If you celebrate Christmas, you’ll understand me when I say the time from Boxing Day to New Years Day is strange. No one knows what day it is, everyone is feeling constantly lethargic or just a little bit hungover. The default cycle of TV box sets, chocolate selection boxes and competitive family activities continues, but with significantly less enthusiasm than on Christmas Day.
This year, the strangeness of this gloopy time cavern has been cranked up tenfold. The lethargy remains, exacerbated by those invisible yet impending doomsday barricades that Mr Boris erected around us. New strain, more contagious, hospitals overwhelmed, Tier 5 on the horizon. The sadness can be overwhelming if you read the news too often, so we don’t.
Instead we plant ourselves firmly on the sofa, drink in hand (coffee or wine, depending on how much sunlight is or is not streaming through the windows). We find comfort in the cycle of box sets and selection boxes, ignoring the emptiness of the room, the lack of extended (or even close) family members.
We think about the activities we promised to do - virtual get-togethers, games of chess, elaborate baking and perhaps even, for those of us most in denial, learning a new language. We think of these while sat on the sofa, absorbing another episode of something we have seen before, our thumb moving rhythmically over the dulled screen of our phone.
The motivation, or lack thereof, to create new and warming memories during this strange time is overridden by the undeniable sense of waiting. We have been waiting for a long time now, but stubbornly, and with conviction, we continue to sit tight and wait. We wait for normal. We wait for that all-encompassing feeling of joy - the one that lathers your skin and warms your bones, the kind of joy you experience only when in close proximity to those you love.
Our concentration, or lack thereof, is not enough to become lost in the stories created by others. The irony of this is painful, because these stories - whether books, movies etc - are our only escape from the endless waiting, during this strangest of strange times.
Of course, we try. We try to pay attention to the stories, in whatever form they take, but really, while we try, we think. We think of those we miss, of the places we love, of breathing in familiar air and existing within familiar and comforting routines. Our routines have changed without our permission, and I think we are still pissed off.
But we are British, so we try to enact that stiff upper lip, while painting over the cracks with whatever we have available to us. And because this is the only thing we can do to survive this strange and awful time, it works - because it has to.
Yes, this post is less than 600 words, but given the national concentration scarcity I thought it wouldn't be a big deal.