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Cuppa tea? Go on then. We’ve only had five so far today. The lockdown is pushing my belief in cups of tea being the cure-all to a real test. There’s a little path in the floor from kettle to fridge as I constantly check in case the delivery fairy has stacked it up with goodies I haven’t eaten yet. No. Apparently not.

This new life feels real but not real at the same time. Within the walls of my home, it still feels something like an extended break albeit with Groundhog Day notions. If I just stay in here, days blend as we repeat the routine over and over. It’s only when I go to the shop that the strangeness becomes clear. A run to Eurospar has become a test in patience as I glare at people who stand and look at the vegetables for ages. So close to the carrots and yet so far. Have you not seen vegetables before? Hurry up!

The pasta and toilet roll are back. It’s the flour that’s gone now. Not that I was looking but for one moment there, as Facebook shows me everyone now making their own bread, I considered it. Then I remembered that my banana bread came out like a big soggy brick and I invented caramel square soup and I head back to the safety of the bread aisle and wait for that woman in front to pick a farl and be done with it.

The poor cashiers behind their tiny perspex screens. Every surface is terrifying. If I spend over £30 I have to use the touchpad. The touchpad is now a dangerously-contaminated weapon of mass destruction. I reach for my bag and my hand accidently brushes against the cashier’s as we both grab the absolutely vital tub of ice-cream. I’m so horrified at what I’ve done that I apologise profusely and assure her I’m not sick in a way that only confirms I am a germ-carrying idiot.

We are certainly learning what we do and don’t need in a time of crisis. I’m so convinced I’m saving money not buying frivolous handbags and lattes but then later find myself on Amazon, clicking on head-torches and considering a back-pack to carry my dog around it because it may come to secretly walking her in the dark. I am increasingly aware that come a time of true crisis, I am really not fit for the task. I go outside and clap, I donate a little and stick a rainbow in the window – all tiny gestures that do add up, I know, but compared to the key workers, the nurses, the doctors, the cashiers at Eurospar I feel pretty useless. Still, as long as I’m useless indoors I have my purpose after all.

Bronagh McAtasney, non-baker


About the Author

Bronagh McAtasney is the creator of @NrnIrnGirl1981, real extracts of the diary of her 13 year old self. She is studying for a Master's in Public History, focussing on the unheard stories of women and has worked with the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland on projects looking at diaries and letters locked away in the archives.
She lives in Benagh with four cats, two dogs and a teenager.

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