‘Your face is wrinkly as a withered apple’

by Pseud O'Nym

I was in the churchyard near me yesterday evening when I struck by two thoughts.

Firstly, that a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic is all but guaranteed to happen, if the churchyard is any indication of the seriousness with which people are observing social distancing. Granted there were a few couples enjoying warm evening sun, but there were also much larger groups, including one made up of twelve adults, five children and two babies. Two screaming babies. Why is it that there exists this belief among some parents that just letting their baby scream is the easiest thing for them to do – as they hear it so often they hardly notice it anymore – and won’t annoy the fuck out of everyone who is forced to endure it. As long as we’re fine with it, the thinking must be, that’s all that matters. Quite a selfish thing to do and quite why anyone doesn’t just go up and smack them in the mouth – the adults that is, not the babies, however much one is tempted – never ceases to amaze me.

But this group embodied the sheer exhaustion of life under lockdown and with it, the futility of having a ‘phased’ or ‘planned’ relaxation of the measures already in place. All of them were under thirty and clearly imagined that if they did get the coronavirus, they’d at worst get would be a bad cold. Yes it can be fatal if your old, poor and have underlying health problems, but as they weren’t, c’mon enough already. My partner tells of a similar nonchalance up in Stoke Newington, as where she lives is popular with young families who have flocked there to be fleeced by bakeries selling sausage rolls for £2 a go! And if it’s there, its wherever young families are and because they’re the ‘Facebook’ generation – who see themselves as the most important person in their universe, that their wants and needs supersede any other consideration – the idea that what they’re doing might be seen as extremely socially irresponsible just doesn’t register. Mind you, even if it was suggested that they were being irresponsible they probably wouldn’t care. And besides they clapped for the carers, wasn’t that enough.

There was a chap in the park, the sort of chap who could only see his belly button if he was standing naked in front of a mirror and breathed in heavily. He was doing some sort of video chat on his computer which needed him playing the Bob Marley song that goes ‘Every little thing’s going to be alright’ endlessly and annoying loud. Why no one introduced his computer to the ground in a forceful manner was beyond me.

Another thing I noticed, as I saw couples larking about in the way freshly minted couples do, was that I was missing human contact. I felt a pang of jealousy towards the couples. I needed a cuddle. Not something that I’ve ever been aware of feeling before and anyone who knows me will know how unusual that is. Not to want a cuddle, but to feel that I wanted one. I have an odd idea about physical contact, inasmuch as I believe it to have currency and that if you hug everyone, then a hug from you becomes meaningless. For most social interactions that require a physical greeting or goodbye, a good firm handshake will suffice. Actually, a handshake reveals a lot about a person; do they look you in the eye, hold your gaze or does their hand land in yours like a clammy dead fish? The amount of times people have asked to hug me, expecting to hear an enthusiastic ‘Yes’ only to hear an emphatic ‘No’

And besides, hugging etiquette is something you only become aware of when someone breaches it. Did they hug you for just that bit too long, was their embrace just a bit too firm, or was it the wrong type of hug. You know, when a vague acquaintance doesn’t give you a ‘wine glass’ hug – one where there is no physical contact below the collar bone – but instead tries to attempt a ‘saltanass’ – one where every part of the body above the groin, most especially the groin, is impressed upon you.

As wrong as broccoli ice cream!

That quote? From LMS to me. When she discovered I could get eleven grapes in my mouth…