The first thing I did was contact global leaders with robust advice about taking a so-called “flu” from China very, very seriously. The second thing I did was remember it’s spring 2021, summer plans might yet be an option (!!), and I’m already behind on them. Field Day? Didn’t even know it was happening; by the time I joined the virtual queue, the tickets were all gone. Same with All Points East and We Out Here, not to mention, it seems, every single restaurant table and pub garden in London I try. It’s official: the capital is fully booked — and I already have pre-Fomo for the summer I have summarily failed to organise. There was me thinking we’d all just go to the park again.
Of course, it’s all spectacular news — roll on the (belated) Roaring Twenties! The frenzy of bookings equals a big vote for the holy trinity of optimism, freedom and the future. And truly, nothing will make me happier than to see the sticky throngs queuing outside restaurants, or people in short shorts and Supergas heading to Victoria Park to sweat on each other in a crowd in front of the main stage. (Except, perhaps, if I were one of them.) Before we get all nostalgic about spontaneity, a pre-planned social life is infinitely better than no social life at all.
Still, it clearly benefits a certain type of person. You either know one or you are one; which is to say, you’re either the person starting the WhatsApp group or you’re the one who muted it as soon as you were added, assuming you’d be able to parse the excitable thread for “top lines” at your own leisure. But there is no time for leisure. The top line is you need to move fast, and with military precision, or better, the precision of a maid-of-honour in a hen do email chain. Fellow social slatterns: make this woman your spirit animal.
In other words, stop muting the groups! Sign up to every mailing list in town! Follow all the Instagram accounts! Book tables! Though do not risk making others the victims of your own optimism/enthusiasm/mania: many restaurateurs are already worried about the frenzy of bookings becoming a rash of no-shows this summer (some are even considering making punters pre-pay for their meals). Don’t be that guy either.
So, if you’re a lazy planner struggling to change the habits of a lifetime (hi!), then just remember the old normal — “life” — and how good that was. Now, go start a WhatsApp group.
It is being introduced for my safety, but stationing undercover police in bars and nightclubs to identify predators? Firstly, I suppose there would have to be a fair few in there to have a panoramic view of every potential bum grope. Assuming most of them will be male — in the Met, men outnumber women by more than 2.5 to one — I suspect the idea of being watched by men in a club won’t necessarily put women’s minds at rest, even once they learn the man watching is in fact an undercover police officer. Traditionally, police officers do not rank highly among “men who women implicitly trust”. Plus, as MP Jess Phillips points out, instead of officers in “skinny jeans” propping up the bar all night, “why can’t women inform uniformed officers and be believed if they are being harassed?”