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If you’re allowed 10 friends in your coronavirus lockdown ‘bubble’… here’s how to choose

As the country / Provinces slides towards some kind of loosening of lockdown, like the rest of the country I am in desperate need of reconnecting with people beyond the confines of the family home.

So I was over joyed when I read the news that the Government is mooting a plan to get us back together: choosing a ‘bubble’ of close friends and family that we would be able to meet with. In theory it makes perfect sense — a sanctioned opportunity to kick back with a BBQ, or just drinks in the backyard.

The reality is a potential etiquette minefield: think the maddening hell of Christmas Day with family and multiply by 100. Factor in warring *add you list of relatives, (it only takes one off-colour remark from me to descend into a stoney faced look and silence from my immediate family), mismatched expectations — hot tub time machine (me) versus Cards Against Humanity (name Omitted) and the whole thing has the ingredients to turn into a night of Cards Against Humanity.

But by far the greatest downside I can see is the issue of not being picked. What if those I choose for my bubble don’t want me in theirs?

So before you send off the ‘be in my group’ request, it pays to think carefully: in these times of crisis, certain friends fare better than others. Here are the six people we all need in our corona bubble:

The friend who makes you laugh

She is a comic ray of light in our dark Corona World. She will wear her facemask the wrong way round, and she will be the one to send you the funny loo roll jokes. The human equivalent of a stiff G&T, even though she is just as scared as everyone else, she can turn the world into a joke. Given the dizzying array of depressing statistics, at the moment she is a cherished friend to have around.

The neighbour

Just round the corner to do the quid-pro-quo food drop when you’re mid-virtual yoga and have run out of eggs. Besides, you have been waving at each other from across the street for the last five weeks, it makes sense that she is the one you invite round for a catch up. The good news is, they will have all the local gossip and you don’t have to worry about getting drunk. Staggering down the street is easy, when you only have to venture a few doors away.

The old friend

Whether you met each other at school or were besties at college, you have known each other for yonks. In these uncertain times it’s useful to have someone you don’t have to explain yourself to. They won’t judge your Covid meltdown, or roll their eyes when they pop round and your flat is a mess. The OF knows just how you will be feeling and will always send you a ‘don’t worry, stay safe’ text. Definitely a keeper.

Dettol freak

Ferociously stockpiled surgical masks and gloves back in January. “Well, must be prepared,” she says as she squirts sanitiser on your hands. Faintly irritating in normal times — the one to wipe down mugs at the local cafe — but when the going gets tough, she is corona gold. Just make sure she doesn’t Dettol the contents of the fruit bowl, or the kids.

The friend who calms you down

When the world around us is in chaos, the CF is a sea of calm: steadfast, consistent, and with all the facts and figures at her fingertips. “Hang on, only five percent of the country are infected,” she will point out as you feel a panic attack coming on. “And just because a spluttering jogger coughed when he ran past you does not mean automatic infection and a week on a ventilator.” She will tell you to ‘get a grip’ in that non-judgmental way that somehow provides a vague sense of peace.

The friend with the house in the country

You’ve been waiting for an invite since corona hit the streets and if you play your cards right, you may find yourself in that lovely five bedroom house. The dodgy WiFi in their part of the countryside means you are cut off from the outside world (and Zoom parties): time listening to terrifying corona statistics are swapped for fireplace gazing. Bliss.

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