Here we are, almost at the end of week three, and by now we’re beginning to grasp that the lockdown has its own unique set of etiquette rules.
Take our everyday appearance. Before Corona (BC), a certain effort was expected, particularly in a work context. During Corona (DC), it’s understood that we can all look much more casual – see Rishi Sunak in his grey hoodie – and, if you’re still cropping up on Zoom and WFH in your suit and tie, no one feel comfortable.
This is the new lockdown etiquette. Like everything at the moment, it takes some getting used to. What we’re concerned with here is the things to watch out for in the time of corona, that might be misinterpreted, offend others, or otherwise leave you with egg on your face.
Having a sun tan
As the police say when moving on the sunbathers in the park, “It’s a lockdown, mate, not a holiday,” and a tan says you may be confusing the two. Obviously, you are well within your rights to sunbathe in your back garden or hanging out of your bedroom window, but know that an LT (lockdown tan) will open you up to suspicion, like it or not. The neighbours will be vigilant, particularly after the Bank Holiday weekend just gone. It’s just not a good look under the circs. If you’ve got time to tan, you probably had time to help Jan at number 10 with her shopping, is all we’re saying. You’re meant to be busy in the lockdown, even if you’re idle. People prefer it.
Whatsapp, Zoom, whatever your method of face-timing, there are many ways in which you can get it wrong. First among these is the envy inducing background. Many of the millennials use virtual backdrops – eg Hawaiian beach scene – precisely to avoid any judgement calls or games of one-upmanship. The rest of us know, instinctively, that a view of the battered Ikea kitchen units is the appropriate environment for video calls. Cosied up on your double sun lounger with a wine cooler and the jacuzzi steaming away, just off screen, not so much.
During lockdown, awareness that we are not really all in the same boat – some of us are worrying about when to roll out the grass tennis court, while others are on a balcony-sharing rota – is essential.
It’s also bad form to look too good on a video call. Everyone appreciates pasty but smiley; lank-haired but clean. Once again your demeanour should be Keeping Calm and Carrying On but definitely not Having a Surprisingly Great Time. If you are having a surprisingly great time, it’s important not to say so. Nobody wants to hear it – or any of the following:
- That you have finished Duolingo Spanish and are onto German
- That you are swimming in the lake every day (your lake), and/or have never felt fitter
- That you “actually think you’ve lost weight” (*see below)
- That Pete, your personal trainer (we absolutely social-distance when we meet), is doing really well out of this
- That your kitchen garden has been a godsend (holding up purple basil and lambs lettuce while mouthing: “From our garden…”)
- “Hold on while we give the kids a shout. They’re just out by the pool”
- “Hold on while I just turn the turbot.” (This one is OK, but skipping to the shop every single day to get breathtakingly fresh ingredients is on a par with Lockdown Tan. You can explain it. You can justify it. It just doesn’t feel right.-
- “Jack, before we forget, better just get the lamb out of the bigger of the two freezers in the spare room…”
(*Weight gain started out as a bit of a joke at the beginning of the lockdown. We all gave ourselves permission to drink like pirates, eat carbs all the time, now we are *making* the bread. We have pasta for lunch and quite a large percentage of us are at least 4lbs heavier than we were in February. For this reason, it is tactless to boast about how fit you are. It’s also rude to point and jeer at each other’s old unhealthy appearance as the lockdown progresses. Some people, no names mentioned, are starting to feel it.)
Exercising during lockdown
- Stay in your lane. You could do it in the pool BC, so do it now in the park DC. That’s the new normal.
- Couplespreading. Just bear in mind, walking side by side does not have to be a problem, providing that couple are keeping it tight. Loose, show-offy loved-up walking, newly rude.
- Familyspreading. You don’t want to have to put your foot out to ward off an approaching toddler on a trike. Parents talking on the phone and not looking while in charge of five unexercised under-fives, also newly rude.
- Making a big, puffing fuss while taking a break during running. Puffing and dripping sweat and shaking your hair. Forget about it.
- Someone having immaculate hair at this point suggests they got an emergency salon appointment on the day of the lockdown – the Monday when everyone else was first observing social distancing. Cause for minor shameful feelings.
- Lopsided asylum fringes. These kitchen haircuts will be known on the other side as coronacuts and will be a badge of honour. No shame in a coronacut whatsoever. Bring them on.
- Roots. Greying all over when everyone thought you were a natural redhead. Also a badge of honour. Suddenly, appearing in a video call with purple hair, ditto. We all know about home dyes…
- People looking like Robinson Crusoe, already. Also not a reason to be shamed. If this person is in your immediate family, you may berate them for letting themselves go, otherwise leave it. It’s a lockdown rules thing.