Like any sane person, my first thought on the de-escalation of public life was ‘What will men talk to each other about in the absence of sport?’
In the absence of sport many men will have to talk to each other about their actual lives.
Please support & encourage them during this challenging time.
— Geoff Norcott (@GeoffNorcott) March 14, 2020
Sport is a coded way we let each other know who we are. In the absence of new sport to discuss we may have to – god forbid – talk about our actual lives.
I love my friends but it’s scary to realise just how light our relationships are on detail. It’s very common once a mate has his third child to call it ‘the nipper’ or the ‘the little man’. These aren’t terms of endearment, basically the portion of your brain you use for storing useless bollocks is full, so trifling details like your god-child’s Christian name is often the first to go.
However, there are potential upsides to our new reality. We get to find out if those people moaning about being tired and over-worked are actually workaholics living in denial. Those blokes assuring their families they’re gutted to have to suddenly have to go and spend a weekend in a hotel may have to admit that time alone eating Pringles in a Premier Inn safeguards their mental health.
It’s worth remembering that work will continue for most. Many of my colleagues were admirably prompt in promising an uptick in their production of content from home. I make no such assurances. As much as I’d like to think I’ll be fully set up as a YouTuber or ‘Twitcher’ by the end of the month, there is also a hell of a lot of good TV my wife and I want to catch up on. However, for the more industrious among us the boredom will unleash new stars on Britain. Who will become the Dame Vera Lynn of the lockdown years? Sadly, knowing the internet, it’s most likely to be a cat who sounds like Rishi Sunak.
If you have no desire to do DIY this virus is a massive headache. There are literally no excuses anymore. If you were feeling Machiavellian, you could show your partner one of those empty shelf photos from Twitter and photo-shop ‘B&Q’ into the picture. The best thing to do is insist on using local skilled tradesmen wearing PPE as you are ‘Intent on the supporting the gig economy’.
There has been a lot of talk about us reconnecting with what really matters. They’re missing the fact that if it really mattered, why did we disconnect from it? I suspect two weeks of ‘what really matters’ and the impatient dolts demanding we do whatever Italy does will be the first ones running into the street and licking people’s faces simply to break the monotony.
It’s extremely optimistic to imagine people will learn new skills and read that 500 page novel. Much more likely is that we will see the first human being actually complete Netflix. I’m a simple bloke. I’d rather re-watch every Jennifer Anniston rom-com before digesting a single word of Tolstoy.
Amid all the talk of us rediscovering our love of human contact, there’s also a risk that we won’t. As new styles of entertainment evolve in lockdown we’ll realise we have quite big tellys these days and adopt a voluntary version of the sedentary life experienced by those fat humans on the spaceship in Wall-E.
Many people have asked me what I’ll do as a comedian now I can’t gig. Will I miss it? Of course I’ll miss it. Initially I’ll miss the stage time, but eventually it’ll move on to motorway service stations, eating KFC on the move, the joy of a mid-drive coffee.
We like to think we’ll all become overnight culture vultures but in reality it will be the simple pleasures we’ll miss and the simple things that will keep us going. Now, pass me that remote, will you?
Listen to Geoff Norcott’s podcast What Most People Think here