A is for Absinthe

Isobel Simons

A: So in that phase when all the hand sanitiser had sold out, I figured out that absinthe is basically medical grade sanitiser, so yes, I bought some, and yes, it is bright green, and no, I didn’t (drink it) thank you very much!

B: Didn’t the birds get crazily confident during the quietest bit of April? Cocky, even. It’s like they had all been in lockdown since the invention of the combustion engine and were finally allowed to rule the roost again [that pun was deliberate]. Bats have perhaps not been feeling so perky. Or maybe they are jubilating, which is a dark thought.

C: The first clap for carers on a Thursday evening was a moment never to be forgotten. We did nearly forget, but the deafening sound of saucepan lids from next door got us leaping off the sofa pretty damn quick.

D: The phrase daily death toll was one we in the UK overconfidently assumed was as obselete as the town crier. It still sends a shiver down the spine, but it’s odd how quickly it became normalised. Everyone seems to know at least one name from amongst that number.

E: There must have been many people like me who found themselves wanting to weep a few self- pitying tears when our glorious government decreed that were were entitled to an hour of exercise a day, and we realised that we had never before bestowed upon ourselves this level of self-care. Shame on me, and my wobbly tummy.

F: Flour. I hope the government is stockpiling a mountain of magic white powder for the second wave. Nevermind cocaine, we are a nation of baking addicts, especially in a time of crisis. I’m not even going to get started on the oddity that is the word ‘furloughed’ by the way, except to say that I refuse to believe its origins aren’t in farming.

G: There has been a lot of talk of privilege in recent months, but garden privilege is one thing that was very underrated until this year. Lockdown with and without a garden were two separate worlds entirely.

H: Home, if you are lucky enough to have one, is just not the same anymore. It’s a workplace, a school, a refuge, a prison, a portal to the world. Cleaning cupboards have become conference chambers. Celebrities filming themselves feeling fed up in their palatial homes was one of the least appealing trends of 2020. ‘Stay Home’ wins the most annoying Americanism of the year. AT people, AT!!

I: It’s pretty obvious to say that the internet has inveigled itself into every part of our lives, but imagine what this pandemic would have looked like without it. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

J: Joe Wicks must surely be the least mean and most enthusiastic man in the universe. Is it OK to love him in the way his grandma does, or am I just kidding myself here?

K: KIm Kardashian has nothing to do with coronavirus, but when one is stuck for words beginning with K, she and her family are the go-to option. Thank you Kim, Kylie, Kanye et al.

L: Lockdown was a word we had only ever heard before in the context of hiding under a table when people are shooting. This type of lockdown was better than that, obviously, but still very sad and horrible.

M: To wear one, or not to wear one, that is the question. Or, to put it another way, to all those who have spent the last four months handstitching their own line of artisan masks, high five you clever people! I don’t like the ones that look like they are concealing your beak, or like a bulging jockstrap. Pleats are the way to go.

N: When Banksy did that picture of a little boy playing with a nurse superhero toy there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

O: There has been a trend in recent years amongst the young to be a teeny weeny bit cross with old people and to put them in their place by saying things like ‘ok boomer’ in a disparaging tone. Then, suddenly, the old were in the ‘high risk category’ and the Gen. Zedders started talking to their parents again, albeit from a safe distance.

P: PPE used to be a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Oxford that was pretty much a guarantee that you would become an MP. The new PPE is more of a fingers crossed you won’t die.

Q: Quarantine is a word that I formerly associated with pirates, the high seas and Tintin, and has now become common parlance. It’s weird how un-weird it has become saying this countless times each day.

R: Pre 2020, R was traditionally regarded as a letter, but apparently it’s a number. I still don’t understand.

S: I have no issues with the word shield. But, meaning aside, I just find the idea of saying someone is a ‘shielder’ or ‘is shielding’ grammatically uncomfortable. I would prefer ‘I am using my home as a protective bubble to shield myself from this accursed poison plague’, but I appreciate that’s on the wordy side when you just want the Amazon delivery guy to back off.

T: The two metre rule has dominated our lives for months. But who can put their hand on their heart and say they actually know how far this is (other than when they are queuing outside Tesco)? I go on a ‘if I can smell them I am WAY too close’ measure.

U: Unemployment. Everywhere. Or unwanted, unexpected, unfair, unbelievable.... Just un- anything really.

V: Vulnerable is not usually a good thing to be, unless you are styling yourself like a 1940s film actress with a quivering lower lip and a heaving bosom, but now more than ever, vulnerable people (not just those susceptible to the virus) need to be looked after.

W: Before this year I thought Wuhan was a hip hop band/clan. I still couldn’t point it out on a map, but is there a single person on the globe who hasn’t heard of Wuhan (or wet markets) now?

X: Apparently, for many years, the WHO has been trying to persuade our leaders to prepare for Disease X. Did they listen? No, they did not. Can someone please by the way let the Donald in particular know that WHO is an acronym, not a question.

Y: If old people are the sitting targets for the virus, young people are also the victims who are having their lives turned upside down more than the rest of us in many ways. Every school and university year is so important. It’s just not fair (see ‘U’).

Z: There are literally no words beginning with Z that spring to mind here. Shame, if only someone had invented some technological gizmo to connect us all, they could have called it Zing or Zounds... they’d have made a killing.