So, how are you? No, I mean how are you really? It’s been one hell of a year so far hasn’t it? And there’s still (checks calendar) about 11 weeks to go. Anything could happen. Including Lockdown: The Sequel.
I’m perched on my Tier 1 throne here in Coleshill, but most of my friends, family and the establishments I love are in the fiery Tier 2 pit of Birmingham. So I might as well throw in my lot and call myself an adopted Tier 2. So I’ll be freezing my tits off in a beer garden with the rest of you for the foreseeable future. Ex Birmingham resident, seeks Tier 1 friends for cosy indoor drinking. Room for 5 applicants only.
We had a good run though didn’t we? The clocks went forward, the sun came out, and suddenly being trapped in our own four walls didn’t seem quite so bad. After all, there was banana bread. Tiger King. Zoom quizzes. Yoga with Adriene. A different food delivery from a favourite independent every night. A cupboard full of loo roll. Clouds & Sheep. 60 minutes of beautiful government-prescribed freedom each day. And then shops opened, and we could queue for three hours to get a tin of paint from B&Q or a six-pack of undies from Primark.
My parents could visit again, albeit in the garden, and at a safe distance. I forgot myself, dipped a potato wedge in a shared pot of ketchup and was convinced I was going to infect us all. Pubs opened again. Disney+ gave us Hamilton. I began a burgeoning mask collection. Football was back so I still got to sit through my beloved Blues’ annual last day escape from relegation. I sacked off Adriene (sorry bab, I’m just not that bendy); instead Lucy Wyndham-Read smiles her way through a seven-minute routine each morning. Memories of my existential crisis over a potato seemed a long time ago.
Walks around our local area were binned off as we realised we were now permitted to travel further afield. And so we did. We spent sunny Sunday evenings in the Cotswolds. We picked sunflowers. And we spent nights under someone else’s roof, in Shropshire, Herefordshire, Wales, Cornwall and the Peak District. I even met up with some of my favourite people at the Britpop Brunch at The Night Owl. And found out first hand that it really is a delicate balancing act trying to social distance when tipsy. Apparently I had a fab time. Wish I could remember.
We dared to dream. Travel corridors opened, and I considered booking a holiday for about five seconds. Travel corridors closed again. I’m still learning Italian via Duolingo. When we do finally get to book our long yearned for holiday to Italy I can ask if there is soap in the bathroom, point out the clown in the purple trousers and request that a mechanic looks at my car.
And yet, while I spent lockdown Part 1 learning a language, reading lots of books or just trying to get through the day without crying at a potato, nothing really changed. That blasted virus was still there. It had decimated the elderly and vulnerable, but was hanging around for a second chance. The government told us to go back to work, to eat out to help out, that it would all be over by Christmas. And then they told us to stop going to work and stop socialising. Oh and Christmas is probably almost definitely going to be cancelled.
“Operation Moonshot” suggested people travel three hundred miles to get a COVID test. Our world beating track and trace system is nothing more than an Excel spreadsheet. And there’s an app that luddites like me with an iPhone 6 can’t access. We followed the science, then we didn’t. The great asymptomatic superspreaders were corralled into schools and universities. But hospitality once again bears the brunt of the blame. Apparently COVID can tell the difference between a 9pm drinker and a 10pm drinker. And now, once again, we have to treat people that don’t live with us like lepers. Shared dips for potato wedges are a thing of the past.
We’re still facing an uncertain winter. But I’m prepared this time. UK minibreaks that can be cancelled. Subscriptions for gin and for toilet roll. An advanced Zoom login so those fun family quizzes can last more than 40 minutes without being cut off. And I can make a mean banana bread.
So tell me, how are you? How are you really?