Becky says things about … whatever happened to the panic buyers?

Greetings isolators!

So, done anything exciting in the last few days? Been anywhere nice, done some socialising with a massive group of mates, been down the pub for good old knees up, taken in a show, been to the cinema?

No of course you haven’t.

So as we reach the end of Week 2, it would appear that those industrious folk who spent the last few weeks buying enough provisions to allow a team of Arctic explorers to live like Kings for at least a decade, have either all realised it is possible to eat and exist normally during a pandemic if they just shopped and behaved normally, or they have exploded.

So now the rest of us who briefly subsisted on the nutrients gleaned from licking the moss that grows round our doorstep can now eat food again! Hurrah!

I even got eggs yesterday. Eggs! Clearly all those people who felt they simply had to buy all the eggs have now registered their Guinness Book of Records entry for ‘Largest Omelette Ever Made Using Unnecessarily Purchased Eggs’, or realised they had enough eggs to do whatever they needed all the eggs to do.

And the loo roll is back, mostly. The people who felt they had no choice but to buy it all have obviously realised that their expectation of how 847 toilet rolls would help them during a pandemic didn’t quite match the reality.

EXPECTATION: 

 

 

REALITY:

And drugs! I can buy paracetamol again for those pesky virus-induced hangovers, and one can only assume that the people who previously took the difficult decision to buy all of the paracetamol have now either developed a solid addiction to painkillers, or are having a lovely time in a drugged-up haze where there is no such thing as a virus and where things are actually quite delightful.

Baked beans are back, thank God, although they seemed to make a relatively quick recovery from the panic buying, presumably because the people who bought and ate 329 tins of beans realised they didn’t actually need to buy and eat 329 tins of beans, and they realised this the first time they shat themselves.

There are still some items that are clearly much coveted, and whilst people may not be panicking so much, there still remain those slightly perspiring folk who head straight for the pasta in a calm and controlled manner, but who would slice open your throat if you took the last packet of macaroni, and this is either because they are ardently carb-loading for all this home exercise they’re now doing, or they have other uses for it.

Flour is also still an elusive luxury. This is presumably because all the people who didn’t feel compelled to buy all the bread have been forced into a ghastly Victorian purgatory of baking their own, while all the people who did buy all the bread have now put on 6 stone, given themselves buttered toast-induced diabetes, and have spent every night for the past week trying to discreetly dispose of 17 tons of mouldy bread.

And one fascinating little anthropological titbit has revealed itself down one aisle of the supermarkets: there is only a small and extremely exclusive number of humans who like Heinz Oxtail soup. Fortunately, I am one of them.

Stay healthy, stay home, and look after each other xx

 

Becky says things about … acceptance

Greetings, isolators!

How’s it going? Broken into that bottle of traquelizers yet? Punched a hole through the oven door yet? Covered an entire wall with pictures of Jet from Gladiators yet? (And if not, why not?)

Well, it’s been an interesting week or so, hasn’t it? Each day has brought a new treat for us to try to comprehend, treats which would be utterly mind-blowing if we had even one of them to deal with, but to be given all of them at once really takes the biscuit.

So whilst it’s impossible to comprehend everything that is happening, we must try to accept what is happening – because if we don’t accept it, we will try to fight against it, and that’s when this happens:

So I thought it might be helpful if I shared with you a few of the things I’ve accepted over the past few days, and if it’s not helpful, then at least it gives you something to do for five minutes that isn’t dusting the ceiling (again) or building a small cage out of pipe cleaners in which to keep your bemused and hyperactive home-schooled children.

1 – I have accepted that life as we know it has changed for the foreseeable future, and that simple everyday things we take for granted, like popping to the pub or seeing friends or using toilet roll to wipe our bums, are temporarily off the cards.

2 – I have accepted that I cannot physically visit my friends and family, even if none of us are sweating or hacking into our arms, but that social lives can continue and even flourish thanks to the wonders of modern technology; and, moreover, I have accepted that this form of socialising brings its own benefits.

3 – I have accepted that it may be several months before I wear normal clothes like jeans, or dresses, or shirts, and that by the time I have a reason to get out of my leggings and hoodies, there is a real possibility that I may have forgotten how to wear other clothes.

