HALLOWEEN, Guy Fawkes, Christmas . . . all look to be cancelled this year. We have to face it; given the increase in Covid infections, the party seasons can’t go ahead.

Can you imagine any child would be allowed to come to your door this October 31, unless they arrive wearing full hazmat suits featuring gas mask faces? It will be next to impossible for them to claim they’ve come as anything but an infectious diseases hospital worker, or Naomi Campbell, (who managed to grab lots of column inches with her dramatic choice of dresswear).

Who wants a potential little germ carrier anywhere near their house, even if it’s obvious they’ve been rehearsing that Little Mix song for months?

And so what if the little person is wearing a Spider-Man suit? Don’t you fear that supermarket-bought acrylic gloves are perfect for not only firing off fake sticky web but instant virus, straight into your lungs?

Guy Fawkes? Forget the debate about celebrating the failure to blow up the House of Lords; do you really want to stand in a muddy field watching thousands of pounds worth of potassium nitrate being scattered senselessly by showboating dads while young children stand freezing in puddles – and dogs across the country become traumatised depressives? And all the time sneezing children and facemask-denier adults are blowing the virus right into our eyeballs.

Christmas? Well, we all love Santa time, don’t we. But what can it mean for us this year? The children’s nativity play will only be allowed to feature Mary and the Baby Jesus, and possibly one donkey. There will be no Wise Men, or Wise Women, no angels, no supporting cast.

Mary will be wearing a full plastic face guard, since she has little bouts of asthma, and Jesus and the donkey will be wrapped in PPE and doused in Dettol.

And for the traditional Christmas fun centre? No, not the panto. The office party. It can no longer be that epicentre of huge laughs and even bigger regrets. No one will be allowed to wake up the next day with the morning-after realisation you’ve a) slept with the boss b) slept with someone you thought was the boss – but turned out to be a sales rep from Stenhousemuir who had crashed the party.

This is the likelihood ahead for the year. But does that mean we have to accept it?

This week it’s been announced that the Pavilion Theatre in Glasgow is to stage a panto. It won’t be an audience-packed panto. In fact, it won’t feature an audience at all. The Pavilion plans to film the panto – at a safe distance – and screen it online.

It’s a chance to hire a cast and pay performers. It’s a chance for families at home to have a shared experience. But most of all it’s an example of endeavour, a determination to re-glue ourselves to tradition, to hold onto the custom and practice that allows us to punctuate the year.

The arts community up and down Scotland right now is working on ways to make us sit up and smile over the next few months. And we need to pick up on that undiluted enthusiasm.

We need moments to remember that don’t involve a Covid count. We need to be able to look back on 2020 and think of more than care home disasters, lockdowns, school exam fiascos and young people facing social and economic disaster.

That’s why we need to buy into (literally) those events being staged at a safe distance or remotely. We have to be reminded of what it’s like to have fun.

We need occasions to at least be able to pretend we have a sense of social order, a commitment to others we rarely register.

The annual events are a chance to reach inwards and release the inner child. If we can hold onto a semblance of what they’re supposed to represent, the chance to spend time with family members (even if you do your best to avoid them most days of the year) it will be rewarding.

And because of Covid, if you can meet other people at Christmas, you won’t bring along that fixed smile, as fake as the mistletoe that hangs above the kitchen door. The pandemic has, if nothing else, told we have to grab onto special moments to punctuate the gloom in our lives.

So mask up, meet up where legal, send the kids out guising if possible – and support the theatre world.

At least until the New Year when life returns to normal. Well, we’ll have a vaccine then, won’t we?

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