The Quarantine Guide to… Shopping in Portswood Without Breaking The Law


Remember the times when you could quickly pop to the shop with nothing but your wallet in your pocket. You could walk down the many aisles at a pace that suits you and pick up as many items as you wish before putting it back down and moving on. There was never a semblance of guilt to your actions because everyone across the country was doing the same.

But now?

Well, now you need a guide just to know how to shop properly to help prevent you endangering the lives of everyone in the world. Ms. Rona has her hand in everyone’s pockets and the slightest misstep could hurt everyone you know and love. Luckily, this very guide is the one for you. By the time you’re following these steps, you’ll be the national hero that good ol’ Johnson keeps trumping us to be.

Step One: Remember you forgot something 

Wallet? Check! Keys? Check! Phone? Check! Reusable Bags? CHECK! For once, it seems like you haven’t forgotten anything and that’s a mighty relief. You exit the house, start making your way to the shops, humming along to whatever song blasts in your ears before your memory does an almighty slap. You stop, lock eyes with the person heading in your direction, do an awkward 180 and head back home to grab that goddamn mask.

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Step Two: Arrive and see the queue

In the typical English style, as you arrive outside the shop and see that queue waiting at the front door, you’ll still say, “Blimey, that’s a long queue,” to anyone who will listen. However, you and everyone else knows that the queue will only take 5 minutes to get through but that doesn’t really matter.

Step Three: Awkwardly Decline to SmartShop 

Through the front door and you’re greeted by a smiling employee who’s there to make you feel welcome. They motion towards the SmartShop hand devices and offer you one which you awkwardly decline. The smile slips from their eyes and they glare at you, letting you telepathically know that you have single-handedly doomed everyone in the shop. Well done… killer!

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Step Four: Follow Shop Arrows 

If you’re not going to SmartShop, the least you can do is follow the arrows (you tell yourself). At first, you meticulously weave up and down in the intended directions, sneering at those who go against the arrows and shading them with whoever you’re shopping with. You find their actions inexcusable and they’re the reason that coronavirus continues at such a rampant rate.

Step Five: Give Up Following Arrows 

You meant well, but after you missed an item you needed or saw a heavily congested aisle (it’s always the bloody crisp aisle), you give and ignominiously walk backwards and forwards paying no attention to those who now sneer at you. This is the moment when you also complain about the arrow system and how you could design a much more effective protocol to follow despite the fact that you thought coronavirus was a conspiracy for the first 2 months of its existence.

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Even the car park arrows are now too much

Step Six: B**ch About People Not Wearing Masks

Now you can’t complain about people not following the arrows, you move onto something else. There’s a lot of genuine exceptions that mean people can’t wear a mask – but that won’t stop you moaning about them. You’ll come up with a whole charade of sarcastic comments to belittle people and their illnesses such as, ‘oh yeah, I forgot the coronavirus doesn’t affect children,’ or, ‘imagine thinking you’re harder than a virus.’ You have a great time being a Karen, but everyone hates you that little bit more because of it.

Step 7: Try to Hold in a Fat Cough

Haven’t coughed ever in your life? Felt particularly well today and decided to go to the shop? No matter what your reasons you’ll still feel a sneaking urge to cough and you’ll desperately try to hold it in and fail epically. We’ve inbred the idea that cough=coronavirus and although hundreds of genuine illnesses cause coughing, we all secretly start to worry as soon as someone coughs next to us and wonder, ‘is this the end?’

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Step 8: Queue for Tills and Wish You Smart Shopped

After doing a huge shop and walking to the tills, you now realise you’ll be waiting approximately 3o minutes for a cashier. You sigh and give a forlorn look down at the SmartShop queue which is currently empty except for 80-year-old Doris who was bullied into using the device. You realise you made a huge mistake – you should have smart shopped. Ah well, at least you know for next time (where you’ll make the same mistake… over and over and over again).

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An English Literature student pessimistically fascinated with the world.

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