Saturday 21 March 2020

Fortress Chateau L

As from last night we're all at home on a permanent basis. No commuting, no offices, no school, just five people living on top of each other. I think there could be lots of positives - normally our family are so busy with one thing and another that it is rare that we spend any time together. That's not to say that there might not be some bumps along the way as we readjust to our new schedules, but on the whole I think this could actually be rather nice. Until we kill each other.

We're ready, or at least I think so. Mrs L has brought her desk chair back from work, and we've set up a work space in the spare room. I've bought a new computer, which we sort of needed anyway, as well as another screen for when e-learning kicks in. Other than that my panic buying has been limited to a 5L tin of olive oil from the local Turkish supermarket, 10kg of BBQ coals, and six more bottles of Rosé. If we are stuck in Chateau L over spring and summer there are some basic needs that need to be catered for. That is assuming we can actually get anything to put on the barbecue. If not, wine by itself will be perfectly acceptable.

Not everyone is as sensible as me however. I was forced to visit the local Tesco yesterday morning before work. Boots was not open and Mrs L needed some critical "right now" items that she had unfortunately not stockpiled, and I needed some hayfever tablets. The world has changed a lot recently, but I expect nobody has told the trees and grasses and they still plan on releasing a shed load of pollen right on time. I am a sufferer, particularly earlier in the season, and with endless birding on the horizon as there will be nothing else to do I needed to get a few weeks worth. 

I'd heard that supermarkets were carnage but nothing could have prepared me. The place was packed, the queues for the tills stretched in enormous snakes to the back of the shop. Many of the shelves were bare at 8am. A few lonely items sat in disarray whilst seemingly the whole of East London wheeled grossly overladen trolleys around looking for goods that may have escaped their frantic attention first time around. A few forlorn shoppers who had missed the boat scratched around looking for something, anything, that might provide sustenance. Fortunately for me the things we needed were just about still in stock (heaven forbid if I had wanted a tin of tomatoes...) and I could pay for them at the chemist bit relatively quickly - a few chancers were trying to pay for food shopping there but getting sent away.

There were tannoy announcements saying that shoppers could only have three of any one item so I imagine that there were going to be some heated arguments at the tills, but I did not stay to witness one. Frankly it was grim, but of course not unexpected - a sign of the times. There are stories of hospital workers finishing long shifts and then being unable to buy any food - if their local supermarkets are anything like mine I can well believe it. 

I really don't understand the mentality, but it's happening across the globe - the prevailing attitude is just me me me. Hopefully once the initial panic has abated and people realise that this is survivable without 80kg of pasta and 900 rolls of toilet paper there will be less outright selfishness and more acts of human kindness. We have already put a note through the door of our elderly neighbour over the road in case she needs something - we've had a weekly online delivery for a couple of years now and can easily add anything. So far during this crisis I think we have had our favourite brand of houmous replaced by a different one, which suggests to me that wholesale panic is unwarranted. Today's delivery even contains toilet paper, a whole 9 rolls. I will be taking them straight down to the Tesco car park and auctioning them to the highest bidder.

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