Six Things We've All Forgotten To Do During Lockdown
Hello world, it’s been a while.
Though lockdown is still very much in effect, a combination of vaccines and pub gardens is providing a flicker of light at the end of a long tunnel, and relative normalcy is slowly, cautiously starting to beckon.
But as hard as it was adjusting to the new normal, there may also be teething problems re-adapting to the old one. Here are a few life skills that may have entirely deserted us during the pandemic…
1. Small talk
Friends are the people you keep in touch with, deadly pandemic or not; it’s our acquaintances that have been wiped from the face of the Earth.
The friend of a friend you don’t quite know well enough to see independently, your local corner shop proprietor, the guy you’ve seen by the water cooler like a hundred times, so it’s way too late to ask him his name. We’re as good as we’ve ever been at discussing politics, basic epidemiology, and existential dread. But we’ve become rubbish at talking about the weather.
We haven’t met actual new people since the pandemic began, and the prospect now fills us with dread.
Budgeting has not ceased – for many quite the opposite – but the pandemic has tended to simplify things, for better or for worse. With no spontaneous post-work pub trips, just-about-worth-it rail cards or luxury cruises to Hawaii, our balance sheets are probably shorter, if not necessarily healthier.
We’re all aboard the hype train for bars, fancy restaurants and foreign holidays. We’re also psyched to have precisely zero pounds.
Even before the pandemic, greetings could be a bingo card of gestures and etiquette. We never knew the right level of formality for handshakes; some friends were huggy, some were not; and there was always that friend of your mum’s who demanded a French-style kiss on both cheeks.
If there were any rules, we’ve forgotten them, and physical contact will be loaded with risk and illegality for who knows how long. There’s one thing we can probably all agree on; the elbow bump has got to go.
4. Dressing properly
No one irons a shirt for their housemates; the pyjamas-on-the-bottom-shirt-on-the-top Zoom uniform now feels perfectly professional; and wearing nice clothes without a haircut is like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. Even dressing up to socialise feels futile, as an evening in a pub garden still necessitates three or four layers.
Of all the changes brought about the pandemic, we hope this one sticks. We like wearing comfortable shoes.
There are two types of people in this world: those that enjoy dancing, and those that bluff through it occasionally, because of peer pressure. The latter will return to the dance floor with the enthusiasm of a condemned man walking to the gallows, trying frantically to recall their tiny repertoire of ‘moves’. Booze won’t help them remember, but it may help them forget that they forgot.
Pandemics deal a double blow to the concept of planning: You can’t plan the next few weeks because it’s illegal, and you can’t plan the next few years because you might just be living through the apocalypse. The first proper invite to a ‘party’ (are we saying that right?) will be a surreal moment, and we expect sales of diaries to skyrocket. What are the odds we promptly get double booked?