It’s October. Summer in Scotland has waned, the light has gradually faded, and with it, gradually, many of our social freedoms. In the process, ‘normality’ is being gradually redefined.
At the onset of the COVID-inspired restrictions in March, it was broadly understood that there was a need to keep one’s head under the duvet for a few weeks, after which we would re-emerge like hibernating hedgehogs, get ourselves a proper haircut, and then gleefully put into place all the sous-duvet plans we had hatched on Zoom and WhatsApp, for “when this whole thing is over.”
But autumn has brought our burgeoning freedom to a shuddering and slightly traumatic halt. Proper lockdown is back on the agenda, and there are reports of alcohol panic-buying in the New Town.
I ordered one of those armband-phone-holders the other day, like those real runners wear.
I should have ordered one months ago, but have finished every run breathlessly reluctant to countenance the notion that I might ever go for a run again. Thus I was reticent to spend money on something that was about to become an ex-hobby.
When this whole thing is over, I will never go for a run again.
Today there was a noticeable chill in the air. I put on a thermal base layer and it felt good. I embarked on a sortie into town on the bus, to get a proper haircut, and fired up some Christmas carols in my ears. They sounded great.
This marks a turning point. Last week I tried listening to Christmas music while in the queue at the Post Office. It just wasn’t working. The air was too warm, the light wasn’t quite right.
Today the sun is lower.
I make it to Bruntsfield and get my haircut. I’m Kenny’s last appointment of the day. It’s 10.30am on a Saturday. This should not be. I knew something wasn’t right when I called on Thursday for a Saturday appointment and was given a choice of times.
“How’s business the rest of the week?” I ask.
“Up and down,” he says, grimacing. “Hard to predict.”
On my return journey, I jump off the bus on Princes St, and get a lemon-and-sugar crêpe from a van at the bottom of the Mound. Then I sit in the sunshine in Princes St Gardens, and eat it while listening to In the Bleak Midwinter. It’s just like being at the Christmas Market.
Except that they would be playing Santa Baby at high volume, and the crêpe would have cost £3 more.
Speaking of which, it was a little rubbery, perhaps because it quickly became saturated with lemon juice, and by the time I was done my hands were a sticky mess. In days gone by, this would have been a great annoyance. But now I have a handy mini bottle of hand sanitizer, oh yes, and the stickiness is quickly vanquished.
When this whole thing is over I will never be without hand sanitizer. For crêpe-related emergencies.
What will normality look like, when this whole thing is over?