and turned on an old episode of The Dukes of Hazzard. Later that evening, I decided, I would track down that copy of the Aeneid I’d bought ten years ago. Well, some time this week….


  1. humility, human, humour - all down to earth

    Blessed second chance to try!

  2. According to a 2017 film,Charles Dickens was "The Man Who Invented Christmas" due to his not dissimilar Scrooge sequences. Not sure that that would be entirely true- even the secular side of Christmas owes much to local German custom spread worldwide through Prince Albert,as well as the "not even a mouse" poem- but it just goes to show how far reaching the influence of that type of short story can become