Did you join the fray outside Primark or Ikea when these two stores, along with many others, opened their doors for the first time in almost three months? The media photos at the Primark store were astonishing – no thought given to social distancing. What puzzles me most is this: what on earth do Primark have that is so wonderful that it can’t wait? As for Ikea – what about those queues!! I’ve been only twice to a store and found it claustrophobic due to the hoards, and felt hereded, swept along the compulsory one-way system (they were way ahead of the crowd with that one)! As they follow the route, shoppers are forced into departments in which I have no interest, cynically seduced into spending money on gadgets they didn’t know I wanted. I never liked it in the most normal of times so it certainly hasn’t made the ‘things I most want to do after lockdown’ list! I confess, that despite Boris exhorting us to get out there and shop, I did not consider doing so for a moment.
Note added after publication: My daughter has pointed out that parents will have gone to Primark to buy summer clothes for their children who will have grown out of last years. I concede – since we went into lockdown in March, it is unlikely that they will have already bought summer stuff. Duly chastened Daughter dear.
Columnist Sarah Vine’s writes that the UK’s favourite sporting activity is ‘acquiring more stuff’ and I’m sort of in agreement. I actually don’t buy much stuff at all nowadays and not just because I no longer work full time. The momentary buzz that accompanied the acquiring of that ‘stuff’ just faded away. Shopping no longer holds much allure.
In the same newspaper edition that elicited Ms. Vine’s admission that she too has fallen out of love with ‘stuff’, Richard Littlejohn, also commenting on the shopping frenzy that the retail-unlocking spawned, criticised the furlough system and asked why, if all those people can go shopping, can’t they go back to work? He accuses Rishi Sunack of ‘institutionalising idleness’. I usually enjoy Littlejohn’s writing but this article incensed me so much that I immediately sent a letter to the newspaper. It was printed two days later:
I’ve been co-ordinating the furloughing of staff for my own employer – 39 at the start, now down to 24 and reducing a little further next week. Yes, it is a little galling that during the fine weather some can sunbathe in their gardens (or shop) whilst others have had to work, but what should we do – impose house arrest? Let’s look at the positives: social distancing has been far easier to implement with fewer people on site; it would have been impossible with a full complement of staff. In my latest communication, I thanked them for contributing to the safety of their working colleagues. Our business is currently surviving, and the bottom line here is that they are helping to safeguard the its future.
Polls show that despite some MPs telling us otherwise, the public are largely not in favour of relaxing social distancing to 1 mtr. This is a difficult one because we really do have to balance safety with the good of the economy. I fear for the future that my grandchildren are facing – but then, I think every generation has probably felt the same for one reason or another.
Looking for a suitable picture to accompany this a post I came across this one of Claws in Brixham, supplier of the most wonderful crab sandwiches ever and although it has nothing whatever to do with the post I decided to use it as it conveys a happier time which I hope we can repeat in due course.