When I was young and all too free, and living in Montreal, my roommate and I often would jump into a cab to go to Whitey’s Hideaway where we’d drink gin and listen to an excellent jazz jukebox. A couple of young men we would meet there were impressed with the largesse we demonstrated with taxis and with heavy tipping. They said we were like characters from Guys and Dolls and dubbed me “Peaches” and her “Bubbles.”
I thought of this the other day when a friend phoned and sang me that old tune, I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles. It’s a song with a century-old history.. Written by Nat Vincent, John Kellette, James Kendis and James Brockman,it was first sung in 1918 and was a major Tin Pan Alley hit. Since then it has been sung by Dame Vera Lynn, Doris Day, Dean Martin, and many, many others. I find it a sweet song, a kind of cheerful ditty, although the verses are poignant:
The song quickly became the club anthem of the English Premier League team West Ham United and it has been sung at their games every year up to the 2019 game in Olympic Stadium.
Through the years, the word “bubble” has come to mean many things: A sparkling drink, something rising to the surface or, more negatively, a place inhabited by someone who is overly sheltered. Living in a bubble has been a criticism of daydreamers or people not open to new ideas.
Bubble was a charmingly ditsy character in the TV serious Absolutely Fabulous and a rather unsavory chap in Trailer Park Boys. Bubbles was also a fish in Finding Nemo.
However, since the virus began the word “bubble” is mostly used in reference to the restricted number of people one is limited to seeing. That’s a total of six. Fewer, if possible.
Although most people are trying to live in tiny bubbles, we notice that there are still a fair number of big bubbles around. I think of them as Bubbles of Privilege or Bubbles of Entitlement. They’re inhabited by people who think the rules don’t apply to them. People who think that their wants and needs are more important than those of the rest of us.
The precise meaning of the term seems to be lost on many people. I’ve heard people say things like, “They are sort of in our bubble,” or “She is in one of my bubbles.”
A bubble is intended to mean a fixed number of people and an exclusive membership, i.e. just one bubble, and you can’t move from one bubble to another.
Sometimes people say the regulations are confusing, or that that they don’t know what a “bubble” or a “household” is, but I think in our hearts we all know what a tiny bubble is meant to be, and the rules seem pretty clear to me.