Commentary – Looking for fun in the lockdown

Joe McWilliams

What to do, what to do!

That’s what many of us have been trying to figure out in these new and strange circumstances of isolation. No more crib games at the coffee shop. No more friends over for dinner. No meetings of any kind.

So you sneak out for a bit. Skulk around trying to see what might be going on around town without actually coming into contact with anybody. You see other people cruising around doing more or less the same thing. You pull up beside somebody at the lights and glance over. He’s grooving to a song; probably the same one playing on your radio. He glances over at you, grins and you exchange a nod.

“Have a nice day. I’d love to stop and talk, but this will have to do. We’re all in this together, but separately.”


You go through the drive-through at [take your pick]. Is it safe? Does that employee handing you your coffee and change have a virus hiding out on her surgical gloves?

You accept the cup and change in your gloved hands and toss it in the cup holder and pull around. Stopping for your first sip you find neither of the two creams you ordered are actually in the cup. Annoyed at having to go through this again, you pull back into the drive-through lane, which thankfully isn’t too busy at this time of day. The money-taking kid at the first window recognizes you.

“Is something wrong?”

An irritated you: “Yes, something’s wrong. I ordered a coffee with two creams and I got one with no creams!”

“Sorry sir. Please pull ahead to the next window.”

This is what passes for direct human contact these days. It’s not much, but it’s at least a bit of entertainment.

There’s not a lot of that going at the moment. No sports. No events of any kind. Not even work for many. Reading can keep you engaged for a while if you’re into that sort of thing. But with the libraries closed, even that is getting a bit sketchy. You’re scraping the bottom of the barrel by now, finding out why you didn’t read some of those discard novels you gave up on in the first place.

Time to re-read some of the good old standards, except the one you had in mind is nowhere to be found. Philip Kerr is the author. His cynical, wisecracking, world-weary detective – Bernhard [‘Bernie’] Guenther, is just the guy to spend some quality time with during a pandemic-induced session of semi-isolation. But the damn thing has gone missing.

What to do? I may have said that already. What to do is watch more Netflix shows. Binge-watching can be bad for the health, as most people are aware. Binge anything is bad for the health, let’s face it.

“Let’s watch one more episode! Please!” [Grumble, grumble, grumble]

“OK, OK!”

That’s how it goes. If you spend much time watching TV, it becomes obvious soon enough that there are far more productions than there are good stories or talented writers. So that narrows things down. Taste comes into it, of course.

And tolerance for certain things.

A good story is a good story, though. Genre doesn’t really matter. Hopefully, this is one of them.

Have fun trying to keep yourself sane during the lockdown!

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