Small outbreaks of polar bears notwithstanding, we’ve taken another small step back to normality in the Townmouse household – I’m going back to getting a daily paper.
Since lockdown started, we’ve made the judgement that going into a shop just to buy a paper was an unnecessary risk, if we weren’t actually going shopping anyway. That meant going down to one paper a week (the Saturday edition), rising to two a week once our lovely neighbour offered to get us a paper on her (different) shopping day. On occasion we have risen to the luxurious heights of three papers a week, on days when a trip to the post office has occasioned it (if I’ve been unusually eager to post things to people, now you know why). In between times I have become that person who reads a three-day-old weekend supplement, something I have never understood up to now.
I do realise, because everybody tells me so, repeatedly, that it is possible to read the Guardian online and that nobody actually reads a paper paper any more. But I still find that compared to having the physical thing in my hands, it is not the same. With the actual paper, I read the whole thing (time allowing), rather than just clicking on the articles that seem compelling enough. And, frankly, I spend enough time looking at a screen these days that being able to sit outside reading something that doesn’t notify me of new and exciting updates all the time is a positive luxury.
It comes at a price,* however
Alongside the latest easing of lockdown, we will now have to wear masks in shops in Scotland. I’ve no idea of how much benefit it will bring, but the consensus seems to be that this is probably a good thing. It doesn’t become compulsory until Friday, but on yesterday’s inaugural ride down just for the paper, I thought I had better show willing. It was … fine. Half the customers were wearing one (although on your chin doesn’t really count, fellow Bigtownites), nobody mentioned it, and I was able to communicate reasonably well with the woman on the till in so far as I needed to.
My current mask is an improvisation, though I’ve got a much fancier one coming tomorrow. I suspect we’ll all end up with a wardrobe of the things, as we search out the holy grail of comfort, safety, and unfogged glasses. Mine ticks the comfort box, and didn’t fog my glasses too much but I don’t know how much protection two layers of jersey cotton really offer. I also discovered that if you’re cycling up a massive hill and you decide to put it on to pass a roadworks lorry that is kicking up a lot of dust, your immediate instinct is to rip it off again. Fortunately, it seems that cycling is a low-enough risk activity that I won’t need to try that again…
Like so many changes we’re living through these days, I wonder whether I’ll look back on this post in a year’s time and marvel that I wore a mask at all – or whether going out without one would feel like going out without my flat cap. Which makes me wonder … how much protection would a Harris Tweed mask offer do you suppose?
What is your mask made of?
* not the actual cost of the paper, though. We have a subscription for the Guardian and we’ve kept it up throughout lockdown because it seemed to me that having a decent source of left-leaning journalism that wasn’t owned by a billionaire was worth the cost of continuing to pay for a paper we mostly weren’t reading in physical form.