Last night husband and I popped into the supermarket on the way home from work. It was a nice supermarket, where the bread is not rectangular, and the range of cheeses is comprehensive (i.e. Waitrose for those of you in the UK).
It was a strange experience with naked shelves, weary staff and politely annoyed customers with empty baskets. As we have slid smoothly into the unwelcome arms of a pandemic, I have been confused and bemused by the reports of stockpiling and a new obsession with toilet paper. Now I was experiencing it in person.
I was planning to buy:
- Dried pasta
- A few generic painkillers
- Some cleaning cloths
- Possibly some hand sanitizer as it seems useful right now.
We came out with:
- The most expensive high-end Italian fresh pasta, as no-one can keep that in their food stockpile
- Salad, as no-one can hoard that either
- An electric toothbrush (50% off!)
- Crisps, cheese-flavoured
- A bottle of gin, because my husband needs it.
What else could go wrong?
In 2011 we moved to London from Sydney. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but since we arrived, we have seen ruthless government budget cuts (‘austerity’), terrorism attacks and Brexit. In 2020 we started the year feeling tired but almost hopeful. What else could go wrong?
But we’ve gone from punching each other and ourselves in the face over Brexit, to not being able to shake hands our touch our own faces because of a coronavirus.
With all the bravado and bullshit of ‘best of British’ or ‘British values’ being thrown around like fistfuls of racist confetti during Brexit, I wonder what qualities the COVID-19 emergency will bring out in people.
Keep calm and carry on? I hope so. I will join the orderly queue for my allocation of toilet paper, dried pasta and hand sanitizer.