Happy Talk

The extroverts have arrived and taken a wrecking ball to my solitude

Zoom beers, endless memes on WhatsApp groups and messages from people you haven’t heard from in months – Christine Manby doesn’t mean to be antisocial but she’ll be glad when the needy can go out again

Sunday 12 April 2020 12:03
Illustration by Tom Ford
Illustration by Tom Ford

or 25 years I’ve lived an introvert’s dream. My work as a writer means I don’t have to leave my house to go into an office. Looking back over the past quarter century, I’ve averaged just four or five face-to-face meetings with editors and agents each year. These days even “book tours” are done almost entirely online. Some might consider a writer’s life to be lonely, but for me the lack of day-to-day, face-to-face interaction is one of the best things about it.

So, when talk of self-isolation first entered the national lexicon, I had no fear of the concept whatsoever. I laughed along with fellow writers (the introverted ones at least) who declared they’d been self-isolating for ages and wouldn’t have it any other way. Even as the word lockdown started to be bandied about with more regularity, I wasn’t too worried. As long as I could still go out for a long walk each day, my life really wouldn’t change much at all. But I’d reckoned without the rest of the world getting locked down alongside me.

On Monday 23 March, while up and down the United Kingdom people reacted in horror as they felt their lives shrink to fit within their four walls, I was experiencing a slightly different kind of oppression. Suddenly it felt as though someone had set about the walls of my carefully constructed quiet life with a wrecking ball. The extroverts were coming.

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