Ask Marvin

I have to decide who to have in my Coronavirus social bubble. Do you think my family would mind if they’re not in it?

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As social distancing relaxes, we’re now being asked to consider setting up a Coronavirus social bubble with other people. I’m quite excited by the options of who I could choose. It obviously has to be someone I don’t mind spending a significant amount of time with. However I’m a bit bored of my family after six weeks, so I’m wondering whether I should ditch them and bubble with some different people?

Marvin’s Answer:

Before you rush off to pack your bag, or send your invites out, pause for a moment. The Coronavirus social bubble has the potential to be worse than the original lockdown. Just be careful with your choices, and think of the potential problems if you choose one of the below.

Who to have (or not) in your social bubble?

A parent (or even an in-law)

You’ve seen their smiling face struggling to find the button to turn off Skype, and thought how nice it would be to have them with you. Even your in-laws seem to be better after six weeks. However don’t underestimate the power of the 40 minute time limit on Zoom calls. It’s there for a reason. In your house for any longer and they’d be queuing up to use the toilet, be served another cup of tea or commenting on the fact your hair is grey/ a bush. Leave them where they are, and just keep phoning.

Your child’s girlfriend and her parents

It might seem like a great idea if your son wants to reunite (in a manner of speaking) after six weeks of testosterone build up. It might stop his surly silence and the free up the XBox for your gaming. Plus, before lockdown you were getting on well with the girl’s parents. However stop and think of the awkwardness if those young lovers don’t get on after their six weeks apart. You have nothing in common with the parents, the kids are sulking and you’ve wasted your spaces. What’s more the parents might turn out to be religious nutters who pressure the kids to marry based on your laxness around the sleeping arrangements.

Your best phone friend from work

The coronavirus social bubble could invite the bizarrely dressed, or simply bizarre, into your home
It’s funny from a distance, not in your house

You’ve wept with laughter at their funniness over Skype, their wittiness on a mobile and the bizarre videos they sent you. However once they are in your house and you realise that the dressing up is not just occasionally for fun, it all becomes a little bit creepy. Your underwear drawer no longer feels safe, and you can’t help thinking someone is watching you.

As you notice some of your or your wife’s clothes go missing, you might want to start locking your bedroom door at night and sleeping with one eye open.

There’s a reason other people said they were better over the phone. Listen to those warning bells.

Your mate and his wife

You all got on before, so why not now? Well maybe because during lockdown they both stared into the abyss and decided it was time to move on. If your house is big enough to accommodate two therapy couches and the occasional flying plate then by all means have them in. If you want to watch TV while having a quiet beer, don’t.

Pampas grass is not a coronavirus social bubble sign, it might just be a plant that grows well in pots
Pampas grass is not always a sign

Furthermore, think of your other friends, or by now ex-friends who will be forever miffed by your choice or couple X over them.

And even worse, what if couple X only said yes to you because they thought you were swingers (or vice versa obviously). Imagine the awkwardness as you explain that you like Pampas grass because it grows really well in pots, and you always leave your keys in a bowl for safekeeping. It will be tumbleweed in your pots next year.

Your neighbours

There’s a reason why you have’t had your neighbours round for Christmas drinks recently, or had a virtual street party with them during lockdown. Quite simply, they’re you neighbours. Getting someone’s bin in occasionally or asking after their kids doesn’t make them good Coronavirus social bubble material. Leave them as your emergency hunter gatherers if you have to isolate further.

The Coronavirus social bubble. Frying pans into fires

Yes, there are reasons to be excited by a relaxation of the social distancing laws. However, a Coronavirus social bubble might not be what you were hoping for when you started imaging beers with your mates and an end to stuttery virtual quiz nights.

As you ponder your options, just take care about that what you think is a great set of choices, actually isn’t fraught with dangers. Before you give up the people who are happy to ignore you and leave you to your own devices (that’s your family by the way), think how tiring it will be to actually have to engage with others. Think how you might need to get dressed, tidy round and start showering again.

That Coronavirus social bubble might not be all it’s cracked up to be. And you don’t want bubbles bursting as that could be messy indeed.

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