Real life

Lockdown is making a criminal of me

13 March 2021

9:00 AM

13 March 2021

9:00 AM

‘Have you had your jab, Margery?’ said one Surrey lady to another in the queue for take-away coffee at the chintzy, shabby chic coffee shop.

‘Oh yes, I’ve had it for my country,’ said her friend. ‘I just can’t understand these people who won’t have the jab. I mean, how selfish…’

I looked at them and they looked at me, pointedly, because they had decided what sort of person I was thanks to the altercation we had all just had.

‘Margery, are you feeling all right after your jab?’ said one to the other, more quietly. ‘Well, now you ask, no, I’ve been rather ill for two weeks now. I’m sure it’s nothing.’

‘Yes, I feel dreadful too. I’m sure it’s nothing.’ Suffice to say that this pair had just been so rude to me I thought: ‘Well, you’re serving your country, so shut up and enjoy it.’

If they don’t end this lockdown soon, I am going to be arrested for affray. I’ve already been cautioned for not having an MOT, because of the darn Covid MOT extension which made me then forget it completely. Because that’s criminal, I presume I can’t now run away to America. Lockdown is making a hardened offender of me.

Next I fear some kind of punch-up resulting in me being led away in handcuffs from the bakery, or the shabby chic café.

In the bakery, they don’t seem to like any more than two customers at a time, so we all queue round the block, Soviet Russia-style, which is why I didn’t question the queue outside the shabby chic café opposite the bakery. I had just got to the front when the two obnoxious Surrey battleaxes swept past me.

‘Excuse me?’ I said, blocking the doorway. ‘I am queuing to go in.’

‘Well, go in then!’ said the rudest of the two. ‘Well I would,’ I said, ‘but there’s still people at the counter.’ ‘So?’ said the other.

So three women stood glaring at each other outside this chintzy café full of dainty homewares and I’m sure all of us had murder on our minds.

‘Look here,’ I hissed, wanting to grab them by the scruffs of their designer hiking jackets, ‘the people in there now were out here queuing a moment ago. So now I’m next. But I’m not going to go in because why the hell were they waiting if I’m not meant to wait now?’

‘Just go in!’ barked the rudest woman. Very much fearing I was about to take a swing at her if I didn’t, I stepped over the threshold without putting on my mask.

‘You’ll need a mask!’ she called. And the slightly less rude woman snorted with pleasure, as they both gave each other a look that said: ‘Another Covidiot!’

Swearing under my breath, I muzzled myself. When I got to the counter I decided to point out to the lady behind it that there was a degree of ambiguity outside. ‘What?’ she snapped. She didn’t have a mask on, so I could see her scowl. ‘Do you want us to queue or come straight in?’ ‘We want you inside ideally!’

‘Never mind,’ I said, for the two rude women were bearing down on me. They had pushed their way round the aisles of bric-à-brac they couldn’t buy — a cushion with a fox on it, a mug with a fox on it, a book about walking, a doormat with a fox on it — and were now burning a hole in my back with their accusing, pillar of the local residents’ association eyes.

I ordered lattes for me and the friend who had not yet arrived to stand outside in the street for ten minutes on her birthday. Whether or not that is illegal I couldn’t work out if I wanted to.

I was told my lattes would be deposited on the collection table by the exit.

As I was standing there, waiting for tiny, underfilled paper cups of overpriced coffee, the rude women waltzed over and planted themselves inches from where I was standing, then looked at me as though I were invading their personal space, so I had to move as they chatted: ‘Have you had your jab, Margery?’ ‘Yes, I’ve had it for my country…’ And so on.

The rudest one pointed at the wall. ‘Look, Margery, this is the photo of Paul Weller I was telling you about. Oh yes. Paul Weller comes here all the time, you know.’

As I took my coffees to leave, I saw that outside Paul Weller stood quietly by the door of the café sipping his coffee. I could see that. But the battleaxes were oblivious.

Any minute now they would flounce out the door, telling each other their best Paul Weller stories as they pushed Paul Weller aside.

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