Artillery Row

Bored to tiers

Alice Cockerell proposes a drinking game to help deal with those who can’t stop talking about Covid-19

It is set to be a bleak Christmas for me. This is not because of restrictions, well not per se. I am safely bubbled in Somerset. The problem is that my bubble is fizzing with oceangoing Tier Bores.

No name or place can be mentioned without a nugget of Tier Trivia, “She was in North Suffolk which was tier two, while South Suffolk was just one. Or was it the other way round? Let me just check”.

Or worst of all, a Tier Discussion, “No, they got an Uber to Dorset on Saturday night. They stopped at Membury service station, which I think is Tier Two, but it was past midnight by then. They arrived in Tier One in the early hours of the morning.”

“Well I thought…?”

“Yes but you forget the driver then reversed his steps. He went through a low tier to a medium tier ending in a higher tier. I’m sure he’ll have stopped at Fleet on the way back too.” Said with gloomy satisfaction. And then brightening, “What tier is Fleet? Shall we look it up?”

It is a shame, as there are interesting things to be said. For instance: there is an escalating problem within the ranks of the upper-middle classes who realise that, having never registered with the NHS, they have no idea how to go about getting their jabs (word is Harley Street telephones have been ringing off the hook with the bleats of these poor disenfranchised folk).

The last words my boyfriend said to me were, ‘I hope you have a Covid-free life’

While the local tell is that all the ancients down here in Somerset are having to behave like James Bond and get their injections in secret locations, Glastonbury is apparently heaving with anti-vaxxers who are keen to disrupt proceedings, and so doctors won’t say where to go until the very last minute. Our local doctor says that the oldsters are very much getting into the spirit of things, slipping trench coats over their catheters to get to the Bath and West Showground for inoculation (this may or may not be a decoy site).

There is yet more cosmopolitan gossip to be chewed over by the hearth: which national newspaper editor, for example, has his Portuguese housekeeper drive his post back and forth from London each week? Which eccentric local Lord Lieutenant has let his house to a party of eighteen on condition they fly to the local airport rather than drive from London? Which royal duchess instructed her hairdresser (who is safely in a bubble with her) to muck up her hair before zoom appearances?

You would have thought there would be no shortage of grist to our mill; but I am bored to tiers. Radio and TV are no respite. It is one thing for the news to lead with Covid, but gardening and cooking programs too? The Covid peg fell off the wall months ago.

It has always been a mealy-mouthed virus. Just as we can’t hug, kiss and jig, we seem to have lost the knack of chatter too. Christmas cards are no fun to open; there is no gift for the gab. “Hoping next year will be a better one”; “reaching out to you at this time” are among the worst messages to receive, “I hope you dodge the mutant strain”, ironically, is the best thus far.

I split-up with my boyfriend last week, his last words to me (said sincerely, I hope) were, “I hope you have a Covid-free life”. That was when I realised that that the only way to trot out these inanities is to slur them. To that end I propose a drinking game: one shot for any mention of the C-word, two for “stay safe” or “in these unprecedented times”. However, a magnum of chilled champagne is to be awarded to the best pro-vax speaker. Down the hatch.

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