‘Give us a kiss’ - 10 phrases you won’t hear in lockdown

PUBLISHED: 11:42 04 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:52 04 June 2020

Unshorn since January and still on the waiting list for a an appointment with her hairdresser, Jan reveals her lockdown locks. Photo: Permission Jan Etherington

Unshorn since January and still on the waiting list for a an appointment with her hairdresser, Jan reveals her lockdown locks. Photo: Permission Jan Etherington


‘There’s someone at the door’ won’t get you out of a tedious phone call at the moment, says Jan Etherington

As we emerge from isolation, blinking into the summer sun, like hibernating tortoises, many well-known phrases and sayings, which were in common usage until March 23, disappeared during lockdown. When will we hear my Lost in Lockdown Lines again?

‘There’s someone at the door’

The default excuse to escape from a too-long phone call didn’t work in lockdown. Everyone knew there was no-one at your door. Friends couldn’t drop in, the postman didn’t knock and parcels were flung from the gate. The only person who might, conceivably, be at the door was your husband because he’d forgotten his key. But he shouldn’t have been out anyway.

‘Here, borrow mine’

From bicycle to Biro, from lawnmower to lipstick, the old motto ‘share and share alike’ became ‘what’s mine’s my own’. ‘That looks good. Can I have a taste?’ ‘Hands off!’ ‘Battery low? Use my phone. No, you can’t!’

‘I’m just off to the hairdressers/physiotherapist/dental hygienist’

Who knew we’d be so incapable of coping without our body maintenance team? My last haircut was January 28 – I’m still ‘on the waiting list’ for an appointment with my hairdresser. I lost a crown from my tooth in March and I’ve put my back out doing so much gardening. Lockdown has turned me into an unkempt, physical wreck. You too?

‘Why don’t you come for dinner?’

When my husband, a taciturn Scot, discovered he couldn’t go out and wasn’t allowed to socialise, he was thrilled. The rest of us Zoomed for the first week. After that, we got bored, talking to the same people, about the same things, without moving about. Some did quizzes and played games. Others made the huge mistake of having a virtual dinner with friends or family. The microphone amplifies the sound of people eating. Just saying. You’ll only do it once.

‘Give us a kiss’!

We’re as awkward as teenagers in love as we adjust to the new ‘hands off’ etiquette. Except my husband (yes, him again), who’s delighted that the ‘continental’ custom of greeting people with multiple kisses and hugs was forbidden in lockdown. He’s very much hoping that will be the end of such over-effusive displays of affection. Social distancing actually means ‘being Scottish’.

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‘Do you come here often?’

Staying two metres apart made it impossible to flirt unless you had a megaphone. No romantic restaurant dates, or eyes across a crowded room. Did romance go entirely online? I can’t imagine many people fell in love in lockdown. Unless it was with an NHS nurse. Or Captain Sir Tom Moore.

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‘We had a lovely holiday’

What will we all have to talk about this autumn? Nobody’s been anywhere. At least we won’t be bombarded with WhatsApp snaps of Greek sunsets, kangaroos, or glasses being clinked by cross-eyed, sunburnt chums on a ship’s deck. There will, however, be lots of photos of rainbows. And that’s no bad thing.

‘We were just passing and wondered if you could put us up?’

Those of us who live by the sea, dread the laundry bills and unexpected ‘drop in’ guests in the summer months. For the first time in a decade, we’ve had no-one to stay for three months. We could get to like it.

‘See you at Latitude’

Summer in Suffolk has always meant festivals, fetes and fairs, where we met friends, danced with strangers, shared a hot dog – and thought nothing of it. This year, we’ve lost the Suffolk Show and Suffolk Dog Day and the one I’ll miss most, Latitude Music Festival. Every year, we went with my daughter and her family – a three generation knees-up. See you next year.

But a new phrase has dominated, endlessly repeated. ‘Stay Safe’. No-one ever said that to me before the pandemic and I don’t want anyone to say it to me ever again. It became the universal ‘sign-off’ on emails and phone calls – and is as irritating as ‘Take Care’.

However, the words I have heard every day, from locals, as we wave a distant greeting on our walk, are ‘We are so very lucky to live in Suffolk‘. And they weren’t just talking about lockdown.

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