Day 222 – I need help

Allegedly, anyway.
[Spoiler: No, I don’t.]

Long and dull story short, we need a few more points on our medical insurance spin-off programme to earn better discounts and nicer freebies. I’ve all but reached my limit for points earned through exercise for the year, so I started looking at other ways of scoring enough to get us over the metaphorical, virtual line.

And there is was: a mental health questionnaire that I could do in 5 minutes while watching the football. And it promised almost twice as many points as a 30 minute workout with my heart pumping at 150bpm. Easy money.

And so I went for it. As I remember, there were seven parts to it and it was all multiple choice stuff – often the old ‘”I strongly disagree” to “I strongly agree” with this statement’ kind of thing. I strongly agreed with some of them and I strongly disagreed with others. Occasionally, where I felt fairly neutral about the given statement, I clicked “neutral”.

And then I finished the thing and collected my 500 points and it suggested that I speak to a mental health counsellor.

wut?

It also appeared to class me as “at risk” from my drinking habits. But my drinking habits are equivalent to a glass of wine each evening. If that puts me at risk, then the world (including me) is really in trouble.

And I truthfully answered the mental health questions in the same sort of way. Sure, I don’t think I’m 100% happy 100% of the time, but the fact is that none of us is having an easy ride this year, and if you actually are still 100% happy 100% of the time, then I think that it’s actually you that has the mental health issue.

Honestly, this questionnaire seems to be the equivalent of googling your headache and the daily mail dot com telling you that you have a brain tumour. Overkill much?

I’m well aware that denial isn’t just a river in Egypt, but if you feel that my having trouble getting to sleep a week last Saturday demands that I seek immediate help from a counsellor, then you’re
a) being a bit dramatic,
b) wasting my time and (more importantly) theirs, and
c) not a Sheffield United supporter.

I will be good, I will to continue to exercise my mind and body, and really: I won’t off myself anytime soon. I’ll also try and get less stressed about the football, but having narrowly lost this week’s fantasy matchup to that “goal” by Tariq Lamptey – insult added to injury by the fact that the foul on Højbjerg was also counted as a dispossession and further that the two goals scored against Lamptey weren’t deducted from his score – I feel I’m ok to feel a bit aggrieved every now and again.

So yes, football – such a big bit of my life – is still not a good thing for me at the moment.

But I promise: I don’t need help.
I’m ok. Really.

Day 65 – Coming soon

I’m not saying that South Africa has missed being able to order wine, but here are guys from Getwine (you may remember them from these posts) with the orders that they are sorting ready for delivery once the Level 3 lockdown comes into force on Monday:

As many people commented: “mine is in there somewhere”.

I actually ordered 3 weeks ago, but I’m not expecting them to be knocking on my door at 8am on Monday morning.
(Or, looking at this, maybe any time in June…) [sad trombone]

Day 34 – Stash news

Yesterday: another day of lockdown, another day of not touching The Stash.

Well done, me.

The Stash is the household alcohol supply – specifically my half of it. We’re not permitted to buy alcohol here during the lockdown, so it’s a case of making what you have, last.

My wife and I generally drink different stuff, so we can effectively divide the adult drinks into hers (gin, white wine, cider) and mine (brandy, red wine, beer). And we’re lucky in that I saw the lockdown coming and stocked up a bit before it hit us. We’re still ok for drinks at the moment, but it is a one-way street, because there’s going to be nothing new coming in for really quite some time.

I’ve realised that I have taken something of a scientific approach: subconsciously analysing my drinking habits, while (equally subconsciously) grading the drinks I have left. Some sort of informal scale has been drawn up mentally, and I refer to it often.

An aside: it’s interesting (to me, at least) that one starts drinking the decent brandy first, leaving the rough stuff til desperation strikes, while the “everyday” wine takes a hammering long before you contemplate the nice stuff hidden at the back of the cupboard under the stairs.

My first worry is beer though. I like beer and there’s not too much left. And so, by the laws of scarcity, every single one becomes more valuable: something special, not to be wasted. Add that to their already inflated value on the subconscious grading scale, and you can see that they need to be looked after.

Problem is that the first one each evening goes down like the proverbial homesick mole. Whoosh.

There’s a South African expression:

n boer maak ‘n plan

Literally, “a farmer makes a plan”: something about the indefatigable nature of the Afrikaans farmer, sure, but with an element of “necessity is the mother of invention” as well.

My invention is to replace my first beer with a cheap brandy and coke. Yes, the cheap brandy (I’m using Olaf Bergh, named after the noise you make after drinking three of them) is part of The Stash, but it’s a very minor part – way down the list from the heady heights of Castle Milk Stout. And it’s backed up by more cheap(ish) brandy in the form of two unopened bottles of Klipdrift Premium still safely sequestered.

It’s not great, but since it goes down like a fat kid on a see-saw anyway, there’s not too much afterburn. Immediate thirst quenched.

Not only does this mean that I don’t wastefully use up a first beer, it also means that I can’t have a second beer either – simply because I haven’t had a first. And thus The Stash remains in (relatively) good repair. Brandy and coke certainly wouldn’t be my first choice of beverage in any other situation, but if I were in fact a boer, it might well be, and that little bit of synchronicity makes me happy.

Tonight is pub quiz night and so I will require some actual beer, but that initial hit will once again be from Olaf, the previously unsung superhero of the lockdown.

Please join me in raising a glass to him this evening. What you fill it with is up to you.

Day 9 – The Garden

Mrs 6000 has been working overtime upon overtime for the last two weeks, so it was with some delight that I heard her suggest  that we should launch a bit of an attack on the garden this morning. Rather that than another day in front of the laptop.

However, it’s now 4pm. I’ve only just emerged from the shower and every single muscle hurts. Yes, even that one. Some hard work has been done and tomorrow is going to bring the traditional World of Pain™, but on the plus side, there have been no Zoom meetings, no spreadsheets and no billion work Whatsapps.

On the negative side, there is some music being played in the house, and (IMHO) it’s not really great music. Thus, I have retreated to some B-sides and remixes from The Streets while I have been writing this. This was a good call.

I fancy a beer but I’m mindful that I made a bit of dent in the stash last night and let’s face it, no-one really expects us to be out of this lockdown on April 13th, do they? I’m thinking that three weeks will actually stretch to six or eight. My beer cache will also have to last that long.
And so maybe I’ll have some milk instead of Milk Stout this evening.

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.

Oh.

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.)