No Gammon home

“Get your stuff packed kids. We’re going back home.”

“What about Dad?”

“He’s sent me another letter and this one says he’ll be staying down at the potato farm for now – well for at least the next couple of months.”

“I didn’t know he’d written to you Mum. I didn’t know that he could write.”

“That’s enough! It was a lovely letter and it reminded me of the man that I married, long before you two turned up.”

“Okay. What does he say? Leave the lovey-dovey bits out though.”

“He says that he and his mate Turkey are in the nice sheds now. A couple of the others went home for the weekend, met up with some mates who’ve just come back from a break in Marbella, and now they’re showing signs of this coronavirus thing. They’ve been put into isolation in the old sheds as a consequence. Dad says that they’ve all been asked not to go home at weekends in case anyone else brings the virus back, and he feels that it would be better for the three of us to be back in our own house.”

“Yay! No school either!”

“I know. You two can finish school today, no bunking off early. I’ve got the day off from the supermarket and your Auntie Sue and I are going over to the house to give it a good clean. Dad says it might be a bit messy.”

“A bit! I bet Dad ate and drank everything in the house.”

“That’s not a problem. My boss lets us buy stuff from work provided that we don’t stockpile. Of course, you can always take the last day off school and help me with the cleaning if you’d prefer?”

“No thanks. Looking forward to being back in our own house but I’d rather go in and see what everyone else at school is doing.”

“Will Dad come back to live with us Mum?”

“There was a time when I’d have said no, but now…I think this potato picking has done him the world of good. He says he’s lost weight, is a lot fitter, and has had time to have a long think about the things that were bothering him when we left.”

“So things will go back to normal then?”

“What’s normal? Nobody knows what’s going to happen with this virus. They say that some people will die from it, and others may die because they can’t get food and drink now that the shops are running out.”

“How come your shop has plenty of stuff then?”

“My boss has been through this sort of thing before in the country that he comes from. He puts out so much produce in the shop at a time, stops people taking more than their fair share and opens up early for elderly people, NHS staff and carers. The kind of people who stockpile aren’t welcome there and they know it now.”

“Why do people stockpile? Even if you self-isolate it’s only supposed to be for two weeks but all the stuff on the news shows people with shopping trolleys piled high with loo rolls and pasta.”

“Fear. Greed. Ignorance. All three perhaps?”

“I hope Dad does come back. I hope the virus doesn’t get him.”

“He says that he spends a lot of time outside picking those potatoes, and the blokes that are in isolation weren’t friends of his anyway. I hope that none of us gets it. Talking of which, when did you last wash your hands?”

“I’ll do it now.”

“Me too. I’m glad they’d sold out of our usual liquid soap though. That Pink Gin Fizz hand wash smells much better.”

Please stockpile Brussels sprouts?


  • Hand sanitiser is more expensive than soap and water, so don’t steal it from hospitals or patients’ bedsides or pay extortionate amounts of money for it in your local shop
  • Singing ‘Happy Birthday to me’ twice is roughly the right amount of time to spend washing your hands under warm running water.  It doesn’t matter that it isn’t your birthday and you don’t have to sing out aloud
  • Drink plenty of fluids – water doesn’t have to come out of a plastic bottle – corporation pop and other beverages will do – anything as long as it is wet and doesn’t do you any permanent damage
  • No amount of paracetamol, aspirin or trademarked products containing them, will prevent you from catching Covid-19, and can be dangerous if you exceed the stated dose, so don’t stockpile them
  • Covid-19 is a respiratory virus – that means that it affects your breathing and not your bottom, so stop the silly stockpiling of toilet rolls
  • Coughs and sneezes spread diseases so keep them to yourself – carry a hanky (clean one every day please), tissues or if desperate, do vampire sneezes and coughs into your inner elbow – not a place that makes contact with other people very often
  • Stockpiling pasta and rice is counter productive – they are both pretty bland and will possibly make you constipated unless you are using vegetables, cheese or meat to flavour them
  • When you are busy piling vast amounts of food into your shopping trolley (assuming that your supermarket hasn’t cut down on how many packets of anything you can have) spare a thought for the elderly, the disabled and the poor who do not have the money or the ability to stockpile – deprivation can be as dangerous as a pandemic
  • Don’t be offended if friends and family who have high risk medical conditions ask you not to drop in on them unexpectedly – respect their right to stay safe
  • Hospitals, health centres and surgeries are full of sick people and should be avoided if possible
  • Use your common sense and follow medical advice rather than panic buying and getting unnecessarily stressed – unless you like Brussels sprouts in which case you have my blessing to buy as many as you like.