Earlier this afternoon, I made the weekly trip to the huge Tesco on the edge of the local town. With all the leftovers to eat, I didn’t exactly have a long shopping list, but we needed a few everyday essentials. On top of those, we decided to have a ‘Tapas’ buffet on New Year’s Eve, so there was an extra list to see what I could get to add to that.
The shop was busy, something to be expected on its first full day of trading after the seasonal closures.
I headed to the aisle where you can get boring things you need, like bin-liners.
They were in stock.
In the same area is tinfoil. The shelves were bare. Well, not exactly bare as the usual long boxes of assorted sizes of tinfoil had been replaced by rows of ‘tinfoil containers’. Despite suspecting the answer in advance, I approached a young man who was removing empty cardboard from the shelf. I asked if there was any tinfoil in the stockroom. “We have these”, he said pointing out some takeaway-style tinfoil boxes with paper lids. I told him I couldn’t spread those on the inside of a roasting tin, or wrap up opened cheese in them. His reply was boringly predictable.
“Sorry, it’s Covid. Oh, and Christmas. We are short of drivers and are waiting on deliveries”.
I headed to the deli counter, to buy some fresh anchovies in oil, Spanish-style, to add to our Tapas buffet. There were none visible. I asked a man at the fish counter, his beard reminiscent of that sported by the famous W.G. Grace, and strangely contorted by his face mask. He looked perplexed, and went to get someone. He returned with a lady who looked very confident. “She’s the fish-buyer”, he told me, his beard moving like a furry glove puppet under the mask.
The lady knew her stuff.
“Anchovies? I can tell you we don’t have an anchovy left in the shop, not even in jars or tins, let alone fresh. Sorry, it’s the Covid, and Brexit. A shortage of drivers, and they are imported too of course. We haven’t had an anchovy in this shop since Christmas Eve, and no idea when they will be back in stock”.
I thanked her for her efforts.
Having decided to cook a Chinese stir fry at the weekend, I was pleased to find Pak Choi, Fresh Noodles in boxes, and a nice mix of Chinese vegetables, also fresh in a box. I added two duck breasts in plum sauce to my trolley, and the went in search of some Shiitake mushrooms. There were only white mushrooms on the shelf, so I asked a man who was loading spring onions into a section.
He didn’t actually laugh, but I could tell he wanted to.
“Shiitake mushrooms? Nah, none left. They are imported you know, and we have problems with drivers ’cause of Covid and Brexit. And it’s Christmas, don’t forget that. They get time off, like anyone else. Sorry”.
I smiled back at him, under my mask. I think he could tell I was smiling as I asked him who he was going to blame once there was no Covid, it wasn’t Christmas, and Brexit was ‘normal’. He shrugged as he replied.
“They will find something to blame it on, I’m sure”.