Then and Now

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Then and Now

Written by John Boyne on the September 1st,2020

I took part in RTÉ Television’s ‘Shine’ programme on 29th August, along with a host of Irish writers, musicians and singers. The programme was commissioned to bring the Arts back to an audience after the long period of Covid-19 lockdown.

Here’s the full script of the piece I presented on the show:

Then And Now

We were together.

Then we were apart.


You stayed with your family; it took a toll on you.

I live alone; it took a toll on me.


We held hands beneath the table as we sat with friends in the pub.

We stared at each other across computer screens, desperate to touch.


We longed for a break from the office, the early mornings, the packed buses and coffee breath.

We missed our colleagues, struggled to fill our time, became fearful of what lay outside our doors. We couldn’t get any decent coffee.


We said we never had enough time to read anymore.

We found time to read.


We planned the holiday of a lifetime, got our shots, booked the time off.

We stayed at home, walked on imaginary beaches, swam in imaginary pools, lived imaginary lives.


We said we didn’t see enough of our children.

We realised how difficult it is to keep our children entertained.


We felt guilty about not spending more time with our parents.

We shopped for our parents, spoke to them online, did all we could to keep them safe.


We never spoke to our neighbours; they were just the people who lived next door.

We talked to them over hedges, asked could we help them out, shared drinks in our back gardens.


We were broken-hearted because it looked like Liverpool might not win the title after all.

Liverpool won the title after all.


We were the stars of our own personal TV shows, the central characters, the only ones who mattered.

We were minor actors in an ensemble, only a few lines to speak, background players in a travelling troupe.


We’d forgotten who we were. Why we needed each other. How much other people mattered.

We’ve remembered.


We’re different now.

We’re changed.

We’re better.

We’ll remember to care.

We’ll remember to love.

We’ll remember to remember.


We were apart.

Then we were back together.



© John Boyne; may not be reproduced without permission

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