This year I achieved nothing. All I discovered were the limits of my unambition

Did I waste one of the great self-improvement opportunities of my life playing video games, getting into craft beer and cleaning the bathroom too much?

‘Look at this,” I say to my girlfriend. “Pretty cool, right?” I am slowly rubbing a mildly abrasive product called Bar Keeper’s Friend into the white worktop of our kitchen counter, eradicating an almost invisible stain. “It’s mildly abrasive, I guess,” I continue, when she says nothing. “You remember that coffee ring?” Silence.

Seven weeks into the first lockdown, my girlfriend and I have nothing left to say to one another. Every possible human experience that has occurred in this flat over the past two and a half months has been vocalised, analysed and wrung dry. One night before bed, she pleaded: “Say something to me!” and, in desperation, I started talking about a podcast I had listened to earlier in the day, but one I couldn’t remember entirely, so I spent 20 minutes roughly explaining the concept of Nikola Tesla before falling asleep. In comparison, ushering her to the kitchen to watch me almost remove a coffee stain is a vast improvement. “It’ll probably need another going over, but …” I trail off. “How much was it?” she asks. I’m electrified by the chance at having something new to say. “It was two pounds and 99 pence.”

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