We may be terribly limited in who we can see in real life and who we can talk to, but we are still in touch with our friends. Possibly more than usual.
Not only can we dream away on our phones, but now there’s the endless video socialization on Zoom, Houseparty and Skype to schedule in the diary too.
As for texts and WhatsApp – well, that has gotten out of hand. Pinging sounds come from every room of our house all day – and sometimes all night. Try to live with someone who is part of a WhatsApp group in Jodhpur like my partner David is.
Strangely enough, I think many discover that, in these dark days, who we want to talk to and talk about is not exactly what we imagined. The order of speed dialing changes.
When a friend of mine was dying, she said that the people she couldn’t talk to were the ones making their “Sunday voice.” That was a tragic, calm tone. It was driving her crazy. I feel the same way about those I’m talking to right now.
Alexandra Shulman says she’s struggling to gossip with friends
Anyone who starts with a deep sigh and a sad timbre makes me want to run. I don’t want to hang out to share bad news. Obviously, if something really terrible or difficult happened, they can talk how they want.
And there is room for all of us to share our concerns about what may happen next. But if we actually shoot the wind of the past few days – the state of the kitchen floor, the boredom of the children’s homework or the lack of fresh tarragon – I prefer a certain robustness.
In fact, after four weeks of detention, such topics are certainly close to their expiration dates in terms of interest. In normal times, friends are a patchwork. Some are the sociable audience that is guaranteed to provide long evenings of fun; others can trust to drop everything and walk around comfortably.
Those I consider my best friends are not necessarily the ones I trust for immediate support in a crisis. Now that I can’t really get along with any of them, it was curious to see what we offer each other.
And strangely, it’s the ones I don’t speak to often and new friends I wanted to have long video chats with – replicating physical encounters with a glass of wine and occasionally slipping off the screen to get a refill.
For those with whom I usually interact almost daily and who I have known forever, I am happy to just talk on the phone and get a quick update.
Just as unexpected was the fact that they are members of my immediate family that I laugh at most during our regular Zoom meetings because we share a sense of humor and, as everyone knows, the best jokes are the old jokes.
Certainly at the expense of each other. Good gossip, that pillar of friendship, is harder to find now that we do less and don’t see anyone, but that makes it even more precious and valuable.
After all, gossip is dragging information. While it’s impossible to escape the miasma of fear that lingers everywhere, a dollop of enjoyable, less dangerous exchanges is essential.
Low-grade relationship disharmony is still more fascinating to hear about than how to make a sourdough starter.
Now is not the time to praise his child’s brilliant new job (well, they won’t have one anyway) or to praise his husband’s sacred behavior. That’s not fun at all.
When times are so challenging, fun is one of the things that helps us get through it.
Young lady with colorful facial mask, Alexandra suggests to use napkins as mask
A fresh new look for spring … old napkins
There is something very satisfying about the idea of making your own mask. I was wondering what to do with some small square scarves and a large decorative handkerchief I own and I found they are the perfect size. Just like napkins. Just say it.
Bring our florists back into thriving business
When Italy lifted some restrictions last week, it was appropriate for one of the first business sectors to get back to work with baby clothes. Even the smallest Italian city has a shop where the little ones are exploited down to the last detail for display on the passeggiata. Now that the functioning public space is opening up again, each country will show its priorities. The French kept tabacs open everywhere, and the Austrians opened their garden centers. What do the British long for? Personally, I would like to see florists in business. Incidentally, the James Graham script from ITV’s excellent Quiz, about the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? lawsuit, contained a wonderful line about how the two greatest loves of the British got drunk and proved right. Unfortunately, the pubs where both can be handled satisfactorily show no signs of early escape from the lockdown.
The virus has cured my phantom pain
As a confirmed hypochondriac from a family of such patients (except our mother, who only became acquainted with paracetamol at the age of 92), it was remarkable to see how now that there is really something to be concerned about usual minor health problems seem to have disappeared. Those little lumps on the leg or the mole on the arm or that shoulder pain that usually looms on my list of fears have gone underground. A&E numbers have fallen by more than 50 percent, which is largely attributed to people who are too scared to go to the hospital or feel like they are wasting NHS resources. But I think it’s also our concern – we’re taking a stricter line with ourselves. As someone recently said to me, “Of course I have phantom symptoms, but I’ve had phantom symptoms all my life.”
Finally it’s time to grab ugly Crocs
I never thought I’d write this, but Crocs – your time has come. Arguably the ugliest shoes ever designed, Crocs are perfect coronavirus apparel. With their thick rubber soles and covered toes, they are so much more hygienic than slippers, which look creepy at the moment when worn outdoors. I only wish I had grabbed a jeweled pair from Christopher Kane when he showed them on the runway a few years ago. That would brighten up the line at the post office.