I REMEMBER a few years ago having to explain to my dad what Brexit meant. He was an educated man who read newspapers all his life and suddenly this new word appeared and he, like many others, had no clue what it meant.

And now we are all regularly using words which most of us had never heard of before the pandemic.

“Are you on furlough then Andy?” I heard one customer in the Tesco queue shout across to his workmate.

“Furlough? Aye I’m on furlough,” was the reply. “I don’t really know what it means, but apparently it’s a good thing.”

Later that night, my friend Jackie and I visited a local pub for the first time since restrictions were lifted.

We had pre-booked a time slot and arrived wearing our face masks and headed towards the bar. I must admit it all felt rather strange being in a pub for the first time since lockdown, and we noticed we were surrounded with lots of new do and don’t signs.

“Sign in the book please ladies,” Sandra the barmaid instructed from behind a large perspex screen.

Having done so, we were shown to our allocated corner one metre away from our neighbours who had forgotten how to talk and were mostly shouting at each other.

However, it turned out that our neighbours – three men – had been at a funeral, and looked and sounded as though they were nearing the end of their allocated time lot.

“An air tunnel?” asked one, looking completely baffled. “What the heck is an air tunnel?”

His mate then attempted to explain this new terminology, when he butted back in: “And what does she mean by a flat... flat... flattening the curve?” hic hic. Alcohol was taking its toll.

“It’s when...” but he was interrupted yet again.

“I cannae keep up with all this new... hic, hic... Nicola Sturgeon stuff.”

Apparently the First Minister was now responsible for changes in the spoken word.

“It’s never-ending.” He then began an alcohol fuelled rant.

“Manda... manda... Mandatory face coverings.” Hic hic.

“Physical distancing.”

“And then...” Hic hic.

“Coughing etiquette must be main... main... tained.”

Jackie and I couldn’t help laughing at the trio when suddenly the already noisy pub was temporarily silenced by Sandra the barmaid.

“I’ll not tell yous again,” she roared whilst pointing towards the gents’ toilets.

“Only two willies allowed in there at any one time, gentlemen.”

This seemed to be Sandra’s unique way of maintaining social distancing in the gents’ toilets, and Jackie and I began to wonder if it was a good idea venturing out to sample our new way of pub life.

“It’s your round,” I reminded her.

But as she approached the bar and attempted to order our drinks, she walloped her forehead off the protective screen, and I chuckled as she composed herself and tried again to order our drinks. However, as she had her face mask on, and Sandra the barmaid had a protective face shield, and between them was the perspex screen, they couldn’t hear each other or even lipread, so drinks were ordered in basic sign language.

“Let’s move to the next pub,” I suggested, as we had another time slot booked in a pub further down the road. However, on arrival we were asked not to sign the book with our personal details until we had passed the temperature check.

“Oh no.”

They hadn’t done this in the last pub, but luckily for Jackie in her menopausal state she passed it!

The seating in this pub was much different to the previous one and had high perspex screens in-between tables, and we were instructed to sit in the far corner in what was now a booth.

“This is like sitting in a phone box, Jackie.” I was not happy.

Next minute, an elderly man shuffled towards us and parked himself down in the booth next to us with his half pint and smiled.

We smiled back. Then...

“It’s’ so great to... here... long time.”

“Sorry?” Jackie grinned.

“I haven’t been... and ages... and... forward... pint or two.”

“Sorry?” Jackie grinned again.

Conversation between him and us was impossible with the screens, so we shrugged and shook our heads acknowledging that conversation was futile.

Turned out, when we spoke to the barmaid collecting our empties, that the poor soul hadn’t been out of the house since lockdown and as he lived alone, he had barely seen or spoken to anyone.

“Imagine that, Jackie,” I commented. “The wee man is out for his first night of company in three months and he is shoved in the farthest away corner of the pub in a plastic booth where he can’t communicate with anyone.”

Jackie agreed.

“The truth is, Janice, he really is still isolating in the plastic bubble.”

So, what with furlough, air tunnels, physical distancing, coughing etiquette, food boxes, flattening the curve, quarantine, lockdown etc, and now socially isolating in plastic booths, our lives sure have changed.