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Beyond the pandemic

What we’ll miss about the lockdown

Just as Boris Johnson prepares to lift the lockdown, I realise “my poor boyfriend has become a substitute for my entire social life”, says Lydia Veljanovski in the Daily Mail. I miss “giggles with co-workers and late wine-fuelled nights” with friends, but thanks to endless lockdowns, I’m having a bit of a panic about leaving my “remote tribe of two”. It’s what some are calling Lockholm Syndrome. How am I going to sort myself out when restrictions lift and I have to wear a bra again? I’ve heard about “exposure therapy”, taking things gradually. Like Boris, I’m going to try “opening up bit by bit”.

I also have “this strange and unnerving feeling – the fear of freedom”, says Simon Kelner in the I newspaper. Some of these anxieties are silly: what do I wear? Others are less so: “What if my friends don’t want to see me?” Which makes me realise “there’s a simplicity to life under lockdown that I’ll probably mourn.” Never missing an episode of University Challenge, cooking properly, all that quality time with the dog, big Lego projects – will I have time for all these? Perhaps. But one thing’s for sure, many of us “will come out of lockdown different people”.

There’s one part of my old life I won’t be going back to: gratuitous business travel, says Farhad Manjoo in The New York Times. “I once made a round trip from San Francisco to London “to participate in an hour-long discussion about a book”. I wasn’t alone – the world spent $1.4 trillion on travelling to face-to-face meetings in 2019. Still, “I look back on my pre-pandemic air travel with embarrassment”. Video calls aren’t the same as the real thing, but at least “you’re not stuck in the middle seat for five hours”. And one transatlantic return trip is the equivalent of a year’s car use, so the planet will be better off too. “Log in, fly less.”

I got a sneak preview of a fantasy life after lockdown, says Giles Coren in The Times. The children went back to school this week and “because of all the scaredy-cat, workshy, hypochondriac WFH losers still cowering at home”, I drove to my office in the West End in less than 10 minutes. I parked at the door, grabbed a coffee and got down to work by a window with a view over the silent city. I had expected a return of something like normal. “But this isn’t normal at all. This is something much, much better.”