If there’s one thing you can say for the global pandemic, it’s that it came with a lot of new vocab. From bemoaning our maskne to wondering how long it’ll take for someone to open a bad suburban nightclub called ‘The R Rate’, society adapted quickly as previously unfamiliar words and concepts spread through the vernacular faster than… well, you know.
But now the end is (hopefully, maybe) in sight, we’d like to call time on a few of those phrases. Just as you never want to wear navy-blue pleats for a long time after leaving school, so, as we finally emerge from lockdown, there are many words and concepts we’d like to leave firmly behind in the locker of history like a pair of festering gym plimsolls. Or at least until we’ve gained enough distance to make them retro and (*touch wood* and sanitise) ironic.
They served us well for the past, weird year, and we are grateful. But wow, no thank you. Never again. Shh.
Don’t blame us, blame the government advisor who chose not to call it a ‘support globule’. It was formerly such a nice word, but thanks to a year of confusing messaging and governmental guilt-trips – not to mention that one friend who seems to have had more bubbles on the go at once than Professor Burp from Chessington World of Adventures – it’s safe to say the bubble-bubble has burst.
Therefore I’m sad to report that the word can no longer be used outside of the following contexts: baths, cockney rhyming slang, ‘n’ squeak, West Ham United. From this day forward, on every future hen weekend we’ll just have to call it ‘generic sparkling alcoholic grape drink’ and be done with it.
Speaking of generic sparkling alcoholic grape drink. For a while, mixing up elaborate cocktails in our own kitchen of a Friday night felt like a valid and joyful coping device – but we passed that point roughly three months ago around the time we caught ourselves adding vodka to a punnet of Saino’s Basics custard ‘just to see’. Bartenders are essential workers, we know that now.
‘These [BLANK] times’
Twelve months and eleventy thousand different adjectives in, the whole business of beginning an email has started to feel more like work than actual work.
Between the poetic early days (“As we walk trepidatiously into the dark abyss…”) and now (“Hope ur etc”), there has been an unprecedented linguistic evolution all of its own. But ugh, enough. When we can use the phrase ‘these times’ and have someone reply ‘what times?’ then truly, all will be well.
‘Going for a walk’
Look, if you tell me that walking was a thing we did before the pandemic then I guess I believe you? But it doesn’t feel true. Part of me remains convinced I used to teleport into town, or roll around on casters like a Dalek.
And sure, perhaps there might be a purpose for walking in a post-lockdown world. Maybe we can imagine a Sunday afternoon not so far from now, when a brisk stroll round the nearest patch of green followed by a pub lunch sounds like an attractive prospect. But it’s going to take time. We can’t be blamed if the idea of stretching our legs as a form of entertainment invokes a violent reaction for a while yet. One day our children will laugh at stories of going on a Big Walk as a birthday treat, the way we did when our grandparents told us about wartime powdered eggs and feeling excited to see a banana. For now, I predict rollerblading will be making a comeback.
‘Next slide, please’
Whether 1) in the context of a televised government briefing, 3) entering the third hour of a Zoom quiz round titled ‘Identify the dead houseplant’, 3) in reference to the only footwear we’ve worn for eight months, or 4) from the dutiful partner/housemate/parent/pet attempting to help us with our at-home highlights kit. Please god no more slides.
Once upon a time, the idea of drinking or dining in the great outdoors made our hearts soar. So Mediterranean! But now we’ve been to the dark side, now we’ve shivered on a splintery picnic bench in the pissing rain for two hours, taking it in turns to say “how are YOU though?” back and forth until hypothermia sets in, we know the truth. That the secret to making al fresco socialising fun is always having the option to go inside. Especially, crucially, for the toilet.
So don’t blame us if we cling to the promise of cushioned banquettes and a regulated heating system for a long time after order is restored. No to blankets on knees. No to wasps in the hummus. In fact, just serve our dinner inside a sealed bubbl- oh.
‘You’re on mute’
There was a witty justification for this one, but guess you’ll never know.