Lockdown Unlocked – A blog from a social distance by Thomas Willshire #3 Shopping

If listening to my friends and family unpick their misery is as much fun as I find it, I can’t imagine how much fun, dear reader, you’re going to have sampling my blog today!

All I do on the phone (or over video chat) at the moment is wait patiently for the other person (or people) to stop talking so I can finally have my go at teasing out the specific lockdown niggle that’s irritating me most that day.

“Blah blah blah…I’m missing pubs a lot today…blah blah blah…what about you Tom?”.

Yes! My turn!

“I think my current fug revolves around the total collapse of theatre and the inevitable cessation of my hopes and dreams. This has been great, same time next week?”.

I’ve actually missed a bit. Once the moaning and whinging has stopped there’s a little back and forth about how lucky we really are and how much worse it could be, etcetera, etcetera.

The great thing about writing a blog is that I haven’t got to wait for my turn so I’ll get straight to it. Today what’s really getting me down (the temptation to write ‘grinding my gears’ is enormous) is the new horrid way we have to shop during lockdown.

Before all the restrictions I only had one way to feel properly useful. As discussed I’d all but stopped writing and my money-job certainly wasn’t helping me identify as productive. Shopping, however, specifically food shopping was what ticked my self-worth box. Roaming around South London on an almost daily basis hunting for bargains had become something of an occupation. Bringing home hard-fought prizes in the shape of reasonably priced mince or bagels gave me that much needed useful feeling. Showing Polly the foraged wares and receiving her generous applause for my truffle-pig-like guile truly validated me.

“You see these bottom-gentle flushable wipes Polly? I got them five pence cheaper because I went to Lidl!”.

“Well done babe.”.

“Ug ug!”.

I get no such satisfaction anymore. I’m shopping once a week in one supermarket and queueing for the privilege. I can’t quite put my finger on why I find the queuing as anxiety inducing as I do but it’s awful. I become fidgety and panicky. The twenty minute wait (it’s rarely been much longer) feels like an age. You’d think once I was in the damned shop my anxiety would abate but it doesn’t. I rush up and down the aisles mentally ticking off items I worried wouldn’t be there. Waves of relief (caused by the presence of flour) quickly get replaced by tsunami’s of despair (at the lack of eggs).

Put simply, one of my favourite things to do has been taken away and I’m missing it dearly. In order to finish this in the same manner my phone or video chat conversations do, I will just say how lucky I am to have shops to buy food from at all. How lucky I am to have the money to buy said food. How lucky I am to have someone to share my anxieties with in Polly.

This hasn’t been the most profound topic for a blog but after all I promised honesty, not philosophy.

In regards to the play I intend to start writing this weekend, the idea is a good one, I’m confident in that at least. Realising that good idea will be the trick, of course. Hopefully, by the next blog, I’ll have some pages to boast about.

Thomas Willshire is a writer/actor/comedian who just about lives in London with his wife, Polly and dog, Fergal. He considers himself the fortunate product of a supportive and loving environment.

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