Opinion

What’s on your post-COVID bucket list?

By John Lewis

It looks like maybe, perhaps, possibly, conceivably there might be a sliver of light appearing on the dark side of this bad moon that has descended upon us over the past few weeks.

As someone said a long time ago in another place and another time, referring to another long, dark period of isolation and struggle: "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

I don't want to get too positive or happy-clappy, but it seems thoughts are now turning to what happens after Covid.

Of course, there is not going to be a single ‘yahoo moment’ when we can all suddenly party in the streets like they did at the end of World War II. It will inevitably be a series of small celebrations, incrementally delivered. The slow opening of a rusty-hinged door, creak by creak.

Nevertheless, I have recently been considering — what would be the first thing I would do when Covid restrictions were eased?

I don't have a long list.

Right at the top, of course, is seeing the grandchildren. We've seen the Instagrams and done the FaceTime and the phone chats but it's not the same. I miss getting my eyes poked and my chest used as a trampoline. The Lego block in the kneecap when being a little horse on the carpet is a distant memory.

Yes, of course, everyone with distant family will be getting together.

But I'm thinking, what do I really miss? What is the biggest thing this lockdown business has deprived me of?

I've never been a crowd person. I got lost on a packed holiday beach when I was four and my parents reclaimed me in a police station.

I'm not a sports fan.

I stopped going to big rock festivals when I lost my glasses in a mosh pit circa 1972.

Cinemas are places to be endured rather than savoured. Similarly, a crowded theatre full of strangers whispering or munching and slurping sets my teeth on edge. The performance has to be mesmerising to stop me thinking about the shape of the person's head in front of me.

Packed restaurants are noisy and stressful. Quiet restaurants are nice except for the nagging question — why is this place so quiet? And I don't much like watching other people eat.

I would enjoy sitting in a quiet café or a wine bar to watch the world go by. But the chances of finding anywhere quiet in public once the world gets back to its noisy, clattering, chattering self would be remote, I reckon.

All this sounds like I hate being around people.

But it's not true. I like being around chosen people.

The single biggest thing I have missed during this whole lockdown madness is touch. A hug, a handshake, a kiss, a nudge, a stroke of a cheek, ruffle of the hair, an elbow in the ribs, a poke in the back, punch on the arm.

So watch out. The first chosen person I see after the end of lockdown could endure all of the above in a single moment. Then it could be back to lockdown for me.