Conversation this week revolves around hugs and holidays. Should we, or shouldn’t we? There’s many a relative or friend I’d usually love to enfold in a warm embrace but fourteen months of ‘keep your distance’ indoctrination has made some of us less inclined to leap back into each other’s arms.
For me, with my broken shoulder, holding anyone tight at the moment is a definite no-no and therefore a welcome excuse in the current minefield of post-covid etiquette. The Nearly-Beloved, on the other hand, has no such get-out card. But that doesn’t seem to bother him. He’s never been a great one for public displays of affection, so anyone, apart from immediate blood relatives, is ordered to ‘Back off!’ in no uncertain terms. As for Grunting Teen, he is a closet hugger, enjoying a sneaky snuggle on the sofa. But in public he guards his personal space. Still, it’s nice to see him resume awkward adolescent arm punching and jostle-jesting as he walks home from school with his mates.
But now we are allowed to mix and mingle again, tempers are fraying and emotions running high, as touchy-feely types get upset when, on their approach, those more reserved step back, sending a nod rather than a kiss in their direction. ‘But what’s the problem? We’ve both been vaccinated,’ exclaim the face-lickers. ‘Yes, but only the first dose. And then there’s the Indian variant. And you once went to Bolton by mistake. So, you can’t be too careful,’ explain the untouchables.
On the holiday front, there’s also a big divide between the just-go-for-its and the wait-and-seers. For those desperate to get away, Australia and New Zealand are great tourist destinations. Unfortunately, though, they are rather picky these days about who they let in to cuddle a koala or get up close with a kiwi. Tristan de Cunha, the most remote archipelago in the world, would be the Nearly-Beloved’s ideal break – if only visits didn’t have to be planned a year in advance. Iceland comes highly recommended too but not for the sun seekers, and Israel has just blown up its chances of becoming the next holiday hotspot. So, for the moment Portugal seems more promising and Gibraltar might soon be the place to rock up to.
The problem is, it’s all such a gamble. No one wants a repetition of last year’s ‘Corridor Countdown’ chaos or to take part in the government’s popular ‘Quarantine or No Quarantine’ show. Plus, now we have the added excitement of ‘The PCR Price is Right’. That’s if we can find a test provider guaranteed to deliver us a result before we fly home. And if we end up with a false positive, holiday heaven might just turn into holiday hell.
This all makes planning rather fraught. And once again, anxiety levels start rising. So, this year the Nearly-Beloved has vetoed any thoughts of abroad. We’re packing our waterproofs and hot water bottles and heading over the borders to Wales. But even that might turn into ‘It’s a Knockout’ if Welsh regulations differ from English. In which case we’ll have to settle for a day trip to Scarbs or Skeggie.
For my part, the only place I want to visit is Amsterdam. Not for a jolly jaunt. Just a chance to see my Lost Boy once again. You see it’s all very well that we’re now part of one Global Village but the virus doesn’t distinguish between unnecessary sun, sea and sand trips and much longed for family reunions. Around the world so many loved ones remain separated. And it’s only when all countries get access to vaccination programmes that we can truly hug and holiday together again.