On Dutch seks-buddies and Zooming

Sometime in March, the Dutch entered into what the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) describe as ‘intelligent lockdown’, with up to three visitors allowed into a home, providing, of course, they keep their distance.

After coming under harsh criticism for the guidance not to shake hands or engage in sexual activity, the RIVM have reviewed their stance and have come up with a commendably open-minded solution for singletons: a seksbuddy. I learned this yesterday, and I have to admit, it has thrilled me no end – no pun intended – and has to be my favourite thing since lockdown began. It’s also brought a whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘going Dutch’.

In the UK, singletons have been left to their own devices, for want of a better phrase, whilst couples living apart are instructed either to stay apart for the duration, or to move in together asap. In fact, I seem to remember in one of the official press-thingys, a Corona-famous public figure encouraged British couples to test the strength of their relationship in this way. But let’s face it, for lots of new couples, hearing their new partner farting through the paper-thin MDF walls of the ensuite might be a test too far and will soon have them wanting to move out again. So unlike No.10’s solution, the RIVM’s new guidelines allow singletons to meet up with one other like-minded and equally randy individuals to get frisky at a mutually agreeable time and place, and presumably, in a mutually agreeable way.

It’s now forming a part of their new lockdown-exit strategy. Also allowed are visits to the hairdressers, nail-bars and beauticians. I assume these are much needed pre-emptive appointments before a visit to see your nominated seks-buddy, whilst trips to libraries may come further down in your list of plans. Unless, of course, one of you is displaying symptoms of the Coronavirus, meaning you should not get down-and-dirty, but rather engage in more modest activities such as phone-sex or reading erotic stories to each other. In this case, that visit to the library might come in handy as a precursor after all.

Whilst all of this amuses me immensely in its own right, it has got me thinking. For a start, I can’t help but think how much more helpful the Dutch guidance is than ‘Stay Alert’. And it’s also got me contemplating about life for singletons post-lockdown. Even the formerly ill-judged but essentially harmless drunken Saturday-night-snog could have much further reaching repercussions than a cold-sore and some cringing, and I don’t just mean Covid-19. Imagine telling your boss on a Monday morning that you won’t be presenting yourself for work because you drank too many Porn-star Martinis, snogged Shrek and now have to self-isolate for 14 days.

I am also tickled pink at the apparent differences between the Dutch way to amuse yourself versus the British. This is because, it seems to me that the thing the average Brit craves the most at the minute is a Zoom quiz. There’s no physical intimacy – unless you consider leaning over your notepad with your team mate in a conspiratorial fashion – and no room for sentiment. Who needs that when you can have cold hard fact? Who needs to be sneaking round to see their seks-buddy when you could be thrill-seekingly Googling ‘who wrote War and Peace?’ behind the sofa-cushion?

Of course, I take the proverbial but there’s probably merit in this too. It seems that in these times of unprecedented – I really loathe that word – times of uncertainty, we want concrete, unmovable truths. We don’t want fluid or manifold or vulnerable to change, because that’s what we have in our every day; every time we open a paper, every time we open social media, every time we watch the daily TV updates. Hear me out, but I think that’s why I am struggling to read fiction where ordinarily I could ravish a book in a matter of hours. Now, the world is sufficiently bizarre and dystopian as it is.

Perhaps the ideal would be something of a compromise, because on a serious note, no one is denying the benefits of human contact on both physical and mental health. Just to clarify, I don’t necessarily mean sex, because I like to cuddle my nan. Instead, something that is sensitive to our physical need for at least human contact, and our need for psychological certainty. So when along comes the second wave, or if – heaven forbid – another pandemic hits us, I’ll be advocating an Encyclocuddle-buddy: someone to cuddle whilst reading an encyclopedia, consuming an array of fascinating facts. Who’s with me?

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