With only her flatulent sausage dog for lockdown company, presenter and performer Anneka Harry was totally ready for pubs and partying in a pandemic. Or at least she thought so...
As a single self-isolator, for the past three and a half months my only company has been a flatulent sausage dog, an attention-seeking spider plant and a passive aggressive smart speaker. Coming out of lockdown and partying in a pandemic was going to be a breeze.
Despite possessing the stench of someone who’s slept in a Biffa by this point (See also: pubes so wild they’ve grown down into leggings, an uninvited handlebar moustache, and the dark eye circles/junk food chubbiness of a meme racoon)… I’M READY TO BE RELEASED INTO THE WILD.
Reinstating hibernation clothes
Or, at least, I thought I was. Until I packed a quarter of a year’s worth of socialising into the past few days and had to reinstate my hibernation wardrobe as a result (a pyjama top and pair of droopy bummed joggers, if you must know). It turns out that socialising, after a seemingly never-ending drought, isn’t as ‘no bother’ as getting back on a bicycle. I’m going to need to dig out some stabilisers…
Me, myself and I are sensational company but the most contented of minds still require human connection. Face-to-face time rather than FaceTime. Heart to hearts that aren’t pixelated or lagging. The verified clink of glasses (instead of the sound of your Zinfandel smashing off a screen and slopping over the keyboard).
When lockdown kicked off we kidded ourselves we were ‘getting together’ on all manner of forced-fun video calls. At its peak I was hosting drag disco lip-synch love-ins. At its trough, my stepdad (mid Family-Charades-Zoom), froze in a thrust position atop a dining table.
These days, the nation could break into a collective cold sweat at the mere mention of an online pub quiz. So it’s no surprise that even the life-and-soul butterflies among us, are tetchy. Tetchy about navigating the new (new) normal of real-life quarantine hang outs.
Out of lockdown plans
But, this transition phase is what we’ve all been waiting for, I hear you cry! If you ventured out this weekend, the post ‘peculiarity-of-partying-in-a-pandemic’ slump is coming for you, believe me. The reminders of what we’ve been missing or have lost and the intensity of the build-up brings its own inevitable brand of blues.
The pining pings of weeks of Whatsapp group chat promises and reunion plans just got real. This morning I bumped into a mate, a delight so yesteryear feeling, I fell off the curb. Impromptu, unplanned meets are like museum artefacts. The intoxication experienced upon excavating such treasure had me chatting her ear off (before needing to go home for a mini Magnum and a lie down). It’s a lot.
I’ve been daydreaming of group pile-ons, penguin tight huddles and pale ales with pals for so long. Is it any wonder the early sips, touches and tussles of this easing were bound to be tragicomic. The anticipation of how my first hug with my best friend might feel, recently culminated in a squish so heart-swelling, strawberry pick ‘n’ mix smelling and longed for, I near enough blacked out.
If you’re anything like me, you won’t realise how fundamental eye contact and arm grabs are in accelerating a shared joke until you’re at a ‘bubble’ sleepover, manically laugh-crying yourself face first into an airbed. As I conked off to sleep (because: SHATTERED), the initial-lockdown agony of calling down to friends from my first-floor flat window (all worked up like a snotty Rapunzel) faded into distant memory.
Don’t beat yourself up if your re-adjustment out of lockdown isn’t a fairy-tale though. This is prime time to pick and choose your perfect peeps and say ‘no’ to stuff without excuse or sick note.
This week I swam in the sea, was surrounded by loved ones at a picnic party in the park for my birthday and finally got to see my mum. My smile is so wide as I write, my teeth are stuck to my lips like a seaside postcard donkey.
Life is unpredictable. We can’t be certain of many things. We can only love ourselves and each other to the best of our abilities. Bone-tired I may be after my version of partying in a pandemic, but I will never tire of love.
* Anneka Harry is a writer, presenter and performer whose work covers series, episodes and features for the BBC, Channel 4, ITV2, Radio 4 and MTV.