A Monday Medley

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:

Richard Littlejohn is missing the point of furlough when he suggests that if people are safe to flock to shopping malls, then they are safe to be at work.  The Job Retention Scheme was not set up to protect people from the virus. It’s point is to save jobs by saving employers’ costs  when they cannot afford to retain employees due to falling revenues. This, it is hoped, will save many jobs.
A relaxing of some of the lockdown rules will not mean that businesses are immediately up and running at full capacity; this will take time. So, by all means berate furloughed employees from mobbing stores, but don’t blame them for not being at work when, by continuing furlough, they are helping to protect the future sustainability of the businesses they work for. 

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.

Hol 15




  1. I’ve only ever been to Ikea once and although it has it’s place I certainly wouldn’t queue to repeat the experience.
    I do agree with your daughter regarding shopping. Lily has had a growth spurt over these last few months and I’ve been grateful for online shopping and picking up the odd item of clothing at the supermarket to keep her going. I’m struggling with shoes, however, although I find this difficult at the best of times. X


    • Little feet grow so quickly! Almost new school shoes have been grown out of. I have to admit that the growth of children hadn’t occurred to me – years ago, it would have done!


  2. Well written, Eloise. And well done to your daughter. I was wondering how parents are managing and was thinking specifically of shoes. Little feet grow so quickly and wearing tight shoes is so bad for their feet.
    But also, there is a shopping culture and people must have felt very stressed when the opportunities were removed. Not my cuppa tea but I can understand it, all the same.


    • I was thinking about shoes too. We wilol be seeing the youngest grandsons on Sunday so I must remember to ask their mum.One of them only started pre-school in January so I guess his school shoes will be pretty much wasted. Such a shame.


  3. Very well said to the newspaper, Eloise! Some people just don’t think things through.
    I am still ‘shielding’ as i was one of the people who received the governments letter to those considered most vulnerable. Husband and I haven’t been in a shop since long before lockdown, we were already buying our food online and my last hair appointment was the 11th March and it won’t be for some time to come, either. I was bemused by the rush to IKEA, too. Mind you, I’ve not been inside an IKEA store, nor am likely to ever visit one, it’s not my natural habitat! I heard that they had a one-way system and I didn’t like that idea one bit. Also, I’m not very keen on large stores in the first place, the first thing I look for are the emergency exits, but perhaps after what your daughter said about Primark, I could understand – almost – the queues there, and at Sports Direct, for half-price trainers for children (and football boots, etc).
    I’m not happy with the 1 meter distancing, either. If 2 metres was considered safe, then anything less than that, surely, must be unsafe, or am I thick?
    I will continue to buy my food online, and thank goodness for the wonderful staff in supermarkets, the factories producing the goods, the farms, the distribution centres and the delivery drivers. Thank goodness, too, for those kind people who delivery medication and so forth to people like myself who are shielding, people from the community Help Hub.
    Oh, for crab sandwiches in Brixham! It’s only 6 or 7 miles from where we live, but it might as well be on Mars at the moment!
    Margaret P

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ikea is very much NOT your natural habitat, Margaret! The store is very much more geared up to young people and modern decor and is great value for those starting out and getting a home together. There’s nothing actually wrong with it. but it’s not a shopping experience that I particularly enjoyed, though I’m not saying that I’d never go again on a non-busy day (I hate big crowds anywhere). It’s excellent for kitchen bits and pieces but I’m happy to buy those from supermarkets (Asda do a great range of bakeware). I would prefer the 1 meter rule to be implemented with compulsory masks worn indoors . I guess we all have to do what we are comfortable with and, like you, I will be continuing to shop for groceries online, as I was doing before the crisis anyway.


  4. I’m with you Eloise. We are in Level 1 of our lockdown which means handwashing and social distancing. I needed to go to a mall – I really just wanted to leave with my good healthy dose of paranoia settling in. And there is so much that I also no longer want to buy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t been in a shop since 19th March due to isolating to protect DH. I said this was the year I would buy no new clothes but that challenge has been easy so far for the wrong reason. Washed, dried and put rollers in my hair this morning as I was chairing a meeting on Teams for one of my voluntary groups and then did all the ironing before tea. Hoping to find something to watch on TV as I fancy putting my feet up this evening.


    • Always good to meet a challenge but you want it to be because you’ve achieved it on your own merits rather than be forced upon you! Your days sounds not unlike my own. Although at present I am putting in more hours working from home than I would in the office. Partly because there’s a lot to do, and partly because I find it easier to answer a few emails than to have them build up. I usually work 16 hours a week, and despite claiming some as overtime, I still have 50+ hours in credit


  6. I love those sandwiches at Brixham too and the fish and chips from the shop on the harbour.
    We are hoping to go at the end of August. Keeping our fingers crossed for now.🤞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like a good plan, Jean. Time was when I enjoyed shopping but I’m no longer much interested, though I like to wander around the little individual shops in a small market town or on holiday


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