Pandemic, pandemonium and poo paper

STOCK PILING: Use only what you need.

DEAR readers prepare, I am here to talk about the ‘you know what’. Well a little bit anyway. Two years ago, I left work after the lockdown was announced and decided to stop off at my local supermarket to buy some chicken for dinner.

I vividly remember the shock at the sight of all the empty shelves, even the vegan food had gone, no meat, no frozen produce, no tins of beans and most startlingly no toilet paper. There was however several jars of Marmite. Call me naive but I was totally unprepared for the sight of empty shelves outside of my own kitchen. An old lady circled slowly in the middle of the aisle bewildered by the emptiness. “Is there a war on?” she asked. “Have aliens finally invaded? Are we to be shipped off to Gulags on Mars?”

Stepping expertly away from her I pondered this question. Indeed a pandemic is a war of sorts and bodies are being invaded by alien viruses, nasty little creatures with no idea of the Geneva convention. Virus, war, alien invasion. What is it about human beings that makes us panic in the face of adversity and start stockpiling toilet paper? What are we afraid of? Using bidets perhaps. Is this a mistrust of our leader’s ability to keep our bottoms clean? Or are we naturally self serving and selfish, thinking only of our own comfort and survival. The following day in the same supermarket I witnessed a fight over toilet paper.

A lone woman in tears,clutching a scrap of plastic from one of the piled packs of toilet paper in the trolley ahead of her which was being fiercely defended by a platoon of Chechyn rebels. Only joking, it was two burly teenagers and a mum and dad in matching leopard print leggings. Thankfully not everyone will sink to those depths. Indeed the heroic, and mightily fed up, supermarket employees liberated all but one pack of toilet rolls from the groaning trolley and gave the family a sound expletive ridden ticking off (I love Spanish supermarket workers) while distributing packs to those who had none. It seems the first casualty of this war is not truth, but the loss of human dignity.

This weekend, unfortunately, due to the hauliers strike the spectre of empty shelves has returned to haunt us. Yet again toilet rolls are as sparse as a billionaire’s conscience. Someone, somewhere has a heck of a lot of toilet paper tucked away in their garage gathering dust. If we all just calm down and stop panicking we would realise that there is enough to go round, that we are lucky that we will not starve, our electricity, though ridiculously expensive, is on and our heating working. We have food, warmth and shelter. This is not a war. It is a strike. There is enough toilet paper to keep all of Spain clean and fresh but only if we consume what we need and no more.

Suzanne Manners’ opinions are her own and are not necessarily representative of those of the publishers, advertisers or sponsors.

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Suzanne Manners

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