Long before Covid, it was bad enough when people (often City big dogs at ‘Notting Hill kitchen suppers’) would ask ‘So, do you do anything, or are you just a mum?’ during my childbearing years.
Now, however, the pandemic has induced such chronic poverty in conversation that I recall those thrilling exchanges about house prices and schools as if I’d been at the Algonquin Round Table and not some dull catered dinner at a hedge-funder’s ‘mansion’. What a difference a long lockdown makes, eh.
Nobody has done anything or gone anywhere. All the craic has been about box sets… the time your Asos parcel went Awol… how you got a scam text from DHL… your attempt to cut your own hair after you’d had a takeaway negroni. Fair enough. I developed a mania for Spiral (at present I am in the thick of Call My Agent, French subtitles on) and became so irritating I would have divorced myself if I could. Yet 21 June, Independence Day, looms.
It’s high time someone reset the post-lockdown rules of casual conversation, and I hereby appoint myself for this important national service. In ascending order of aggravation, here are the banned topics:
1) The vaccine. As the majority have now received Covid-19 vaccinations, it is not interesting to discuss how many of which jab you’ve had, or whether you got a sore arm or felt a bit rubbish but only for a day or two.
2) Holidays. The hairdresser’s question ‘Going anywhere nice?’ (or the barber’s ‘Something for the weekend, sir?’) opens up a world of pain and uncertainty for us all, especially me. I don’t want to hear you ask me to ‘find out’ — and we all know what that means — whether Corfu or Crete will be on the green or amber list come July.