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In London, the eight Royal Parks remain open during lockdown, for “essential daily exercise”. In my closest one, the Bushy Park, we have been asked, by the park authorities, not to gather in groups and to keep at least 2 metres from each other. Most people adhere to that request as the threat is clear – if we don’t, they, I quote, “will be forced to close the park”. Generally, individual sports are allowed, such as running and cycling (except for the Richmond Park, where bikes have been banned). Sitting on benches is usually frowned upon, as, I suspect, is photography (one of my friends sometimes wanders around his neighbourhood with his camera in a carrier bag). But, it being April, my Bushy Park photo sessions start and end early enough not to bother anyone. I go to the park every morning, either to take photos or just to exercise. Guess who the cyclist in WS #1 is…

As for WS number 2… Most of you, my dear TE friends, don’t live close to where I live, and some of you are even, unashamedly, enjoying plentiful grocery supplies, including a choice of thousands of eggs (yes, I’m talking to you, Stockholm-dwellers) so this phenomenon may appear to you as fairly exotic.

In my last post I described my return from the Philippines. As I landed, my Asian travel destination had just been labeled “high risk” in terms of the coronavirus. Three days later, the UK was announced as even higher risk. In the meantime, my fellow citizens, in expectation of the inevitable lockdown, emptied the shelves of the supermarkets of various goods, especially flour, canned food, pasta and toilet roll. But as they filled their freezers, fridges and cupboards, the situation started to get back to normal. Well, almost. We are still experiencing shortages of the most unexpected of things. One is chives, another one is eggs…

Well, you can only store so many eggs to use later and you can’t really stock up on excessive amounts of chives (and you can’t freeze’em). That made me realise that the shortages are not so much (or at least not only), the fault of the frenzied buyers. The system seems rather inefficient and even a small shake up shuts the whole thing down. The most annoying phenomena are:

1. Reduced store opening hours. If you want people to stay away from one another you would rather want to extend the time when they can use the shop so they don’t all come in at the same time. And another, closely related and black humour kind of funny – customers queuing outside but, once inside, getting very close to other shoppers and the supermarket staff.
2. The supermarkets’ inability to meet the increased demand for online shopping – a simple solution that would considerably eliminate the possibility of passing the disease.
3. Supermarkets keeping the most popular goods in storage at the back of the shop (I observed staff putting a few packets of toilet roll out from trolleys and then rolling the rest back to the warehouse). Surely, if the shoppers notice half-empty shelves, they will panic and keep purchasing too much. It also means, that people will visit the shop more often than they normally would in order to, eventually, get what they are after.
4. Last but not least – suddenly rocketing prices of essentials, such as hand sanitiser (200% increase in some shops). If anything, sanitiser should be subsidised, if not dispensed for free and available on tap. I can understand that shops are trying to capitalise on this, no matter how dreadful, situation (e.g. DVDs are much more expensive than they were a few weeks ago, as people watch more while they stay at home). But where the rising prices may impact on the nation’s health and people’s ability to survive, it is rather sickening.

Ok, that’s my rant for the day… But what strikes me the most is the sudden realisation how dependent we, in the First World, have become on guaranteed external supply of certain items. Most importantly, we have lost the ability to grow our own food and even the skills of preparing it from basic ingredients. What are we going to do if other people stop producing it for us?

I took that photo of two last eggs on Thursday evening. On Friday night. I got on my bike and cycled around West London to pay visits to other shops. I’m now a proud owner of 18 eggs (down from 24 yesterday). A hoarder, me??

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Additional Photos by Kasia Nowak (kasianowak) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1422 W: 7 N: 2738] (15002)
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