Receive my ‘Read. Write. Run. Repeat.’ newsletter

Regular updates of my reviews and commentary direct to your inbox.

Picture: Emil Widlund, Unsplashj

Bras and knickers come before books

Living, coping and observing in the age of Covid #4

SO many Covid conundrums to confuse and ponder.

The more our masters attempt to clarify, the murkier the restrictions become.

How far from one’s home is “a reasonable distance” yet close enough to be accepted as an exercise zone?

Precisely what qualifies as an “open space” for a lone aerobics session when golf courses are deemed out of bounds but footballers can cluster and carouse to their hearts’ content?

Bafflement has become a constant condition of this puzzled soul.

Another bout assailed me as I walked a cautious route past the heavily shuttered premises of excessively popular Primark. No cheap shopping for tees, hoodies, bras and knickers today. Or likely many weeks to come.

But all is not lost, ladies.

A few strides further on is my still-open destination, the M&S food hall. A welcoming oasis in this eerily deserted city. A permitted source of bread, milk, meat and veggies and sundry other necessities for restocking the larder. Easy access, no queues, only a squirt of  sanitiser required.

The only mild hazard are the racks and racks of women’s wear to be negotiated to reach the food hall’s entrance. And the several women happily browsing, fondling and assessing tops, sweaters, blouses, coats and a considerable array of underwear and lingerie in an almost blinding array of colours from darkest black to pristine white.

Yes, doing what Primark and all the other clothing shops cannot do; selling clothes. The M&S  women’s department is open for business. And doing a steady trade at the nearby check-outs, too.

Confused? Me too.

As I am also by the situation another short walk away.

Here, the nation’s book lover’s delight, Waterstones, is firmly locked and barred to all-comers. Now off limits even to its online click and collect customers, which was  a lifeline until very recently.

Gone. A no-go salvation for the reading deprived.

My bedside pile of to-be-reads has rapidly shrunk. There is no opportunity to refresh it for the foreseeable.

And yet … and yet … no more than 200 metres away WH Smith, stationer and bookseller, attracts a steady trade, partly by dint of being a source of daily newspapers and also running the local post office.

The post office is housed in the shop’s unwelcoming nether regions. This entails a trek along several aisles of shelves piled high with a wide assortment of … books!  Yes, books.

The very same items that Waterstones cannot sell either in person (as at WH Smith) or via online.

Welcome to the high street’s fantasy land where nothing is now quite as it seems, or as clearly defined as our regulators believe it to be.

Food for the body? Essential.

So, too, in these trouble and restricted times, is food for the mind.

Books before bras, please.





New writer’s thriller reveals Canada’s divisive dark side
Cuddles for goals but not for grandma

Leave a comment