Plans for our locked-down life today hinge, as so often, on minutiae that would not in normal circumstances merit a mention. This morning’s programme is dictated by the 9am to 1pm time slot during which I have been told to expect a delivery from the chemist. I normally go there myself to collect anything I need, it is just a ten-minute bike ride away. Most other things delivered to us are usually either left with a neighbour if we aren’t in, or, come rain or sunshine (often the former), left in the hedge on one side of the front door or behind the overgrown rosemary bush the other side. But the latter can never be the case where deliveries from the chemist are concerned because the package might be spotted by passing drug addicts and assumed to contain theft-worthy drugs. And, where the neighbours are concerned, how does the chemist or the deliveryman know that they aren’t themselves addicted to the contents of packages from chemists? As it happens, this one won’t offer much scope for getting high as it will only contain paracetamol.
OK, confession time. I know I shouldn’t be getting paracetamol on prescription. It is ridiculous for the National Health Service to be paying upwards of £12 for me to have a box of 100 paracetamol tablets when I can buy three boxes of 32 tablets for £1.95 from the same chemist. But normal health and safety protocols preclude customers from being allowed to buy more than one box of 32 tablets over the counter. The assumption must be that if one is wanting to buy paracetamol with the intention of killing oneself one couldn’t possibly want to commit suicide badly enough to be bothered to walk on down the street to the next chemist to buy another box. But Covid-19 got in the way of my contribution to our cash-strapped NHS. One of the less widely publicized features of the great British public’s virus-induced panic-buying has been a dire shortage of paracetamol. It is difficult to find any in supermarkets; when there is any, whoever is doing the shopping for us can only get one box at a time; and you have to have a prescription to have more than one box delivered from the chemist. Meanwhile my degenerative spondylolisthesis (read ‘sciatica’) continues to degenerate without regard to the lockdown. I don’t know whether the consultant who gifted me with the technical terminology knew how useful it would be. If you can’t articulate ‘degenerative spondylolisthesis’ three times in quick succession after you have had one glass of wine, you probably shouldn’t have a second.
OK, I digress. But right now, as I wait in for the delivery, digressing seems as good a way to pass lockdown-time as any. So that will be the morning taken care of. The key determinant of this afternoon’s programme is the collection of a loaf of bread. Not just any loaf of bread but seven-seeded sourdough bread baked by Blue Bird bakery and supplied to us by Alligator wholefoods, the brilliant organic food and veg shop just around the corner. Orders can be collected from 4pm. My wife, Susan, who hasn’t quite hit 70 yet so apparently isn’t ‘vulnerable’, stands the appropriate distance behind the person in front of her in a model socially-distanced queue, and, when it comes to her turn, goes to the window, waves her basket at the shop assistants to let them know whose turn it is, deposits her basket outside the closed front door, and stands back reverently. One of the assistants opens the door, deposits the loaf of bread in the basket equally reverently, and rapidly retreats, closing the door behind her. Job done. In the interval between the arrivals of the paracetamol and the bread I will go to the allotment and pick some asparagus spears for supper. So the day ahead promises to be eventful. Who thinks living under lockdown isn’t full of excitement?