The north eastern wind had died down considerably. The light was filling the space between the ragged curtains. I was awake and not sleepy enough to go back to sleep, sadly. There was nothing for it but to rise early and head for Tesco.
Tesco has become the centre of life these days. With the chill in the air and the police limits of walking I rarely venture out. With no reason to use a scarce bus I have nowhere to go but the town around me, that I know only too well. Tesco, or Sainsburys visits now mean adventure and human contact. Whether it means adventure to the Sainsburys staff I cannot really say.
So, dressed for an Arctic trip, coat on, shoes on feet, cap on head I open the door on the day. A car passes, a second one travels the other way then silence falls. Just before 8 am and silence? The rush hour ought to be beginning but few are about. I cross the street and deposit another ‘return to sender’ in the pillar box. These come with the leaving of tenants. This one returns for the last time, from now on they can send the Debt Collectors in. These are easy to spot, almost all the same, offering nice words and easy ways to pay, knowing the culprit has flown. I wonder why they bother? I wonder also about people who so easily avoid paying bills. Some have clearly obtained a credit card not too long before they flee, continue using said card for a while and are not available to pay the bill. Easy credit costs credit companies, no matter how much they make from the card. It is difficult to feel sympathy for credit cards that get cheated however, they rip us off quite happily.
I wander passed the gates of the police station expecting a man in Stasi uniform to appear and question my motives. None appears, I continue noting the Spring like garden that looks great in the sun but somewhat weary when that sun hides behind the clouds as he does this morning. Nothing moves. Even the birds are quiet in this street. At the main road I see three people, well apart, at the temporary bus stops. This has been required as the town council, or at least some of them, are constructing a ‘white elephant’ beside this road. A hotel, doctors’ surgery and restaurants! Wonderful! Except that apart from the doctors we do not require this monstrosity. For over 20 years they, or at least the Leader, has been desperate to fill this space, why we ask and how much will he make out of it cynics wish to know? Funnily enough the planning people did not oppose this plan.
I was not surprised to see an early queue outside Tesco. A wee bit miffed that the barriers erected for the crowds meant a long walk to the rear to join the queue. The queue was all male, each six feet or so from the man in front, each also carrying that vague smile that wondered whether all this was really necessary but accepted it all the same. No-one spoke, though we did exchange glances that spoke. Individuals joined us, also all male, each revealing his own thoughts with a glance. One man wore a face mask, and stood out. He was young, most of us are no longer young. We slowly moved, one customer at a time, bringing to mind soup kitchen lines from the 1930’s or Prisoners of war awaiting feeding time as we neared the door. Once the woman in charge allowed us in, we were instructed to sanitise our hands before we could continue. Informed that we left by the other door, and I, like the rest, smiled submission and hastened in before more orders arrived.
Extra sour faced security were on patrol, each trying to look tough, each in danger of provoking mirth. However, I suspect they will get work during the day from the towns less beloved characters.
Being organised it did not take me long to get round, avoid most people, easy when dealing with a shop full of males of course, and quickly get to the checkout, once I had worked out how to get there past the blocked aisles, so that then as I paid I recalled the things not on the shopping list that I ought to have remembered.
Enough bought for a week. Two heavy bags and a bill to pay. How I miss buying when I need it and not for a week! I crawled home passing shops bearing notices informing the regulars that the they are closed because of the virus. I look longingly in at the barbers, I need him now, not in the unknown future. My Hippy style may return, but slightly greyer this time.
Back home I forget to spend the day tidying and watch old films made during the war to inform us how ‘Bomber Command’ and ‘Coastal Command’ did their jobs. These, with somewhat still scripts, made use of the men, including senior officers, to inform the nation how they went about their business. All a bit stiff but informed the nation in a time of stress. Indeed, the war had a long way to go while such films were being made and the intention was to ‘gee up’ the people and allow them to see what all sides of the services were going through. I wonder if such a film could be made today to show what is happening in the nation regarding this virus war? I fear our cynicism may render that impossible.
This afternoon I ventured out once again, the excitement might be killing for some, following two part time joggers and a couple of kids on bikes. Exercise time for us all. I wandered around, enjoying the freedom, avoiding any who came near, women tending to think 15 feet is still not sufficient space, and climbed back up the hill and across the park considering myself to have walked a marathon. It was half a mile if anything. Few were around, some traffic on the main road, fewer than normal and none on the small roads.
Such is my life now.
The routine has changed with no football and lock down. Silence reigns at night with little traffic or passing footsteps. Only the noise from my phone as people I ought not to have given my number to call for no good reason! It is slightly boring now. What will it be like in the weeks and months to come?
If you think this post boring, wait until August!