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My coronavirus lockdown: #FOMO in Soho

15 March 2020 - 13:00 By Jacqui Venter
Jacqui Venter.
Jacqui Venter.
Image: Supplied

Jacqui Venter, 46, is a South African digital product manager living in London. As the infection rate spirals in the UK, she's caught the flu and has been instructed by her doctor to self -isolate — in case she has Covid-19.

The only problem is that she lives in a tiny studio flat in Soho, a very vibrant part of town. Now she has #FOMO in Soho

My Amazon “Prime Now” haul is pretty impressive. Having been told to self-isolate for 7 to 14 days after developing some type of respiratory lurgy, my GP sentenced me to pace like a Doberman up and down my tiny studio flat in Soho, London.

This is my second full day of isolation and, at 9pm, I have deigned to brush my teeth. My eyes already have That Wild Look and I’m convinced that I’m losing track of time. Like the Martian. Or the guy in “Moon”.

Yesterday morning, in sheer panic, like the rest of the lemmings, I stockpiled an embarrassing array of first-world items, betraying my middle class roots and exposing myself as the eccentric global-citizen and newly-single woman I have become. The poor man who delivered it all this evening said that enormous pallets of bogroll had emptied in minutes this morning and that my order of toilet paper and tissues hadn’t been fulfilled. No surprises there then.

Luckily, I’m an eco-worry-er. I had bought 18 rolls of bamboo toilet paper before the virus crisis because I can only get it through Amazon. Bamboo bogroll means that there are fewer trees being squished to wipe our bums and this made me sleep better on my toxic, memory-foam mattress that will never decompose. But when it comes to toilet paper right now, people with houses full of defecating kids are going to be in trouble. Calling someone an arsewipe is going to take on a new level of vulgarity.

My shopping haul included — in order of priority: Gin. Lemons and limes to go with the gin. Twelve of each. Beef stroganoff ingredients. 10 protein yoghurts, 1kg tub of Greek-style yoghurt and 5 tubs of cottage cheese. Apparently I don’t have nearly enough snot. In compensation, I have 5 litres of oat milk to offset the cow juice. I bought 1.5kg of cherry tomatoes — on the vine of course to try and emulate a vague culinary parity with SA tomatoes, rather than the glassy, translucent, and crunchy ones we get over here.

Add to that 2 tubes of tomato purée and a mysterious, additional, 4 tubs of tomato purée that I don’t remember adding to my basket, along with a further 5 tins of chopped tomatoes. Apparently my very survival is dependent on tomatoes. 1 bag of brown onions and 1 bag of red onions gives me yet another reason to find my own company abhorrent. Add to that 18 eggs and a jar of minced garlic and I’ll be saving a whole lot of people from my company if, indeed, I should have the virus. Although, just in case, I got one large 60-piece tub of sugar-free chewing gum should someone come to the door.

Buying stewing mutton, stewing steak, chicken thighs and pork sausages proves that I have abandoned my veganism in favour of my own perilous survival. Baking potatoes, asparagus spears, 2 poxy avocados (they’re always puny, crunchy and bruised here), coriander leaves, watery (but large) strawberries and rosemary sprigs make up the extent of the other fresh ingredients I bought.

To offset the healthy ingredients, I added 30 tins of Diet Coke and 6 litres of Italian sparkling water. Hang on, Italian water? Oh dear. I’ll wipe it down with the antibacterial wipes I bought, labelled “assured by doctors”. If ever a marketing claim was to be tested, it would be now. The brand must be soiling itself, and its marketing team will probably be cleaning their back passages with its anti-bac wipes, thanks to the absence of toilet rolls at the moment.

Tomorrow is my solitary birthday. I will begin the day with a frustratingly dodgy and buffering video call breakfast with my darling sister and her family. The already-dreadful Wi-Fi bandwidth here in Soho will be savaged by residents as they spend the day scoffing crisps, watching Netflix and arguing with each other over toilet paper.

Thanks, Australia, for starting the pelvic floor call to arms.