Opinion with Melissa Todd: Anxious about the impending end of covid restrictions

Venturing out once more?

I hate the expression “roadmap”, but we seem to be stuck with it, cliche and map both. When it was detailed this week by Bojo and his medical sidekicks I found myself  staring into space for the rest of the evening, open mouthed and perplexed, like a gently concussed guppy..

Is that it, then? Is covid consigned to history? Something we will  reminisce over, while packed in crowded bars, hip to hip with our chums? Lummy, do you remember when the government told us all to sit home for a year, so we did? How mental was that?!

I feel weirdly anxious about the end of restrictions on normal life. Partly because I’m profoundly introverted and have enjoyed an iron-clad excuse to avoid social contact – indeed, misanthropy has become a civic duty this last year, and saving the world by avoiding parties is exactly my sort of superpower.

But also I’m worried about getting my hopes up and watching them crash and implode once more. Might I get my old job back, and is that what I even want anymore? Will I go on holiday? How did anyone ever pay for holidays, anyway, and all those endless meals out and nights at the pub?

But of course, you went to work. Work, I remember that: getting up early, getting dressed, commuting for hours to spend hours engaging in activities that made little sense and contributed little actual value. I look back on my diary for last year and am staggered at how much I packed into each day. Up at 5am, drive 200 miles, do a full day of something energetic, come back, feed family, get dressed up and repair face,  go out to some experimental piece of theatre accompanied by banter and espresso martinis, lie down at midnight, then do it all again five hours later.

Now getting dressed before noon feels quite the accomplishment. Where will I find that energy, that unquenchable thirst to experience all life can offer? It’s been so long.

Covid has institutionalised me, I suppose. I’m used to being told what to do every moment of every day, even though the something I’m told to do is generally nothing. I’ve grown used to seeing each waking hour as something to be idled through as pleasantly and painlessly as possible. I read, I do crosswords, I watch the news and tut gently, but without any real expectation of anything getting better; I play scrabble for hours, watch old films, walk down to look at the sea, think about dinner. It seems quite a full schedule already, and then I’ve grown accustomed to twelve hours a day in bed, largely unconscious – I’ve developed a staggering appetite for sleep – but also reading, scheming,  daydreaming.

As we were plunged in, so apparently we will be plunged out. Brace yourself, deep breath, struggle to avoid the bends. The day of the announcement saw a flurry of messages from colleagues and pals wanting to make plans with me, and I started making vague plans to leave the country and crawl under a remote rock. I’m resilient. I’ll remember how to be charming and presentable, I daresay. But I can’t be the only one worrying if that’s what I want, even if I am still capable of it.