Hello … hello? Is that you, Becky?

My elderly neighbour is on the line. Her voice is strong and resonant but carries a chord of concern.

I just don’t know how everyone will cope,” she says, “How long is this going to last, do you think?” 

Mary is worried, of course, about the coronavirus crisis that is currently gripping the world. She also needs some eggs and butter, any kind of cheese I can find, and some digestive biscuits. 

Oh, and a tin of pilchards, please.


For the dog.” Mary explains, “I suppose I do spoil him, but he enjoys them and I simply scrape off the tomato sauce.” 

Now I never knew (not being a dog person) that pilchards are a dog’s idea of a treat. Nor do I expect them to be so hard to track down.

Panic buying for canines as well as for eggs (found in the fifth supermarket – but still no pilchards, with or without tomato sauce). 

coronavirus, eggs, food, panic buying, humanity

I call Mary to let her know I’ve left her shopping on her doorstep. She can’t hear me above the excited barks of her dog (Harry), who might want to calm down about the pilchards.

Mary issues a sharp “Shut up!” to the dog as she turfs him in the garden. A door slams, and she’s back on the phone, ready to listen.

Oh dear, never mind,” chuckles Mary, “It was worth a try!” 

I think Mary and Harry are going to be just fine.

coronavirus, dog food, food, panic buying, humanity
Pilchards the next morning – one solitary tin on a supermarket shelf. Happy Harry.