Column: The Isolation

This column first appeared in the Lancashire Post


It is Friday and everything is set.

We have friends coming up from London and plans laid.

I have booked time off work. I have built the BBQ. I have bought some new garden furniture. I have installed a new patio heater. I have cleaned the house. I have folded the towels. I have washed the bedding. I have prepared the food. I have put the drinks on ice. I have received an alert. I have… wait… what?


I don’t recognise that noise. It isn’t a text or an email. I know the jazzy ping of a text or an email and that wasn’t it. It was sharper, quicker and more… menacing. I slip my phone out of my pocket and click on the big, blue notification.

NHS: you must self isolate for 8 days.

I sink into the nearest chair. Eight days. In isolation.

“It’ll be fine,” insists Michaela after she calls our friends to cancel, “it’s not long and there is plenty to do.” She nods towards the unplanted flowers and the shelf I am yet to put up.

She is right. It is fine. I can handle this. It’s only eight days. It will fly by. And it’s a chance do that gardening, read a book, write a book, put that shelf up or finally, thanks to my neighbour’s failure to secure a court order, finesse my piano playing.

It is day two and I am on episode 27 of the TV sitcom Friends. I started streaming them from the beginning. It really is a modern classic. Who needs to spend time with friends when you can spend time with Friends?

It is day three and Michaela has made a cauliflower lasagne. There is no pasta. There is no beef. There is no… lasagne, really. It is mainly cauliflower. I make my excuses at the table and retreat to the television. Friends episode: 38.

It is day five. Friends episode 59 is just beginning as Michaela hurries into the room.

“Have you seen the news?” she asks, breathless, “The internet has broken.”

“The internet…”


“… has broken?”


“The actual internet?” I say as I point upwards to where I think the internet might be.

“Yes. There has been some sort of server glitch. Lots of major websites are down. We’re having trouble with streaming.”

I furrow my brow and pretend to know what that means. Wait, a problem with streaming?

“I don’t think we…” but I can’t finish the sentence before I turn and see the haunting swirling circle of a buffering TV.

I open Twitter, which still works. Of course, the cockroach of the internet has survived the apocalypse. Other people are having the same problem. Websites are down. Payments are down. Streaming is… down.

Right. This is it. This is surely a sign. I am in isolation and the internet has fallen over. Somebody, somewhere, is going to enormous lengths to send me a message. I must reconnect. I must get into the garden and get the DIY done and read that book and start that one I was going to write and be more productive. The house is my oyster. The potential is endless.

“Enough is enough,” I shout to Michaela as she walks away, “I’m going to grab this isolation and make it count. I’m going to…” but she hasn’t heard and before I can finish, her news drowns me out.

“The internet seems to be back on,” she shouts, “I think they have fixed the server issue, or whatever it was.”

Oh, that is good news, I think to myself. And, well, I might as well finish episode 59.

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By Darryl Morris

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