On Tuesday I ventured into our local town centre, Bury St. Edmunds, for the first time in 3 months. Mr Johnson had kindly allowed me to travel to our holiday home in July, and I wanted to buy some sun cream in Marks & Spencer’s whilst the shopping centre was relatively quiet. They stock the only sun cream that my face can tolerate.
Relatively quiet was an understatement. I passed by many shops that were open, but they had no customers. A bouncer stood outside Debenham’s, but the cordoned queueing section was empty. Cafes were either closed or just doing take-aways, and of the shops that were open, a couple had 50% off advertised in the windows. The few people that were about had managed to find their way to the shops with the biggest discounts.
Barring Covid, I had a sudden theory as to why the shopping centre might be unusually empty. All the public toilets were closed, and there were signs on shop doorways that had lavatories informing the public that their toilets were also closed. There and then I decided to cut my visit to Bury short, in case I was taken short…
Dismayed at an inconvenient lack of conveniences, I carried on down the alleyway leading to the market square. All around me were arrows telling me to keep 2m apart, but that wasn’t necessary as there were no crowds. I passed by my opticians, and there was a note on the locked door for customers to ring the bell. My bottle of lens cleaner spray was empty, so I rang the bell and held up the bottle (they fill it up again for free). Out came a vision wearing a mask, apron and gloves. She took it off me as though it might explode, and returned with the bottle held at arm’s length. Just to be awkward I found a clean tissue, stood back, held out my arm, and gingerly accepted it (two can play at that game).
Anyway, onwards and upwards to Marks & Spencer’s. There were entrance only doors and exit only doors. A bouncer stood outside, wearing a mask. I quickly found the suncream and stood on the required spot on the floor to queue for the till. I could see people trying the door leading to the toilets, but were out of luck. Perspex screens had been erected between customers and cashiers. I was asked to turn over my store card to expose the barcode for scanning, just in case it was contaminated I suppose.
In Clinton’s next door I bought a birthday card but was asked not to pay with cash. I never thought I’d live to see the day when I was not allowed to pay with a £5 note. Deep joyload.
This is shopping Covid style. Depressing, isn’t it?