Tag Archives: panic buying

Pictures of Happier Times

I couldn’t find the photos I was looking for, so I hope these make a suitable substitute.

This group is from the Whitby area, in the days when we used to get into the car and drive where we liked. With hindsight, we should probably have done less driving, both from the viewpoint of pollution and cost. We will be making some changes once the lockdown finishes.

Spring flowers are always good – I am missing them at the moment as we live in an urban area and the local front gardens are a bit of a wasteland. We will be looking at the front garden with a view to making it more of a spring garden – at the moment it is great for butterflies and pollinators but it is only just about to start. We should look at starting the flowering earlier. We have said this before but always put it off on the grounds we have plenty of time. As current events show, this isn’t actually true.

Apart from driving where we liked, we could also have as much food as we liked. The fragility of our supply chain has been an eye-opener over the last month, as has the behaviour of panic-buyers. It has been very dispiriting to see pictures of bins of discarded food at a time when some people are struggling to get any at all.

After holding back and buying only what we needed, we spent a nervy couple of weeks worrying about supplies. If it ever happens again I’m not sure what I’d do, because our political masters and supermarket CEOs were wide of the mark when they talked of “plenty” of food being available and “robust” supply chains. I haven’t been able to buy flour or even a bread kit for the last month. We even had two weeks when we couldn’t buy courgettes or potatoes.

Finally, a few Robins and a sheep – something to look forward to as things return to something that resembles normality. I’m not sure they will ever be quite as they were because I sense we are all a little more afraid of what the future may hold for us.

It’s tempting to get philosophical and political here, but instead I’ll end with a feelgood story.

Disappointment, Disillusionment and Despair

I started the day trying to improve my grasp of technology. It seems my phone can be used to download something called an “app” and i can use this to access the local surgery and order prescriptions. In practice, I can’t recall how to work my phone for anything that isn’t making a call or sending  a text. Julia tried on her phone and it is refusing to allow her to register. This, it seems from the feedback, is quite common and the NHS just gives you another link to follow.

Giving people links is quite common these days and solves nothing, though it does move the problem to someone else.

I ordered KFC last night, to augment our dwindling food stores, and was presented with a meal tat had been in a car for 50 minutes. I could have warmed it up and been forgiving, as they are very busy at the moment.

However, they missed out the coleslaw, corn and dipping sauces. That meant that instead of a meal, which Julia had requested as a treat to break the tedium of life in lockdown, we ended up with warm chicken and baked beans.

It took me twenty minutes to obtain a refund for the missing bits, even though I actually wanted the rest of the meal. Just Eat refused to contact the KFC branch, and said “I don’t understand where you’re coming from.” when I explained I didn’t want a paltry refund, I wanted the rest of the meal.

They advised me to leave a review for the restaurant so they would try to improve.

I wanted to ring the restaurant, but couldn’t find a phone number, so I emailed KFC. They told me to contact Just Eat for a refund, despite me telling them that I had done that. They ended “I hope this won’t put you off ordering from us again.”

I replied that it most definitely would put me off ordering again.


No eggs

We also tried to order a food delivery. ASDA and TESCO both had problems with their sites when we ordered and when it was sorted we found they don’t have any delivery slots. We never did get to the bottom of the ASDA order, but TESCO can’t deliver until mid-April.

So I went shopping.

The government tells us there is plenty of food. There is, as long as you don’t want eggs, milk, dried pasta, paracetamol, sliced bread, oatmeal, tinned tomatoes or other staples.


No sliced bread

The shelves are empty, the staff are lacklustre and the situation is clearly out of control.

I made some substitutions, bought cheese, and a supervisor was consulted about whether I could buy more than 2 carrots and 2 parsnips (there’s a two item rule now – too late) but they saw this was stupid so allowed me to buy six carrots and four parsnips. It’s hardly hoarding.

All the dried beans, pulses, grains and legumes are gone. Only five bags of buckwheat remained on that shelving section and I’d rather eat floor sweepings. We used to use buckwheat husk to line automatic nestboxes and the smell always reminds me of poultry sheds. It’s not an appetising association.


Buckwheat – no lentils, beans or peas

The cheap pestos and cooking sauces are all gone, and, as with so many things, only the expensive and the low fat versions remain.

And that, for posterity, are my observations on the day.


Expensive pesto

Where is all the bread? Where are all the eggs? The bakeries are still working and you can’t just shut a chicken off so there must be plenty about.

A Week I Wouldn’t Want Again (Part 2)

The day after the hospital trip we both had the day off. Julia didn’t feel like doing much so we sat at home and watched TV. Little did we realise, but within days this would become official Government advice.

