Bás Beatha

Talk of apocalypse and social isolation reminds me of a booklet sent out to all homes in Ireland in the mid 1960s. The civil defence service published it as a handy guide on how to survive a nuclear war. It was kept in houses all over the country for years, often hanging on a peg by a window. Some years ago, doing a final clear out of our family home in Lettermullen, I found it in a box in the attic. I took it back home to Dublin with me. I’m looking at it now, during this strange Corona shutdown of 2020. Growing up as a shy bookish child in the 1960s, I used to read it a lot. Often, when expected to go outside and interact with the world, I longed for the locked in future it foretold. Sitting under the stairs or under the table, listening to the radio all day didn’t seem so bad. Years later in a play called “Blood Guilty“, I had one of the characters refer to it in a speech.

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