Some years ago, around the time that we were all waiting for the onslaught of blizzard conditions one winter, I was sat having my hair cut, chatting away with my lovely hairdresser. I explained that I wasn’t worried about the weather and had no need to panic buy. Whilst everyone was out there going berserk and getting ready for a whole 6 inches of snow to arrive, inevitably meaning that we would never leave the house again, roads would be impassable and England would grind to a halt, I knew that I would be ok.
Why’s that, I was asked?
Because, I gleefully explained, the secret to always being prepared is to have an emergency chicken in the freezer. If I was secure in the knowledge that I had that stashed away, I knew that we could survive anything.
On imparting (what I thought) was this incredible piece of wisdom, the whole salon erupted into laughter (though, in reality, it may have been about three of us there at the time and I had no idea how loud I had said that). My recollection is that my hairdresser was actually crying, she laughed so hard that she had to sit down to steady herself.
I should of course add at this point that my other secret to surviving such conditions is to have lots of tea bags and chocolate digestives (if they have some caramel in them, so much the better) to eat as well as the chicken – although not at the same time. Because that might be strange.
I vividly remember warming to my theme and revealing that our freezer was always full to bursting as I have always shopped as if Armageddon might arrive prematurely. Now, please do not get mistaken; I am nowhere near a ‘Prepper’ and I can confirm that I don’t have a stash of guns and ammunition in the basement as those American’s who believe that the end of the world will arrive one day do. But I have never thought it odd to make sure that if we needed to, we could live out of the freezer and the pantry for quite a while.
You’ll be sorry, I joked. There’s nothing wrong with me; it’s you that needs to worry.
We all laughed long and hard that day about the absurdity of life, how the food deliveries would always come, about how we could all manage for a few days without baked beans just as long as we had enough gin/wine/beer and chocolate and crisps to keep us alive.
How times have now changed.
Just over a week ago, I was chatting to that same friend and same hairdresser, whilst she cut my hair for what might prove to be the last time for more than the usual six weeks, when she reminded me of that day. She had been shopping in what we will now all forever refer to as ‘The Great Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020’ and hadn’t been able to buy a chicken anywhere.
In fact, as we now all know, for a while, she couldn’t buy anything at all. I really felt too sad and fearful though to point out that ‘I told you so’.
Within one week of the day that I saw her, we had nearly all been put into quarantine. Schools are closed, places of work stood empty. Hospitals the size of small villages are beginning to spring up. Employers, who all previously resisted ‘home working’ are now banging on about their remote working credentials as if they invented a new way of life. We sit and watch endless news bulletins telling us to ‘stay at home’, ‘protect the NHS’ and ‘save lives’. A man that we previously never heard of, called Professor Chris Whitty, keeps popping up in Government information films.
And so a new normal began.