Joining the Front Line

Yesterday, I ventured outside for the first time since the lockdown began. At first it felt like when you’re a child doing something naughty. I was heading to the doctor’s surgery to collect my prescription scripts and then going to the pharmacy to get them filled, but it still felt like I shouldn’t be out on the street.

The way people have reacted to the lockdown says a lot. The vast majority of people have closed their businesses and are following government advice. But there was this one shop on the high street, it’s been a florist for as long as I’ve lived in Northern Ireland, and now they’ve covered over the “florist” sign above the door and written “hardware” then they’ve printed off a very self-important piece of paper claiming they are keyworkers and that their shop is an essential business. Now, I actually needed some hardware because our central heating isn’t working properly, so I stepped inside, assuming they had changed what they were selling in response to the crisis.

There was no hardware for sale in this shop. It was just flowers and decorative plant pots. The proprietor was standing 2 feet from someone having a long chat with them, completely ignoring social distancing rules. Honestly people like that are the reason this virus has spread so badly throughout Europe. “The rules don’t apply to me” types. I’ll have to get the thing to fix the heating from Amazon and increase the pressure on our postal workers instead (sorry Mr. Postman). It’s irresponsible of the florist to pretend they’re a hardware store though because it increased the time I was out mixing, it wastes customers’ time, and it means people who are asymptomatic have more unnecessary places to spread their germs.

Anyway, when I got to the pharmacy, they only let 3 customers in at one time so I stood outside the door, 3 metres away from the next person in line, until it was my turn. Then when I got inside, there was tape on the floor around the counter, with 1, 2 and 3 next to these lines, to tell you where to stand. Behind the counter was one of my usual pharmacists and someone in “civvy street” clothes, who it turned out was a pharmacy lecturer from the University who had been drafted into the front lines.

It’s a sign of the times that they couldn’t fill my prescription for my brown inhaler. Usually these are readily available and easy to re-order. But they had plenty of blue inhalers (relievers for asthma attacks). People’s priorities with the panic buying are just odd. Although I suspect that anyone with the slightest whiff of asthma is trying their best to take their inhaler correctly right now because asthma + coronavirus = baddddd.

So anyway, I could clearly see that they were short-handed and it occurred to me, I used to work in a pharmacy for 6 months about half a dozen years ago, I have a really good understanding of procedure and I know my medications quite well, and I could help with this coronavirus outbreak. I asked the pharmacist if she knew of any list of reserve pharmacy staff and she gave me an email to contact. So when my maternity leave ends next week, I am going to be an on-call pharmacy assistant. All GP surgeries are urging patients to nominate pharmacies to collect prescriptions for them now, instead of patients going to the GP to collect their own scripts, and that means a LOT more work for pharmacies. They have never been so busy. And that’s just the community pharmacies. Hospital pharmacies are also busy, and they will also need people to help.

My husband isn’t thrilled. He doesn’t think it’s very smart for me to put myself on the front lines, especially with my asthma, but someone has to, and I just feel like I need to do this. Honestly I think he just doesn’t want to be alone with the baby all day. It’s all hands on deck right now if our population and our health service is going to make it through this crisis. The infection rates are not very bad in Northern Ireland, yet, but they will be. We’re not being as stupid as they were in England at the weekend, but it’s coming.

The UK is in lockdown and it’s all Britain’s fault

That title is probably confusing if you don’t live in Northern Ireland. Basically, “Britain” (or Great Britain) is England + Scotland + Wales. The United Kingdom’s full name is “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.

Here in Northern Ireland we have only had 77 coronavirus cases and 1 death. Britain, on the other hand… well people are sick in the thousands and deaths are in the hundreds. Mostly it’s England. So we were all told to be sensible and cautious, and idiots in Britain went to the beach over the weekend and climbed mountains and went to parks so now we’re all on lockdown. Hopefully, because we’re going to lockdown at such an early stage of the spread in Northern Ireland, the disease should have less impact here. But I can’t help being annoyed that people in England couldn’t just be sensible and stay away from each other instead of going on camping trips to Scotland and other utter stupidity.

Now the whole of society is split between people going “But my dog NEEDS five walks a day” and people wasting police time phoning them to report that their neighbours are outside putting their laundry out to dry.

In other news, my sister in law sent me a “happy mothers day” card. WTF? That’s weird right? My mother has only been dead for 5 years and I think it’s really inappropriate. Seriously, who does that?

Okay I’m going to stop being a grumpy old lady now.

Everything’s out

So we moved to Northern Ireland where we have been for the past 9 months since leaving China. I’ve been trying to start blogging again since I got back but honestly I didn’t know what to write. I had so many ideas for articles but every time I came to write them I didn’t know where to start. I guess that’s writer’s block.

I have one extra tiny mouth to feed now – a side effect of moving to China was their healthcare was completely different to the UK and we finally got the pregnancy support and monitoring to make having a baby possible, after I was told we could never have a baby by doctors in England.

Today I don’t know why I’ve come back to my blog but finally it feels like the drought is over, the clouds have burst and the words are raining onto the page. I have no idea if anyone is still reading this but that’s okay. I just need to get started with the words again.

Here in Northern Ireland, the shops have entire empty aisles because of panic buying. We have two additional problems here, which are that our heating system is oil-fired, and only works when you fill up a tank with oil. Panic buyers are buying it all and we can’t get a delivery anytime soon and ran out earlier today. And we don’t have mains sewerage, so our waste goes into a septic tank, which… you guessed it, has to be emptied by a man in a lorry. So if civilization stays at home we will literally be swimming in it.

I asked a lady at the supermarket when they were getting more toilet roll delivered and she said she didn’t know. We aren’t getting as many deliveries as usual, here. I suspect they’re being diverted to England because they can charge more money for things over there. I guess I picked a bad week to not buy more last week when we could get it still. I’m sick of seeing stuffed shirts on the TV telling people not to panic buy because “the supply chain is fine”. How stupid are these people to not understand that if you tell people to self isolate with the slightest cough/cold, those people then cannot get to the shops so everyone is buying in advance of having to stay home.

Anyway, I’m feeling pretty upbeat in general and I will try and get some proper articles out in the near future. Over the past 3 years, I’ve changed, and so the focus of my blog is changing. I’m no longer really going to write much about beauty products, although I’ll still do that if the mood takes me. There will be articles on travel coming. In my absence I visited most of the countries in Asia. Overall, though, I’m going to focus more on lifestyle stuff. I think the world needs to live first, then make itself up later.

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