TradeShark Diary, 23rd March 2020

So we just watched Boris lockdown the country. It was inevitable really as too many were just doing what they wanted.

For Sue and I it doesn’t really change anything. We have only gone out for food shopping and Sue has been going to work. She was in yesterday and is back in there tomorrow but that’s it until Sunday and then she has a week off.


We did a big shop today so that we don’t need to go again until the end of the week or the weekend.

We waited until the early morning Tesco rush was over. The store was still battered but we got most things we wanted. The were even a few toilet rolls although we didn’t take them. Sue slipped into panic buying mode and got 3 garlic break sticks. She is kidding herself that one box of wine will last her until Friday. Mind you its in no danger from me. I don’t know how she drinks it.

TradeShark Diary, 23rd March 2020 1

It was fairly easy to keep a safe distance from other shoppers. Even at the checkouts it looked like we had chosen our trip wisely. We saw a checkout that wasn’t too busy and moved towards it. Meanwhile on the opposite checkout an old guy was being reminded about leaving space between him and the shopper in front. He seemed perhaps a little embarrassed and began walking away from the checkout as if he had just remembered something that he needed to buy. He stepped in front of our trolley and looked embarrassed again when he saw that he had been in our way. I smiled at him and told him not to worry. He looked a bit like an old hippy. Long grey hair and a well weathered face that showed he spends a lot of time outdoors. He wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Alaskan Bush.

He then made a bee line for me to explain his theory about how to protect people from being infected by touching the trolley’s handle. He was almost climbing in the trolley as he tried to describe something that went over the handle and could be easily switched after every use by the trolley lads.

“Good luck with that but, listen, you really need to be keeping some space between yourself and other people”.

He dismissed the comment with a wave of a hand and moved back to his own checkout to explain another theory to the checkout operator.

Watching the BBC later in the afternoon reminded me that to be in real danger of infection you need to be withing 2 metres of someone for at least 15 minutes. You never know when the bastards are going to sneeze all over you though, do you?

The only other highlight of the day was getting in touch with Universal Credit to arrange a phone interview so that my claim could go ahead. Their office opened at 8am. I had failed to get through the previous evening so thought I would start phoning around 7:45 to be first in the queue. Unfortunately there was just a recorded message saying that they were closed and would re-open at 8. Other than that it was a damn fine plan.

I called bang on 8am. After just 10 minutes a guy answered. Just 10 minutes! I was shockedto say the least and blurted out something along the lines of, “wow that was quick! I can’t believe I got through! I thought’d I’d be on hold for hours”. I swear I heard him sigh. He asked for my details and said he needed to transfer me to someone else. It seemed like he just sent me back to the start so he didn’t have to deal with me. I pressed 1 to make a first appointment and this time the phone went dead. Twat!

For many attempts in the next few hours I either heard a BT message saying the phone service was busy. If It did get through to the initial recorded message at the Universal Credit office when you selected the option to make the essential first appointment it would go dead. I had been on hold for over an hour when we were due to go shopping.

When we got back from Tesco I tried again and just left the phone on the desk with the call on speaker phone. After 2 hours 15 minutes someone answered! I had seen on Twitter that some people had managed to get through but that their appointment had been arranged for June. JUNE! So I was very surprised when Lewis had taken my details that he asked me if I was OK to take the call tomorrow at 10:10am. Absolutely! He told me what ID etc I would need to have with me for the call.

He then asked me if I needed any special arrangements for the appointment. “Like wheelchair access or anything?”

“For a phone interview? Really Lewis?”

I heard him talk to the person next to him saying, ” I just asked someone if they need wheelchair access for a phone interview”.

Lewis will go far.

Martin Lewis from Money Supermarket posted on Twitter this evening that he had had it confirmed that the Government was preparing some decent support for the self employed. We’ll see.

I found loads of out takes in my video folder. Should be a decent vid!

Stay safe.

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