Englishman in Nyhavn: How to survive as a couple in quarantine
Because Denmark is run by people with biological matter between their ears, we are a bit ahead of everyone in the UK when it comes to coronavirus.
While many of my friends and family back home are living relatively normal lives, I find myself in duo-isolation with my lovely current and first fiancée Rebecca.
So, I thought for their future benefit, it would be a good idea for me to write a diary / How To Survive As A Couple In Quarantine Guide (as Rebecca objects to it being called).
Day 0 – Preparation
I went out at 7 am to be there when Lidl opened. I was joined by 40 of my peers, all standing a perfect three feet away from one another. I quickly became panicked and mentally discarded my meticulously prepared shopping list I had constructed when walking to Lidl.
Who needs flour, when you can have Macadamia nuts? Or loo roll, when you can buy a single can of button mushrooms?
I left with 700 kroner of ingredients, no combination of which produces an edible meal. The closest I can get is noodles fried in shower gel.
Top tip: Write down your shopping list.
Key takeaway from the day: If my plane crash-lands on an island, I should not nominate myself as leader – even if I am the only survivor.
Great day. Spent entirely with Rebecca. We played video games, did some work, did laundry, I applied for a job (given the hiring frenzy in quarantined Copenhagen right now).
Top tip: Remember the good things in life. Remember those who love you. Remember your love for them. Let your love warm you.
Key takeaway: Maybe this isn’t going to be so hard after all.
Board game day! Very ‘hygge’ as the Danish like to say!
We started with Scrabble. My longest words were “KITBAGS”, “LAUGHING” and “FLOWERS”. Rebecca’s were “FREEDOM”, “HARDSHIP” and “KNIFES”. I tried to point out that the plural of knife is knives, but that put us dangerously close to our First Argument of Quarantine, and that isn’t scheduled for another week.
Top tip: Make sure to have lots of oranges, packed full of Vitamin C. They are great if you want to get rid of a cold … or if you are trying to keep one away!!
Key takeaway: In retrospect, some ambient background music would have been a nice addition to the four hours of stony silence during our Scrabble game.
I’ve noticed no obvious change in Rebecca’s behaviour towards me.
It’s funny, though, the things you notice in such … constant proximity. I just noticed Rebecca has a freckle on her ear. How did I not see that before haha! This is the woman I’m meant to be marrying! For goodness sakes. What a silly world!
Top tip: Fitness regimes are essential in quarantine! It produces mood-boosting endorphins! It’s also a great bonding activity between couples. We’ll be trying that tomorrow.
Key takeaway: When she asked me if I’d brushed my teeth, was she just asking in general or did my breath smell?
Our first workout of quarantine!
Rebecca got up a YouTube workout video and then provided a fairly constant stream of motivational quotes throughout. At first I thought they were for my benefit, but after hearing “Rebecca, once you get a six-pack, you get an upgrade”, I wasn’t quite so sure.
I tried to bring it up during the hour-long post-workout heart-to-heart I had scheduled, but she didn’t seem to hear my questions.
Top tip: Commenting on the impressive backside of the YouTube fitness instructor is potentially one of the not good things to do in quarantine.
Key takeaway: I woke up in the middle of the night and thought a stranger was breathing next to me. I turned my phone light on and remembered I live with Rebecca. What does this mean?
Our first fight of quarantine … 🙁
It wasn’t a big one. As always, they feel so important at the time, but in retrospect they seem so silly.
It all started with a lively discussion over the lyrics to The Kooks’ 2005 hit ‘Naïve’.
I was convinced the lyric “I’m not fond of asking” was actually “I’m not from Alaska”, but after Freckle pointed out my mistake, we had a bit of a row about it, as well as touching on a couple of other, irrelevant points (who does most of the work around the flat, who is the most emotionally manipulative, whose fault is it that our sex life is so bad, who overshares details of our relationship on public forums).
Top tip: Praying together can be a really great way for couples to bond at the end of a long day (so I keep telling her).
Key takeaway: In some countries, it would be above-average size, and in others its less-than. But ultimately, there’s nothing I can do about it.
I spent some time online today and found out that the freckle was likely to have been there from before I knew Rebecca. Which is odd because it is basically the only thing I notice when I look at her now, from any angle. It’s actually on the back of her ear, but when I am facing her, I can feel its presence stronger than ever before. It’s almost like it makes her whole ear glow, glow glow glow and pulsate. Very weird.
For dinner, we made toasted macadamia nuts with an entrée of canned button mushrooms. She seemed distant.
Top tip: Freckles can be easily ignored by the simple trick of closing your eyes, putting your fingers in your ears and humming loudly from the bottom of your diaphragm.
Key takeaway: ‘Freckle’ (the word, not the person!) comes from the Old Norse word freknur. According to Wikipedia, in Australia it can also either mean a small flattened mound of chocolate covered in sprinkles, or the human anus.
Jack escaped Brexit Britain in October 2019 to forge a new life in Copenhagen. In this column, he outlines the challenges expats face when integrating into Danish life. Jack (firstname.lastname@example.org) co-hosts the comedy podcast ‘Butterflies on the Wheel’, which is available on all major podcasting platforms