There’s a scene in Channel Four’s Catastrophe, where Sharon Horgan is wide eyed and terrified at 4am, her mind whirling with all the horrors that could possibly befall their unborn son. ‘The world’s a TOILET’ she declares to Rob Delaney, who is attempting to sleep beside her. There is a tragic resignation in her tone. LSB would be quick to relate to Delaney, because similarly he is is often awoken by my stirrings, as I lie, consumed with dread, because a quick look at the headlines at any time, in any country and on every f**king continent seems pretty bleak right now. Until yesterday. Because for a few hours at least, I let myself believe that if the world is still a toilet, and you had to take to cleaning it with a scrubbing brush, it would be slightly less daunting. I’m thinking today, it would less resemble the worst toilet in the world as depicted in Trainspotting, and more like one in a student flat in Reading if all the lads in The Inbetweeners were room mates. In other words, pretty rotten, but you wouldn’t require hospitalisation after the job: rubber gloves, Domestos and a stiff G&T afterwards would see you right.
With Trump in the White House, I felt a sickness to my very marrow. It seemed as though the Western world had moved so far from any sort of basic human decency that an all-pervasive gloom and hopelessness descended. It doesn’t take too much to push me towards existential dread, but between him and Brexit it all felt terribly wrong.
And now, there’s still a raging pandemic, still talk of a hard border (or sea border? Or just a border, who knows?) but there’s a sense of shift and a lightness in my spirit today, or there would have been had I not got carried away last night and drunk half a bottle of bubbly. Chipper I was NOT, this morning.
Speaking of night terrors, I think we need a new word to describe that feeling for when you’ve had such turbulent dreams that you wake up feeling so unrefreshed that you need to slither back under the duvet to recover from the awful sleep you just had. A ‘recovery-sleep’ perhaps? Or a ‘cleansing doze?’ I bet the Scandinavians have a word for it- they are great ones for creating cute random expressions.
Another new word we need for Covid times is a specific way to describe when the urge to hug someone becomes too great and you almost have to glue your arms to the sides lest you break all the regulations. I miss hugs. I miss my friend Fiona who is six feet tall, and when we meet in Spain each year, she heaves me up, and I feel as light as a little pixie. I miss hugs with my friend Karen’s mum, who always smells of Issy Miyake even though she tells me it’s a knock off from M&S. I miss the hugs with my girlfriends after a run, when we say ‘oh no we’re much too sweaty’ and then say feck it and hug anyway. A year and a half ago I met my friend Rhaiza on the promenade in Calella in Spain. I hadn’t seen her for six years, and when we hugged it was like that scene from Friends with Joey and Rachel in the restaurant and the waiter surmises that one of them must be dying. In short, I’m a hugger, and quashing every natural impulse to embrace my friends is causing me great distress.
I miss normality. I miss spontaneous cups of tea and chocolate biscuits in my friends’ kitchen. But like the Trump era, this period of gloom shall pass. Maybe tonight I shall sleep well and wake up revived and with a sense of optimism which has eluded me for so long. Swedes, of course, have a word for it: ‘gökotta’ which roughly translated, means a willingness to rise with the larks and savour their early morning birdsong. To be fair, I think that’s a stretch, but just a few dreams where I’m not driving down a motorway with no functioning brakes would be very, very welcome.