EVERYONE else may be box set bingeing, social notworking or writing their novels. I wish. 

We spent the first week of lockdown watching a matchstick man pushing a shopping trolley across a computer screen very very slowly… And it wasn’t the trailer to the latest must-see Netflix series.

But it was, at the time, a matter of life or death by starvation/the DTs, whichever kicked in first.

We were all out of almost everything except cat food and there’s only so much you can do with wilted lettuce and shrivelled carrots when the only protein element in stock is Whiskas meaty morsels.  

Too scared to venture out ourselves (being vulnerable people with respiratory problems due to stupid ex-smoking habit) and unwilling to burden friends and/or hand them written proof of our gin consumption via a shopping list, we decided to do it online at Carrefour.

We’re not total virtual shopping virgins, having ordered one or two books on Amazon, but nothing prepared us for the ordeal ahead.  

First, get into the store. There’s a queue and it’s hours long. You watch (sporadically) and you wait. Then it’s 10 minutes, five minutes as matchstick man creeps to the far right of the screen. Then ping! you’re in, and it’s a mad dash with your cursor round the dairy meat and veg sections, back to dairy (you forgot the cheese), and before you’ve got a sniff of the liquor section your session is terminated and you have to start all over again. And again after that, if you forgot to save the shopping cart. The tension!

By the evening of day three we’ve completed an order to make panic buying look like a pop to the corner shop, with time on the clock to proceed to Check Out … only to find this function is not available when the waiting list for deliveries exceeds 10 days. We’re prepared to wait 20 days but it won’t let us, I tell the friendly voice at HQ who patiently explains that, yes, the system’s in meltdown but with patience we will get our slot. 

When they call back two days running to see if we have, we decide to believe them.  So Dave sets up a camp bed in front of the lounge computer, I do the day shift and on the sixth day, like a miracle, the order goes through! And 10 green boxes are delivered to the door by a cheery masked delivery man in record time, thanks to a hotline speeding up orders for people who can’t go out. 

So this is a resounding clap for the Carrefour carers, and all those who risk their health and sanity on the frontline of food orders and deliver them to the doors of complete (and, for all they know, coronavirus-infected) strangers.  We now have crisp lettuce, meat for humans and enough gin to drink to the individual health of every employee in the online store.

Of course, we have it all to do again next month, but another miracle has come to pass. Unless it’s something to do with our wifi feed, matchstick man appears to be speed walking!

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