#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 43

#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 43

Day 43

We go to the supermarket once more today.
It is my own fault. I forgot to buy loo rolls during the last trip and now we’re out. The man in the suit is at the door again.

‘Can I get in?’

‘Absolutely,’ he replies smiling.


The doors slide open and I’m in. I make a bee line for the loo roll aisle at the other end of the shop. It is near enough the jams and honeys so I detour there too. On my way to the tills, I stop by the stationary section hoping to pick up a few art supplies. The shelves are empty but I find a small ruler, some sticky stars, a box of paper, and some paperclips. That’ll do for now. I spot the spice rack out of the corner of my eye and stop. I wait behind the black and yellow line for the person in front of the spices to move away. Once they do, I step in careful to follow the rhythm of their steps. I grab some cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon, the rows finally full of jars.

I select the self-checkout, unwilling to wait in the long queues by the manned tills. I wouldn’t have been to able to behave that way a month ago. Everything has turned into a new routine, a new normal.

‘We’ve just cleaned all of them, so grab any you like,’ a lady is explaining to a customer as I walk out of the shop. I am guessing she is referring to the trolleys.

‘We keep the big ones over there and there, the small ones there and there.’ The man in the suit is pointing at trolley bays all around the parking lot. I don’t see the person he is talking to, I am too focused on the person in front of me. Their steps are slow, their body weighed down by shopping bags. I want to rush to the car but I dare not pass them. I synchronise my gait to theirs until their turn left and I race straight on.

I open the boot of our car, put the shopping in and walk home. There I will unload the car, my partner wash each products, my clothes will go into the washing machine along with my face mask, and I will step into the shower. I hardly have to think about any of it.

Clean, I go back downstairs to tidy away our purchases and slump on the sofa. I pick up the control for my Nintendo Switch and turn it on. I am expecting the exhaustion and the stress to come flooding in, debilitating me for the rest of the day but nothing comes. I play until I complete my level and check my e-mails.

There are no e-mails from work.

Lunch over, my partner turns the TV on. I have no interest in the program she is watching but I stay with her. I cut triangles and circles in paper to prepare for my first anthotype. I paint them methodically with a dark brown to stop the light going through. An hour pass, my hands busy making a mess, my brain not thinking. Offcuts, boxes, paint brushes, scissors, and folders are strewn around me on the floor. One by one I pick them up and put them away. Everything in its place, I set the anthotype on the bedroom windowsill. The sun is on the other side of the house at this time of day but I have time.

I head to the study and check my phone. There are still no e-mails from work so I grab my camera, extension tubes, and my Tintin and Snowy figures, and rush to the garden. I position the toys in the grass, by a flower pot, in the dirt of the flower bed, by the Christmas tree, and snap away at them, imagining Tintin and Snowy on far away adventures. Tintin keeps waving at me, a hand in his pocket, a smile forever etched on his face. He is the perfect model, still and patient with my endless repositioning of his body.

I run back to the study to export the photos. I cannot help but check my e-mails. There is one from work. I read it as fast as my eyes let me. It is a form to fill. The questions are very similar to the ones we had to answer before lockdown began, the ones that decided I was fit to come to work if I isolated in an office on my own. Will this be any different?

In line with Government guidelines, are you classed as someone who is at ‘high or moderate risk’?

‘Yes,’ I mutter. ‘No,’ I add. ‘Not according to the government.’ I write I have asthma in the box.

Are you living with someone who is classed as ‘high or moderate risk’ and therefore ‘shielding’?

‘Yes,’ I repeat. ‘But not according to the government.’ I explain my partner autoimmune disease in the box.

I save the file, type a few words in the reply e-mail, attach the file, and send it off. We have until the 22nd to reply. Does it mean we will not start work until then? I forget to ask. I close the tab and go back to the photos. I tweak the light and colours and post a couple of shots on Twitter. Immediately a friend replies, and another. We talk about macro photography, about Tintin, and about porridge and just like that I’m laughing.

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