It’s easy to say that Covid has divided us. But this is not a simple us-and-them split like Brexit, however much that percolates through our collective unconscious. We are now all members of ever-shifting tribes. Here are some that I’ve encountered.
1. The false positives
“Well, no,” this lot will tell you, “a pandemic is not quite what the doctor ordered, but being together has been quite an adventure. The heated garden room came in very handy, and, miraculously, the lady of the house managed to home-school the children and still do her little job. She is a wonder on Zoom – marvellous! We’ve had long bike rides en famille, and Persephone may be just seven, but she now knows her way around a sourdough starter. Her brother, unfortunately, rarely leaves his bedroom. Boys!
“We missed Puglia, of course, but doing a jigsaw in a static caravan in Fowey more than made up for it. It’s been a revelation for me in particular. My work-life balance is so much better, and 14 hours a day whiz by.
“I was, though, slightly perturbed to find a note on the fridge last night from my better half saying she is leaving and to never make contact with her again. I am sure it’s her little joke. Funny chaps, women!”
2. The graph fetishists
“Look at the curve. Look at how it flattens. Look how it shoots up. Look at Germany. Look at Spain. Is that the right slide, Sir Patrick?”
I have never seen so many graphs or understood less. Partly because they only flash up on screen for 10 seconds and partly because of the subliminal message: “You are all going to die.” I am sure I am not the only one seeing this, right? One death is terrible; 40,000 is too big to grasp. Statistics are not my thing. They are not the ministers’ thing either.
The graph people leave me as cold as when I watched a coffin being taken out of a house down the road. “She was very old,” everyone said. I felt very old.
3. The snoops
They were out in force long before this rule of six. They monitored the clapping. I did not clap enough, ever. And now they can snoop in our gardens or on who is coming into my house for the endless illegal raves I will be having with my mate and an out-of-control pug. On the apps that are meant to build local communities, everyone is already going wild, suspicious basically of all young people: schoolchildren leaving school(!), people having picnics … They link all this to actual crime – bike thefts and stabbings – and in the long insomniac nights when the helicopters circle I wonder, too, what they are looking for. Murderers? Germs? People who can no longer survive financially?
I dream of the Stasi Museum in East Berlin, the most ordered place ever.
4. The covidiot savants
Sure, there are your spoilt rock stars, from Ian Brown to Noel Gallagher to Van Morrison – selfish pigs, to be blunt. But I know “normal” people who think Bill Gates is trying to kill them. They don’t know anyone who has died of Covid. It’s just flu.
Alternative medicine has a lot to offer, one told me the other day. She wouldn’t be having the vaccine, she said. Good! More for us less spiritual types who have successfully resisted 5G, lizard-baiting Ickesters and Bach flower remedies.
5. The eco death cult
“Covid is great because, look, we may be dying, but we are saving the planet from flying, cars and pointless travel. And we only need to work two hours a week, and the rest of the time we can plant magic beans.”
The virus is trying to tell us something? Well, yes. It is telling us it wants us dead, impoverished and more unequal than ever. A virus is not a radical solution to a crisis of our own making.
6. The freelance epidemiologists
They have read a study from the US, which said that restaurants are viral vectors and one from Japan where it says we must not talk loudly. They say things such as: “T-cells are where it’s at.”
I know because I am one. They say: “Stand back” – until they have a glass of wine, and then they say: “Gissa a hug – it’s been so long.” They talk about Sweden a lot, though they have never been there. They think information is power. Which it is for about one hour in the pub.
7. The ‘I had it in November’ clan
I know a number of people who claim to have had Covid before it appeared in Wuhan. They are the same kind of people who say they have flu when they have a cold. Is this magical thinking? As an amateur virologist, what do I know? Sod all.
8. The pragmatists
“Hygge peaked too early. Now comes the winter of our discontent. Get the hot chocolate on, a blanket, brandy, mittens. Let your sadness draw in as the nights do. Feel whatever it is you feel. There are no wrong feelings right now. Just warm your hands by the fire.”
9. The unrewarded heroes
“No more applause. Pay rises, furlough extensions, respect!”
10. The existentialists
“We are all dying anyway.” This lot are always a laugh. “There is not love of life without despair about life,” said funny old Camus. I prefer Mae West: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
• Suzanne Moore is a Guardian columnist