Welcome to another edition of WWG NEWS!
Shutting down the civilised world for 3 months – or is it going to be 6 months? – was always something that would soon start showing unanticipated consequences, even if you were a retired person living alone, happy enough in your own company. Civilisation was still out there if you needed it, and the electricity continued coming down the wires and the water out of the pipes.
While the supermarkets are open for food, and the shelves have been re-stocked, and there’s still money supporting your debit card to pay for it, there’s no great threat of hardship. But today (for the first time, I have to say) I felt the need for non-essential supplies, in the form of a reel of fabric dressing. Where was I to go?
Apart from the supermarkets, everything seems to have closed down in Whitby, including the convenience stores. The supermarkets are open primarily for the sale of food, but thanks to the fact that they have long since diversified into household items and simple medical supplies, they are still a source of such minor items.
But not all of them. I would say there’s only a 75% chance of finding what you are looking for.
It seems that other people have felt the need for fabric dressing, indeed sticking plasters of all kinds, and there are gaps in the Co-op’s shelves where they have yet to re-order – or the order has yet to arrive. Fine – I shall simply come back every so often until the items appear on the shelves.
But what if they never do? After the first shock of lockdown, it’s easy to run away with the idea that what you (still) see is what you (can still) get. But it isn’t hard to predict we’ll see a gradual degradation of all supplies, except those which are designated “priorities” – in hindsight as the need exposes itself, as it’s already proven to be with bread and toilet rolls.
Up to now, as I’ve walked Whitby’s nearly-deserted streets, I’ve felt in no present danger. But today I began to wonder if I wasn’t being unduly complacent. Busy streets discourage undesirable activities that are capable of coming back to fill the vacuum of streets becoming empty. Footpads? Rapists? Mohocks? Packs of stray dogs? Marauding mobs? You may not suffer the fate of Llandudno and have a plague of wild goats invade your town, but curious things may start to happen over the next three months.
It goes without saying that there are bad actors out there who are pondering how to take advantage of the situation – and why they haven’t done so immediately is because of its unfamiliarity. They need to watch and wait to see what works and what doesn’t. This was brought home to me today as I took a short cut through the empty car parks around the Leisure Centre, and encountered a bunch of youths clearly breaking the law: gathering in a group, drinking in public, and flaunting social distancing guidelines by offering to “high-five” me.
Now although it’s more than 60 years ago, I do remember what it was like to be young, and to chafe against the arbitrary restrictions the grown-ups are in the habit of throwing up around you. But I felt I was witnessing the thin end of a rapidly broadening wedge.
My advice to honest citizens is not only to stay at home if it’s not necessary to go out, but to avoid streets and indeed any public space where there’s nobody in sight. And if you trip and break an ankle, it may be a long time before anybody comes to pick you up – especially if you’ve left your mobile at home, or it slips down a drain as you fall.