Day 5 – Shopping

I’m not shopping today. I’m just talking about it.

We’re still doing ok on the things we bought in before the lockdown started. And no, we didn’t stockpile. We don’t have the space or the moral delinquency for that. We just bought sensibly for a couple of weeks ahead (because it was obvious that this was going to happen) and we’ve been careful with what we’ve used.

I will have to venture out and shop this week though. I’m planning to combine it with a blood donation. We’re a bit short on fresh stuff: bread and milk and fruit and veg.

There’s a list of essential items that you are allowed to buy:

It forms part of the legislation around the lockdown which I shared here. And it seems completely reasonable until you start looking at the details.

Now, to be fair, I do understand some of the reasoning behind this – everything should be done to keep supermarkets stocked with essential items, and so transport systems don’t need to be overwhelmed or distracted by stuff we can manage without right now: cut flowers, clothing, gardening goods etc.

I get it. It’s just where those lines between “essential” and “non-essential” have been drawn that’s possibly up for debate.

Let’s look at the big ones: alcohol and faaags.

Alcohol, I can understand. SA has a huge problem with alcohol, and cooping people up in a tiny space for 3 (or more) weeks with nothing to do but drink is a recipe for disaster. That’s not great for those people who don’t have a dependency on drink, but that’s not what this is about.

Tobacco though? Isn’t that the other way around? I’m not a smoker and I recognise that it’s not a healthy habit, but it seems to me that as a coping mechanism, tobacco has a place in this lockdown. And forcing the 20% of South Africans who smoke (that’s 10 million people) to go cold turkey with basically no warning whatsoever seems like a very bad idea to me.

And then some of the things that I’ve seen and heard on social media. Like the fact that you can buy floor cleaner, but you can’t buy a mop. To be fair, one is pretty much useless without the other. It’s not something that I would feel to be hugely essential during the lockdown, sure. But if you’re going to allow one, why on earth not the other?

And then there’s crisps/chips/crisps. I’ve seen images of entire crisp/chip/crisp aisles taped off at the supermarkets. Apparently, you can buy potatoes, just not processed potatoes. Why? And where does that leave us on the biltong front? Because denying South Africans access to biltong is denying them a basic human right. Like denying them the freedom to walk around outside.


Some of these questions may be answered when I head out later in the week, but it might well be the case that my journey out will end up with me finding more of these mildly bizarre dichotomies while I’m trying to keep the family fed for the next few weeks.

I’ll keep you posted. (Because let’s face it, you’ve really nothing better to do right now.)

Day 4 – A challenge?

Incoming from a regular reader:

Going to be interesting to see what creative blog worthy stuff you come up with over the next few weeks. Not much happening…

This email was surprising for a number of reasons. First and foremost was that a regular reader would expect anything creative or blogworthy on here at any time, let alone during a lockdown. Secondly, the fact that he mentioned the word “interesting” while referring to the blog.

Have I really got people fooled?

The email also came with a suggestion of some content which I think was meant as a joke, but given that we’re just 4 days into (at least) 21 of full lockdown and the bottom of the barrel is already being scraped (I mean, look at this post for example), I’m certainly not going to rule anything out just yet.

There’s always the internet to rely on if I need more stuff to put on here. That’s still working (just). What is proving slightly more taxing at the moment is my One Photo Each Day Super Duper Lockdown Challenge. I have some sorted until the end of week 1, but after that, my tap is looking a little dry. Hopefully, inspiration will strike from somewhere…

Day 3 – the worst half hour yet

The worst half hour yet.

I decided yesterday afternoon – on a whim – to try a backyard run. Other people have done it, why shouldn’t I?

I shouldn’t have done it.

It was half an hour of boredom, extreme concentration, hectic effort and very little reward.

Boredom because it was the same thing over and over and over and over again. Concentration because there were trip hazards everywhere, one of which was mobile and kept barking at me and trying to eat my shoes while I was trying to run. Effort because there were so many turns and obstacles that my average stride length turned out to be just 0.65m. That’s against my average of 1.12m on a normal run. So despite what that very dodgy looking 9:30/km average seems to suggest, there was an awful lot of hard work going into getting myself around the front and back gardens. And little reward because all I felt at the end was hot, bothered and miserable. There was no post-run glow or exaltation. No feeling of achievement. There was just one endorphin. I wanted thousands.

Still, I did it, and I’ll likely do a couple more over the next three weeks, because even though it’s not very pleasant, it does still get the heart going and it does still get the Discovery points.


UPDATE: Experts don’t like it either.

Day 2 – Cabin fever?

Not for me (yet), although there have been some worrying developments.

Firstly, this one:

which is not great when everyone is stuck at home and needs to use the internet. It also almost crashed the blog, which would really not have been good. Although is hosted locally, when I tried to update a plugin  – a process that usually takes a few seconds – it went to get the update from overseas, got stuck and for a while, I was only able to see:

Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.

on any blog page or post I tried to access. For several or more minutes.

Fortunately, the blog obviously realised that something wasn’t quite right and reset itself before I went to work with a large virtual hammer in the the back end (careful now).


The update will now wait until there is a decent connection to America (or wherever) again.

Then: the neighbourhood group has been alive with fake news on the current situation. Was that Whatsapp voicenote real (no, it wasn’t), should we clean our bin handles (yes, we should), is that man allowed to walk his dog on the school field (no, he’s not). And then in the middle of it all, this gem:

I have just microwaved our newspaper. ( Saturday one is only one we haven’t cancelled because of poor quality even though quality of Sat is not good either)

(Genuinely, I promise)


For the record, microwaving may or may not kill coronavirus. It may or may not burn your house down as well. Do not microwave your newspaper. Just no.

Finally (for the moment, at least): As promised, I have set up an album called The Lockdown Diaries on Flickr. One photo a day during the lockdown. Don’t expect magnificence: this is just giving me something to do while I’m stuck at home, and I’m not going to get images of mountain ranges, racing cars or herds of wildebees being stalked by lions. My scope is a bit limited, which is why it will be a challenge.