What’s the Point?

Being in lockdown, isolation, shielding, what ever you like to call it, life has been different for all of us, some more than others; suddenly working from home, or not working at all. Even those who already worked from home, were stay at home parents or retired, still went out and about. How many of us are asking ourselves what’s the point of going out to work, what’s the point of ever leaving home at all? Will there be people who join the true agoraphobics and never leave home again?

If you live on a country estate or an outback station in Australia you probably rarely leave home; it’s a very long way to your front gate. If you live in a city centre with all life on your doorstep in normal times, you did not need to go far. But if you are among the millions and millions who live in suburbs, going out and coming home again is the natural order of things. For generations people have been getting on the train to go ‘up to town’ to the office. Cities are full of offices, new towers of offices are still being built, but why?  When I was very young I asked my father what he did at work and he said ‘write letters’. That sounded very boring so I vowed to avoid an office job and I have, apart from a temporary job when I did commute up to Waterloo station for a few months. I’m sure lots of important things go on in offices, but my little temping job involved chasing up orders that were never ready and seemed unlikely to ever get to where they were supposed to and apologising on the phone to the people that were not going to get them.

Whether you are a big or little cog in your company, we now know you can contribute from a lap top on the kitchen table. All those office blocks could be used to house key workers who at present cannot afford to live near their work and also waste hours commuting.

If the world of work has changed what about leisure and shopping? Will shopping have altered so much there will be no point? I haven’t actually been near a shop except the tiny pharmacy attached to our doctors to collect prescriptions. In our new restricted life even that has taken on an allure of adventure. But will shopping be an adventure or an ordeal now?

When our well known chain BHS, British Home Stores, collapsed, one commentator suggested it did not offer a focussed shopping experience, which is probably why I used to go there, I am an unfocussed shopper. The best buys are when you stop for lunch at a garden centre to break a long journey and end up buying a coat, new trainers and colourful kitchen items you didn’t know you needed. We did have a lovely shop in town that sold an array of colourful and very expensive items that made you want to throw out everything in your kitchen and start all over again. I only looked and didn’t actually buy anything, but they had a nice coffee shop upstairs, strewn with unhygienic cushions, where you could relax and check your social media or write. Where do writers go now?

Whether you enjoyed trying on endless clothes and sampling makeup, or browsing in the book shop before going to your knit and knatter group in that trendy LITTLE yarn shop, the shopping future looks bleak. I imagine only focussed shoppers will be allowed in, two at a time, no browsing, one way system, no turning back, straight to what they need and out again, no idling, no coffee and cake. Jumping casually on the bus, laden with bags of shopping, squashed in by people standing in the aisle, listening in to people’s conversations, observing strange people for your next short story? All that real life is gone; six people on board, strictly spaced out, wait for the next bus. You will be glad to get home and maybe never leave again, glad you have mastered on line shopping.

And what of the great tradition of visiting garden centres?  As well as our travel adventures, we did visit our local centre regularly to actually buy plants, browsing through the reduced stands for ‘rescue plants’, wandering round the water features and overpriced gift section. Then there were the very popular two for one dinners on Thursday evening, masses of people, leaving Cyberspouse with his coffee while I made my final choice of plants. Yesterday’s email outlined the latest rules. Every adult must take a trolley so they keep track of numbers and the strange line ‘We prefer one child per adult and trolley’ … what if you haven’t got  a child, do they hand them out along with gloves and gel or might you have to fit your six foot 35year old son in the trolley? I have had plants delivered by the greengrocer and have ordered some on line, but it’s not quite the same…

Are you planning to leave home any time soon? Can you see any point in going shopping?

21 thoughts on “What’s the Point?

  1. Aside from attempting to ensure that my toddler doesn’t grow up to be an agoraphobe like me, I’d happily never leave the house again, but I do venture out with her on occasion in a vague attempt to give her a childhood of sorts. It’s good to know I qualify for a trolley though…

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    1. Hello James, I think pandemics reveal that there are many home lovers/agoraphobes out there, or at least on line. Toddlers soon grow into teenagers who prefer to go out by themselves and leave you at home!