After an hour I cracked and went out. I had errands to run and, as Julia pointed out, although I was trying to be solicitous and empathetic, I can be irritating in large doses. It was a bit of a strain for me too, as solicitude and empathy are not my natural territory. I tend more towards grumpy and sarcastic.

Julia decided to go to the gym while I was out, but after walking to the bus stop decided that was enough exercise for the day.

Thursday followed much the same pattern, though this time I went to work and Julia walked to the shop with a borrowed shopping trolley in search of vegetables for tea. There was still a reasonable selection of goods on the shelves, apart from toilet rolls and pasta, but we have plenty of toilet rolls and enough pasta so why worry?

There was, at that time, no sign of the Government descending into headless chicken mode, or the impending retail apocalypse.

On Friday Julia was back in hospital having a number of tests, including two brain scans which found nothing.

When she told me that, I smirked.

“You’re going to use that as a joke on the blog aren’t you?” she said. She has a low opinion of me as a humourist.

“No,” I said. “What sort of man would make light of his wife’s ill health.”

I think we all know the answer to that question.

The flowers – primroses and forget-me-nots – are from the Mencap garden. We are on holiday at the moment but nipped down just to check everything was alright.


A Woman in a Mask and other stories

Today, I went shopping.

In the shop I saw a woman wearing an industrial mask and latex gloves. She wasn’t wearing goggles so all her precautions were wasted, as corona virus can spread via contact with the eyes.

I tried to get a picture with my phone but couldn’t get a clear shot, so I rang Julia instead. It was the most amazing thing I’ve seen since I saw the Great Rift Valley, and a lot more amusing. It was also a lot more interesting. The Great Rift Valley is fine as far as it goes (and it does go a long way) but, whilst breath-taking in its scale, it is just too big to be interesting. A woman in a paint-spraying mask with latex gloves is much more interesting because of the human scale.

If I survive the Great Pandemic this will be a story to bore people with for years to come. If I don’t survive I will at least have recorded it for posterity.

There has been a lot of panic-buying going on and many of the shelves in our local shop are empty. An interesting fact is that all the cheap stuff is going fast, and the expensive stuff is being left on the shelves. There were two sorts of baked beans left, for instance. On a six foot length of shelves only the “low salt, low sugar” and expensive Heinz beans were left. All the cheap own brand beans had gone.

The story was repeated across the whole shop. When the chips are down people prefer cheap to healthy. This has always been the case. Whatever people may say, they actually buy cheap. It used to be that 90% of people said they supported free range eggs, but the supermarket sales said that most of those people bought cheap eggs from caged birds. It took 30 years to change things round.

Someone showed me a picture today. It showed six bags of shopping and four cases of bottled water. That was the panic-buying his wife had done on her way back from work. In the evening she went out and bought a few extras. Well, you wouldn’t want to run out of beans and toilet rolls, would you?

Meanwhile, in Toronto, Number Two Son is waiting to be laid off. Occupancy of the hostel he works in has fallen to zero. That’s right, not one person staying there, all because of a microscopic bug.

Back to my shopping trip, and at the checkout a cleaner came to give it a wipe down.

“This,” she said, to the checkout operator, brandishing a bottle of sanitiser,”was the last one on the shelf.”

“Have you thought of putting it up for auction?” asked the woman in the queue behind me.




Foraging, Fear and Eating Flowers

I note that on the internet coronavirus is being linked to the Book of Revelation and the Prophesies of Nostradamus. I won’t add links to any of the relevant sites because I came away from browsing them with the impression that my IQ had been decreased.

For the sake of historical perspective – northern Italy is in lockdown, the third person died of coronavirus in the UK today and in Canada an American tourist booked out of a hotel in Toronto today, telling my son that he wasn’t happy at staying somewhere that allowed an oriental man to stay and to use the same glasses as everyone else in the bar.

This isn’t unique to Americans – people of oriental descent have been abused in the UK by people who believe that looking Chinese means that you are carrier of coronavirus.

The situation is currently showing up the deficiencies in health services, supply chains and stock markets across the world, but it’s also clearly showing that racism and stupidity are close to the surface when people feel under pressure.

In TESCO today, doing my normal weekly shop, I was faced with empty shelves and notices telling customers that we were limited to five packs of pasta per person. I bought one pack of the dozen remaining because we are having pasta bake later this week. There were only a dozen or so packs left on the shelf, but I didn’t feel the need to buy four more. The rice shelves were the same, though there was no notice on them.

It shows how far we have come as a nation. In my younger days we mainly encountered rice and pasta (in the form of macaroni) in milk puddings. Curries and pasta dishes were uncommon and pizza virtually unheard of.

I will go now, as I’ve been avoiding work all day and still have a presentation to finish.

