Rainy Day Books

The old people used to talk of the Big Snow of 1947 when the snow fell in February and lay until June, burying houses and bringing everything to a complete stand-still. In 2020 we could see Covid coming like a great storm bringing a silence like a snowfall, confining us to the house, safe in the knowledge that no one would expect us to go anywhere or do anything.
For my daughter this meant no school, A-Levels cancelled. As a child I thought England must be a very strange place when I heard the Beatles’ song Eleanor Rigby about a woman who died and no-one came to her funeral. And the priest wrote a sermon that no-one would hear. And now the priest was saying Mass in an empty church in Belcoo on St. Patrick’s Day. And the pubs were closed.
All was quiet and calm. It didn’t feel like wartime, except for worrying about a niece, a nurse on the front line in London. We were cosy where we were. Some odd-jobs that had been waiting for years actually got done, some retirement plans were brought forward. We lived stress-free. There was time for letter writing, and a pleasure in doing it.
We were never so long away from Enniskillen. Even the three years we lived in Glasgow we came back regularly but now it was as if the town was some imaginary place.
And there were books. Several thousand of them, some hoarded, some displayed, some treasured, many more in boxes unknown and un-investigated. The justification had always been ‘the rainy day,’ or the safety net for when the work stopped. But that was always away in the future sometime, until now.
Like the jars of jam on the shelf their delights were only discovered when they were opened. And there was time to relish them, the books which had been bought and stashed away over the years, the jam made last summer and the summer before with our own hand-picked berries. Some bitter, some sweet, but all a comfort in the storm.

Seamas Mac Annaidh

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