The start of a new year, a new decade. Sure, Brexit’s looming, Megxit’s happened and there’s a World War III meme trending but we’re feeling optimistic. Especially as Brad and Jen are definitely getting back together (did you see the way he looked at her?) First mention of the c-word, but no plans to go to China anytime soon, so what’s the problem?
We crack on with our lives, oblivious to the pandemic looming. We have swift ones down the local, make fleeting friendships in club toilets and watch Parasite with a bunch of strangers after it makes history with its Oscar win for Best Picture. Weirdly, the only sign of what’s to come is Love Is Blind, a Netflix reality show featuring isolation pods, turbo relationships and not being able to see your date. Dating in 2020 summed up nicely.
COBRA meets with, or without, Boris, coronavirus cases rise and before we know it, we’re counting how many packets of pasta are in the cupboard and dodging strangers juggling 46 rolls of 2-ply in the street. By the end of the month, we enter our first lockdown. That’s okay though, we could kind of do with a break. All IRL activity is immediately transferred to Zoom and we’re soon attending our 10th quiz of the week, with one attendee dressed as a virtual potato, guaranteed.
Tiger King becomes our new obsession: intricate plotlines, insane twists and clashing animal prints, it’s the perfect antidote to the blandness of lockdown life. We start dressing like Carole Baskin and feel validated in swiping left to every man posing with a sedated tiger on Hinge. We wave goodbye to FOMO as everyone’s social life is obliterated, apart from Thursdays at 8pm, where we gather on doorsteps to #clapforourcarers.
We start rating our days, and ourselves, by productivity: if we haven’t learnt a new language, started a side-hustle or painted a masterpiece, we’re failing. That combined with another lockdown extension and we need some good news. Enter Captain Tom. A 99-year-old war veteran, aiming to raise £1,000 for the NHS by walking 100 lengths of his garden. Spoiler: by the time he turns 100 at the end of the month, he’s raised £33 million.
Elsewhere, personal grooming moves in-house, giving rise to the lockdown look: a trim (accidentally) turns into a fade (accidentally) turns into a shave. We download Couch to 5k, but unlike the rest of the world, can’t get past week three. Luckily, Joe Wicks, PE teacher for the nation, saves us and soon we’re creating some serious human drum ‘n’ bass for the neighbours downstairs.
By the end of April, we’ve tired ourselves out. We google “when will we be able to touch again?” and promise ourselves that when this is all over, we won’t take the small things for granted. We soothe our anxieties with banana bread and fuel our anxieties by accidentally waving at our ex on Houseparty.
As lockdown measures lift, the government changes its message to “stay alert, control the virus and save lives”. Confused, we add another shot to our Dalgona coffee. Day to dusk, the park becomes the epicentre of socialising with each trip involving a jogger vs. pedestrian stand-off as we dance around the invisible two-metre force.
Normal People is the hit of the summer. Sad, confused and slightly horny, it sums up the feelings of the nation. And, while we understand our crush with lead male, Connell Waldron, our borderline obsession with @connellschain we cannot. Think things couldn’t get weirder? Enter chief adviser to the PM, Dominic Cummings, who holds a press conference, to explain why he drove 25 miles to test his eyesight…
Alas, all’s not lost if you are. Money saved on avo toast is better spent on Gwyneth Paltrow’s £75 new candle which smells like her Turkish rose orgasm anyway, right. And all hail new King of the North, Marcus Rashford. The Manchester United footballer’s powerful letter to the government urging them to keep free school meals results in a government U-turn.
Lockdown independence. Kinda. Social distancing is reduced to 1m; face masks are made compulsory in shops; restaurants, pubs and hairdressers open. We plan our staycations, wondering why we ever jetted off to Magaluf given such beauty on our doorstep? We remember why when Storm Edouard arrives and we defeatedly squelch back to the sofa.
“Eat out to help out” isn’t the feminist slogan it first appears to be but fills our diaries with all the restaurants we couldn’t go to for the past six months. Any worries as to whether it’s actually safe to do so, quashed with 50% off the bill. We rush to the cinema to see Tenet but leave feeling confused.
A new tier system is announced, a north-south divide comes into play and coronavirus is still raging. There’s so much going on that matters, yet we’re enthralled in the Dominic West saga. After pictures surface of West getting close to co-star Lily James, a bizarre series of events unravel, including a handwritten note, a very 90s photoshoot and him wearing the exact same outfit he was in 36 hours prior.
As we enter another lockdown (is it too early to put the Christmas tree up yet?), Nigella’s soothing tones and reckless abandonment for calorie control provides comfort in her new series. We accidentally get embroiled in a Twitter debate with Glen from Hertfordshire on the best way to butter toast and the correct pronunciation of microwave.
However, there’s light at the end of the tunnel when the first vaccine is administered in the UK to 90-year-old Margaret from Coventry. We all let out an exhale – yes, our plans vs. 2020 might have gone down the toilet but in the words of Captain Tom, “remember, the clouds will go away and the sun will shine again.”
There’s finally hope.
Images: Rattankun Thongbun/Getty, Netflix