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Balloon tennis, anyone? And other things we can do without touching!

PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 March 2020

When I play balloon tennis, it doesn't look anything like this! Still fun, though         Picture: Constantinis/Getty Images/iStockphoto

When I play balloon tennis, it doesn't look anything like this! Still fun, though Picture: Constantinis/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Constantinis

Coronavirus: Ideas to make the best of things while we’re hunkered down at home

Why not revisit the classic Carry On films to help pass the time  Picture: THE RANK ORGANISATION/IMDBWhy not revisit the classic Carry On films to help pass the time Picture: THE RANK ORGANISATION/IMDB

It makes sense to give each other a wide berth, inside and outside the house. Here are some ideas to make the most of a bad lot, add some variety to life, and have a bit of fun.

With a nod to that initial question - what can we do without touching? - how about trying to dig out (or even stream?) a Carry On film? (The early ones are best.) Whether we laugh, groan or tut at the double-entendres, it should pass an hour or so happily.

Yes, it's spring, but this is an ideal time to make sure you're keeping only good-quality decorations, like these     Picture: IAN BURTYes, it's spring, but this is an ideal time to make sure you're keeping only good-quality decorations, like these Picture: IAN BURT

Plus:

Christmas: Yes, really. Are your decorations like mine were? I was fed up with paperchains that tore and weird-plastic garlands that broke (and smelled pretty chemically). They were recycled or dumped.

We invested in festive cloth bunting. It’s seen four Christmases, should see another 40, and is so easy (and robust) to hang up.

Take the chance to weed out decorations that have seen better days.

Music can help us feel better and more optimistic  Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTOMusic can help us feel better and more optimistic Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Music! It just makes us feel better, brighter, more optimistic. Put together 10 songs you like (web links to videos on YouTube etc) and share with family and friends. Cue discussions and banter.

Go further: Put together a playlist you think the recipient will like, plus some you know they probably won’t have heard of or would ever consider. You might widen their horizons.

If you’re really keen, make similar lists of film clips or TV programmes.

Can you think up some devilish questions?       Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoCan you think up some devilish questions? Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Quizzes: Much as above. Devise questions and distribute, via email or similar. Doubtless you’ll get some back. General knowledge... themes... - the options are unlimited. Just don’t come to blows over the interpretation of answers. No physical contact, remember!

Plenty of electronic games out there to help pass the time  Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTOPlenty of electronic games out there to help pass the time Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Electronic games: Computer games aren’t my thing, so I’m entering the digital jungle here, but it seems you can get free multiplayer games for your PC. Microsoft here has possibilities such as Connect 4, Backgammon and Miracolous Lady Bug Dominoes. (Couldn’t resist typing that.)

It seems you’ll need to set up a Microsoft account, and the games do take up some disk space. To be on the safe side, maybe ask a tech-aware person you know about what’s best to download/use.

Hmmh. A Heads, Bodies and Legs picture - the component parts 'drawn' by different players    Picture: ARCHANTHmmh. A Heads, Bodies and Legs picture - the component parts 'drawn' by different players Picture: ARCHANT

Old-school fun: Remember Heads, Bodies and Legs? It’s not just for childhood. All you need is paper and pencil. Draw a head (as crazy as you like) and fold the top edge of the paper down, leaving just short lines leading from the neck. Swap with someone else - who then draws a body, folds the paper, and leaves four short lines for the top of the legs. Swap (ideally with a third person) and draw legs. Unfold and laugh at how imaginative you’ve all been.

You may also want to watch:

Dream about how you could improve your garden, with fresh ideas and plants       Picture: ArchantDream about how you could improve your garden, with fresh ideas and plants Picture: Archant

Blooming lovely: Look at gardening catalogues (online or traditional paper) and chat, dream and plan. When “normal life” resumes, make a few changes and dedicate them to better days ahead.

If you really need it: stick it in an album. If not: recycle     Picture: ARCHANTIf you really need it: stick it in an album. If not: recycle Picture: ARCHANT

Picture perfect: If you’re anything like me, you have piles of traditional photographs in piles. Sift them, have a laugh (maybe a cry) with your co-sifter as you remember occasions and people, and decide what to keep.

Put them in albums - and try to note who the people and places are, and when they were taken. That’s invaluable for those who might look at them in years to come.

It’s also a good chance to prune the pictures you have on electronic gadgets. Many can be binned; valuable ones can be stored on external electronic drives and/or printed out. Do back up any held electronically.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. Listening to a story is wonderful. This is storyteller Usifu Jalloh      Picture:  SIMON FINLAYAre you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. Listening to a story is wonderful. This is storyteller Usifu Jalloh Picture: SIMON FINLAY

Copy Jackanory: Remember the BBC programme? An adult, usually a household name, read a children’s story out loud.

There’s something soothing about being read to, while your brain comfortably drifts into a kind of mental idling gear. Take it in turns to read, in shortish bursts. Agatha Christie, Hilary Mantel... even Fifty Shades, if you like (though it is a terrible book, in my humble opinion).

Who can resist playing a bit of balloon tennis?  Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTOWho can resist playing a bit of balloon tennis? Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Balloon tennis: Take a blown-up balloon (not too taut) and stand opposite each other.

Essentially, you can either pat the balloon between you, trying to stop it touching the ground or invent a kind of volleyball game where you try to thwack the balloon past your opponent.

Make up rules as you go along. Things like the playing area and how much you’re allowed to move your feet.

VITAL: Be careful not to a) fall over; b) damage fixtures and fittings; c) smash the ceiling-light while attempting an overhead smash. (I speak from experience).

It’s more energetic than you might think – a perfect workout.

Cluedo is a classic game of murder mystery where everyone is trying to work out who done it  Picture: STEVE ADAMSCluedo is a classic game of murder mystery where everyone is trying to work out who done it Picture: STEVE ADAMS

Board games: Needs little explanation. Time (if you’ve lost sight of them) to rediscover the joys of communal “competition” that invariably ends with everyone feeling more cheerful than when they started.

Declutter: It can be fun – especially if you’ve got someone within chatting distance who can help you make decisions. Try to be ruthless!

Finally: Let’s dream, and talk about how we might live post-Covid-19.

This episode is flagging all the good aspects of life (community spirit and selflessness) and putting things in perspective. Let’s all plan to build on the positives and (to use a ghastly phrase) not sweat the small stuff.

Our physical and emotional needs are really quite simple. Let’s prioritise those, and not worry too much about peripheral distractions. What do you think?

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