S&C contributor and Pompey Politics Podcast host Ian Morris shares his experience of self-isolation as someone with diabetes, following government advice on 16th March. Day 4 of Ian’s ’12 week club’ diary, and Ian walks his guide dog Millsey while trying to avoid contact with others, waxes philosophical on a newfound calm over supermarket deliveries, and discovers toilet roll shopping on the internet.
Thursday 19th March, Day 4 of 89
Apologies, I meant to write yesterday but lost the plot, so it’s a 2 day update.
Sneaking out with my dog.
The lad needs to work and I need to get out of the house before I start losing my mind, so we had to find a magic ‘social distancer’s’ slot. Late morning was my favourite, but with work practically on fire this was never going to happen so I picked another slot: after the schoolkids had cleared, but before the folk home from work set out with their own hounds.
I saddled Millsey up and went out for a rather pointless ‘block walk’. He did his stuff majestically but seemed mildly confused that we didn’t take the last turn to my brother-in-law’s for a podcast session, nip into the shop for some cold beer, or even visit the café at the end of the road for a spot of lunch. I guess retrievers don’t assimilate that half past four is a bit late, but we got home after no social interaction, virtually risk-free.
A different perspective.
We have shopped online for a long time, the studious clicking on a screen whilst checking that you don’t already have 11 tins of baked beans has been a real godsend. Horror stories of veg older than my nan and products slipped in with dangerously short shelf lives were never our experience, and whilst we flirted with a number of supermarkets, it was Sainsbury’s that worked for us this week. The experience brought into sharp focus how the CV19 situation is changing our thinking.
Whilst substitutions didn’t happen often, when they did it could challenge an individual’s personal value system.
Reading the words ‘Wholemeal loaf – No substitute available’ would solicit a ‘FFS, what is up with these people? They literally had no bread in the store that wasn’t pure white? Come on, do you think I was born yesterday?’. The whole shop would have been considered a write-off as we were forced to brave the evil outside world to find that elusive brown loaf.
But this week it was a lottery. We did our list and it forewarned us that many items were out of stock. We added them in hope, and the system teased us that if we added toilet rolls and pasta, then we genuinely did need them, and some would appear with our delivery.
So our driver arrived this morning with the ‘There is good and bad news’ message and we worked through the list. No toilet rolls or pasta, of course, but most of it was there, and responded with ‘Cheers chum, and thanks for delivering what you could.’
In response, he explained this seemed to be the attitude of everyone: grateful for what they had rather than angry at what they were missing.
Perhaps this is the first life lesson this disaster is teaching us all?
I promise to try to be less profound tomorrow.
Friday 20th March, Day 5 of 89
A whole ‘loo’ world.
I guess one of the first signs we were dealing with something extraordinary was the reports of people panic buying toilet rolls and shelves being left empty in supermarkets. My first thought was that this wouldn’t last, just a bit of knee jerk, my second thought was frustration. Until February we used to buy our supplies 90 rolls at a time from Amazon, now this is a bulky old package and we had to store them in our little shed and bring them in one 9 pack at a time. I argued about whether this was really saving us that much money and we cancelled our last order – oh, to be so wise and completely misread the future…
With 4 adults in the house and me working from home, I suddenly became acutely aware of our consumption rate, and when we were down to the final 9 pack I confess I got a little jumpy. This took us through the looking glass into an eerie online world – specialist loo roll vendors. I was tipped off by my brother in law.
‘Who gives a crap?’ he murmured, ‘I’ve got some in, I can let you have one.’
So in a strange twilight deal, I left his flat clutching my recycled, organic, free range roll to give it a test drive, as it were. It was good but sadly we were late to the party and they were out of stock; well, we ordered a pack which, when it arrived, was kitchen roll, so no use there. The diligence of my wife found others and we we were able to place an order with Bumboo (as the name suggests made from bamboo), and Little Green Orca (which I presume wasn’t made from verdant whales), but then there was the waiting game, would our online experiment bear fruit?
We got sort of lucky in the interim and found a 6 pack of Tesco savers, basic brutality, special rolls. They were not quite the horror of Izal (ask a parent or grandparent) but they definitely had an, ahem, exfoliating quality. Tuesday morning broke and 22 rolls arrived from Little Green Orca; they were suspiciously similar to ‘who gives a crap’ but who cares! The panic is over for now.
And then 24 rolls arrived from Bumboo. Now I feel terrible. We have become part of the problem with a horde of rolls. I console myself that we didn’t knock anyone down or thieve them from someone else’s trolley to acquire them and we wont have to take part in the Hunt the Loo Roll Race for several weeks yet.
One less worry in these worrying times.
Don’t miss Ian’s self-isolation diary in the coming days, keep an eye out for new pieces here, along with past editions of the Pompey Politics Podcast.