4 – I have accepted that – as is the case for every single one of us – hopes and plans have been unceremoniously lobbed out the window, and that my much longed-for plan of finally getting on the housing ladder this year is now as likely as Donald Trump suddenly apologising for being a psychopathic turnip; but I have accepted this with surprising ease because there is absolutely n o t h i n g I can do about it, and I am only one of millions of people who have had to cancel plans like holidays, parties, weddings and important life events, to much heartache and ballache.

5 – I have accepted that I will have to visit at least 18 shops in order to find basic essentials, and also accepted that I will have to ration what I eat when I can’t find them – but I have readily accepted this fact, because it means that I am not a heinous bellend who has stockpiled 1,573 eggs and 30,921 ready meals over the past couple of weeks, and I would rather ration what I eat than be a bellend.

6 – I have accepted that, due to my work all but drying up, I will have to be incredibly responsible and careful with my time over the coming weeks and months, because the time-consuming concept of ‘busyness’ has evaporated. I have accepted that it is no one’s responsibility but my own to ensure that I forge structure and productivity through these sudden limitless plains of time, and not plummet into a personal quest to see if it’s possible to watch every true crime documentary ever made.

7 – I have accepted that there will be good days – those days when living alone in an isolating world with time on my hands won’t seem so bad –

– and that there will be bad days, when news from the outside world is particularly grim, or personal news is worrying, or devastating; or the magnitude of what is happening, and the unknown of when it will end, becomes simply too much – and I have accepted this, because it will be humanly impossible to endure this with unwavering smiles and good cheer, even if you are secretly enjoying life in isolation.

8 – I have accepted that my experience of this – trying to fill time, trying to cope with being alone – will be very different to the experience of thousands of others who have incredible demands on their time and have to leave their homes every day to keep the world turning, and that I am not worthy in the face of people who look after others in these unprecedentedly hard times and who, at some point, may look after me and those I love.

9 – I have accepted that the way I feel now – which is quite positive, and productive, and defiant – may not be the way I feel in a week’s time, or three weeks’ time, or two months’ time, when I may feel scared, or depressed, or terrified, or lonely, or hopeless; and I have accepted that I will feel all those things, and that it is okay to feel those things.

10. And finally, I have accepted that it is only be a matter of time before I go and buy a melon.

 

Stay healthy, stay home, and look after each other xx

Becky says things about … acne

Listeners, we need to talk about acne.

If you suffer from it, I understand; now sit down and listen to Auntie Beck tell you a lovely story about her acne. If you don’t suffer from it, you are a lucky swine, but you need to listen all the same, because I bet you know at least one person with zits the size of Jupiter who could do with some empathy.

Sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

I had textbook teenage spots: the equilateral triangle of whiteheads on the forehead; the oily pimpular dusting on the chin; the bulbous protrusions on the temples.

It didn’t bother me that much; I was gloriously confident, and wore a lot of animal print. Then I went to a house party and some dude casually said ‘Ah, I see you’ve grown a spot since I last saw you.’

To be fair to the snivelingly rude arsehole, it was a gargantuan spot, but from then on I took acne more seriously. Happily, me taking acne more seriously coincided nicely with acne taking me more seriously, and it ventured onto my back in cheerful globular mounds, and to my chest in snug, tight little pustules. Mum took me to the doctor and I was prescribed some green gel that had three noticable characteristics: 1) it stung like hell when applied; 2) it left crispy flakes on my bedsheets; and 3) it did bugger all to clear up my acne.

So I bumbled on into my late teens, single-handedly keeping the concealer-stick industry afloat, and then at university my acne got bored and wandered off. Not completely – I was still never without a peskily determined blemish – but it took a holiday.

Then when I was about 26, my acne folded away its Hawaiian shirt, turned off the TV, put on its industrial boots and went back out to work.

Spots appeared where they had never appeared before, namely on my jawline, up my cheekbones, under my chin, on my neck. And they were angry. Painful. And so there.

No amount of foundation or concealer is going to completely conceal an acne-splattered face. You can still see Everest when it’s covered in snow, can’t you? Well, you can still see savage boils of hell on your chin when they’re slathered in expensive ‘blemish concealing’ foundation. You can see a spot particularly well just as it’s starting to crust, and your foundation forms a little moat of oily goo around the flaky peak.

