Tonight at the quiz
Tuesdays are quiz nights at the Dolphin, and so it has been for so many years. As usual I trot down, a less than five minute walk from home, wander in and to the bar and order a pint of Dolphin. The member of the Am-dram team who we’ve christened Fist after a part he once played, is in the Am-dram corner, the far corner has two of the ladies’ team – the third arrives later, and I sit between them with a pint of Otter, waiting for my team, the Ice-creams.
So far, so seemingly ordinary. However, the teams are still separated by screens, there’s a perspex screen at the bar, and although Manchu and his team are sharpening their pencils (they’re not really!) displaced to Taz’s team’s place at the bar by three strangers who I think were here the previous week, and somehow, subtly, it’s not back to normal. Yes Nigel’s team is through in one of the other bars, and yes there are other teams lurking in the cross-benches, but w all know it’s not as it was. Most of us, feeling at home, either don’t wear our masks, or discard them pretty quickly, but we still subtly distance ourselves from others – even within our own teams.
I’m sitting on one of the bench seats, and Jan Ice-cream is sitting next to me, as usual, except there’s a big gap between us, and we don’t snuggle up to whisper answers, or share our ruminations. Peter Ice-cream, sitting opposite, doesn’t lean forward to me, nor I to him as we used to, we don’t snuggle up to murmur ideas and guesses, and when they depart somewhat early because of unusual fatigue, we don’t hug, we don’t kiss.
Yes, things in the pub are almost back to normal… but not quite… and will they ever be?