In the last week, Vaughan and I have moved from being the only people our friends knew in self-isolation to just one of a growing number of people sharing the experience. Sue, Pete, Steph, Jules, Leon and the Phillips minors, James, Martin, Graham D. builder all have followed us into their individual quarantine.
You may notice a change of language. It’s a minor point, but ‘lockdown’ has become something of a personal irritant. I would suggest those entering their period of self-isolation do a quick mental shift to being in quarantine rather than subject to lockdown. Everything about the term lockdown is unhelpful. Firstly it’s an entirely unnecessary Americanisation. but that aside, it relates to the forced imprisonment and restrictions imposed on prisoners.
That’s hardly a helpful mindset to place yourself. So with that hint (please note BBC and other media outlets) know you can make a double-figure day count and remain relatively sane.
Taz is managing rather well deterring the local Peckerwell foxes and finding two tennis balls at Gumnut so far this week. That’s something of a surprise as neither Vaughan or I thought there were tennis balls at Gumnut. I’m half expecting to be chastised by one or more local dog owners as I’ve a strong suspicion Taz may have liberated them from some inattentive canine.
For those following these updates as a series, you’ll note the further reduction of traffic in London village. This shot was taken while walking Taz this morning at just after half past nine. As you can imagine, Peckham road which is the main route between Camberwell and New Cross/Lewisham is usually packed with traffic. To see it this quiet, even quieter than yesterday is very strange.
Transport for London are reporting tube traffic is half its usual levels, mostly I suspect with people travelling in to see how quiet things are. Public transport in the form of buses are running though I’ve yet to see one with more than three or four people on board. I can’t believe it will be too long before these too are reduced, perhaps to Sunday services.
This tactic has been used elsewhere to reinforce mass isolation areas which seems to be a necessity if the virus is to be controlled, or slowed within the infected area. That aside, it can’t be economically or environmentally sending so many empty buses through increasingly empty streets. Indeed, as I type I hear Vaughan telling me that the night tube has run for the last time for the forseeable future. Also, the Waterloo and City line has been suspended. This against the increasing rumours of severe restrictions likely to be imposed across London in the not too distant future.
Partly due to this we’re considering the best timing to return to the Shire once we are out of quarantine. It appears (fingers crossed) that we have both managed to travel through Paris and Milan without picking up Corvid. Given they are two of the focus points in Europe, we recognise how lucky that is, if indeed we’re correct in our assumption.
What I wasn’t aware of until two days ago was that Gumnut is located not only within the hotspot that is London, but also London’s hotspot that is Southwark. Third area in England based on cases per 100,000 of population and the highest number of confirmed cases at 78 at the time of this post being written. So while we appear to be asymptomatic we’re balancing the risk of returning to the Acreage (to the Shire) against the more suitable location to sit out the crisis.
Wiltshire is more suitable for a longer period of very limited movement. It’s better suited for Taz, has a garden which gives us some more space without endangering anyone else and it’s generally easier to avoid contact with people. The issue is it’s currently having the kitchen worked on so facilities are limited. So we find ourselves balancing staying in Peckerwell long enough to get basic facilities back at the acreage but not so long that we find ourselves ‘contained’ in the capitol.
Another reason for heading out of London is the increasing challenge in finding much at all on the shelves in the local supermarket. Although when comparing a Wiltshire town to inner London, you might think supermarket provision would be better in the latter. Surprisingly, it isn’t. The shire has with a simple count at least 14 sizeable supermarkets in the nearby town. Peckerwell has considerably fewer and you do tend to put all your eggs in one corporate basket. There are more options and surprisingly more resilience in semi-rural Wiltshire.
I’m certain delivery slots are hard to be had anywhere. We’re trying to be sensible with our food and household purchasing. We’d built up a small Brexit reserve cupboard just in case all the doom sayers were correct. Little did we know we would be repurposing it post Brexit for a different kind of crisis. So our orders have been pretty much the same as they would be in normal circumstances, with the extra can or packet of spaghetti, but nothing more than that.
