I now know where to go to get my fix…

We had intended trying to shop in Surbiton, today – my old stamping ground – but the queue outside Waitrose was horrendous, so we drove straight on to Kingston instead. (Fellow locals might find it helpful to know that the queue for M&S in Kingston was much shorter outside the front door than the one outside the back.)

On our way there, we passed a familiar-looking van and couple of gardeners: the ones who come out to us once a year for a massive trim and tidy-up, before the winter sets in. (I’m talking our garden, not us, although perhaps we can negotiate a two-for-one deal this year. We’re certainly going to need something pretty radical in that department by then.) I had wondered how they must be faring in these strange times and had thought they would be classed as “non-essentials” but, then again, they were out in the front garden, and I guess that, so long as social-distancing is in place, it should be OK? I’m starting to wonder!

It’s no wonder I’m starting to wonder. In M&S, the young girl on the till said she could see from where she was sitting that people weren’t following the two-metre rule, and that they were also lingering far too long in the store. By the way, my prize for the wittiest thing I’ve seen all week goes to the label on the cucumber I bought there: it comes from a farm supplier in Kent, called – wait for it – “Thanet Earth.” Love it!

Others who most definitely have not been following the rules include a family who have been inviting their neighbours and other members of their family round for barbeques in the garden, and who have now all contracted the virus. The word “Karma” springs to mind here. Apparently, a nephew had been staying at their house and had been making regular trips to his girlfriend’s house, as well! I hope she was worth it.

Another example: Someone has spotted their neighbour loading their car boot with suitcases, presumably intending to get away for the Easter break. Good luck with that one, then. Many, if not all, holiday hotspots are closing their doors to tourists and commanding them to stay at home; Devon and Cornwall being just two of the most popular (and our own personal favourites).

On our way to park the car, we spotted a couple having a session of social-very-much-not-distancing. They were snogging each other’s faces off, and she was holding a huge bunch of red roses. We guessed they probably hadn’t seen each other for a while and had finally cracked. More rule-breaking, I suppose.

The nearby police station looked busy, with several people inside and a few standing outside as well.  We overheard a policeman speaking to another man: “Just stay away,” he said. Our little minds boggled. Stay away from what, or who? Was he talking about social-distancing, or something much more sinister? We’ll never know…

I mentioned the other day that we are seeing a great many discarded medical gloves lying around. Today, we saw masks as well.

We passed one of my favourite places in Kingston, an Italian deli-café (currently closed), and were surprised to see they still have lots of packets of dried pasta on their shelves. We thought they would have sold out long ago. This little gem of a place, with its fabulous food and lovely friendly staff, is one business I am really praying will be able to come back fighting when all this is over.

A couple of health food shops and a handful of market stalls were doing a good trade and Superdrug is still open, thank goodness, even though there appeared to be more staff than customers in there. We panic-bought skin and hand cream (just two of each, though) and thanked them for being there. Their make-up counters were all open, as well, which I found comforting. I wondered why they are still selling these products, when Boots isn’t.

The background music was very loud. I expect it was like that to boost staff morale, and we both broke into a spontaneous little dance as we entered – it seemed only polite to do so. I love dancing and am missing the live bands I regularly see, so I now know where to go to get my fix. Perhaps the not-very-busy staff will join me, next time – from a respectful social distance, of course.



Author: Hampton Caught

The rants and ramblings of an ex Deputy Fiction Editor of Woman's Weekly magazine.

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