It won’t be long now until this accursed lockdown is but a bitter memory.
Humankind shall meet again, weeping with gratitude at the beauty of a regained Earth!
The tabloids shall throng once more with snaps of unfamiliar “celebrities” being paid to party on the beaches and in the clubs. Closer to home, many bevvies shall be sunk. Insults shall be swapped. Police shall be called by the management.
Rise, like lions after slumber / In unvanquishable number! / Shake your chains to earth like dew… yadda yadda yadda.
Not all of us will run whooping into the beckoning sunlight of the local pub, though. Not all of us will go gambolling down the high street, high-fiving strangers and flipping Tangfastics at passing mites.
Some – ok, me – will emerge from our fumy lairs only grudgingly, with troll-like posture and a wary grimace on our heavily-bearded faces. We shall be hyperalert, ready to attack with ungroomed fingernails and snarling defensively with croaky, unpractised vocal cords. Other people. The daily commute. Brexit. Don’t make me go out there.
In the end, I fear I shall miss lockdown more than it’s respectable to admit. The shed-favouring hermit in me has managed home quarantine frighteningly easily. In truth, the adjustments required were only of the mildest sort – a tweak here, a “do not enter on pain of death” banner there – and not entirely unwelcome.
I can’t be alone in this. So for like-minded malcontents, I’ve compiled a list of what I’ll miss most.
Driving. Obviously we’ll be driving more rather than less, visiting the big cities to buy things we now know we don’t need, cruising the suburbs to reunite with ancient relatives who may yet remember us in their wills.
But there has been something special about hitting the empty road: familiar streets eerily deserted, pushing the groaning Vauxhall slightly above the speed limit with only the ambulances to race, performing Starsky-style turns on usually clogged corners, sitting at 50 in the motorway fast lane with no fear of being beeped.
Super-queues. We will still be lining up for a while yet, being barked at by women in orange tabards, but in time this too will vanish. I have come to happily anticipate the supermarket experience, curling round corners and twisting round car parks until the desired shop itself is barely visible on the horizon. I like to watch people, passing judgment like an un-nipped and tucked Simon Cowell – God, look at her roots; he’s been overdoing the ice cream; are those pyjama bottoms?; there’s no way she’s with him. I can also put myself into something like a fugue state, nudging forward four steps at a time, with that final shuffle back a tad to ensure 1.62485m distance, glazedly thinking of nothing at all.
The garden. We moved house a few weeks ago. Our new garden is a mini-Eden, different blooms sprouting every day, birds swooping and twittering as our lurking but wholly unferocious cats attempt to shoot laser beams from their eyes. I know nothing about gardens or flowers, and have no intention of changing this soon, but I have taken to posting photographs of said blossoms on Twitter, asking people to identify them. And they do – people assert with complete confidence that this is a Star of Persia/no, it’s a Philadephus/actually it’s a Rothschild’s slipper orchid only previously found in the wilds of Borneo. I accept the name I think is coolest, and from that point can never be dissuaded. Gardeners busk it, like everyone else.
Eldest daughter. She was coming to the end of her first year at university when lockdown was introduced, forcing her to return home for the duration. For me and my wife this is, of course, fantastic, like stepping into another, better time stream. Ours has been a cornucopia of togetherness, on top of each other every hour of every day, nightly movies as we all cram on to the couch, sharing dog walks and Fortnite.
Zoom. Until lockdown, who had heard of Zoom? It’s now a vital part of the daily toolkit, the white-collar worker’s spanner. I love Zoom – especially people who can’t use it properly. There was, for example, the businessman of a certain age who took eight minutes of a 20-minute video call to get his sound working, and then conducted the rest with only his forehead and snowy quiff visible. I still don’t know what he looks like. People tend to forget they’re on camera – I see you, the nosepickers, the nipping-off-to-make-a-cup-of-tea-halfway-through slackers, the-watching-tv-while-muting-yourself-and-pretending-to-listen-in shysters. (Zoom tip: if you get the light right, you can sit back and become invisible, allowing you to make Lucky Jim-style faces without anyone being able to tell.)
Writing at 4.30am. When I say we’ve moved into our new house, unfortunately our furniture languishes on in storage. Hence, I’ve been kipping on the sofa for weeks. My sleep patterns are shot, meaning I get up (sit up, really) at bizarre times. I’ve taken to starting work in the wee hours, and actually there’s something gloriously peaceful in it. The sun comes up, the coffee brews, the kids sleep. I tap away at these inane thoughts. See you out there, sadly.
Chris Deerin is a leading journalist and commentator who heads independent, non-party thinktank Reform Scotland