“I think I will need to start rationing my tealights”. After almost 15 years of marriage, it’s a phrase I’ve never heard, or ever expected to hear, from Jo. It’s a stark sign of just how bad things have become. I certainly don’t wish to sound despondent, but you need to understand that if things continue as they are, there is a very real possibility that we might have to put the Big Light on one evening soon.
But let’s not panic just yet. We are still allowed to go to the shop. And for those of you in the UK, I thought you might like an insight into what that is like here, under total lockdown:
There is no panic buying of the levels seen in the UK. Most people are being calm and sensible; buying only what they need or maybe just one or two extra items to limit the number of times they must leave their homes, which in turn gives the stores time to replenish their stock. Shelves may not always be fully stocked, but neither are they ever completely empty.
Local health officials have praised the public for ‘being so responsible’ and ‘pulling together for the greater good’.
This is certainly evident in our local store where in contrast to scenes in the UK posted on social media of shop staff abuse and fistfights in the milk and dairy aisle, the community have placed a collection pot for tips to say thank you to those members of staff who daily put themselves at risk to serve us.
There are strict rules in place with huge fines for those that flout them.
‘Nipping to the shop’ is not allowed. You cannot use shopping as an excuse to get out of the house, to socialise or as a family outing. You must go by yourself, and you could be stopped by the Policia and asked to provide evidence of why you are out.
Shopping is for essentials items only. On the basis that this is Spain, we have naturally assumed that Vino Tinto and Vino Blanco are both items classified as essential. It remains yet to be seen how tealights are categorised, but we remain ever optimistic.
Shoppers seem to be giving each other a very wide berth in the aisles, though it’s not entirely impossible that it was just me they were avoiding, but I didn’t think I had let my personal care slip that much over the past week. In any case, you must keep a minimum distance of one metre apart whilst queuing. Paying with cash is discouraged.
Sanitising gel and protective gloves are provided at the door. The gloves must be worn, and many wear face masks too. There is no escaping the fact that we all look embarrassingly stupid. But I counter this by secretly pretending I am a Nuclear Scientist, filling my basket with radioactive test samples, or, at other times, a stealthy Cat Burglar, acquiring high-end, rare and expensive items to order, such as quilted toilet paper and farfalle pasta. Roleplay of this nature is, of course, completely optional.
Don’t judge me. You are only 7 days of quarantine away before such eccentricity becomes your everyday behaviour.
Must dash, it’s almost 8pm and I must stand on my balcony in the dark and clap into the night.