5 things I miss during social distancing

2020-03-28 17.08.29Firstly the small print. I’m a baby boomer, got my own house with no mortgage and have a couple of occupational pensions which keep my bank balance positive (although my pension pot has taken a bit of a hit as the stock market’s crashed). So I’m not worried about losing my job, I’m not working in the front line (at the NHS or at the Coop) and I don’t have a house full of children desperate to get outside and have fun. All of which makes me a little embarrassed by my rather smug, middle class list of 5.

Social engagement: I guess everybody chimes with this. Don’t we all wish to get back to the time when we could drop into a coffee shop, shake hands with somebody we’ve just met and not have to walk in the road because the pavement isn’t wide enough for 2m social distancing? It’s amazing how we’ve all, or at least most of us, become so sensitive to the concept of social distancing that we generally just do it and get critical of apparent evidence that others do not. Witness the furore about Gary Lineker’s excellent football chats in his kitchen with Ian Wright and Alan Shearer and the need for the BBC to keep telling us that they were recorded before the current rules were introduced.

News programmes that aren’t 90% about Covid-19: I do consume the news, on the TV, via the Internet and by reading a daily paper, but it has become a bit, nay a lot, single issue. The same must have been true in war-time and I’m sure we got wall to wall coverage of the Iraq war but I don’t recall that crowding out news about everything else. Today it seems that all news is viewed through a Covid-19 lens from the sports pages to celebrity gossip and the business news.

A structure to my week: I’ve said it before. I am a creature of habit and even that’s becoming a habit. Even though I’m no longer in full time employment I still run my life according to a five day working week and a weekend. We go to Cambridge on Saturday mornings, we eat out on Wednesday or Thursday evenings and Friday night is steak night. No more because (a) we can’t go out anyway, and (b) the week just seems to comprise of seven identical days. So given that why think in terms of weeks anyway?

Going to the gym: under social distancing rules the gym had to lose. Even without them there’s too many sweaty people and not enough focus on cleaning equipment after use. However exercise is one of the elements of my life which keeps me fit and sane and simply running or exercising at home with stretchy plastic is a mite boring. I like to get out and run but not as my only form of aerobic exercise. I like the variety offered by the gym, I enjoy the social engagement and yes I do get inspired by the example set by those younger, fitter and better looking than me.

Planning my life: it’s another of my characteristics that I like to know what I’m going to do next, where I’m going and when all this is going to happen (check out INTJ). In normal times I know when I’m going to be off on my next holiday and in fact we were due to go to Italy later this month. Today that’s not possible. I can’t even think in terms of when will I make my next visit to a restaurant. I’m confident that we will get there but when? The trouble is the government hasn’t given us any sort of ‘exit strategy’. I can understand that it can’t give us a ‘when’ but what about a ‘how’? I’m sort of thinking that sometime in June or July we’ll get some relaxation in the rules but that we won’t really be back to anything like normal before then end of the summer. I suspect we’ll see more economic activity before we get a lot more social activity but who knows. Maybe I’ll get an autumn trip to Italy.

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