“Remember When We Had Friends?” I Ask My Wife. “We Do Have Friends,” He Replies

It is ideal weather for camping. I stay inside all day and pretend I am still in isolation

My wife and I are trying to make camping plans with our friends but running into an ongoing problem: a chronic lack of responses. We stare at our phones. “Remember when we had friends?” I ask my wife.

“We do have friends.”

“That loved us?”

“They do love us.”

“And replied to our messages?” He is silent.

While we wait for responses, I read my wife my first column, specifically the bit about waking him up with a plant mister. He snorts: “I forgot that happened”.

“So did I,” I reply truthfully, “Until I woke up and read it back.”

Then he says: “You need to stop reading Tim Dowling’s column before I put you in the bin.”

In the end, the camping preparations are hopeless. The one friend that replies texts only “My phone’s fucked,” and then, two days before, “I’m too skint to come down anyway.” The evening before the planned bonanza I get a scratchy throat and have to go to the covid testing clinic. When I come out I have exciting news for my wife: “The doctor said I had a very red and inflamed throat! But that it probably isn’t covid.” Nevertheless, I feel vindicated: a doctor has confirmed I should stay in bed for several days and rest, one of my favourite activities.

The next morning I wake from a two-hour lie-in feeling blissfully alive and better, although I do not update my wife on this in case later I need to use being sick to get out of things. My covid test has already come back negative, meaning that I no longer have legal back up to insist my wife do all the shopping. It is a beautiful summer’s start to the weekend, 20°C, sunny, no chance of rain and a light breeze that keeps everything fresh. Ideal weather for camping. I stay inside all day and pretend I am still in isolation. Overhead, the neighbour’s children pound the floor as they run amok, screaming happily. It is the perfect day to stay at home and sort out banking paperwork. Camping was a friend’s idea, anyway.


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