Woke up this morning to the sad news about John Lewis closing their shops. My first thought being: ‘Those poor staff’ with my second following close behind: ‘Their loos were so handy.’ If more shops continue to close down in my local town, I’m going to be in big trouble, loos-wise. I have it down to a fine art and know exactly where all the “comfort stops” are. That’s not my phrase, btw – I find it unbearably twee and coy – it belongs to an ex’s mother. I’m saying no more; though, funnily enough, it was in JL a couple of years or so ago that I spotted her and her partner walking in my direction (they hadn’t spotted me) and my immediate instinct was to dodge behind one of the nearby pillars.
I got locked in one of the JL toilet cubicles, once. It wasn’t at all funny. The lock was dodgy and just wouldn’t budge. I called out: “Help!” several times but no one took any notice – that’s what upset me the most; being ignored. (I should have shouted something else, like: “Fire!” because, apparently, you’ll get much more attention that way. Many years ago, I read in a magazine that, if you are being attacked, calling out, “Fire!” is a lot more likely to get you immediate help than, well, “Help!” would. People are less likely to think you are mucking about and don’t really mean it, apparently. For crying out loud. Anyway. A handy tip there for you all. I hope you never need to use it.)
Eventually, a rather impatient-sounding lady (cheers, missus!) called out: “Whatever’s the matter?” I said, voice a bit wobbly by now: “I’m locked in. Please get someone to come and let me out. I’m starting to feel claustrophobic and panicky.” For those of you who don’t know, their loos are the sort that go all the way down to the floor on all sides and all the way up to the top – in other words, no gaps anywhere, so you do feel very shut in. Ever since, I won’t go into loos that are too closed in and I even sometimes leave the door slightly ajar where I can. Apologies to anyone who has had to witness it.
Someone found the cleaner, who let me out, then someone else who worked there handed me a money-off voucher for lunch in one of their cafes. It paid for a sarnie and a drink each for a friend and myself, so not exactly exerting themselves too much, but it was a nice gesture, I suppose. I hope they got that lock fixed, anyway.
I digress. I’m not at all happy about all these closures. They are seriously curtailing my precious trips out. (Please don’t hate me; that last remark was meant to be tongue-in-cheek.) My shopping lists are getting shorter by the week. I guess I had better use up the last few pounds left on my Christmas book token on some serious panic-buying before those places close as well. (Update: even as I write this, I’ve just had an e-mail from Waterstones to say that their shops will be temporarily closing. Just when I was getting used to the newly revamped branch nearest to me and their rather nice café as well. Scream.)
We had another beautiful day, today and there were many people out and about, getting much-needed fresh air and exercise. (Yes, I know! Don’t have a go!) We didn’t walk anywhere, though; just paid another very brief visit by car to a local garden centre to stock up on more bird food (we like to do our bit and they are such greedy buggers around here) and other stuff. The place we visited has a small food shop attached and it appeared to be very well-stocked with everything. No one was hoarding and everyone was keeping well away from each other; unlike the scene at a large supermarket in Dudley today, pictured on social media, where the crowds waiting to go inside first thing looked as though they were attending a gig instead, there were so many of them – and all were standing very close to each other, with not a face mask in sight.
The local parks near us were apparently being policed, with people being asked to leave, today. I don’t know what we’re all going to do with ourselves. We heard a neighbour bellowing at his kids earlier on. It made us jump. People around here tend not to bellow at their children – who are, generally, rather spoiled and entitled, in our opinion – but I think we may be hearing a lot more of that soon. A teacher friend, off on indefinite leave (paid, thankfully) as from this week, told us he’s not sure there’s even going to be a summer term. Good luck with that one, parents! And marrieds/couples – I predict a sharp rise in the divorce/separation rate, as well (sorry, but any cracks are really going to show up in the present climate. You know how iffy things can get over the prolonged Christmas break). None of us are immune. You heard it here first!