Our last delivery was 16th (last Monday) and the next one available from anyone we could secure was 28th of the month – ten days from now. We’ll get there easily enough but there will have to be far more delivery (or enhanced click and collect) options if we are to undertake a large population based isolation phase.
Now dear reader (sorry, too much Jane Austen at O level) I let you into a secret. I am married to a back-seat blogger. Vaughan has just asked me pointedly – ‘so what’s that got to do with the timewarp thing?’ He’d wanted to go with ‘Look at all my trials and tribulations, floating in a gentle pool of
wine cider’ but I digress.
To reassure Vaughan, all Millenials and indeed anyone born in the UK after 1990 I haven’t entirely lost my way, though I may have taken the scenic route to arrive at my destination. I am, how shall I put this, sufficiently seasoned, to recognise the England of the next six months. For those of a certain age, let me paint you a picture of the country and see if you recognise it.
Though cafe society has never really arrived in the UK in the same way as in France or Italy, those steps that have been made are likely to disappear at least in the short term. So think of a time with no Cote, no chrome bistros, no gastropubs or high end restaurants and very few pubs. Twenty four hour shopping is likely to be reduced considerably and Sunday shopping may well disappear pro tem to give supermarkets a full day to restock, clean and reduce pressure on supply chains.
Industry may either scale back to a shorter working week – say for argument sake three days or divert some of its efforts to producing what’s needed to get us through the Corona crisis. Either would impact on the type of consumer society we have grown used to over the past forty years. Choice may well be reduced, public services may be delivered differently and less frequently and unemployment certainly looks likely to spike significantly.
Sundays will seem very quiet with no/dramatically reduced shops open and leisure opportunities such as theatres, cinemas and leisure centers will be unavailable as most of them are likely to remain shut. No Championship, no Premier league, and no televised sport, however, there will be schools television during the daytime.
This sounds like a foreign country to many and I can sense Vaughan for one recoiling at something that sounds so alien. For me, and I suspect many others it’s more familiar. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to 1974.
Having lived through it once it’s not my preferred year to re-run, though I’d still fancy a go on a space hopper and whack my clackers about a bit again. But it was survivable and will be again if that’s what we have to do to keep the most vulnerable in society safe. What we could do with is less of the total eejuts – you know, the ones who buy fifteen hundred weight of Andrex and twelve vats of hand sanitiser just in case. I shall remain positive and for those of a certain age, just think how good the 80’s were once the 70’s had exited stage left.
Today, I do have a positive story with which to end. It also explains Vaughan’s preferred title about the gentle pool of cider. Over the past 48 hours we’ve had unexpected deliveries of what Vaughan calls ‘apple juice’. For cider aficionados, it’s really not apple juice. It turns out the Somerset cider producer club is fairly small. When news of our return from Milan and entry into isolation made it to their ears via a friend in Bristol, we’ve had some ‘keep your chin up’ packages.
I have to say, we now have enough cider, perry and scrumpy from across Somerset (and whisper it Herefordshire) to float a battleship.
In a call today the owner of the Bristol cider shop that arranged them chuckled I thought someone might send something looks like all of them had the same idea. I have thanked him kindly for such a kind thought, but we hope it will stop as we now have more stock than he does.
This isn’t so much a case of keeping our chin up as keeping our head above cider. I’ve shown the recent arrivals for the fans of the apple and pear among you. We haven’t tackled these (yet) and I don’t think we’ll need to buy any cider for …. ever.
Vaughan has been struggling a little working from home at short notice. Not having the usual large screen or access to a desk, he’s been a tad wound up, particularly because everyone else is trying to work from home at the same time and there’s only so much capacity. I’m tempted to lock up the Hecks (port wine of Glastonbury) and the Sheep Stagger in case he samples some of the apple juice out of frustration.
Four days to go for this round of isolation though I’ve been advised I should consider isolating further due to previous medical history presenting a potentially higher risk. I’m thinking about what that might mean and will certainly not be filling my social diary for the foreseeable until we know more about what we’re likely to be facing.
Finally, I was chastised for not updating the progress into Billy the bog roll. I haven’t taken a measure of the remaining tread via ruler on this occasion but I can estimate that around fifty percent of Billy remains in situ.