Thursday, 2 April 2020
There's a disconcerting maze of upturned supermarket trolleys at the end of the car park, providing a combination of guidance and protection for waiting customers. I'm queuing in the fresh spring sunshine, money in my bank account; through the shop window I can see food on the shelves, staff inside wiping every shiny surface with sanitiser. Things could be much worse. And yet the man in front of me is coughing. He's a good three metres away, but is that enough? I'm pretty sure I can smell his aftershave, so I'm probably breathing the same air. The woman behind me is much closer. Too close. Might she sneeze on the back of my head? Would it matter, as long as I don't clean my neck with my lizard tongue? We shuffle forwards whilst maintaining our distances. As I reach the front door, I'm met by a security guard wearing a fluorescent waistcoat and a ginger beard. "You alright?", he asks casually, desperately hoping I'm not going to answer anything other than "yeah, good, thanks". "Yeah, good, thanks", I reply. He nods. I've passed the test. A grey-haired woman leaves the shop carrying two large bags, uncomfortable with her success. The guard makes an exaggerated gesture of welcome; I take a deep breath and walk forward.