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Hope The news bulletins feel like a glorious Reeling in the Years postcard from a time before the plague

As the Age of Restrictions falls on its ugly cutlass, Pharrell Williams's ­infectiously upbeat Happy is playing on a repeat loop in the jukebox of the soul

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New beginnings. Stock photo

New beginnings. Stock photo

New beginnings. Stock photo

At last, the magic of new beginnings sprinkles a vivid stardust razzle-dazzle onto life's pathway.

A shivery January Sunday feels Mediterranean with hope.

As the Age of Restrictions falls on its ugly cutlass, Pharrell Williams's ­infectiously upbeat Happy is playing on a repeat loop in the jukebox of the soul.

"It may seem crazy what I am 'bout to say Sunshine she's here, you can take a break."

Santorini and Hydra - those cloudless Aegean havens, summer theatres for dreamers, Hellenic wonderlands - have eclipsed diabolic Omicron and Delta as the Greek terms punched into our Google search engines.

"I'm a hot air balloon that could go to space

With the air, like I don't care, baby by the way."

The news bulletins feel like a glorious Reeling in the Years postcard from a time before the plague.

It might actually be possible to switch on Six-One without some horseman of the apocalypse galloping across the screen lassoing in any last even slightly positive fugitive with an unforgiving rope of ruin.

Or without some just a little too ­enthusiastically miserable expert force feeding the nation another cold plate of doomsday gruel.

Enough of Sam McConkey, Philip ­Nolan and their subsistence diet of dismal predictions, Pharrell is at the mic.

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"Huh (Because I'm happy)

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof

(Because I'm happy)

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth

(Because I'm happy)

Clap along if you know what happiness is to you

(Because I'm happy)

Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do."

There is a giddiness abroad, call it the euphoria of unshackling.

Is this what it feels like to score a dramatic, late-winning goal in an All-Ireland final?

We can reconnect to others, replenish our desire for social contact without ­requiring a measuring tape to confirm we have not strayed into another's sacred airspace.

A day at a restaurant, an airport or a cinema or a gym without prohibitive terms and conditions beckons.

From now, the assaults on human solidarity should ease.

We can cross the threshold of possibility, advance into a brave new world. Nphet is a re-imagined acronym: No ­Public House Eight-o-clock Terminations; Nice Portuguese Holiday Easter Time.

The sense is of liberation, heartsoar, of light breaking through - a delirious new dawn sunbeam - after an infernal, never-ending, mentally-buffeting two-year winter.

After too long in a Covid chokehold, it feels possible to breathe, to cherish, to aspire, to anticipate.

A seat again at the bar in a favourite local, a spontaneous night out with friends that leads wherever the mood takes, a wedding where the music need not stop before Match of the Day starts, a pulsing Croke Park or Aviva Stadium.

The uniquely Irish phenomenon that is the Coppers experience beckons for those of a certain age. Life being lived the way life is supposed to be lived.

College kids can at last enjoy an undiluted, flirtatious, coming of age adventure.

The licence to terrify - a little too vigorously embraced by those who should have known better - has been revoked.

The sense is that we can break open again the locked chambers of possibility.

After so long adrift, a helpless passenger on the SS Pestilence, the sense of empowerment is intoxicating.

"Here comes bad news talking this and that (Yeah)

Well give me all you got, don't hold back (Yeah)

Well I should probably warn you I'll be just fine (Yeah)

No offence to you don't waste your time."

Of course, like the Japanese soldiers who fought on for months after World War Two had ended, the pastors of doom will continue to peddle their gospel of petrification from any available pulpit.

They will attempt to indoctrinate, to insist a Covid landmine lurks around every corner, and any misstep will detonate chaos once more.

Don't listen to them.

Perhaps we will have to live with Covid - as we do with the 'flu - but we are no longer prepared to cower or kowtow.

Everybody has earned the right to savour this weekend. There has been too much suffering, inordinate sacrifice, an endless flurry of uppercuts to both the psyche and the economy.

This is a day to let the imagination run wild, to look forward, to press the play button after two years of life on pause.

To walk the dappled pathway of a new beginning with Pharrell's ode to good humour as the soundtrack.

"My level's too high to bring me down

Can't nothing bring me down."

We're unashamedly, unapologetically happy and shouting it from the rooftops; it feels like nothing has felt in the longest time.

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