Perhaps it is true that someday the meek shall inherit the Earth, but it is the organised who now own it. I envy them – with their advance bookings for seemingly every pub bench, lido swim slot and lunchtime express mani – and their enviable levels of self-awareness, knowing what they might want and when, weeks before impromptu sorts like me.
But the more I think about it, the more I think there’s a good life lesson here: that in a society built on individualism and arguably obsessed with our own uniqueness, it is refreshing to be reminded of one’s ordinariness, in that way only a “fully booked” notice can do.
No matter how idiosyncratic one’s tastes (visit to obscure Saxon ruin? Fully booked. Tickets to shows by international artists no one’s heard of? Sold out in three mins), there will always be other people who have the same. Because it is through others that we are shaped and moulded; through their recommendations and the example they set. They help carve out who we are, no matter how special we might kid ourselves we are.
Actually, as reminders of one’s own normie-ness go, few are as visceral as the night-time howls of my kitten in heat: she is in a queue to be neutered that is several months long, because clearly I was not the only person to adopt a pet over lockdown. “Miaowwwwwww,” she cries at 4am, each screech a reminder that there are no original ideas left.
So, though I may gripe at each plan thwarted and snipe about the temporary loss of spontaneity in life, I tell myself that everyone needs an occasional reminder of how similar we can be. And what better than those two words: fully booked.