Out of the belly of the whale

Early up and out in order to get to the Post Office to try and get two little eBay Halcyon Days boxes to the late gift buyers in time for Christmas. It’s pretty fraught on the streets of London. People were getting weird in the post office, where the queue is very carefully and efficiently monitored and controlled. It’s hard to go anywhere at the moment in this town without feeling like you’re on a conveyor belt, very possibly with knives at the end of it. Once I’d posted the boxes I had to go to Waitrose. Jacquie was originally going to spend Christmas with friends, but along with most of London she has decided instead to spend it at home alone. She needed supplies. She always tries to get me a bottle of wine, but now I’ve given up the booze I’m commuting it to luxuries. Today I have smoked salmon and cheese from her.

Brian and I have cancelled Christmas so I’m stocking up on luxuries and I’m going to clear my table and lay myself out a solo spread. I’m kind of liking the idea of hibernating on Christmas Day instead of thronging with loads of people, sad though it might be.

I bought a chicken and a load of potatoes and veg and I’m going to roast myself a bird and see how much of it I can eat on my own. With clever shopping I can stretch it into a week of food with casseroles and sandwiches and lentil barley soup. I will sit and bloat myself with cheese, meat and sprouts, watch movies, avoid the liquor cabinet and maybe sing songs on zoom. Last night when I was sad I made the flat into a festive Christmassy antiques roadshow. I’m not so sad anymore despite the decision about the 25th. I can see the light. We’re coming out of the belly of the whale.

“I’m due to get my vaccine next week,” says Jacquie when I drop off her shopping. “All I’ve got to do is make another week without getting this Covid.” I assure her that I sanitised my hands, and kept my distance, but Waitrose was a free-for-all frankly, and everybody looked pissed off. The good people of Chelsea were all panic buying their essentials. There’ll be no gravadlax for fifteen miles and some households will be forced to use Philadelphia on their blinis. Auntie Beryl will have a stroke if she finds out the champagne is Prosecco – just say it was a bad year for grapes!

It surprised me to see Waitrose so crowded. Most of Chelsea has fucked off. There are only three people left in my block, according to the caretaker. Everybody else has gone to their fifth home in the countryside to hole up until this is all over. But the remaining few all seem to have simultaneously descended on Waitrose. I usually do my shopping on Christmas Eve. It’s peaceful then. But this year, nothing makes sense.

All this and Brexit too. I’ve been fiddling with the idea of going on another pilgrimage, this time in Japan, but of course it’ll be impossible until things ease. My industry has taken yet another wallop and I can’t see most places recovering quickly from the frantic beatings that are being administered by these incompetent cronyist liars with their utter lack of statesmanship. Covid, Brexit and weak leaders controlled by the market. When will it ever end?

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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