The Quarantine Guide to… Hot and Sweaty Birthdays for Loners


When you’re born in the summer without a budget for go-karting, your birthday was overlooked at school. All your classmates were at Center Parcs, so you spent your birthdays with your family, or by yourself. In secondary school, you’d scroll away on your phone. Your birthday selfie was cute but someone else in your year went to Torremolinos that day, so she got more likes than you. A new milestone in your life was always overshadowed by an endless cabal of rolling waves, white sand, and smug interrailers eating Big Macs in Prague.

But this has given us an unusual advantage: we are prepared for a birthday in isolation. A pandemic has swiped everyone’s plans away, so you can have the same lonely birthday but with less jealousy and more freedom to enjoy your special day in solitude.

For those who spent their summer birthdays in Prague, Torremolinos, or (dare I say) Center Parcs, do not fear! The socially reclusive Leos are here! Here is my step-by-step guide on how I made the most of my birthday in our current climate of social distancing and quarantine:

I wake up before 12 so I have time to be happy about being awake before high noon hits. I didn’t wait up until midnight for the birthday messages because I grew up. I got 8 hours of sleep so that I could brood over the inevitable loss of my youth for as long as possible today. The family I don’t live with called, and wished they could be there (I didn’t) and I told them their presents didn’t arrive (they did, but now, more will follow).

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I go for a walk by myself over the illustrious green fields of… The Downs. I wade through tall grass on a threadbare path as I listen to Kate Bush. I am not Cathy, and I am not coming home. I wear flowy culottes partially because of the sweltering heat, but also because if I get Lyme disease I could get a semblance of the attention that everyone else gets on their birthday.

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Having decided that it is worth making an effort, I decide to get snacks for a film night. I get the 166 bus to West Croydon which is in itself a birthday treat. I pretend to adjust my facemask as I contemptuously glower at those who neglect to wear one. The lack of consequences is disconcerting but the feeling of self-righteousness is a special present that I have bestowed unto myself. I am the only one with a mask, I am the best person in Purley Downlands Precinct. I will ride this high to its end.

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I have been surrounded by Quorn products, frozen berries, and cold meats for ten minutes now. This is the coolest I’ve felt since I listened to The Neighbourhood out loud in 2014. I’m relishing in the crisp delights of the frozen aisle in Tesco; every part of me is cold except for my veiled face. I have granted myself an escape from the roaring heat tundra outside. This is the way to turn 20, and I will be seeing more of this aisle in the near future.

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I am now sitting in a deckchair outside my flat. This is not my garden. I have four bags of mixed berries with me (I mixed mine personally but storebought is fine). I haven’t thought of Center Parcs all day. I watch the sun shrink behind the block of flats in front of me and go inside. Birthday well spent.

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Try not to think of this birthday as the one where your plans were snatched from you. Think of this birthday as the one you’ve secretly been waiting for.

More articles in The Quarantine Guide To
  1. The Quarantine Guide to… Seeing? Real? People?
  2. The Quarantine Guide to… Attempting to House-Hunt as an International Student
  3. The Quarantine Guide to… More Online Learning? Really?
  4. The Quarantine Guide to… I’ll Eat What I Want Now, Mother
  5. The Quarantine Guide to… Shopping in Portswood Without Breaking The Law
  6. The Quarantine Guide to… Decorating Your Room Like You Don’t Already Hate It
  7. The Quarantine Guide to… Being Your Own Best Friend
  8. The Quarantine Guide to… Becoming Baller
  9. The Quarantine Guide to… Son, Sext and Suspicious Parents
  10. The Quarantine Guide to… Hot and Sweaty Birthdays for Loners
  11. The Quarantine Guide to… Terrible, Awful, Very Bad Haircuts
  12. The Quarantine Guide to… Living With Devil Children
  13. The Quarantine Guide to… Staying Sane
  14. The Quarantine Guide to… Cooking?
  15. The Quarantine Guide to… Lockdown Tzsujing Your Christmas Traditions!

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