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Keeping the Show on the Road

If there was a single sentence that could sum up the way life has felt throughout just about the entirety of this year so far, I think it would have to be ‘keeping the show on the road’. It’s a humble phrase, one that implies a knowledge of what it feels like to endure, and a willingness to endure nonetheless – probably for that reason, I’ve always seen it as being quite Irish. Google reckons it’s more likely an Americanism from early twentieth-century vaudeville shows and travelling circuses. I think it would have been far more suitable had it been first fallen from the lips of some poor Paddy between sips of copper pot poitín, writhing with the cold in a Pennsylvanian sibín, warming himself with stories from the old sod. “Sure, we’ll have to keep the show on the road”.

I don’t think the show will ever really not be on the road, to be honest. Something I’ve noticed throughout the hard time I’ve courageously served on the front lines as an essential worker (working in a petrol station) is that, somehow, there’s always a willingness in people to keep on going. We might be in the midst of a restrictive pandemic, and possibly will be for a substantial amount of time yet to come, but Bridie is still going to come in for her not necessarily-necessary afternoon machine-made latte and to linger around the newspaper aisle for a bit, because that’s what Bridie does – that’s how Bridie keeps the show on the road.

I suppose you could argue “what’s the alternative?”. If you’re not keeping the show on the road, then what else is there to do? Curl up into a sobbing ball and let the weight of it all collapse on top of you? Honestly, in these circumstances, I reckon that’s a fair response. But people don’t. Of course you can never know how someone is doing behind closed doors; they might be hitting the floor and falling apart as soon as they cross that threshold, but they’ve kept the show on the road all day, and I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t something in that which I find endearing. Any time you go out, you’re seeing people who cared enough to get up that morning, scrub themselves up and head out into a world that’s been nothing short of unforgiving over the past year. That’s worth something, surely.

This week, Irish visual artist Diabhal, who has collaborated with big names such as Kneecap provides the image for our Byline cover, as well as a great interview with Arts & Lit Editor Imasha Costa. There’s a host of other great content in this issue too, from the sexual to the satirical, the saucy to the sobering. Elle Kelleher asks what it means to be a woman in today’s Cork music scene, and Beth Doyle tries to answer what The Sopranos taught us about male mental health.

Thank you for your continued support and readership. You keep reading, we’ll keep the show on the road. Enjoy Vol.6 Issue #5!