The Handbook
The Handbook

At a very low moment last night, in the midst of the national coronavirus crisis, I sat down to make a very difficult decision. Which Jilly Cooper novel would be first to be retrofitted as loo roll if the worst comes to the worst? Deciding between Apassionata and Riders! might be the ultimate middle class dilemma, but living in a world suddenly in isolation presents plenty of particular middle class conundra.

Prosecco Supplies Are Running Dangerously Low

You can’t find Prosecco for love nor money in Fulham nowadays, it’s easier to score illegal drugs than it is to procure a bottle of Freixenet. The sight of former debutants, stumbling like zombies around the Munster Road, hollowed out and willing to flash a sight of their pashmina, and maybe, more for just a glass of bubbles is unnerving.

This is dystopia.

Which Holiday Home To See It Out In?

The moment Boris flicked the lockdown switch a fleet of SUVs, piled high with Hunter wellies and labradors, hit the A303 as the hordes headed to the hills.

The only question as they revved the Vogue’s 8 dolphin-killing litres is, which holiday home to flee to? Up to Suffolk and the genteel boarded-up teashops of Aldeburgh or down to the rugged self-isolation of posh Polzeath?

It’s Oatly Disastrous!

There was a time when milk was milk. Nowadays no self respecting pilates plying yummy mummy would be seen dead in the Waitrose dairy aisle.

‘Dahling, I had to suffer the indignity if buying long life soya!’

You’ve even tried to google how you milk oats, but without much luck. ‘So where are the nipples?’

The Nanny’s Deserted

Little Rupert and Lucinda are tearing the house systematically apart like they’re searching for hidden Nazi gold, while mum hit the G&T at around 10am. And this is all because the indispensable au pair Isabella caught the last plane back to Barcelona (or Lisbon or wherever, you never really bothered to find out).

It’s Lord of the Flies and it’s clear that you’re not going to survive. Also, who’s going to do the ironing?

Ocado’s Fallen!

You might not have fought on D-day, but the Ocado site being down is probably a lot like how it felt… You’ve been a loyal customer through thick and thin, even sticking by them when they announced the switch from Waitrose to M&S, but now you can’t even get on the website.

Repercussions are dire, you had to head to Co-op today.

Fever-Tree Tonic Water’s Running Low

First they came for the loo roll and I did not speak out… but when the Fever-Tree tonic water ran out, you let out a howl like you’d been spotted at Ascot in the same dress as Pippa Middleton. You never thought you’d have to stoop to a level where buying Schweppes was an option, is this how some people live?

And As For Loo Roll…

Not since the days when you used to tear out Psalms from your school bible to fashion homemade rolly cigarettes have you had to reassess your library. But there are some stark choices ahead. You’ve already had to switch from quilted 4-ply to store brand 2-ply, but there are bleak times ahead.

John Grisham is thoroughly absorbent, though the print leaves black marks on your behind, while the crisp paper of a Grade 5 Theory text book (why do you still have this?) is liable to paper cuts.

After much reflection you opt for anything by Dan Brown, if anything it’ll make the writing better…