The Tale of Coronavirus (leafy Woodthorpe): 21 March 2020

Welcome to my first ‘stranger’ to take up the challenge of life under ‘lockdown’, although he is the husband of someone I know but the I’m never going to get to meet him, in these circumstances.  It’s going to be tricky to pick a Tea Towel for this one.  Here is Chris’s story, the first of many I hope:

“Tales from a Bunker: True Account of a Lockdown Lifestyle.  Volume 1.

Today started early.  Sainsbury’s had announced priority access for pensioners between 8 a.m and 9 a.m.  Foolishly (I’ve been practising/practicing that), I drove down in the general direction of the eponymous retailer.  Quelle horreur! (I guessed at the gender ascription) there were several roads-worth of queues, even distantly approaching the Orange Campus.  

8.20 a.m and almost all the parking spaces were full.  I looked on while one hapless driver removed a wing mirror in a restricted bay……. still easier to fit in, on the next visit.  Found a space but no trolley to pick up.  I engaged a spritely octogenarian in light banter.  I expect this will become established as the normal tariff for a trolley-handover.

In no time at all, I was speeding to the main door, and quality control.  There, like some Kafka throwback, was a bouncer, grading people by how old they looked.  Naturally, I had hoped for a query, and argument, but the myopic buffoon waved me through, despite my deliberate skipping action.

Inside was a revelation,  It was like a year’s worth of Post Office Thursday mornings, summoned in one space.  I shouldn’t think these folk had even seen each other since they were out of their heads at the first Isle of Wight Festival or playing Head Football on the beach during the Brighton Mod-Rocker riots.  Anyway, I reckon Sainsbury’s had underestimated the wrinkly slice of their customer demographics.

Judging by the grazing effect of geriatric Gnu wave, there was going to be tears at    9 a.m, when the youngsters got in.  Would there be ugly scenes as the 50-somethings tried mugging their seniors for the last few bottles of San Miguel?  It became apparent that certain patronising assumptions had been made about the early morning restocking of shelves.  Clearly, fresh fruit and easy-masticating tinned food were newly replenished but there was total absence of crates of lager, beer or similar bloke stuff.

Anyway, I found the queues for the tills literally impenetrable and had to go the scenic route, back via bacon, to reach the general debagging area.  It was there that I was able to play my Trump card (no, not a joker) and slipped seamlessly into the laser-zap pit area, where my youthful spouse had shown me that you can pay  online from a QR code and accelerate away, while the rest of the demographic were patiently ageing.  (And now I know what a QR Code is; had to look it up on Google.  As I said before, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t learn something from a Tea Towel Blog).

With an agreeable chat, in passing, to Sharon and Len…..long enough to complain about old people, and to start worrying that my blueberries were defrosting.  Homeward at last, driving past the school where they had already started shedding Six-Formers, like dandruff onto the pavement.  Home without incident and back, cramming the fridge.  A moment’s respite with porridge and the paper, only to read that Ursula Andress is 84 today…….how did that happen?”

Thank you Chris for a wonderful insight into Sainsbury’s near you, but I would have liked to have been a ‘fly on the wall’.  I do hope you will offer the Virtual Tea Towel Museum some more of your ‘pictures’ very soon.  They will definitely be accepted.

However, as Readers know, I have a large collection of tea towels and today this has grown by another 101 (that’s another story); 1250 and counting.  It was my challenge to choose a tea towel appropriate to the article.  As I don’t own a Sainsbury’s Tea Towel (although I have just acquired two Primark ones), I thought it had to be my newly acquired Isle of Wight one, in reference to Chris’s memory of the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival.  The wind wasn’t co-operative but never mind, the thought was there.  Maybe I saw you there!

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