Day 34 – Stash news

Yesterday: another day of lockdown, another day of not touching The Stash.

Well done, me.

The Stash is the household alcohol supply – specifically my half of it. We’re not permitted to buy alcohol here during the lockdown, so it’s a case of making what you have, last.

My wife and I generally drink different stuff, so we can effectively divide the adult drinks into hers (gin, white wine, cider) and mine (brandy, red wine, beer). And we’re lucky in that I saw the lockdown coming and stocked up a bit before it hit us. We’re still ok for drinks at the moment, but it is a one-way street, because there’s going to be nothing new coming in for really quite some time.

I’ve realised that I have taken something of a scientific approach: subconsciously analysing my drinking habits, while (equally subconsciously) grading the drinks I have left. Some sort of informal scale has been drawn up mentally, and I refer to it often.

An aside: it’s interesting (to me, at least) that one starts drinking the decent brandy first, leaving the rough stuff til desperation strikes, while the “everyday” wine takes a hammering long before you contemplate the nice stuff hidden at the back of the cupboard under the stairs.

My first worry is beer though. I like beer and there’s not too much left. And so, by the laws of scarcity, every single one becomes more valuable: something special, not to be wasted. Add that to their already inflated value on the subconscious grading scale, and you can see that they need to be looked after.

Problem is that the first one each evening goes down like the proverbial homesick mole. Whoosh.

There’s a South African expression:

n boer maak ‘n plan

Literally, “a farmer makes a plan”: something about the indefatigable nature of the Afrikaans farmer, sure, but with an element of “necessity is the mother of invention” as well.

My invention is to replace my first beer with a cheap brandy and coke. Yes, the cheap brandy (I’m using Olaf Bergh, named after the noise you make after drinking three of them) is part of The Stash, but it’s a very minor part – way down the list from the heady heights of Castle Milk Stout. And it’s backed up by more cheap(ish) brandy in the form of two unopened bottles of Klipdrift Premium still safely sequestered.

It’s not great, but since it goes down like a fat kid on a see-saw anyway, there’s not too much afterburn. Immediate thirst quenched.

Not only does this mean that I don’t wastefully use up a first beer, it also means that I can’t have a second beer either – simply because I haven’t had a first. And thus The Stash remains in (relatively) good repair. Brandy and coke certainly wouldn’t be my first choice of beverage in any other situation, but if I were in fact a boer, it might well be, and that little bit of synchronicity makes me happy.

Tonight is pub quiz night and so I will require some actual beer, but that initial hit will once again be from Olaf, the previously unsung superhero of the lockdown.

Please join me in raising a glass to him this evening. What you fill it with is up to you.

Day 9 – The Garden

Mrs 6000 has been working overtime upon overtime for the last two weeks, so it was with some delight that I heard her suggest  that we should launch a bit of an attack on the garden this morning. Rather that than another day in front of the laptop.

However, it’s now 4pm. I’ve only just emerged from the shower and every single muscle hurts. Yes, even that one. Some hard work has been done and tomorrow is going to bring the traditional World of Pain™, but on the plus side, there have been no Zoom meetings, no spreadsheets and no billion work Whatsapps.

On the negative side, there is some music being played in the house, and (IMHO) it’s not really great music. Thus, I have retreated to some B-sides and remixes from The Streets while I have been writing this. This was a good call.

I fancy a beer but I’m mindful that I made a bit of dent in the stash last night and let’s face it, no-one really expects us to be out of this lockdown on April 13th, do they? I’m thinking that three weeks will actually stretch to six or eight. My beer cache will also have to last that long.
And so maybe I’ll have some milk instead of Milk Stout this evening.

Day 5 – Shopping

I’m not shopping today. I’m just talking about it.

We’re still doing ok on the things we bought in before the lockdown started. And no, we didn’t stockpile. We don’t have the space or the moral delinquency for that. We just bought sensibly for a couple of weeks ahead (because it was obvious that this was going to happen) and we’ve been careful with what we’ve used.

