Sandra Chapman: The two lines of type about coronavirus that shocked me to the core

Some of the work already done on preparing graves at Sixmile Cemetery in AntrimSome of the work already done on preparing graves at Sixmile Cemetery in Antrim
Some of the work already done on preparing graves at Sixmile Cemetery in Antrim
Our front door bell rang one day this week causing us both to jump up in surprise.

After all, we considered ourselves in lockdown, there was no going out except to the local shop for food, into our back garden or to walk the dog. All of our friends and family were in the same boat and knew not to call.

So who on earth could be looking for us in these critical times?

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Being a creature who’s inclined to defer to the man of the house in times of crisis I spoke to his back – he was already on his way into the hallway – and chewed my nail until he returned waving a big white envelope.

Johnston Press

How could I forget. I was the one who had put an order for an item by phone and this was it being delivered by the company, right on time as they had promised. Having to live almost permanently indoor is surely sapping my memory.

When I plucked up the courage to do some shopping – an absolute necessity since we’d eaten a lot more than we had realised – another hazard of being marooned indoors – and the experts were warning of a lockdown probably lasting much longer than anticipated, I took one look at the queue of people lined almost right around a supermarket car park each one two trolley lengths from the next person with the rain threatening to drench them. I decided I’d go hungry first before I would join them.

I drove off to the next supermarket and remarkably managed to get parked very close to the front door where a man in uniform indicated where the trollies were and asked me nicely to wait a few seconds to allow a shopper inside to exit. Inside were other shoppers and I found myself, like them, doing a kind of shopping waltz trying to keep a distance. This was a store packed with everything any family could possibly need. So where were all the so-called shortages of essential items like butter and bread not to mention frozen goods?

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Who has been creating all the fuss, leading to people having to put up with the rain in outside queues?

I was in and out in no time and headed off to the third supermarket in the area, the only one I know stocks my favourite wine.

Here too there were no queues, just a nice little chunky man in a yellow jacket waving us all to a different door than the normal one.

The floor was marked with various crosses and arrows, but otherwise freedom of movement was as normal.

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I found myself the only person in the off-licence section and even better, my favourite wine was on offer.

All round, this shopping experience was much better than I’ve experienced prior to coronavirus and its restrictions.

When Himself brought me the News Letter to read earlier this week the headline sobered me up somewhat as, after my successful shopping spree I was beginning to think that maybe this whole virus thing wasn’t that inconvenient after all. Surely this pampered generation could all manage without feeling put upon?

And, there it was, two lines of type which shocked me to the core: Council digs graves to be ready for surge in deaths.

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The story attached revealed that since 28 people here had already died – the number of people with the illness, 586 - Antrim and Newtownabbey Council confirmed they had ‘taken the drastic step to dig more in case there was widespread sickness among staff at a later date’.

Drone footage had shown a large number of burial plots being prepared at the council’s new Sixmile Cemetery site in Antrim.

The previous day Stormont Minister Conor Murphy, Sinn Fein, revealed that Stormont next year would get a big boost to its spending – up by 8.1pc to more than £12bn – the boost separate from the extra funding of £912m allocated to deal with the coronavirus outbreak – yet he refused when questioned to declare his support for the British Army coming here to help build the necessary emergency hospitals to deal with those stricken by the virus.

That may not go down well in heavily populated west Belfast.