Boris has decreed we are all allowed to get outside “for exercise and shopping for essentials” once a day, and we were more than ready to obey his command by lunch-time today. I was a bit jittery: suppose someone accosts us and demands to know what we are doing “out”? I had some answers ready, if so: “Same as you, I expect!” “Boris has said we can!” and: “Eff off and mind your own effing business!” Thankfully, I didn’t need to use any of them – and I was so looking forward to using the last one, especially…
There were a few of us about, all keeping a very wide berth. We bumped (from a respectable distance) into someone I know who works at my old company, and who lives nearby. She told us there was “nothing left” in our local Tesco. I glanced down at the three heavy-looking bags she was carrying. No wonder, then… In fact, this turned out to be not entirely accurate. There was quite a bit of stuff in there – bread, fresh fruit and veg and loads more besides. All very reassuring to see. I actually came out empty-handed. I had just wanted to check it out.
I noticed Poundland next door was open, too. And a Polish deli, a dry-cleaners, the pet shop, the post office, the chemist, a newsagents/corner shop, the bakers, a local café offering a fruit and veg box delivery service – a brilliant idea, and one that other local places are doing as well – and even the garage where we have our car serviced. All following the required “One in, one out” policy. Brand-new flats were being worked on and the buses and trains are still running.
I realise some of you are going to say: “What’s essential about a dry-cleaners and a pet shop?” but I find all this immensely comforting. Our local butcher, while not open, is offering a next-day home delivery service, which is another lifeline for many. (We had a turkey from them one Christmas and it was the best I’ve tasted since childhood. Straight up. Even better than Waitrose!) Everyone is trying to do their bit: for themselves, of course, in order to survive, but also for others, ie us, the community, and it makes me tear up just thinking about it. It feels almost normal, when so much else is crazy-loopy scarily uncertain right now.
We have joined a WhatsApp support group for our road, and it’s all helping to make me feel a little bit calmer and not quite so panicky. Connected to others. I crave that connection and I can’t wait for all this to be over – I’m longing to give everyone a great big hug!
As I am typing this, two dog walkers have just gone past and a jogger with her dog. A couple with a pram. More joggers. Cyclists. A few cars and a couple of delivery vans. If it continues like this, I can cope. So long as we are allowed out every day, for exercise and essential bits and pieces. Doesn’t have to be for long. Just a walk around the block will suffice, or a quick trip to our nearest supermarket.
A friend who has a horse says looking after and exercising it every day is helping to keep her sane and another friend, who we also distance-bumped into while out, said she was “desperate” to get out of the house and was riding her bike to the shops for some much-needed exercise. Someone else is walking his dog at night, to avoid contact with others; very sensible, if perhaps not quite so interesting for either of them.
In the bakers, where I comfort-bought cakes and hot cross buns, I thanked the assistant for remaining open; though, as she was on her own in there, and probably bored stiff and longing to be outdoors in the warm sunshine, she didn’t look too thrilled by my remark.
To finish on a rather sober note, my OH’s friend is still travelling into town to work every day (he has been told he has to) and he says the tubes are rammed! To avoid this happening – it does make a bit of a mockery of all that has been said on the subject by so many – instead of cutting back on the services, as they have been doing, perhaps they should be laying on even more?!