Today is an important milestone – a year since lockdown :O And oh what a year. Banana bread. Barnard Castle. Below Deck.
This time last year (plus a couple of days) a lot of things were different; being able to eat out, book holidays and commute into work to name a few. But lots of other things have also been constant throughout. Taylor Swift being a lyrical genius, Gogglebox being the best thing since sliced bread, and coriander continuing to aggressively divide opinion, to name a few.
After much reflection, here are my top differences and similarities a year on (in no particular order).
Difference #1: ‘Quick, get that bench’
Pre pandemic times, I would never imagine I could get such an adrenaline rush at the sight of an empty bench in a muddy park. A table in a pub, maybe. The closing doors of a tube you just manage to slip inside. But lo and behold, here we are – lockdown has elevated the simple park bench into somewhat of a sacred entity.
Really, there’s nothing quite like it. Your legs are tired from trudging round yet another park, despite the takeaway coffee caffeine rush. The ground is halfway between a mudbath and a swamp. Then, out of nowhere, you spot a vacant bench.
‘Quick, get that bench’.
You eyeball at least 3 other parties, all of whom could potentially shit all over your bench dreams. It’s in these desperate moments that you abandon any shred of dignity that you might have possessed pre pandemic – its time to make a run for that bench. Thank you couch to 5k; I knew you’d come in handy one of these days.
Similarity #1: Spur of the moment eating out is mostly impossible.
Everyone’s excited about the hospitality industry re-opening. A night off from the washing up, or stacking the dishwasher if you’re fancy. Halle-bloody-ulagh.
But in order to finally enjoy this simple pleasure, you of course have to get over the small hurdle of finding availability anywhere in the city.
Call it spontaneity (or just being hopelessly unorganised), but the art of simply deciding on the day that you quite fancy a Sunday roast in a pub or a basic brunch in a cafe has long been an impossibility.
Instead, interactions go somewhat like this:
Hi do you have a table for four
Hi have you made a reservation in advance
Unfortunately not. Nothing like a bit of Sunday spontaneity eh!
Unfortunately we’re full to the brim. Please go online to make reservations. We normally recommend booking at least 17 months in advance to guarantee a spot in this distinctly average pub with a 3 star hygiene rating. We are a gastro pub with mood lighting, you know.
Thanks for your time. See you in 2023, providing we don’t come across another global pandemic!
With the rule of 6, reduced capacity and people more desperate to eat out than ever, this is something that won’t be changing anytime soon. Ah well, there’s always deliveroo (cue the violins).
Difference #2: No one has anything to talk about other than TV
Whenever you speak with friends, parents, grandparents, colleagues… sooner or later (and let’s face it, these days it’s a lot sooner), you’ve run out of conversation and circle back to that inevitable question:
‘So what are you watching right now?’
There’s no holidays to recount. No drunken escapades to break down. No plans to make except laps of parks. For most, the only change in life right now is what episode of x, y and z you’re currently on.
And living through the tv screen voraciously certainly encourages thought provoking and stimulating debates. Such as:
- Are you #teamMegahn or #teamLiz?
- Was Sandy right to fire Hannah in Below Deck:Med?
- Why does Giles insist on calling his wife Nutty? And why is the armchair the exact same print as the wallpaper?
Forget about vaccine passports or carbon emissions, these are the most pressing concerns facing the nation right now.
Similarity #2: Boris Johnson is still a clown and still has bad hair
Boris has a track record for lies, deception and ineptness. And this reputation is still very much in place today, so that’s some constant in our lives we should be grateful for.
There’s really too many to list. But to handpick a few faves: the car crash of track and trace (£10 billion down the drain), repeatedly locking down too late, travel corridor chaos, eat out to help out, defending his main man Dom… the vaccine rollout may be going well so far, but unfortunately doesn’t cancel out the 120,000 lost lives.
And I do feel a bit bad about hair shaming the man – but sort the shlid out Boris. It’s been bad for too long. Almost as bad as your shoddy leadership.