ix months ago today Boris Johnson gave his best Winston Churchill, announcing to the nation that the fight against Covid-19 – the “invisible enemy” – was about to get intense. No more commuting, no more mingling, no more leaving our own homes unless absolutely strictly necessary. It was time to lock down, baby. It was time to get serious.
And without the usual external stimuli, the past six months have been a wild ride in the world of pop culture. Viral trends became an outward expression of the quiet madness of an atomised populace.
It turns out that staying inside makes everyone strange in exactly the same ways…
Phase 1: The Wholesome Bit
There’s a virus on the loose but at least we’re all in it together.
And you know what? We kind of needed a break. It all got a bit civil war-y in the lead up to 2020 (lol, remember Brexit?). So settling into some government-enforced hometime, banding together every Thursday night to clap for our NHS carers (thank f**k for the carers), might actually be…dare we say it? Kind of okay.
#StayAtHome? Sure! Whatevz. No probz.
We clear a space on the sitting room floor and order the completely red, 570 piece Heinz ketchup jigsaw puzzle. This’ll waste some time.
And baking. It takes seven hours and five different supermarkets but we finally get a hold of a (slightly crushed) 500g bag of strong white flour; we are delighted and immediately google ‘how to sourdough starter’ ‘cake recipe easy’ (and because we’ve still got Zante booked for July ‘best home workouts belly fat’).
Fomo is dead bitches – because we’re all doing exactly the same thing: watching Tiger King, or dressing up like someone off Tiger King, or reading Reddit threads with titles like “What is the truth behind Carole Baskin?” (to quote spbarry79: “There’s absolutely no chance she didn’t kill her husband.”)
Despite everything this is a hopeful time; Boris says we can win this war in just 12 weeks. By Christmas we’ll be eating turkey at mass gatherings.
In the meantime, God bless Captain Tom!
Spring is springing and this might be the first time we’ve ever, like, stopped to notice it. We spend our one-hour government-sanctioned daily walk taking pictures of down-the-road’s wisteria. #itsthelittlethings.
At home we set about making our first sourdough loaf; it comes out flat and rubbery but we display it proudly on Instagram because we are doing just fine. Everything is fine, absolutely fine.
Phase 2: The Horny Bit
The days are slipping by, has it been a month already? More than a month? We offer banana breads and sourdoughs to our neighbours because we are bloated and carb-sick. They refuse them.
Doing yoga in the park a policeman comes over to chastise us for ‘sitting’ – we are in downward dog but nod emphatically, we’d never dream of sitting.
We’ve accidentally hoovered up some pieces of the jigsaw but it doesn’t matter because we’ve got no time for it now anyway.
Now we quiz. Four nights a week we click the link at the allotted time and test our trivia prowess. If anything we’re seeing more of our friends than we ever did in peacetime – this is something we can keep doing even after lockdown, which will definitely be ending soon. Definitely.
Jesus, Captain Tom is killing it.
We see lots of articles dedicated to the ‘lockdown horn’ and are relieved that it’s not just us. It’s bad. We’ve had to give up on PE with Joe Wicks because it was making us too horny. In fact, we have stopped exercising altogether – although we did once read an article about a man who lost half his body weight just by masturbating six times a day for six months. If we keep on like this, we won’t need to exercise ever again. L8rz Wicksy.
We watch Normal People on the BBC – first all the way through, then again, fast forwarding to the sex bits then for a third time skipping to the close-ups of Connell’s chain. It’s so sexy but we don’t know why. We google it and find lots of op-eds. It’s to do with masculinity and stuff. We’ve been inside too long.
We go outside and it’s still spring, and did we ever notice how green the leaves are? We Houseparty with eight others who are also outside. We all discuss the leaves.
We think we spot Paul Mescal in the park with his shirt off. We blink a lot and rub our eyes. It’s not actually him. We’d better get back inside.
Phase 3: The Breakdown Bit
Had to cancel Zante 🙁
Someone on Twitter has shaved their head, we stare in the mirror for a really long time and then decide that, f**k it, yes, we’ll shave ours too. Afterwards we google ‘how long shaved head grown back’ and turn our camera off for Zoom meetings. We just need to get used to it, we tell ourselves.
Sometimes we get so drunk on Zoom quizzes that we forget we’re in our living room until the link runs out. We’ve turned a corner of the kitchen into a ‘speakeasy’ and given everyone in the house a password, which they have to say before they can access the cocktail cabinet. We change the password regularly and everyone hates us.
We consider quitting booze but other than 3pm when we sneak off to masturbate, cocktail hour is our favourite time of the day.
There is debate about masks. We do not understand – why not just mask? We buy a mask and use mask as a verb in sentences. We forget to mask on a trip to the shop and walk around with our t-shirt pulled up. Other shoppers hate us.
For the most part, we are committed to #StayingHome until we hear about Dominic Cummings and his trip to Barnard Castle. We google Barnard Castle. It looks nice. We consider going there just to get a picture for Instagram, like ‘f-you DC’ but then realise that’s a lot of effort. We lay back down.
Still sad about Zante 🙁
Phase 4: The F**k it Bit
It’s the talk of social bubbles that finishes us off. What constitutes a bubble?
F**k it, if DC can see his family then so can we. We organise a picnic on the common for 12 of our nearest and dearest. We keep a respectful distance but then, a bottle of rosé deep, briefly forget about the global pandemic and suck hummus off the finger of a neighbour. Has there always been something between us? Or is it just the lockdown horn? Neighbour’s wife gives us a dirty look and we feel bad. Head home to masturbate. Seeing friends is soooooo goooooddddd!!!
Pubs and restaurants reopen. At first we’re, like, not even bothered, you know? Privately we think that maybe we’ve evolved past indoor spaces. But a friend insists on booking a table so we go and it turns out pubs and restaurants are legit the best things ever. We get really drunk and make overemphatic eye contact with everyone in the room. We keep saying “omg, remember when this was normal?”
The government is super keen on getting us to socialise again (poss because they can see our google search histories which have become increasingly macabre). They offer to pay half the bill if we go to McDonald’s and a number of other reputable eateries. We book restaurant dinners for every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in August and feel proud that we’re doing our bit for the war effort. #EatOutToHelpOut, right?
Everyone knows that you cannot ‘complete’ Netflix, but we give it an honest-to-god try. We watch all three seasons of Selling Sunset in one weekend (why do they all dress like it’s 2011?) and sign up to Now TV because what else is there?
The government wants us to go back to the office, so as to save Pret. We wonder why we never got a free coffee despite going to the same Pret for 8 years. We make absolutely no effort to return to the office.
We have stopped masturbating.
We consider booking a holiday but every time we try the government changes the rules about that one particular place. It’s like they are listening to us – maybe through our Amazon Alexa? We consider throwing it out, and burning a 5G tower for good measure.
Phase 5: The Back in Lockdown Bit
Has it been six months? Has it really? Or has lockdown merely exposed the fact that linear time is a meaningless construct, a ‘not-thing’?
The past six ‘months’ have been a fast-slow, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, how-did-this-happen, where-has-this-year-gone, who-even-am-I, do-I-exist, here’s-some-focaccia-art, head-f**k which may, we’re told, soon start all over again. Like Groundhog Day.
We restock the speakeasy and buy some flour.
Who’s for a banana bread?