Social distancing can be awkward, can’t it? Maybe you’re more relaxed (I’m what I call a rulie not a floutie). But you may not have asthma and such a history of bronchitis that you can’t say it out loud in case your chest hears and immediately convulses. I’m out and about now, as we all are, but I’m still taken unawares at times and have found myself developing my own defence moves. You never know, you might find them helpful…
The doorstep dodge – you open the door and a friend is standing there with some plants or another special gift, like … toilet rolls. She’s excited to see you and holds them out. You want to say, ‘Put it down and step away please.’ But you’re British so instead you exclaim, ‘How lovely to see you!’ while inwardly panicking and plotting your route to the nearest hand gel.
A little dance works well here, cross-legged as though you need the loo. Extend one hand, then the other, laughing nervously while doing a jump to the right, kangaroo-style. Most people twig at this point, and say, “Oh! I’ll just leave it here, shall I?” Reward immediately with a series of frenzied nods and a dazzling smile.
The ice cream shuffle – you’re queuing for an ice cream behind five sets of socially distanced people. The sun glares down, crisping your neck. Suddenly, three children lurch towards you to catch a ball they’ve been told repeatedly not to bounce in the queue. You want to shout, ‘Oi! WATCH IT, KIDS!’ But their adult is near and your lips freeze.
In this situation, I recommend a backwards shuffle, knees bent, followed by a 45 degree turn while shouting, ‘Oh my goodness!’ or similar. Even a distracted carer will usually issue the torrent of reproach you’d like to deliver, but with satisfyingly less restraint, followed by ‘APOLOGISE TO THE LADY!’ You respond by saying (obviously), ‘No, no, it’s fine!’
The restaurant roundel – During your first meal out, you’re inching your way towards the loo when a large, slightly inebriated, group surges towards you in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION TO THE FLOOR ARROWS!! You look around wildly, wanting to shout, “Tell them off, Someone!’ but the waiters are busy serving or turning blue while attempting to increase oxygen flow to their face masks.
Take a large sideways step and continue crab-like in a circular direction while maintaining a horrified expression and humming I will survive. You might get a “Watch it, guys!” from a freshly-oxygenated waiter, or even an ‘Alright, Mate?’ from one of the group, while feebly restraining his friends.
If none of these works, pray, or open your runny hand gel so suddenly, the lid breaks and disinfects the room. Actually, no. Pray first.