I was happy and calm this morning, with just a bit of printing to do and a few facts to check. As the day wore on I remained unworried.

Now, as the dark closes in and doubts start to surface, the panic is starting to return and I am remembering all the things I need to do…

The header picture is a salad of edible weeds and flowers I made years ago when we had a school visit – it reminds me that we can eat weeds if all else fails, and that if I can face a class of eight-year-olds and persuade them to eat weeds I can do anything.


A Sea of Troubles

Forest lost 3-0 last night, as several of our customers lamented today. I follow football on a casual basis and one more loss for Forest doesn’t really affect me one way or another. The big football news of the day as far as I’m concerned, is that they are discussing banning people over 70 from going to football matches. As the demographic most at risk from coronavirus it is seen as a good thing to ban the over 70s from large gatherings where they may catch the virus.

As panic and over-reaction gradually become the norm this prize piece of buffoonery comes as no surprise. I was mainly surprised that people over 70 could afford the ticket prices for football matches.

This evening we went shopping and found that the shelves were nearly empty of toilet rolls. As far as I can see coronavirus has no gastric symptoms so extra toilet rolls aren’t necessary. It just seems to be a growing 21st century reaction to any crisis (including Brexit). There seems to be no problem in the world that doesn’t trigger panic-buying toilet rolls. Julia was talking to a shop assistant in Boots (that’s a pharmacy chain, not a sort of footwear, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the world of British retailing) this morning. It seems that people are panic-buying cold cures, hand-washing gels and baby products. I can’t see that any of that is really going to help.

If I was going to panic-buy I’d buy toilet rolls (because they always come in useful and have no sell-by date), sausages (because a good breakfast always improves things) and chocolate (because there is nothing that can’t be improved by chocolate). For the purposes of this blog I’m ignoring diabetes, obesity and tooth decay, which are, I admit, all things that can’t be improved by chocolate. However, there is enough reality in the world without me adding to it. If I’m going to die from an exotic virus I don’t see any point in having a trim waistline and a gleaming smile.

And that, for the sake of posterity, is my diary relating to a world in the grip of coronavirus panic.

Incidentally, has anyone noticed that the WP spellchecker does not like coronavirus? It prefers corona virus. But when I put corona virus into Google it asks Did you mean: coronavirus?

I don’t know about you, but I’m a trifle concerned that we’ll never be able to cure something we can’t spell.

I don’t have a picture of coronavirus or chocolate so you’ll have to make do with a picture of a Cook Islands $5 gold coin depicting Captain James Cook. It’s 11 mm in diameter and weighs 0.5 g. That’s 11/25 of an inch and 1/56 of an ounce for those of you who don’t do metric. It is very small, not particularly attractive and part of a fashion for small gold coins. No, I don’t know why, but people seem to like them.


A Better Sort of Day

It was a better day today.

The tree is topped, the pigeons are inspecting the result, and the neighbour across the road has said she is already missing the view. She liked it as it was. This proves you can’t please all the people all the time.

The tree fellers have done a good, tidy job, despite there being just the two of them. (If you pretend to say “tree fellers” with an Irish accent the last line will make more sense. That same accent also explains why Leicester Tigers’ Billy Twelvetrees was known as Thirty Six.)

To make things even better, they worked quickly and charged less, so it was an economical sort of day.

Work went well, starting with me getting there early and taking loads of photos for the presentation. It’s only five or six days away, depending if you count Monday as one of the days.

That click you may have heard then is the sound of tension moving up another notch…

After work I had to go shopping. I lost the stylus that goes with Julia’s tablet, and she can’t use it by using a finger tip like I do. Did I mention I lost the stylus? She did. About a dozen times a night for the last two nights. It was getting to the point where I either had to go shopping (which I don’t like) or commit murder. I’m pretty sure they don’t allow WordPress in prison so I decided to go shopping.

The first shop stocks them, but had sold out. The second didn’t stock them. The third only had one left. At this point the full horror of coronavirus struck home – when China sneezes the whole world of cheap consumer goods catches a cold. (If it develops into a pandemic, with people falling dead in the street, this will probably seems like an unfortunate turn of phrase, but at the moment it seems apposite).


Magpie, shortly after being bested by a Gull

In the car park of the first one I saw two Magpies engaging in a tug of war with a packet of crisps, and reached for my camera. By the time I had switched it on a Black-headed Gull had swooped and taken the bag. The Magpies are looking shiny, and the Gulls are developing their (chocolate brown) heads. Spring cannot be far away, despite the plunging temperatures.

I have found out why hand gel and soap is in short supply – local school head teachers have, it seems, being laying in massive stores of it. Because nothing averts a pandemic like panic buying and hand gel.