Watch any disaster movie from the last, well, ever and you might be treated to earthly destruction as wrought by asteroids, tsunamis or sadistic aliens.
What you won’t see is a single puzzle or online quiz. It’s no wonder then that we were so ill prepared for how boring the apocalypse would end up being. If you feel like putting your hand through a window just to add a bit of colour to your afternoon: stop, try these things first…
- Rear Cat Flap
We’ve all seen Rear Window. Well, actually, I haven’t… But I know the gist of it: a nosey brer is holed up in his New York apartment with a broken leg and naught but a pair of binoculars to entertain him. He starts peering into the flats of the people living in his courtyard and soon discovers many of them are up to slightly less good than he is. Don’t worry, your imagination shouldn’t require such hours of patient sentry, in fact reality could well hinder your fun. Just a quick ID is all that’s required.
The man next door has just bought a new microwave: he’s setting up a hot food-themed fetish channel called Dingerz… The woman living in the flat behind yours has been spotted with a dog: it’s her new lover. I’ve only been doing it for ten minutes and I’m convinced the guy across the road is having an affair. Either that or he’s happily married…
- Try it…Live!
This game unfortunately involves the internet. But it’s more fun than the list of food anagrams your university friends have lovingly put together for your Friday night quiz. For a start, there’s actual jeopardy involved. As anyone who’s tried to socialise with multiple people on Skype or Zoom will know, it’s like having a conversation across a ravine. That’s where Try it Live comes in. All you need is something edible, or inedible, from your home. Find it and then try it live in front of an online audience.
On Friday night I ate a Heston Blumenthal chocolate Scotch egg that was exactly as disgusting as it sounds in front of 12 people scattered across the globe. I found that the mango and yuzu fondant centre-induced nausea was slightly assuaged by the smug knowing that I had brought some entertainment into other people’s lives.
- Sourdough Golem
A recent study found that there are currently two sourdough starters for every one person in the UK, a figure that rises to 50 in places like Balham. If you don’t know what a sourdough starter is then, congratulations. My advice would be to keep it that way and move onto No.4 in this list… For all the rest of you, a word of warning: until the time comes when food can be downloaded, no one cares what you’re putting in your mouth or taking out of your oven. So, rather than publicise your latest wheaty bundle of joy, why not conjure a wholesome wholegrain monster? Along with all the other basic crap you are putting in a kiln jar, sprinkle in a little ancient Hebrew cantation and watch as your sourdough starter morphs into a lumpen sourdough beast, willing to do your evil bidding and possibly *fingers crossed* some housework…
- Keep a Modernist (capital ‘M’) diary
We’ve all probably, at one point or another, tried to write a holiday diary. In our heads we’re Hemingway—cigarette holder clamped between teeth, glass of rum gently clinking beside us—when in reality, we forget about it after three days and try frantically to mentally retrace our steps, often actual imprints in sand… To avoid all this, keep a Modernist diary. Let’s not bother ourselves with a precise definition of the genre, as it encompasses a broad, rich and diverse canon, and I don’t actually know what it is. Instead, take as your diaristic lodestar Ulysses, the Modernist bible, which includes a thousand-or-so-word description of a fried kidney breakfast. Rather than diligently recapping the day’s events, write long tracts on the relative merits of your mid-morning glass of water. Trust me, it’ll make the time pass either slower or more quickly.
- Embrace your inner eccentric: channel Salinger, Hughes or Havisham…
This is as good a chance as any to become an outrageously eccentric recluse without the added burden of social ostracism. Since thinking this idea up, approximately five minutes ago, it has gripped me. Keep friends and family waiting for you on Zoom calls for hours, then turn up drunk and start a fight. Dance to Enya on your rooftop wearing a silk kimono. Hurl abuse at the sky. Buy a rocking chair. Leave cryptic notes for the postman. Befriend the birds. Grow your fingernails and hair. Do whatever you want: no one’s watching. And, if they are, give them something to watch about. Surely there are psychological benefits to getting all the crazy out in one intense hour of craziness. Take a photo of yourself at your most freaky. Have a nap. Then, when all this is over, look at it occasionally, surreptitiously, and smile.