I will have to venture out and shop this week though. I’m planning to combine it with a blood donation. We’re a bit short on fresh stuff: bread and milk and fruit and veg.

There’s a list of essential items that you are allowed to buy:

It forms part of the legislation around the lockdown which I shared here. And it seems completely reasonable until you start looking at the details.

Now, to be fair, I do understand some of the reasoning behind this – everything should be done to keep supermarkets stocked with essential items, and so transport systems don’t need to be overwhelmed or distracted by stuff we can manage without right now: cut flowers, clothing, gardening goods etc.

I get it. It’s just where those lines between “essential” and “non-essential” have been drawn that’s possibly up for debate.

Let’s look at the big ones: alcohol and faaags.

Alcohol, I can understand. SA has a huge problem with alcohol, and cooping people up in a tiny space for 3 (or more) weeks with nothing to do but drink is a recipe for disaster. That’s not great for those people who don’t have a dependency on drink, but that’s not what this is about.

Tobacco though? Isn’t that the other way around? I’m not a smoker and I recognise that it’s not a healthy habit, but it seems to me that as a coping mechanism, tobacco has a place in this lockdown. And forcing the 20% of South Africans who smoke (that’s 10 million people) to go cold turkey with basically no warning whatsoever seems like a very bad idea to me.

And then some of the things that I’ve seen and heard on social media. Like the fact that you can buy floor cleaner, but you can’t buy a mop. To be fair, one is pretty much useless without the other. It’s not something that I would feel to be hugely essential during the lockdown, sure. But if you’re going to allow one, why on earth not the other?

And then there’s crisps/chips/crisps. I’ve seen images of entire crisp/chip/crisp aisles taped off at the supermarkets. Apparently, you can buy potatoes, just not processed potatoes. Why? And where does that leave us on the biltong front? Because denying South Africans access to biltong is denying them a basic human right. Like denying them the freedom to walk around outside.

Oh.

Some of these questions may be answered when I head out later in the week, but it might well be the case that my journey out will end up with me finding more of these mildly bizarre dichotomies while I’m trying to keep the family fed for the next few weeks.

I’ll keep you posted. (Because let’s face it, you’ve really nothing better to do right now.)

iSlept

Finally. The series of three nights of crippling insomnia has been broken. Last night, exhausted, I went to bed, closed my eyes and it actually worked. My body did what it was supposed to and this morning, I feel almost human once again.

Today’s plans have gone badly wrong, however. We were supposed to be going to a braai in Fishhoek, but then Mrs 6000 ended up being thoroughly nebulized twice at the local ER. Three years supply of steroids, plus several (or more) antibiotics and she’s back home with us.  A good night’s sleep (I’ll teach her how with my new found skills) and hopefully tomorrow will be a new dawn, in all the different ways. In the meantime, the younger child seems to have developed a bit of a sore throat and a sniffle and has thus been quarantined.

I plan to ward off any potential infection mainly using brandy. I’ve checked out my old microbiology books and apparently alcohol is good at killing all sorts of bugs, so I’m planning to go full on and drink as much as possible. I’m not sure if football has any antimicrobial effects, but I’m going to try a good dose of that this afternoon as well.

The Risk of Drinking

Uh-oh. The Lancet has done some research and has said that there is “No Safe Level” for drinking alcohol.

Cue billions and billions (and billions and billions) of articles panicking about how we are all going to die because I downed a Castle Milk Stout yesterday and you had a G&T last Tuesday.

Like this. Or this. Or this. Or… this.

Meh. RIP.

Here’s the most sensible take I’ve seen on it, by Professor David Spiegelhalter* (crazy name, crazy guy).

Yeah. Well said, Prof. Life is for the living, not for abstaining.

(Here’s a more in-depth analysis from him…)

If you want to live risk-free: well, you can’t. Hard cheese (apparently not dangerous, btw).
So you might as well enjoy it while you’re here.

Cheers!

 

* if my rudimentary German is correct, this man is called David Mirror Holder.