A FRIEND in Edinburgh, who lives in a basement flat, told me this week that, having not been over her doorstep these many days, she planned to walk into her town centre.

She was too scared to use public transport even where it was available, she confirmed.

She intended to go to Princes Street Gardens and sit in the open air on a bench with a book. Maybe someone will come and sit two metres away and we can chat, she mused.

That is the reality of current life for single flat-dwellers. A different kind of tension altogether from those sharing similar premises with other adults and perhaps a brace or more of over energised kids.

I suspect the government is only too well aware that even the most responsible of citizens have a breaking point.

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In the movie Network, a half crazed TV host goes to his window and bellows: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more.”

And yet, there are very many things which we will have no opportunity to avoid “taking”, whatever the short and medium term future offers us.

The nightmare scenario would be behaving in any way which rendered two months of weary sacrifices wasted as a second wave of infection was unleashed. Going back to square one is too awful to contemplate.

There is social media footage of a handful of bampots in a public park screaming at the police and boasting about their lack of care over hygiene and distancing.

It’s difficult to have a rational argument with the profoundly hard of thinking. But would that there were some way of forcing them to watch an hour’s worth of intensive care, or the process of ventilating very sick patients.

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One modern phenomenon which may last in some industries is homeworking. Already you can hear company bean counters wondering aloud whether they should keep shelling out high rentals for city centre office space when their bottom line appears largely unaffected by some of their workforce operating on their screens without leaving home.

However superficially attractive this seems as a purely accounting proposition, it fails to look at the health and wellbeing of the workforce – even those who have the good fortune to have a secure quiet space in which to work without their family racketing around.

As someone who has worked in busy offices as well as freelancing from base camp, I can report that office life is more than the sum of its parts.

When you’re employed by an organisation, there’s a chance to chat and interact – and not just inconsequentially. A lot of bright ideas originate in canteens and pubs and around communal tea and coffee making stations.

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A lot of lasting friendships, and not a few romances, begin life during the shared interests of employees who are thrown together daily.

It was that chatter and laughter I missed most when I became self employed.

We are all, to some extent, social animals, which is why we find it so difficult to conduct our friendships online.

We are all people who need other people, even, sometimes especially, when we have seen nobody but our nearest and dearest for a while.

There’s a gender thing in play here too. Women like the chance to have a good laugh with each other over a meal and a few glasses. Men like to banter with each other down the pub.

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In both cases the kind of conversation is quite different from what it would be at a mixed gathering, which is a different kind of fun.

In short, we like to spend our downtime with a mixture of folk in a mixture of settings. It’s natural.

The half life we find ourselves living in is not. The half life we’re living goes against every grain in our gregarious bodies.

But it is our only bulwark against the risk of no life. And that doesn’t sound much fun at all.

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