Denis Lehane: Covid-19 has defeated artists like me

Denis Lehane: Covid-19 has defeated artists like me

Denis is suffering for his art, in the style of Brendan Behan, immortalised in this Royal Canal statue in Dublin. Picture: Leah Farrell

Covid-19 has hit artists worst of all. And I’m not talking here about people who throw a few cans of paint against a canvas and tell you ’tis art. 

I’m talking about real artists. Artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Brendan Behan and myself. Fellows who have suffered for their art.

I’ve been a class of a suffering artist for many years, as my columns here will testify.

In a nutshell, because of Covid-19 our work has dried up. We’re no longer in hot demand. 

But for my artistic work for this paper, I would be high and mighty dry.

Someone said recently that we (artists) should go and retrain, reskill!

How dare they!

Like retraining a thoroughbred racehorse to plough a field, like expecting a gourmet chef to be happy to fry up a few old greasy chips, we are far beyond retraining. 

We are in a sphere far above the common man.

This September I had hoped to launch my new book entitled Irish Farming: a First Hand Account of my Life on the Edge of the Abyss.

A sombre tale that would explore the world of Irish farming and all its depressing facets.

I had hoped President Higgins would launch the book in the Mansion House or someplace, and then I would be propelled into a whirlwind of book promotion and touring.

From The Late Late Show on a Friday night to the Listowel Writers Festival where I would recite long passages from my book while downing scores of free pints.

That book of mine was going to be my Harry Potter, my Angela’s Ashes. But alas, because of Covid-19, it has come to nothing.

Not only will my book not be launched, but it won’t even be published. Indeed it has yet to be written.

Because of Covid-19, I simply haven’t been able to see my way past the empty page. Covid-19 has extinguished the powerful flame of my literary promise.

And then, of course, there was my play. I had hoped to see stages not only here in Ireland, but across the ponds in the West End and Broadway put on a play of mine based on the story of my life here on the land. 

I had envisaged Tom Cruise playing the part of me, and Kate Winslet playing the part of my missus. A story of love, lust, land and neighbours. 

I would have spilled the beans on all the happenings around here. Truth and lies, everything laid bare. But again, alas, because of Covid and a few minor technicalities, this plan too has gone out the window. 

The theatres no longer answer my calls, because of Covid-19 the curtain came down on my dreams before it ever went up.

To top it all, the pandemic put a halt to the Covid-19 benefit concert I had planned to take place right here on this farm.

Like a sort of Glastonbury, I had hoped to run a major gig in the back field, in support of myself and the ongoing efforts of Michael Martin and Leo Varadkar to rid the world of Covid-19.

I had hoped to get loads of bands to play for nothing, with a revolving stage ridding us of one outfit before another comes on.

With tens of thousands in attendance, at any other time, it would have been a major success.

But I am told that such a concert in aid of Covid-19 cannot take place while Covid-19 is still around. 

Irony of the highest order! Bureaucracy gone mad, I’m telling you.

Don’t talk to me about the suffering artist, aren’t I the greatest sufferer of all?

Covid-19 put a stop to my gallop long before my race even began.

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