Part of the Invisible Diaries series
Week 1/Day 5
I went out today!
This was the second time I stepped out onto the streets in the last three weeks. Both times on a trip to the local supermarket.
I had been wondering what to write to you about today, considering a number of possible trails and drawing a series of blanks. Then, partly driven by the necessity to ensure supplies of chocolate eggs and Aperol Spritz for this weekend, I thought a shopping trip might lead to something...
The first time I went out during the lockdown was about a week ago. That was a big deal, a bit unsettling at first but eventually uplifting too. I took a pair of plastic gloves and a shopping bag on wheels we bought for when my parents come to visit and walked down to the supermarket. I joined the queue which wound its way all around the block, ensured sufficient distance from those around me and waited. Not even looking at my phone – just looking at people, their attire, their body language, their respective relations to each other – slightly tentatively, anxiously, at times suspiciously.
When I finally walked into the supermarket, the first thing I instinctively went for was a mango for my son (one of his favourite fruits). As I picked it up, the foil sticker on the mango got stuck to one of my gloves; I tried to unstick it with the other glove and then the other glove got stuck too. Then I started to slowly simmer inside, and, a bit bewildered went to a guy stacking shelves to ask for help... He had all the patience and composure I lacked, gently helped me out, warning me that my gloves would probably get ripped and that I would need to make sure I take the sticker to the check out because of the barcode... Once unstuck, I walked away like some sort of Mr Bean, panicking that I might now have unthinkingly got too close to the guy and that he might have been carrying the virus and that now I was going to bring it home from the shopping too! (When I later related this incident to my husband, he said, "The guy was probably thinking the same! Some crazy woman entangled herself in the fruit labels and then blabbered all over me!")
Otherwise, it was lovely being around other people. And when I went to look for fusilli pasta, which is a firm favourite in our household, and subsequently shared my mild disappointment about there being none available with the shelf stackers, one of them caught up with me some ten minutes later at the other end of the shop and brought me two packs of the thing to put into my trolley! I was genuinely bowled over by this simple act of kindness. But then realised that in fact, everyone was so much chattier and so much kinder than usual! Like everyone says, the virus brings the best and the worst in people.
On my way out today, the first thing I noticed was the blossom on the fruit trees outside of our block. Pink, abundant, gently weighing on the branches and pushing them out onto the street... Spring makes me feel elated anyway, but this moment seemed almost magical, definitely poetic. I wondered if I would have noticed the blossom so strikingly had I been walking past every day. Probably not...
The next thing I noticed was the roadworks taking place in a manner that it seemed evident they didn’t think they were in anyone’s way.
It was at that point I decided to take a photo for you:
Having been wondering what to write about today, suddenly a series of postcards from the shopping trip on a perfect spring’s day seemed like a suitable treat for anyone having to sit at home at the moment. (I also subsequently enhanced them to make those chosen details more vivid, just the way they struck me in the flesh. I hope this doesn’t come across too tacky!)
A rainbow in the window.
A taxi parked in a driveway.
A lone tulip by the rubbish bins.
I did buy everything on my shopping list – well, almost everything (still no extra-strong flour or bleach on the shelves). But nothing else on my shopping list or in my shopping trolley gave me as much pleasure today as the unexpected festival of colours brought about by a simple walk down the street.
Stay open, stay safe and vibrant, friends!
Images courtesy of Duška Radosavljević.
Duška Radosavljević is a writer, dramaturg and academic appointed as Reader at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She has worked as a dramaturg in the UK for twenty years and has been a member of the Dramaturgs’ Network from its beginning, joining the Executive Committee in 2009. Duška writes regularly for the Stage Newspaper, Exeunt and the Theatre Times and is the author of the award-winning book Theatre-Making: Interplay Between Text and Performance in the Twenty-First Century (2013). She currently holds a Leadership Fellowship funded by the AHRC investigating dramaturgies of speech and sound in partnership with Battersea Arts Centre, Digital Theatre Plus and Victoria and Albert Museum, leading to a new book, a conference and a podcast.