Saturday, March 21st, 2020

[Day 5]

Today was a brighter day than yesterday and our spirits were raised by meeting a couple of friends on our walk down to the park - to whom we chatted from a safe distance of 2-3 metres but as the news seems to get more dire by the hour, it is an interesting question for how much longer this can be maintained. In northern Italy, for example, (the UK is reckoned to be about 3 weeks behind) it used to be possible for one person at a time to have a walk with a dog but it seems that even this is now being adjudged as unsafe.

Our son and daughter-in-law managed to secure us our daily newspapers (which we have had to forego since last weekend) and this was a welcome treat. After some messaging with a friendly colleague from Waitrose we are setting up a system whereby we leave a bag containing pre-paid tokens for the newspapers hanging up outside Waitrose and, we are hopeful, that within a few minutes the tokens will have been taken as payment and the bag filled with newspapers ready for us to collect. Our son daughter-in-law tried to go the pharmacy to pick up some routine prescriptions for Meg and myself but the pharmacy as a whole was shut (whilst they are processing enormous backlogs?) and a neigbouring pharmacy across the road had a queue outside and people were only being admitted three at a time. From what we can tell the local supermarkets have been emptied of certain items that we would normally buy week by week (eggs, cheese, milk) so we shall have wait and see if any of these can be supplied by Ocado.

I want to pass on a seemingly bizarre tip but it seems to work very well. After Meg and I had consumed our coffee in the local park, we treated ourselves to a banana each. I was just about to dispose of the skin in a nearby rubbish bin when I stared down at my scuffed walking boots and suddenly remembered an old tip. I rubbed the (inside) of the banana skin over my boots and they did a marvellous job in cleaning and renovating them. I seem to remember somewhere that the same tip works exceptionally well for rubber (not plastic) car mats - I think that the natural oils in a banana skin are very akin to the natural oils to be found in both rubber and leather and hence they do a good job in cleaning and renovating them. I am constantly reminded of what things were like in 1950 when I first started primary school when absolutely everything was in short supply. At schools, our crayons were cut into two so that we could have half a crayon each. If you needed to go the outside toilet to do a 'N0. 2' job, the teacher would assess your size and need and then from a roll of Izal toilet paper which she kept in her desk grant you either one or two pieces of paper. Those days may well return in the current crisis!

Digesting the news from yesterday when the whole of the private sector was subsidised by having 80% of wages to be paid for by the government, it almost seems as though we are living in an Alice-in-Wonderland type world for measures like this were not even dreamed of by Jeremy Corbin and, of course. nothing like this was attempted in the Second World War. One does get the feeling that once a business has been closed down, how many will ever re-open? Even having 80% of staff wages paid for by the government is pretty meaningless if there are no customers or footfall of any kind.

In the late afternoon we had an hour's FaceTime chat with two of our Waitrose friends which was absolutely wonderful. We may meet in the local park at a very safe distance if the weather is fine next week.