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GO BIG... OR STAY HOME?

Illustrations by Joe McLAren

The roaring Twenties are finally ON. But can we remember how to roar? Fun is no longer illegal but Samuel Muston has a serious case of freedom anxiety

It was like a wasp attacking a good peach. I’d thought of little but the roadmap to freedom for ages. I’d started to plan. I ought to have known better. My road was to be paved with yellow bricks.

I would brush my hair. I would pick my way across London’s streets surrounded by friends. I would dance for days. I would never flake on a plan. I would teach my dog to sit at my feet in a pub with dignity. I would see the world with a drink in hand. My trousers would not be elasticated. Yet as I listened to the TV, the unmistakably cold hand of anxiety gripped at my innards. I drank a bottle of wine and flopped into bed like a drunk seal.

I was surprised that the seal had returned. The seal stage of lockdown had been the second phase for me, wedged between the white-hot terror stage and the bit where I just sat brooding. I had expected the announcement to be an atomic blast that eradicated 12 months of misery. Instead new worries supplanted old.

What will the new world look like? And what’s my place in it? One thing I know is it will be different. How could it not be? Life before was a bit like in Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies when the main man, Adam, sighs to his girlfriend: ‘Oh, Nina, what a lot of parties,’ and then moans about all the dos they’ve been to. For better and sometimes for worse, that’s how I remember pre-Covid London. Pubs full, parks full, restaurants bulging out on to the street


“They say it will be the Roaring Twenties but after 12 months squeaking, I’m not sure I know how to roar”

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“John Donne famously said that no man is an island. Well, Donne didn’t live through Covid, did he? We’ve all been islands for a year”

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“As human beings it’s really important that we connect. One of the things that drives a lot of mental health problems is the feeling of loneliness and being disconnected.”

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