Friday 27 March 2020

The Queue Outside Tesco

Probable fate.
Benedict Ambrose are both still employed, thank heavens, which means we do not sit around reading great books or binge-watching Netflix: we work.

But we clean more than usual, and I make war on the weeds. We go for daily walks, a new ritual, because B.A. no longer walks to work and I no longer go to my gym, which I miss terribly. I miss my bus time, too, which I dedicated to study. I haven't yet found a new study rhythm.

We also check Twitter, and I noted the outrage about the Derbyshire Police spying on people embarked on "not essential travel" in famous beauty spots with drones. I am not outraged for several reasons, most stemming from a lifetime of reading about petrol restrictions during the Second World War. I am also sympathetic to the country folk frightened of townies bringing the Vile Germ and clogging up their local medical centres. Finally, I am envious of people with cars being able to see major tourist sites without any other tourists in them, so a mean little spirit within me says "Ha ha" to them being caught by drones.

What I wouldn't give to see for myself the canals of Venice running clear or Florence reserved solely to the Florentines (and me). But there it is. Technically I could walk to central Edinburgh on a sunny day and admire its sunlit quiet, but I might have difficulty convincing Police Scotland that this is well within the meaning of "exercise." Traffic flows unabated in my neighbourhood, which is apparently full of essential workers.

B.A. and I walk usually along a river, which is nice, although never without other walkers, climb a hill, admire a Georgian church, and go down the hill, sometimes dropping into Tesco. Yesterday, our entrance into Tesco was stopped by an Italian Tesco worker who explained that we had to go around to the other doors and join the queue. Shocked, we didn't ask why, we just went around to the other side to look. And behold--20 or so people, singles and couples, standing at six foot intervals along the front of our enormous Tesco Extra.

Now, I realise that for many people today this is nothing new, and in Communist times Eastern and Central Europeans spent hours a day queuing for food, but the queue outside Tesco shocked the living daylights out of me. If someone asked me, "Mrs McLean, what does freedom and prosperity mean to you?" I would say, "It means popping into Tesco to buy the nice French butter and popping out again in ten minutes or less." Suffice it to say, that the queue outside Tesco impressed upon me that we really are in a National Emergency.

Meanwhile, I was merely on a break from work, so instead of queuing we went to the newsagent's up our street and bought a tub of spreadable Lurpak. On the way there, we saw one of B.A.'s  young former colleagues with her husband and we shouted conversation at each other from ten or so feet away. She is a yoga instructor and still has to pay rent on her studio in our nearest community centre. She is giving lessons online, but she's not sure she will break even. Fortunately the government is helping out the self-employed, but unfortunately she is not sure if she qualifies, having been partly employed and partly self-employed in the past three years.

It was hard for me to get back to work--which was reporting Tucker Carlson's thoughts about the American media's editorial spin on chloroquine--because I was so distressed by the Tesco queue. I am starting to become agoraphobic, and I really do not want to stand outside a mere six feet from strangers in the hopes that kitchen staples will still be in the shop when I get in. However, I realise that this is not in keeping with the Old Blitz Spirit, so I might as well do the thing properly by tying on a headscarf and digging out a basket.

Speaking of the Old Blitz Spirit, have you heard of the British Pet Massacre? I hadn't until I went looking for photos of British women queuing during the Second World War and came across this.

Day's Gardening Note: Rain. Finished paving stones. Dug up dandelions in first section of lawn. Researched how to keep cats out of veg beds (net, pointy things, pepper spray).

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