The Corona Chronicles: Week 23: The death of spontaneity

Whatever’s happened to spontaneity? It’s become a victim of the virus, that’s what! No more casual popping down to the shops. I mean, now face coverings are mandatory, preparation is vital. And it’s just one more thing to forget. Keys, money, reusable bags… mask. It’s like a military operation before I even leave the house.

What’s more, those masks are pesky blighters – breeding like rabbits but getting lost like gloves.  Despite my having bought in extra supplies, Grunting Teen never has one on him. Thank goodness I have a mother’s mentality and can conjure up spares from my handbag, kitchen drawer, coat pocket or back seat of the car. I’m awash with masks and consequently forever washing.

So far, the Nearly Beloved’s been oblivious to this death of spontaneity. After his self-check-out shenanigans he’s no longer allowed to go shopping. So, if he has to mask-up, he just expects me to hand over suitable face wear. Still, after his last reluctant outing, veiled in pink daisies, he’s invested in a more masculine, black military look.

But it’s not just shopping that’s become a casualty of Covid, all aspects of life now require pre-planning. On our recent staycation, the Nearly Beloved is most put out to discover he can’t just walk into a pub. ‘What do you mean, have I booked?’ he asks the doorman. ‘It’s hardly a night out at the Ritz. I just want a pint!’ And after three attempts at different venues he finally gets his heart’s desire but only after he’s downloaded an app, scanned a code and had a hissy fit.

Just as well he’s so far only used the equipment in the newly re-opened fitness centre and hasn’t yet braved the pool. Maximum capacity is now three swimmers per lane and on two occasions I’ve ended up lifting weights in the gym rather than free-styling through the water. On the plus side, it feels like I’m in an empty ocean where I can happily flail my way to the deep end with no danger of knocking a fellow swimmer unconscious.

And if I want to check how full the pool is before I go, then there’s another convenient app to download. This can join the app I have for reserving Grunting Teen’s tennis court, and the app for organising his climbing sessions, not to mention the app I acquired for booking cinema tickets. In fact, I’m now so overloaded with apps I’m running out of storage space on my phone.

Still, at least a walk in our national park is app-free and requires no prior reservations. Or that’s the myth. Spontaneity is all well and good but apparently not on Bank Holiday weekends. This is when all the world and his dog descend on the Peaks. Those not in possession of a teenager have risen early to secure parking spots, whilst those encumbered with adolescents have to make do with glimpsing nature’s wonders from the back seat of a car, followed by a quick hike to the off-licence to soothe frayed tempers.

So, I wave farewell to spontaneity. Perhaps it’s overrated. Perhaps it’s even dangerous? For what starts out as a couple of friends around for a drink and some mood music could well end up as an illegal rave. No, much safer to live an ‘appy, pre-planned life.

So, Monday morning comes. The Nearly-Beloved sets off for the office and Grunting Teen returns to school at last. The door shuts behind them and I realise that for the first time in nearly six months I have the entire house to myself. I have work to do. But you know what? I don’t feel like doing it. It can wait. With a deep sigh of satisfaction, I tune the radio into my favourite station, turn up the sound and boogie my way to the biscuit tin. Then, cup of tea in hand, I stretch out on the sofa, scroll through Netflix and without any phone apps or pre-planning, click on a romcom. Now that’s my kind of spontaneity.

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