Two things happen when you try to cover up spots: 1) You are constantly convinced that everyone is staring at the vicious pustule on your chin (which they may well be doing); and 2) due to your acne-prone skin being insatiably oily, by 2pm your blemish concealing foundation has slid right off your face.

The good news for acne sufferers is that there are many thousands of products you can spend your hard-earned money on that will definitely categorically 100% certainly get rid of your acne and give you perfect baby skin. The bad news for acne sufferers is that you have to purchase every single one of them to eventually find the one that actually works. The worst news for acne sufferers is that 99% of them are bollocks.

Becky’s Guide to Acne Treatments

1. Buy every single item in your local pharmacy’s acne aisle. Constantly dab at your pustules with witch hazel sticks, smother your skin in chemical-smelling gels. Result. Your spots laugh at your pathetic attempts to get rid of them, and you are £40 worse off.

2. Venture to department store skincare counters. Swoon over promises of radiant, blemish-free skin. Buy five products from the ‘acne-prone’ range. Follow a complex 17-stage cleansing, exfoliating, toning and moisturising regime twice a day. Result. Your skin looks like it’s been doused in paint stripper, your spots shake their pus-filled heads in amusement, your productivity levels plummet because you are spending four hours a day removing various products from your face in small delicate circular movements, and you are £160 worse off.

3. Go for the highly-advertised cures (only available online), which are backed up by science and research. You receive a clinical gift box of scientific unguents containing all the seriously-named chemicals that are clinically proven to obliterate your acne, like hydrational hydrabollockychlorzine acid or badgerzhoric A12. The clinical gift box comes with an informative booklet telling you that, in addition to the science that you have just sold all your jewlerry to purchase, you should eat lots of fruit and veg and drink 497 pints of water a day to cure your acne. Result. After three days of using the highly-advertised scientific cure, your acne looks slightly better. You tearfully rejoice at the miracle of science for ending your carbuncled misery. On the fourth day, you have 13 extra spots, your skin looks like it’s been sandpapered by a bad-tempered wilderbeast, and you are £90 worse off.

4. Resort to home remedies. Study ’17 home remedies that WILL cure your spots!’ on the Interweb, and scrub at your skin with cider vinegar, lemon juice, lavender oil and turmeric whilst quietly weeping. Result. A turmeric face pack leaves you looking dangerously jaundiced for at least a week, your bathroom is in a right state, and your spots are finding it all hilarious.

Listener, I tried them all. When I found myself following instructions for a sweetcorn and angel tear face pack I decided enough was enough and went to my GP.

And I was unfathomably lucky: despite my acne not being comparable to some of the cases that some poor souls suffer, my GP understood that it was affecting my life, and prescribed me isotretinoin (also known as roaccutane or accutane). I had never heard of it. I had thought the only last option available to me was lasering my skin off in an exclusive Harley Street clinic and living the rest of my days inside a rubber giraffe mask.

Now, isotretinoin is no walk in the park. I had to have blood tests to make sure I was physically well enough to start it, and it comes with a whole heap of fun side effects, like incredibly dry skin, sore lips, joint pain, dizziness. Within a month of being on the drug my lips felt like they would blow off in a sudden gust of wind, and my skin was feeling decidedly dry and shrivelled.

For the first time in my life I was buying moisturiser for very dry skin and slapping it on my face so that I resembled a seal caught in an oil slick. But, gradually, old spots faded, and new ones didn’t materialise. I couldn’t believe it. I can’t believe it. I took my last pill nearly four months ago, and right now the only really visible blemish on my face is a red mark on my forehead which is the result of a poorly-aimed eyebrow scratch.

There is no sugar-coating acne. It is rubbish. You can spend all day listening to fluffy platitudes that ‘you are beautiful no matter what’, but you can pretty much guarantee that the producer of those platitudes has never had to deal with a crusty, seeping Eighth Wonder of the World in the middle of their forehead. If you have acne, it is a daily battle.

And it’s easy for me to say ‘Go ahead, try isotretinoin’  as one of the lucky ones who has had a success story; but, like a smug ex-smoker, there’s always a chance that my acne abstinence will break and those devilish little swines will creep back onto my face again. But if you haven’t tried it, give it a go. It might just be that one thing that works for you. It’s surely better than spending a third of your life exfoliating your skin with the sap of an ancient Babylonian mountain plant (only available online).

And whatever you do, don’t try the turmeric face pack. Trust me.