Let’s call it a lockup. It’s more positive.
Apparently a lockup is the slang word for a prison, while a lockdown is the confinement of people for security reasons. New words and phrases explode in times of social crises, and one has to catch on quickly or be caught out.
When the word ‘Brexit’ sprang out of nowhere four years ago, I thought being a Brexiteer sounded more positive than being a Remainer, but I quickly learned to get my words right on that one.
Anyone for Pandemic?
And now, in less than three months, we have created new words that we use on a daily basis. I found a board game called Pandemic to play, but I could not play it while ‘self-isolating’. Instead I could join a ‘Zoom Party’ (a web-based video meeting) or a webinar (online seminar) – that is when I am not WFH (working from home).
When I do play, I must remember ‘social distancing’, and when I go to the shops to get snacks, I must ‘hold afstand’. One day can be a ‘blursday’ (an unspecified day because of lockdown’s disorientating effect on time), so I might have recourse to do a bit of ‘Zoombombing’ (hijacking a Zoom videocall) or making a ‘TikTok’ (a Chinese video-sharing service).
Hmm … haven’t the Chinese done enough sharing lately?
Get me outta here!
This new vocabulary has come to be shorthand for talking about coronavirus-related issues and a way to laugh at the way the world has changed.
My phone bleeps all day long with jokes and hilarious videos sent to me from all over the world. For example: a man talking calmly on Skype and saying how wonderfully well his wife is managing, knowing she is in the kitchen listening. But the signs he holds up say: “She’s nuts! Get me outta here!”
Is it appropriate to laugh when so many are dying of the disease? Well the jokes are not about the virus itself, but about our hugely altered lifestyles. In the midst of this global pandemic, many millions are finding that laughter is a relief valve.
When I performed my standup show live (!) in a car park to just 10 people and 20 illegally lurking bystanders, I asked if they could mention any positive changes during the lockdown.
One reply was: more time with my family. Well, I said, the coronavirus has achieved what no female has ever been able to. It has cancelled sports, closed all the bars and kept the guys at home.
Another reply was: less traffic. That’s true … except for the great exodus on Fridays and the great return on Sundays. More time to clean the house was another. Well my body has absorbed so much soap and disinfectant lately, that when I pee, I clean the toilet.
A guy in the front row said that when he sneezed in the bank, it was the most attention he had received from the staff in the last ten years. I couldn’t resist adding that my brother had told me that before the coronavirus, he used to cough to cover a fart, and that now he farts to cover a cough.
No matter how hard it gets, there’s always humour. So, even though it’s difficult to be positive during these difficult times, let’s try to keep a smile on our faces. That’s the way to make a lockdown into a lockup.