My reliance on shameless ear-wigging to provide content for this weekly blog is presenting a challenge. Fascinating though I find my own internal wittering, there is definitely a drought in terms of ‘new’ material. I fully appreciate that globally we have far more pressing issues to contend with, but if you do have time on your hands, I leave it to you to inspire next week’s offering with your comments.
I need to note here that one-size will certainly not fit all in terms of this Corona context. Irreverent though I am, I have enough self awareness to know that my flippancy could cause offence. If I blog about contending with a little ‘boredom’ and lonliness right now, those families who are estranged, parted or just plain anxious about their loved ones on the front line, are hardly going to rush to cry this river with me.
Appreciate this though I do, unfortunately my modus operdani is to deal with anxiety and sorrow with inappropriate humour. Apologies in advance. And so it goes.
While my life has slowed right down, for some people life has never been busier. WFH (Working From Home) or not, many have a ‘to do’ list curving exponentially out of control. NHS workers, pharmacists, supermarket employees or those working for a haulage company for instance, can only fantasise about WFH. Working longer days AFH (Away From Home), they return to convince school aged children that ‘this isn’t an academic holiday’; to navigate adult children through a new world of furlough and then have to coach vulnerable relatives to use enough technology to avoid becoming a hermit – something that they again, can only dream about. If they do get a moment to themselves, they are zoom raided by their friends because we are bored silly with WFH/furlough, have downloaded far too many apps to help us socialise and now want to hear all about their day because our’s has been so dull. And so it goes.
Oh and in my case, I will also want to pick their brains for future blog material. (Remember comments at the bottom, please).
As I now only leave home for my daily jog and an occasional foray into school, I am not speaking (or listening in) to many real people at the moment. The students who are able to come into school are so relieved to be out of their own houses that they really do not need to engage in a conversation with an adult – particularly this one.
I do as much people watching as I can without risk of being reported, and, as I can no longer stop and sit on a public bench to do this – I make full use of any long stint queuing to get into the supermarket. Yesterday, while in this queue, I managed to clean my sunglasses, empty all the detritus from the bottom of my handbag, find a recipe for soda bread and peel off some very old nail varnish.
It now takes so long to get round the supermarket (and quite rightly so) that I find myself becoming increasingly nosy about the contents of the food trolleys which are socially distanced around me; I experience nostalgia for foods I left in childhood. Time passes relatively quickly as I begin to question my food values. Is fish paste really a tasty sandwich filler? Do you not get curly hair if you eat crustless bread? Angel Delight – is it really? And, most important of all, do we get a lot of chocolate on our biscuit if we ‘join your club’?
Once inside the store, I discover that it was a waste of time finding the recipe for soda bread because there is now no flour on the shelves. There is plenty of pappy white sliced bread instead. Sod the home cooking, that over-processed large farmhouse will go fine with the fish paste and will surely defy its sell by date by virtue of the long thread of preservatives listed on the wrapper. Well, the loaf probably won’t need to last that long, because I will return to boredom eating as soon as I return home.
On a particularly slow manoeuvre between aisle 11 and 12 (chicane congestion caused by crowd unrest over the cereal offer (granola, people), I find myself lured into a debate between two cashiers – staff deployed to police over-taking on this notorious bend:
‘Are you a chocolate or a chocolate cake person, Mary?’
‘Can’t I be both?’
‘No, they taste very, very different. You need to get off the chocolate fence’
‘They taste the same to me’
‘No, think about it – one is a softer, more dense experience and the flavour is softened by the sponge; the other is richer, darker. Come on, you need to make a decision.’
‘You are trying to influence my choice’
‘I’m not. Look, let’s ask this nosy lady here, the one ear-wigging with her trolley full of granola and Angel Delight. Where do you stand, Madam?’
In fact I don’t need to stand because the queue starts moving again and I make it back out into the sunlit car park, invigorated by human conversation and a friendly cashier. I linger as I load up my car boot, for I am reluctant to return home. Realising that essential shopping won’t count if I go around the supermarket twice, I resist the urge to rejoin the back of the queue. I just feel that if I could make it back to those lovely staff on the No Man’s Land traverse between aisles 11 and 12, Mary will surely have a view on whether I am getting enough chocolate on my biscuit.
Perhaps they will be there when I come up for air again next week. This thought will give me something to look forward to. And so it goes.