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  2. I just go to places with curbside delivery, although success at the garden shop was marginal. I can’t see giving in to shopping in the stores, yet, since our numbers are still going up here in Texas (the governor opened things much too soon). I’m not sure what the point is, either way…to go in and take a chance, or to stay away and try to stay healthy…for what…the rest of my lifetime as this??? Very disconcerting, for someone who lives alone. But, I know that you and your husband face your own special challenges! Stay well; be happy, Janet!

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    1. Thanks Becky, yes Texas and a few other states got a mention on the ‘Corvid news’ tonight and we are doing just the same here, opening up too soon, leaving individuals with hard decisions on exactly where to go or not go.

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  3. It’s apparent that the lockdown nightmare continues in the UK, US and increasingly in other countries (and please stay safe, Janet, and your family and your followers). While not entirely back to normal here in Oz, each week we get closer (even though there continue to be some hotspot break outs in the larger States). Although both retired and not going out much anyway, for my wife and me it was more a matter of being denied the choice that got up our nose worse than a virus test. 😉

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    1. Yes it is a nightmare, though so far we don’t know anyone struck down, so it doesn’t always seem real. In the meantime my family in Perth are out and about enjoying themselves!

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  4. HI Janet, I can work very effectively from home and am managing to keep the home schooling going [despite a reluctant learner – I am very determined – smile!]. I am getting all the house work and laundry done and keeping up with my blogging and writing. It would be nice to occasionally go out for a meal but I am not desperate yet. I wouldn’t mind having my hair cut [I look like Cousin Itt] but I’m not desperate yet – I tie it back. So, no, I’m not going out until it is safe. I can’t risk my mom and my son, Michael.

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  5. I’m far from convinced that we’re ready yet for a relaxation of the curfew. Not enough is known about the virus, the scientists are saying this is a risk that shouldn’t be taken now, and the police are expecting a ‘perfect storm’ of trouble when the pubs reopen. And I suspect that those pleasures you enjoyed previously will be very different now. Take care – I think we all need to.

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    1. Thanks Jim, I’m always using that photo, taken the last time we went ‘up to London’. Waterloo is pretty special to me as it does seem to have featured in my life quite a lot. When I was a child in Farnborough, Hampshire there were still steam trains on our line up to Waterloo so any trip was so exciting to me!

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  6. You really are a great blogger and this feels like a real conversation. I have been at home with only hubby and the dog for company and it was a relief to get to the local shop once a week.
    I have been on the computer far too much, especially with emails about the new novel. If I could take pictures like yours I might feel more like promoting it.
    Now to go and find some ice tea – or should I make my own?
    Julie.

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    1. Thanks for joining in the conversation Julie, I’m sure we’re all getting bit fed up, but I don’t think I’ll be going near Bournemouth beach any time soon, though where we have our beach hut is usually quieter.

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  7. Here we are on the verge of being Covid-19 free although many restrictions have not been lifted yet and most people are happy to comply… we are. I only go shopping when needs must and not just because…I find plenty to occupy me here and we are lucky we have two of our grandkids here although Lily goes back home Monday as she starts back to school on Wednesday and Aston starts school Wednesday also so it will be quieter…but I will still stay put as I don’t think we have seen the end of this…Be well and stay safe 🙂

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  8. Hello Carol, well done over on your side of the world. If you ever see any pictures of Bournemouth beach it’s madness at the moment, so plenty of us are being very careful.

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  9. It’s so interesting to read the way things are going in other countries around the world Janet and I related to much of what you have written here. It’s certainly a trying time and I don’t have any answers I’m afraid. Here in Australia restrictions are easing and hopefully things won’t go too far backwards. Take care.

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