So it’s back-to-school week for me. Following the madness of working on the Olympic Games in Tokyo, I took a bit of a breather. Normal service now resumes.
But I’m feeling lazy. And it is not a nice feeling to feel lazy. I could have used my time off to catch up with doing chores I had procrastinated on. But I didn’t.
The procrastination continues, creating an anxious mood.
I had my first full-time job at the age of 19 and spent my teenage summers and holidays on a farm
In fact there is a thin line between being productive and falling into a state of uselessness by simply lazing about. It was never my form. I had my first full-time job at the age of 19 and spent my teenage summers and holidays on a farm – where there is no room for laziness! But a combination of post-Olympic jet lag and not having the appetite to do any heavy lifting has actually had the opposite effect of making me feel worn out rather than refreshed. Maybe it is another sign of middle age, the body sending conflicting messages.
I’m sitting here in beautiful Ljubljana the capital of Slovenia.
Another landmark in our slow re-emergence from the pandemic has been reconnecting with old friends this week. The European Network of Agricultural Journalists held its AGM here to coincide with Slovenia holding the EU presidency. And so for the first time in over 18 months, old acquaintances were renewed.
Getting here is not straightforward, Dublin to Milan to Zagreb to Ljubljana. What struck me on my travels has been the quite relaxed nature of everybody, in the airport, the cafes and bars. Much more relaxed than Ireland.
My European colleagues here talk about never being able to afford to buy their own home
It’s as if there’s a grown-up attitude in these parts compared to home where we have turned into a very critical people, looking for ways to crimp and cry and be critical. Heck, I’m even at it now by decrying the air of gloom in which we enjoy painting our country. We have turned outrage into an industry (maybe not a good week for concert-going, Leo).
And yet the issues we focus on are not uniquely Irish. My European colleagues here talk about never being able to afford to buy their own home. They talk about climate change and how farmers are portrayed in that context.
And as we drank beer along the pavement in this pretty city a convoy of police cars raced to the nearby HQ of the state broadcaster where anti-vaccine far-right protesters had broken in and disrupted the teatime news bulletin last Friday evening.
I stopped for a coffee and a man overheard my accent and asked to join me
This part of the former Yugoslavia escaped relatively unscathed from the horrific Balkan war. Next door in Croatia, not so. And as I walked from the bus station to my hotel last Thursday in Zagreb, I stopped for a coffee and a man overheard my accent and asked to join me. He was a local police officer and gave me a fascinating insight into the recent history of Croatia.
“We are really very poor here.” He explained how, despite being part of the EU, the economy is not doing well and is just focused on tourism. A police officer, he is looking to emigrate. “Many of my friends have gone to Ireland and they are enjoying a much better life.”
So we can sometimes forget how good we have it.
Meanwhile, I need to snap out of this air of melancholy which two or three weeks of doing nothing has managed to create. It’s time to get back to work and be thankful for that great privilege.
Donncha O’Dulaing and Rodney Rice both passed away. They were former colleagues I knew and looked up to and it’s now one realises what wonderful, skilled and gifted old-school broadcasters they were. May they rest in peace.