Not Normal

There’s a weird feeling about this no touching business. Shields and shields build up between the flesh of bodies until we forget what warmth feels like.

My dad, a man with no partner and a distant daughter, went 8 weeks without touching anyone. Not so much of an accidental brush of the arm or a handshake. He sat with neighbours, conversed in hallways, but the distance was an invisible visible two metres of caution.

And all of us, we sit now, a screen in front of us greeting people in little boxes. Like the song predicted, but different perhaps to how they envisioned. It’s great, some say, no need to leave the house, more relaxed, you can be anywhere.

But are we anywhere or are we nowhere?

A think tank suggestion that the high street can be transformed into housing. No one will be walking to work they say, deserted streets and a low humming glow emitting from the windows of what once was a charity shop. The centre collapses and we’re all in orbit, but there is no longer gravity to centre our communities.

When we meet the hugs stop, there is no handshake and touching the heart. Instead we nod awkwardly, perhaps putting hands together for a half-hearted namaste.

I miss rooms full of people, steamed up windows, loud chatter from the table next door.

I miss dirt, the feeling of sweaty palms, bodies moving with unaware abandon and taking up space.