In the week the message on lockdown changed and we were told we could get our cleaners back, but not our hairdressers, that we could take walks in the company of and two metres away from one person we know, but no more than one, the possibility that our social lives might, one day, be more thoroughly reactivated is mooted.

And, oh dear, it’s been seven long weeks since we have had to think about hanging out with others, hasn’t it? Seven weeks of having significant, sincere and generally rude interaction only within the limited scope of our households — interrupted, at most, by us briefly impersonating someone charming on an online wine-tasting video call.

Seven weeks of us not giving a damn who could see us IRL — or smell us, or otherwise be offended by us—because there aren’t very many of them, they are bonded to us by familiarity, blood, wedding vows or a joint mortgage, and even if they do decide enough is enough, our company is too foul to endure: it’s not as if you can leave, is it? WHERE YOU GONNA GO?

However, now the cosy, rigid imperative of “stay at home” is lifted and we must start wondering what we are going to do about All the Other People. How will we go out as in out out, as in not just for essentials or exercise — when we can? Can we be trusted? Should we even try?

It’s been seven long weeks since we have had to think about hanging out with others.

Will dinner party circuits be reinvigorated? Book groups? Brunch? Big-number birthday parties, which no one really wants to have? Coffees with people you are too embarrassed to keep putting off? Awkward NCT group meets?

And how will we reintegrate the people we’ve become since March 23 — highly eccentric, less resistant to conspiracy theories than we were, with our wild hair, vertically extending stray eyebrows, and newly developed tendency to get hammered circa 2.30pm every day — into polite society?

Does polite society exist any more? Most of all, how to reconcile ourselves to the fact that, while lockdown has, indeed, made us miss certain people dreadfully, it has also shown us how many others we don’t actually like that much, people we no longer have the perfect excuse not to see.

Welcome to the age of Fogo: the fear of going out, a mounting social anxiety based not (as it certainly should be) on our terror of raising the R rate above 1, but rather on us just not really knowing how to be around other people any more.

Issue N° 1: Conversation

Because my household — like, presumably, many others — has spent the past couple of months giving up on more formal, widely received methods of communication (“words”), replacing them with a shorthand that amounts to grunts, hand gestures, problematic facial configurations and the occasional thrown object, I worry that we will struggle when it comes to actually talking to other people.

Not only might our ability to form sentences fail us, but our sentiment too. What will polite conversation entail in the aftermath of corona? What constitutes genial chit-chat in the wake of a global pandemic? Presumably we won’t revert to the anodyne non-chat of January, February and the pre-pandemic months that preceded them: house prices, schools, the pros and cons of Greta Thunberg, yadda yadda … but what will replace it?

It’s not as if anything much has happened to us lately. We haven’t exactly been furnished with the kind of anecdotes that make for jolly discourse — or really, any discourse. Anyone who has tried asking anyone else for gossip lately will know what I mean.

In addition — and again, if my domestic situation is any indication — we have become brutally unfiltered in the intervening weeks, terribly inclined to tell whoever is geographically closest to us exactly what we think of them in that moment; this, again, may not play well in broader society. (Although, actually, I’d take that over extended bragathons regarding the highly accomplished nature of your personal lockdown experience. No, I do not want to taste your banana bread, nor do I want to see your “craft”.)

ISSUE N° 2: Fojo

A subdivision of Fogo, it stands for the fear of judgment of others and is predicated on how fat/ grey/ hirsute/ unkempt/ generally dilapidated you fear you may have become over recent weeks. Quite apart from the fact that we have been denied access to all those charged with keeping us on the straight and narrow, grooming-wise (colourists, facialists, waxers and Botox practitioners), we have also lost any sense of how we are faring relative to one another, because we can’t see one another.

How can we possibly assess how badly we are ageing, compared with our peers, when our peers are only ever visible to us through the low-resolution and auto-touch-up feature on video chats? We can’t! Which makes the reintroducing of our quarantine-altered physical beings to a wider world treacherous indeed, especially given how fiercely competitive with our oldest, dearest friends we keep pretending we are not.

ISSUE N° 3: Having People Drop By Unexpectedly

Genuine question: how long do we think we can spin fear of infection/the shielding of a non-existent vulnerable person as a reason not to have other people in our home when what we actually mean is we don’t want them making a mess, or taking ages to leave? Two years? Three?

And how will we reintegrate the people we’ve become since March 23 — highly eccentric, less resistant to conspiracy theories than we were, with our wild hair, vertically extending stray eyebrows, and newly developed tendency to get hammered circa 2.30pm every day — into polite society?

ISSUE N° 4: Dinner Parties

My main concern about any reinstating of the middle-class dinner party circuit is that it was dreary anyway, must we go back? Also, if it happens on a social-distancing basis, surely that means far fewer people per DP, and therefore a risk of heightened intimacy because it’s hard to hide in empty vacuous chat during a smaller dinner.

And people have become horribly inclined towards emotional depth recently. Have you noticed? Endlessly reassessing their priorities, searching their souls, revelling in the now-audible dawn chorus and so forth. I feel sure a reduced dinner party scene will encourage them to share all lockdown-enabled epiphanies/conclusions based on extensive self-explorations over pud — like herds of recently returned middle-aged gap yearers. I, for one, am keen to nip this in the bud.

My other concern is that there won’t be any posh crisp element to dinner parties any more because of the risk posed by sharing bowls. Or hummus. And those were always my favourite bits.

ISSUE N° 5: Alcohol

There have been three stages to our relationship with drink in lockdown.

Stage 1 (weeks 1-3): During which we turned to booze’s sweet embrace to alleviate the stress and dread of a looming, evolving, completely unknowable, utterly terrifying world-engulfing scenario. We needed to be dulled, numbed; to view this new existential threat through a haze of almost constant non-sobriety.

Stage 2 (weeks 3-5): We adjusted to our “new abnormal”, grew accustomed to not knowing if we would have a job come June, or if that sneeze was our allergies or the beginning of the end … then embraced the social media-disseminated idea that making cocktails is a fun at-home afternoon activity for all the family. You know, like banana bread. But with hard liquor.

Stage 3 (weeks 5-now): We came to understand that working from home means never having to not be either drunk or hungover because it’s not as though your colleagues can tell, and your neighbours don’t care.

The consequence of all of the above is that no one has any real idea what acceptable drinking means any more; nor can they remember the last time they did it.

This should be interesting if pubs open again.

ISSUE N° 6: Street Parties

One way to socialise in a post-lockdown responsible fashion — to party, but in the open air, at a distance and without wandering too far from your neighbourhood, taking with you increased risk of transmission — is to do it with your neighbours on the tarmac of your street, or the steps of your respective houses.

Which is lovely. Just so terribly in the spirit of these times! Jolly and cheering and old school in the best possible way, bringing with it memories of trestle tables and egg and spoon races, homemade bunting and leaving your front door on the latch because everyone looked out for everyone else. A natural step on from the Thursday night clap, an expression of our intention to remain, in the truest sense, “a community”, henceforth.

Unless you don’t want to. In which case, your neighbour’s choice of music is your problem, and leaving the house to go somewhere else without having everyone think that you think you’re too good for them is quite out of the question. And what’s worse: they are right. You do.

ISSUE N° 7: Events You Just Can’t Face

While many people loudly insist that they are champing at the bit to get out and just be among humanity again, others are, more quietly, wishing they didn’t have to. I hereby predict the imminent establishing of a new social convention: the “corona exit”, which is like the “French exit” (in which you slip away from a bash early, without saying goodbye), only in this instance you never even arrive.