Everyone has been baking. Fingers dripping cake batter. Knuckles kneading bread dough. Sourdough starters in their fridges. Flour down their fronts. Instagram is full of their food. Facebook is full of their food. The supermarkets sold out of flour, then yeast. Apparently there is plenty of flour, huge sacks of it, stacks of huge sacks of it, but they don’t have enough small packages to put it in. Usually the cafés and bakeries and restaurants buy most of the flour, and people pick up a little every now and again – a birthday cake, biscuits for a staff meeting. Now the cafés and bakeries and restaurants are closed, and the people want the flour at home, but not twenty kilos at once. Some of the supermarkets bought the wholesale sacks and divided them up into pick’n’mix bags, looking like a huge haul of cocaine with a price tag stuck onto it. Sold out before they could be told to stop, for food safety reasons. Factories are manufacturing small packets for flour under urgency, at top speed, they understand the importance.
Because everyone wants to prove they can feed themselves well without UberEats and the café downstairs from their office. Everyone wants to be elbow deep in something wholemeal, and in that way prove that they are connected to the earth. As if being an animal hiding from danger wasn’t enough to prove that.
This morning somebody biked past our house singing Bohemian Rhapsody very loudly, out of tune, but with feeling.
This afternoon the woman next door was on her driveway in socks and jandals, bouncing a tennis ball on a tennis racket, determined eyes following the ball up and down, up and down.
We walked to the beach. A long walk. The sky was so blue, dark blue, in every direction. Some children were out writing on their driveway with huge chunks of powdery coloured chalk. It said: “THANK YOU FOR THE MILK. THANK YOU FOR GIVING US OUR MILK.” A small boy passed in the other direction, dragging a huge clump of black-brown seaweed behind him like a dead and dried-out dog.
The beach seemed too full and we almost turned back, but we had walked for almost an hour to see the sea so we stayed. Rhys skipped stones across the tops of the waves. A little girl in sparkling leggings picked up handfuls of rocks and threw them full force into the water. I wanted to do that, too, as soon as I saw her doing it, but I wanted to do it alone, not as a performance for other people. All these people scattered across the beach, keeping two metres apart, but watching each other. Everything outdoors is a performance right now, even the police cars cruising up and down the street, watching us watch them.