Geoff Norcott

The problem with ‘just’ another four weeks

The problem with 'just' another four weeks
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When the government announced an extension of lockdown restrictions I was furious. Furious for political reasons. Furious for economic and libertarian reasons, but - if I’m completely honest - mainly furious because I had tickets to see The Shapeshifters to do a DJ set on Saturday 26th June.

However, I have to admit that on the recent occasions I have been out in busy places it’s taken me a while to get my social ‘sea-legs’ back. When the moment came I wasn’t fully match-fit for the chaotic demands of a city centre boozer. Just like a football team preparing for a tournament, I should’ve eased back into it, with a few warm-up fixtures at village pubs before throwing myself in at the highest level (All Bar One in Leicester Square).

You need altitude training to surreptitiously avoid groups of screeching of women and deftly manoeuvre around those drunk men who exit pubs sideways.

I’ve spent the year being king of my castle at home. Remote in hand, Tiger King on the telly, smug and the centre of my own universe. Suddenly I’ve got to queue up for a piss and say ‘sorry have you got any vinegar?’ to a waitress who now thinks verbal requests are a form of assault. I’ve had to listen to an entire episode of Octonauts because some parents have the same attitude to headphones that they do to face-masks.

It wasn’t just people I had to get used to, I’ve also adjusted to mediocre pubs acting like they’re The Ivy just because you now have to book ahead.

‘Have you reserved a table at Wetherspoons? isn’t something anyone expected to be asked 18 months ago. Or ever. There’s nothing exclusive about a ‘Spoons. Even Curry Club isn’t a real club. I know. I tried to join many times.

It’s not just me struggling. I suspect the 200 year old alcoholics who used prop up their bars all day are experiencing a bout of sobriety because they can’t work the app.

Despite these challenges, I support unlocking as much as we can as soon as we can. All too often I’ve heard broadcasters referring to the postponement of Freedom Day as ‘just' another four weeks. ‘Just’. As though, rather than an extension of unprecedented peace-time restrictions, it was just a minor delay on the delivery of a sofa.

Four weeks is a monumental amount of time. There’s a reason why, when we go abroad, we say ’10 days isn’t enough, 14 is too much’. If my mate told me he’d booked ‘just’ four weeks with the family in Tenerife I’d have him sectioned.

I want total normality. I don’t want to attend weddings with no singing or dancing. Without either of those things it’s little more than an expensive hotel lunch. It’s all well and good for plummy scientists to casually warn people not to sing or dance. You get the impression that the weddings they’d been to would’ve involved a firm handshake in place of a first dance.

I can’t imagine Vallance smashing the Macarena or Chris Whitty twerking his way round a group of bridesmaids.

Despite the restrictions, I do have a few gigs now. It’s been good to return to the Reading Moto services and have the woman at Greggs say ‘The usual?’ before handing me a steak slice.

And yet. Despite savouring this moment for so long, I didn’t expect the difficulty in explaining to my five year old son that I’d be at home less. He’s only ever known daddy doing the public part of his job staring into the tiny pin-hole camera on his Macbook Pro. He’s not convinced ‘leave the house’ work is entirely necessary.

He’s seen me on Jeremy Vine on the big telly, then scuttling to our downstairs toilet during the ad break. He’s got no idea why I’d be embarking on a five-hour commute just to tell someone my views on cancel culture. He might even want me to get cancelled if it meant we could complete season three of Star Wars: Rebels.

Restrictions have given a lot of Dads an unexpected ‘Mr Banks’ moment. We got to do some admin, fly a kite, and still be back in place for the torturous 5pm Zoom.

I believe in the conventional workspace. I know the economy needs to recover (god knows I practically get aroused when I see a busy Nandos). But in terms of my family I’ve glimpsed another way of doing things. So here I am; a blokey fiscal conservative whose main concern is missing out on the euphoric post-school Friday ice-cream from the van. Dam this virus. It doesn’t care who it hurts.

Geoff Norcott's book 'Where Did I Go Right (How the Left Lost Me)' is out now

Written byGeoff Norcott

As a rare right-winger, Geoff Norcott is a unique voice in British comedy. He has appeared on Live at the Apollo, Question Time, Mock the Week and The Mash Report.

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