By Adrian GatesArmourer

As, at last, I sat down to describe my life in the Republic of Ireland during the recent virus lockdown, I suddenly thought of the similarity to our early days at Halton. In those far off days we knew no different, but I suspect that the experience subconsciously helped me to more than survive the lockdown in 2020. Being a pre WW2 baby, and living in the post war period also, helped as we often could not get many things we would have liked, which nowadays would be considered essential. I will now elaborate on my life during the period in question.

For some time we senior citizens have been officially requested/advised to remain confined to our homes. During this period my family did my shopping and helped in any way they could; in addition, I used to get a weekly delivery from a local super market and I also ordered many things on line: such as motor cycle and model aircraft parts. This meant that I had about seventeen hours a day to fill in, which, even allowing for cooking, cleaning and washing etc., was quite a period in which to get on with the many things I had thought about doing in the past, but had been either too busy, too lazy or just not bothered at the time.

I started by clearing out all my drawers of unwanted contents and this produced over two large dustbins of rubbish; it was amazing how much easier it then became to find things. Next I turned to my four wardrobes of clothes; now, as those that know me will be aware, I wear the same small set of clothes most of the time. I wear a shirt and tie about twice a year and maybe a suit once, so why four full wardrobes? The local charity shops did very well from my discarded clothing. Next I sorted out my three sheds and my garage with amazing success; I repaired many items, mainly electrical equipment, which produced two very big boxes for recycling at the dump, anda large saucepan filled with old style electrical/electronic connectors. I did not sort out my vast collection of motor cycle kit but recently gave away, or sold cheaply, some twenty-five model aircraft, leaving me with a mere thirty or so of various types. I also repaired three models that I thought were destined for the dust bin, but nearly unlimited spare time can produce miracles.

I had made a reasonable shadow board for my garage some time ago, but all the sorting out of tools and equipment from my three sheds, house, garage and loft unearthed many more tools and ‘specials’ so I made up new shadow boards with an area of about twenty-five square feet which certainly helped me to find what I was looking for. Similarly I made up a key board with fifteen hooks and located it at my front inner door; since then I have been able to instantly find a key instead of spending much time cursing while looking for it; let's be honest with ourselves, most people of our age often have problems in finding things, so a system is required. This requirement occurs throughout the house, in particular with bits of paper and documents so I now have about sixty files for individual subjects - but this does include the files I use as secretary to the local motor cycle club, and the Tain Run, an annual three day event that I organise.

Early in the new year I had an extension built at the rear of the house, sufficient to store or work on two motorcycles, and fitted it out with masses of shelves. As I have only a narrow side entrance I had to change, or widen, several door in the house to get the bikes through. An added advantage is that I now have two front doors and two back doors of real quality so my house is now far more secure and uses less heating oil to maintain the same temperature; however it's still not easy to get the bikes through the house. For those that do not know me you have probably guessed that my wife passed away several years ago and my five children have their own houses.

On the subject of motor cycles; this year I sold my Moto Morini 3∙5, and my modern Bonneville, as both bikes were too heavy for me in my old age. In their place I have a 1999 Honda 500, a remarkably good motor cycle, and a 2019 Royal Enfield Himalayan with nearly €2500 worth of goodies. I still have my 1977 Triumph T140 Silver Jubilee, now fitted with with an electric starter as befits my advancing years. I had planned and booked the fourteen hotels and ferries needed to take the Triumph on the UK End-to-End in May - Lands End to John O' Groats - but this had to be cancelled. The entire planned Irish Classic Runs for the year were cancelled too, as was the three day Tain Run I organise.

I had planned to drive over for our reunion in September and then go on to Sussex to stay with my mate Terry and his wife, fly some of my model aircraft stored in their loft and then go with them to Turkey for eleven days but, of course, another no go. I would also have looked up both Dick Bingham and Bert Hall while in Sussex - hello to you both! In early October one of my motor cycle mates was to visit me for six days and later that month I had booked a holiday in Northern Cyprus for two weeks, all to no avail!

Unfortunately, just like the UK, the Covid 19 situation here in Eire is rapidly worsening and on 20th October the Irish Government declared a complete lockdown for six weeks, with minor exceptions such as schools, the building industry, and essential shops. From my point of view the five km travel limitation is a real blow; surely a motor cycle trip using minor roads, with a stop off in the hills with a packed lunch, can do no harm. I will live through the lockdown as I did before and have already begun a list of tasks that will sensibly help the time fly. My T140 is already up on my hydraulic lift - which I have sunk into the floor - to enable me to get it on the centre stand by myself; and I have started to strip out its primary transmission to change the drive shaft oil seal. Thoughts of negative well-being, mental illness, depression, loneliness and the other conditions that can, and do, result from a lockdown are alien to me. I know I'm fortunate in many respects being financially stable, a house owner and all my five children live in the town. Alas I am not quite as medically fit as it would appear, as can be judged by the number of medicines prescribed! To put things into perspective, I am a diabetic, have vision in only one eye, still suffer problems with my left knee from a motor cycle accident in Cyprus in 1962 - alas the list goes on. I say, tongue in cheek, that one mostly makes his own luck and God helps those that help themselves - although I have been a complete non believer since the age of sixteen. I assure you that I do sympathise with the many less fortunate than myself and I contribute to many charities! As long as I can look after myself, get out of bed in the morning, throw a leg over a motor bike and ride with reasonable enthusiasm, and also fly model aircraft, I will remain contented and make the most of any situation.