Today we did our first supermarket shop since lockdown. In between times we have bought bits and pieces as we’ve needed them from our local shops, but we were starting to run out of quite a few staples so decided to buy them all in one go. Our normal shopping pattern is to only do a ‘big shop’ every few months, when we need to stock up on heavy or bulky items, so a gap this long isn’t unusual for us. What was unusual was our first encounter with supermarket shopping since lockdown.
As I expect all of you already know, if was a strange experience (though I guess you get used to it). A well-spaced queue of a dozen or so people in front of me; strict one-out-one-in enforced by the shop. All trolleys kept inside, and carefully cleaned by staff before reuse. Very few customers in the shop at any one time. A few gaps where products have run out (though not as many as I expected – mainly baking provisions, which we can easily replenish in our local shops). A (very) few products carefully rationed – actually the only one I saw was pasta, which we still have plenty of anyway. (I’m the woman who tonight will be using up the last of the dried lasagne sheets best before November 2017).
As children of the late 50s, and children of parents for whom (until much later in life) money was never plentiful and who grew up in wartime with rationing, we grew up with the notion that it was important always to have staple foods in store, because you never knew what might be round the corner. We’ve always kept a good supply of the few tinned things we normally use (tomatoes, baked beans), dried goods, tea, coffee, and toilet paper etc in stock. In normal times we only do a bigger shop when these stocks run low. Otherwise we just buy fresh things as and when we want them, and carry them home.
So when it became clear that the lockdown was coming and people were going to the shops to stock up, we had no need to do that. I completely sympathise with those who did, because faced with not much food and a family to feed, what else were they meant to do? and that doesn’t begin to cover the worry of those who had (have) no spare money to cover extra food provisions ‘just in case’.
Poverty has been steadily growing in the UK, and I’m guessing the current crisis has accelerated that in a way that isn’t going to just go away. If anything it will get worse, because I’m quite certain that unemployment will rise dramatically as the furlough and other schemes fall away. We talk about ‘food poverty’ as though it was something particular, but in reality it is simply a certain aspect of poverty.
Goodness, I’m not sure how I got to here from there (or perhaps I am). I think that’s quite enough for one day. I’ll leave you with some random photos from today, Face covering prototype mark 2 (I think this one’s a keeper, so I’ll refine my making skills and move on to more production). And some peonies, because there were there, in someone’s front garden when I went for my walk. Very gorgeous they were too,
Time for bed. See you tomorrow, I hope xx