The world has gone mad and I, apparently, have joined them.
For today I visited no less than nine supermarkets in a bid to get supplies for the seemingly inevitable period of self-isolation that awaits me.
I have no symptoms of COVID-19 at the time of writing, and indeed know of no-one personally who does. The chances of me contracting it eventually would seem, based on the various media outlets from which I obtain information, to be inevitable. Those same sources would lead me to believe that the chances of me becoming a ‘confirmed case’ in the next seven days to be highly unlikely.
So why the panic buying?
Well, pretty much because everyone else is.
A week or so ago, it all seemed like a bit of a joke. Who would imagine people would be in such a frenzy to buy toilet paper and soap? These are surely things that no supermarket ever runs out of.
And while it was frustrating not to be able to buy my favoured brand of the aforementioned items (which would usually be the cheap supermarket brand in both cases) I was able to purchase acceptable alternatives and roll my eyes with indignation at the overreactive loons who had depleted the shelves.
But a week on and the world is a very different place…
And you can’t get soap or toilet paper for love nor money. Well to be fair I haven’t tried purchasing anything with love. But my money is definitely failing to avail me of these things.
And so on a quest I went.
And by trawling through the various retail outlets of the Berkshire town in which I reside, I was able to get what I needed. Indeed I may have ended up buying slightly more than I needed by the end of my journey. Which makes me feel hypocritical, but at the same time the moral high ground could get very messy without toilet paper.
I couldn’t get pasta though. This is fine because I can live without pasta. I’m slightly perplexed why the British public at large have suddenly become such avid consumers of the stuff. I appreciate that it’s the sort of food that could come in handy during an extended period of time stuck at home, but there were plenty of other items still widely available that would do the same job.
Plus I received an unsolicited email from the founder of Deliveroo today assuring me that it will be business as usual for that organisation. So we’ll all be able to order Nando’s to our hearts content should self-isolation be truly necessary.
Despite the likelihood that most people won’t get the virus for some weeks, efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus are happening now and are impacting on many of us. There has been no sport this weekend to speak of, and many other events look set to be cancelled. I work in a school and, although we’re all set to go in tomorrow, the contingency planning for the inevitable closure has been very much a focus of the week just gone, and I’d be surprised if we don’t follow the example of literally every other country on the planet and close the schools very soon. And I’d be lying if I didn’t see some personal benefits to that particular state of affairs. I wouldn’t exactly be ‘off work’ because I have plenty of paperwork to keep me occupied for any amount of weeks that the gates might be shut but it would certainly be a change of pace.
Any lowering of stress levels as a result of a slightly lighter workload would obviously be mitigated by the crippling fear of getting sick. I’m not that worried about myself really. I do have a number of underlying respiratory conditions, which might make infection a more complex scenario for me, but I’m still unlikely to be among the most vulnerable. Like most people though, I know and care deeply about a lot of people who would be among that group so I do understand the current levels of hysteria.
It’s fair to say that COVID 19 is no laughing matter.
Which is a shame because I have thought of some jokes about it.
Given the seriousness of the whole affair it would probably be inappropriate to finish this post with such a joke.
Not like in the good old days of COVID 18, when you could laugh at anything.