Pandemical Positives

James Proclaims (4)

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No-one loves a pandemic more than me.

Then again, no-one loves a pandemic less than me.

Because, presumably, no-one loves a pandemic.

Except possibly toilet-paper manufacturers.

But, on the whole, it’s fair to say that this whole pandemic malarkey is pretty bad news.

Nevertheless, if you can shake off the never-ending panic and crippling fear for a few moments, then there are one or two positives to be taken from the current situation we find ourselves in.

If you can ignore the agonizing pain of hand-washing-induced eczema caused by your ever-diminishing supplies of hand-soap, then you may yet find a reason or two to be cheerful.

Yes, in amongst the terrifying realisation that you’ve invented a new mental health condition that combines all the worst parts of claustrophobia, agoraphobia, enochlophobia, nosophobia and OCD, there could still be a silver-lining hidden amongst the gathering clouds of doom.

The British media might have you believe that the positives come from a camaraderie that is beginning to develop between us all. A sense that we’re all in this together. There was a moment on Thursday evening when many of us stood in our doorways and applauded the workers of the NHS. I’m normally cynical about such things but I’ll concede it was a much-needed moment of solidarity and actually genuinely heart-warming.

Still, I’ll feel even better about my fellow humans when I begin to see plentiful supplies of loo roll on the supermarket shelves.

And important though NHS staff undoubtedly are in this crisis, I personally feel that anyone who currently works in a supermarket is also deserving of our national gratitude. Because, although I’m avoiding the big stores as much as possible, when I have been forced to cross the threshold of one, I’ve found the staff to be universally  helpful, polite and friendly, which, in the current circumstances, is nothing short of heroic in my view.

The news, despite being mostly apocalyptic in tone, is interspersed with the odd bit of light relief. I enjoyed the story of the man who, deprived of his opportunity to run this year’s London marathon, opted to run the entire distance in his back garden. Although, the makeshift finish line, crafted by his son did seem like a frivolous use of toilet paper, all things considered.

For me though, the greatest positive is my family.

Deprived of actual contact with our parents and siblings, Mrs Proclaims and I have never been more active on social media. The daily videos of our nieces and nephews being ridiculously cute, comically crazy or, most often, a combination of both has been nothing short of delightful.

It’s probably sad to say we’re seeing more of them ‘virtually’ now then we ever managed in reality before all of this started.

And being trapped in a house with my own wife and child has actually been only beneficial. Of course Mrs Proclaims and I have our moments of discord, but we always did. I believe that’s called marriage.

But I think spending more time together has actually been good for us.

And, while I like to think I’ve always been pretty good at making time for the littlest ‘Proclaims’, the enforced additional time at home has helped me to connect with her on a whole new level and in the bizarrest, most unexpected of situations, I occasionally find myself feeling happier than I have in a long time.

Although I’m not sure my daughter shares the sentiment.

One of the more pretentious aspects of our parenting is that we’re attempting to bring our daughter up to be fluent in French. Mrs Proclaims and I speak French (she far better than I) so it seems like the least we could do is pass on that skill to our child.

And she’s developing quite well in that respect, having a vocabulary in both English and French that is pretty impressive for a toddler just shy of being twenty months old.

But one of her favourite French expressions at the moment is the following:

“Aux secours!”

Which roughly translates as:

“Help!”

And she only says it when I’m around.

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Panic!

James Proclaims (4)

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In these unusual times, you do start to reassess your values and priorities and begin to focus on what’s really important.

And for the people of Britain, what’s really important appears to be toilet paper. It’s one of the cornerstones of our national identity apparently.

I had eschewed the supermarkets in recent days but ventured forth last night and the situation regarding hand soap and the aforementioned loo roll still seems pretty bleak, and it’s concerning that this is still the case in what feels like quite a long time after restrictions were imposed on how much of this stuff you can actually buy in any one visit.

For now we’re holding out at Chez Proclaims, but I fear we will run out of these staples of British life long before the supermarkets are back to being adequately stocked. I might have to sneak into the school that employs me (which is still currently operating, seemingly for the benefit of one solitary student – a preposterous figure in it’s own right, but more so when you realise that in my school it translates to less than 0.1% of the entire student body) to steal some of the toilet paper from there if the situation doesn’t improve soon.

Fortunately food seems to be less of an issue. Milk seems a little problematic (how and why are people stockpiling milk? Surely it’ll go off long before it can be used? Unless people are taking up new hobbies in this time of social-distancing. Like making their own yogurt?) but we’ve been able to get what we need, and the rush on fruit and veg seems to have abated a little, so while tinned stuff seems hard to come by, there seem to be sufficient supplies of food to live off. And we never ate much tinned stuff before this all started so I’m not sure why I’d want to start now. Then again, the dire situation in the supermarkets might have been caused by panic-buying but those of us who didn’t join in are the ones who feel pretty stupid at the moment so maybe I should reassess my policy on tinned produce. In the interests of full disclosure, I did join in with the panic buying a little bit (not exactly a shock revelation given that I already wrote about doing just that in this post), but only insofar as I’d have enough stuff to last a potential two-week period of self-isolation and I’m going to run out of that stuff fairly soon, without showing the slightest hint that I might have COVID-19.

So it’s all a bit irritating really.

Particularly if I now get COVID-19.

Admittedly if I do get COVID-19, perhaps a lack of loo roll would not necessarily be my primary concern. But I imagine it would still be a bit of a concern.

On a positive note, the supermarket I did dare to venture into (along with Mini-Proclaims) was a Waitrose, (I just wasn’t brave enough for Aldi) and they have adopted a social-distancing policy of restricting the numbers of shoppers inside the store at any one time. It was mildly irritating to have to queue outside initially (and because the people in the queue were all standing the requisite two metres apart, I initially mistook them for slightly antisocial loiterers and tried to walk into the shop without queuing. The manager corrected my mistake with the exemplary courtesy that you’d expect of a Waitrose employee but it was mildly embarrassing until I observed several other shoppers make exactly the same mistake as me) but it didn’t take too long and then, once my daughter and I crossed the threshold, there were so few other people in there it really was the nirvana of shopping experiences.

Except for the lack of toilet paper obviously.

 

 

Issues With Tissues (And Other Toiletries)

James Proclaims (4)

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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.

 

 

James Reviews Sudoku Themed Toilet Paper

James Proclaims (6)

What do you get the man who has everything?

Probably not Sudoku Loo Roll. He’ll already have some if he’s got everything and no-one needs two rolls of Sudoku themed toilet paper.

But if you’re trying to buy a gift for the man who never really wants anything, then Sudoku Loo Roll could well be a winner.

sudoku Continue reading James Reviews Sudoku Themed Toilet Paper