National Post (National Edition)

How we see things differentl­y now

FROM THE COUNTRYSID­E TO OUR NEIGHBOURS, FRIENDS AND HAIR

- SHANE WATSON

This was the year we acquired 2020 vision and learned to look at things differentl­y. From the patch of grass outside the back door to front-line workers; from video calls to home-schooling, we had to change the way we lived, for better or worse. Here are some of the ways that we'll approach the new year differentl­y:

EXERCISE

We all EFH (exercise from home). We've got the weights and an online exercise class that feels a lot like having a personal trainer. This plus WFH (working from home) means there is no going back to a life of NAHBLA (Nothing at home but loafing about).

THE HAIRDRESSE­R

Something shifted here. Not that we didn't appreciate how much our hair mattered, but we hadn't given any thought to what we would look like after three months without so much as a trim. Now we know the process we always thought was a bit of a ripoff is worth every penny, if not double.

GARDENS AND OUTDOOR SPACES

This year, you would have traded a penthouse apartment for any condo with a strip of balcony big enough to sit on. It wasn't just that lockdown made us appreciate our own patch of outdoors, we also started to take an interest in what was out there.

If there's one thing you can guarantee about 2021, it is that real estate agents will be selling “outdoor space” and “windows on to the garden” like they did proximity to schools and transport back in the old world.

THE LURE OF THE COUNTRY

Versus the city. Apart from all the second homeowners hightailin­g it to their luxury country pads for lockdown, it suddenly dawned on all sorts of people that without the nightlife, galleries, shops, theatres, restaurant­s, bars etc. in the city, open countrysid­e might be preferable. Only half kidding.

As more realized that WFH didn't just mean slacking off, the city exodus started in earnest this year.

THE FRIENDSHIP BUBBLE

Who did you really need to speak to during the crunch days of lockdown? Which friends did you Zoom and which did you mean to call but never quite got around to it? Sometimes it's a divorce, sometimes sudden success or a move abroad, and sometimes it's a pandemic that's the catalyst for a natural deselectio­n friendship cull. Not saying we won't see the people we haven't been in touch with this year, but it's fair to say we're now aware of WMM (who matters most).

There were surprise exclusions and even more surprising reconnecti­ons. Consider your friendship group realigned for the next year.

FOOD

People who never cooked, cooked. People who already cooked went over to the MasterChef side. Some people decided that, what the hell, they were going to eat like kings every day. Everyone got better in the kitchen; we can't unlearn that.

RESPECTING EACH

OTHER'S SPACE

One positive result of the virus: the two-metre rule has forced everyone to take a step back, literally, and give way in the manner of a 19th-century gentleman. You don't bow any more but you might nod and scrunch up your eyes above your mask to indicate that you are wishing the other person well. Also in the recovered manners bag is not assuming it's OK to pat a stranger's dog or pregnant stomach.

HYGIENE

Don't want to overdo the bonuses of hygienic living but we also don't want to go back to the days when someone would happily sneeze, wipe their nose with their hand, and then use that hand on the rail in the train. Sneeze containmen­t was at an all-time low, let's face it, as was handwashin­g. Let's pray that a new standard has been set.

SEEING EACH OTHER

UP CLOSE

It's hardly surprising that divorce boomed in 2020 (the highest percentage increase in 50 years): never in the history of marriage have so many couples spent so much time in such proximity. Not many get to see each other at work every day, or at the gym, or looking like they'd spent

A BRITISH SLAVE SHIP CALLED THE ZONG SET OUT FROM GHANA IN AUGUST, 1781, WITH MORE THAN 400 ENSLAVED PEOPLE ABOARD, FAR MORE THAN ITS SAFETY LIMIT. THOSE DEEMED EXTRANEOUS WERE CAST OFF THE VESSEL TO JACK UP THE INSURANCE VALUE.

EVERYONE GOT BETTER IN THE KITCHEN; WE CAN'T UNLEARN THAT.

a year in a cave. Certainly there are a lot of people whose secrets have been outed (the pretend natural blondes, the Botoxers, the shouty bosses). But if you made it through without consulting a lawyer, you are good for another 10 years.

CROWDS

Will we rush back to the big gathering, the giant wedding versus the manageable family-and-closefrien­ds-only wedding? 2020 has brought on a small degree of social agoraphobi­a. We will be wading back into the crowds soon enough, but it could take a bit of time.

DOGS ARE NO LONGER JUST PETS

Never mind a puppy for Christmas, a puppy for lockdown became a life-jacket for families on the brink of meltdown. Now a dog is not just a pet, it's an emotional rescue aid, a reason to go for a much-needed walk, a tension absorber and isolation companion. It's a lot to put on the poor things, but oh well. These dogs are going nowhere in the new year.

 ?? DANIEL ACKER / BLOOMBERG FILES ?? WFH (working from home) means there is no going back to a life of NAHBLA (Nothing at home but loafing about), Shane Watson writes.
DANIEL ACKER / BLOOMBERG FILES WFH (working from home) means there is no going back to a life of NAHBLA (Nothing at home but loafing about), Shane Watson writes.

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