For a nation that was united in the fight against coronavirus, I have to say things are getting mighty divisive down here in the trenches.
Should we go out or stay in? Return to work or continue squabbling over the laptop? Get divorced or queue for Ikea?
And don’t get us started about bickering over whether the children should be going back to school. Assuming said school is abiding by government instructions and opening its gates.
I am mustard-keen to get my 11-year-old back into the classroom. For her education and everyone’s mental wellbeing. Between you and me, I’m not entirely convinced she can still read. Meanwhile my husband keeps muttering about The Science.
Without wishing to pull academic rank (but doing so, all the same), I have A Levels in chemistry and biology which practically makes me an epidemiologist.
Yet my husband (English and History, for pity’s sake) refuses to accept my learned opinion carries more weight than his and because he’s Not Sure, I have to hang about until he Is Sure.
Meanwhile I must pretend to recognise that his pusillanimous equivocation is valid, while simmering in silent rage.
An un-scientific straw poll in my circle has revealed that for every Covid-Cautious Father battening down the proverbial hatches, there’s a Corona-Courageous Mother rolling up the shutters.
It can be vice-versa but rarely is. I’m not sure why. Maybe because guys d’un certain age secretly enjoy staying at home - now there’s ample loo roll and beer never did run out, actually.
It’s the nation’s womenfolk who are climbing the walls, organising BBQs despite the sudden chill, pleading for schools to reopen and begging for a resumption of Friday afternoon playdates. The traditional ones mind, where the kids run amok and we drink wine.
Men are happy with solitary exercise. Solo outings for snackage. Saturday nights stretched on the sofa watching reruns of Young Inspector Montalbano, back when the Sicilian commissario had lots of hair and no paunch but zero sex appeal.
Other blokey bonuses include the fact that date nights are in abeyance, nobody can drag them to tedious dinner parties and the family calendar echoes empty as a politician’s promise.
No entries in the diary means no recriminations when they fail to wake up, turn up or swing by that nice butcher’s for feather blade of beef like they absolutely promised they would.
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that, for a great many men, the upside of social isolation has been emotional distance.
No word of a lie, when I mentioned this rather profound theory to my husband his response was “And you have a problem with that because?”
I’m not sure “Because I just do, right?” qualifies as compelling rhetoric but at least I didn’t swear. That’s Mars and Venus for you.
“My husband and I have been together 24/7 for two months and we’ve not had a single meaningful conversation,” sighs a girlfriend.
“Apart from the very beginning when we agreed that in theory it would be better if he got Covid than me because he still doesn’t ‘understand how the baby works’. She’s 17 months. Thank God for Zoom calls with my family and mates.”
Neither of them has had Covid-19 (to their knowledge) and both their daughter and son, aged six, have stayed healthy as well. But tensions are emerging.
According to the husband, his wife “never stops talking” and regularly “does his head in”. He too thanks God for her Zoom calls with her family and mates. They get on better when she has an outlet for all her “ridiculous stuff”.
I know who’s side I’m on. I too am a woman with stuff I want to say, stuff I want to hear, stuff I want to gossip about.
Ridiculousness is very much in the (jaundiced) eye of the beholder. It doesn’t take a Relate counsellor to deduce the chasm between the sexes seems to be widening – just when families should be pulling together.
This week the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, warned that the most socially disadvantaged pupils risked “immense damage” to their prospects due to lockdown. Other students, vulnerable for all sorts of disparate reasons, may not be so very far behind. School closures for all but few year groups is hugely stressful fait a compli but there’s nothing to be done - apart from argue.
A neighbour of mine is at her wits’ end because her secondary-aged children won’t be returning to school until September. Her spouse is far less exercised as he believes staying home is safer. She is furious he doesn’t agree with her. His Covid-Caution feels like a betrayal of her Corona-Courage.
When she says things like “Schools should reopen in August to let kids catch up” and he responds with “Hey, they’re just kids, let them stay healthy and have their summer”, she admits she is gripped by a towering rage.
Maybe not rational but not unsurprising either. I totally get that.
We have all of us reached the slightly bonkers point where if you are not with us, you are against us.
That includes our nearest and dearest, who are just one thoughtless remark away from being branded the enemy within.
It is any wonder that divorce enquiries have risen by 42 per cent, according to Co-op Legal Services?
The legacy of lockdown will be felt long after this pandemic has petered away; I just hope that couples will find a way to recalibrate their relationships once we establish the new normal.
As for me, I am fully prepared to forgive and forget our great education divide – once my husband changes his mind and remembers I am right. Just like the old normal.
Read Judith Woods at telegraph.co.uk every Thursday, from 7pm