Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Shopping and being out and about in a time of crisis!

In view of the fact that our Prime Minister might put me under house arrest by the weekend - well, insist that all of us 70+ people stay at home - I decided that I had to get out and about somewhat today.

First of all I managed to get myself a hairdresser’s appointment. After all, if I am confined to barracks for a couple of months I might as well start off without my un-tinted roots showing. And then there were various supplies I wanted to pick up from Boots the Chemist. (Inly semi-successful as someone has panic-bought their supplies of soluble vitamin C tablets! How thoughtless!) There are also some family birthdays in the offing and ai wanted to be prepared. Finally, there was my Italian conversation class. I have paid for these, after all, and have already missed a couple by going off on my travels.

At the hairdresser’s my stylist got me involved in a conversation with her and her brother about a wreath they were proposing to buy for their mother. When the brother suggested this, my stylist quipped that their mother is not dead yet. But it turned out not to be that kind of wreath. Like the elaborate concoctions that people buy to put on their doors during the Christmas period, there are wreaths on sale to present to your much appreciated mother for Mother’s Day. Who knew? Anyway, their mother had expressed admiration for one such wreath and they were determined to get one for her.

It’s a far cry from the hand-made cards and scrappy bunch if flowers that always used to be the tradition. Now every shop has suggestions for expensive cosmetics, flower arrangements, even apparently sex-aids, that you can offer to your mother. No! This has gone too far!

My stylist went on to talk about her struggle with chocolate and her technique of eating half a piece at a time instead of a whole bar. She might well return to the bar for another half piece several times during the day but at least she is not bingeing. She applies the same tactic to making chocolate digestives last longer - she eats only half a biscuit at a time. Okay! It’s a plan!

When I arrived home this evening, by the way, and was putting the final touches to a late meal, I happened to spot a chocolate digestive biscuit packet wrapper in the bin. Uh! Oh! I thought, Phil has discovered the hidden packet. (I regularly hide chocolate bars and chocolate biscuits to prevent over-indulgence and rapid consumption of the same.) So where were the biscuits? No sign of them. A little later I asked that question. Answer: eaten! All of them! But over the last few days! Such sneakiness!

Getting back to my day, I travelled carefully on public transport, trying to distance myself from other travellers - some say a metre, others say six feet is the optimum distance between strangers. That’s okay. We can mostly manage that. I find myself reminded if when Joni Mitchell sang this:

“Back in 1957
We had to dance a foot apart
And they hawk-eyed us from the sidelines
Holding their rulers without a heart
And so with just a touch of our fingers
I could make our circuitry explode
All we ever wanted
Was just to come in from the cold.”

Fear of contamination or, in the case of Joni and her school friends at high school dances, the teachers’ fear that the youngsters might get too excited.

We were a rather depleted Italian class but we persevered. Our teacher-friend was having something of a rant at what has been going on in supermarkets here. Why, she wondered, have the English suddenly developed such a love of pasta that they have cleared the shelve? English restraint has seemingly gone out of the window. But what enraged her most was the chickpea question. Not finding much of what wanted left on the shelves of her local Tesco she finally bought, among other things, two tins of chickpeas. Arriving at the checkout she was challenged by the cashier: “You are only allowed to buy one tin.” You can imagine the rage of a hot-blooded Sicilian on being told she could only buy one tin of an item that most English people turn their noses up at!

She later picked up ample supplies at Waitrose. Waitrose customers are less likely to ransack the shelves and Waitrose staff less likely to challenge customers!

We are all uncertain whether next week’s class will take place. There is every possibility that this week’s advice could become next week’s absolute directive. We shall see.

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