Lockdown Diary: part 2

Saturday 4 April – Day 12

Well I never said I was going to write every day. Yesterday I went down to Chorleywood to get the shopping, which has become a nerve wracking experience. This is what a butcher’s queue looks like now:

That looked like a good half-hour queue, so I decided to try again next time.

Comparisons with wartime are facile and melodramatic: those of us lucky to be away from the front line are being told to sit on our sofas, not to go into battle.  But when exercising or shopping, every person starts to look like a loaded gun.  Every case of Coronavirus is a game of Russian roulette – and the older you are, the fewer chambers there are in the cylinder.

Here are a few of the words and phrases which have shot to prominence in 2020:

Coronavirus 
COVID-19
Social distancing 
Lockdown (which used to be something that happened on Pointless)
Showing mild symptoms
Personal protection equipment 
Underlying health condition
Tested positive 
Trump idiocy
Self-isolation
Zoom
Exit strategy
Flattening the curve
Furlough
(One or two of these may have gained currency before 2020).
The good weather is back today, so we took the opportunity to sit in the garden.  Yesterday evening the BBC weatherman forecast a warm and sunny weekend in tones reminiscent of gathering doom.  They really don’t want us to go out in it, that wouldn’t be helpful.  But our country lane has never been so busy with families out walking, and will only get busier in the next few weeks as the famous Philipshill Wood bluebells come into flower.  A walk in the woods is no longer a relaxing experience.
Sunday 5 April – Day 13
A beautiful day as forecast, another opportunity to chill in the garden.
This evening we watched the Queen’s broadcast.  What a pro!  She strikes exactly the right note of solemnity and empathy.  Of course it’s easier for her in some ways – we can’t all choose which palace to be locked down in – but she is 93 years old, her husband is 98 years old, even her son is 71 years old and contracted Coronavirus.  Her position affords her no protection.
Soon after, the news breaks that Boris Johnson has been admitted to hospital, having exhibited persistent symptoms.  We are told this is for “routine tests” but we know there is nothing routine about this virus.  It is a sombre moment.  Social media is full of posts saying things like “Can’t stand the man, but wishing him a speedy recovery.”  Keyboard warriors can’t take even the briefest of holidays, it seems.
We fork out £15 to see Jane Austen’s Emma on Sky.  Its cinema release was scuppered, so they need to get their money back somehow.
Monday 6 April – Day 14
Stock markets rally this morning on evidence that quarantine measures in Italy and Spain may be working.  My feeling is that it is way too early to declare any victory – medical or economic – over the virus until we have a plausible exit strategy.  Coronavirus is likely to cast a huge shadow on economic activity for a long time.  Some newspapers have criticised the government for its refusal to name a date when lockdown might be relaxed, but surely we should wait and learn from countries where events are ahead of us – China, Italy, Spain – before deciding our strategy.
This evening we learn that Boris Johnson has gone into intensive care.  This should not have been a surprise, as many Coronavirus hospital admissions are for that very purpose, but the news is still shocking.  The good wishes expressed across the political spectrum confirm the sense of national crisis.  Boris Johnson’s experience will also serve as a wake up call to many people who have not considered themselves threatened by the virus: at 55 he is not especially old, and seemed in robust good health.  If he is not safe, none of us is safe.
Tuesday 7 April – Day 15
As the household’s designated shopper, I’m following instructions and shopping as infrequently as possible.  Here is my top ten list of food and drink items in descending order of their power to force me into the supermarket:
Milk
Bread
Meat
Granny Smiths apples
Red wine
McVities plain chocolate digestive biscuits
Tropicana orange juice
Lindt and Sprungli 70% dark chocolate 
Heineken lager
Nescafé Gold Blend
Bear with me please, I have sponsors to think about.  I have left pasta off the list because we seem to be well stocked, and rice because our Tesco delivery included an enormous bag of basmati rice: the medium sized bags were all gone, so we had to choose between tiny and huge.  We’re on our last bottle of milk, so we’ve decided that I’ll brave Waitrose in Rickmansworth tomorrow lunchtime or afternoon.  Looking forward to it already.
Here’s Debbie and Betty – because, why not?