Tip: Home Bargains has toilet paper. It is of better quality than even the branded stuff in other big stores, and about half the price. Despite the cardboard tube in the middle being the same diameter as the cardboard tubes in the toilet rolls in the other big stores, the overall diameter of the Home Bargains rolls is about a quarter inch greater.
I was about to group-send this message to people in my contacts list when something occurred to me. Most of my friends have become unstable due to the isolation of the lockdown, a condition now identified by psychiatrists as Lockdown Unhingement Syndrome. Did I really want to encourage such people to raid shops for toilet paper? And what if the message went viral? I imagined mobs of crazed people shuffling towards Home Bargains like in a zombie apocalypse film. My finger backed away from the send button. It was a near thing. I needed to apply some rational thinking to the matter before deciding what to do.
This analysis revealed that the cause of Lockdown Unhingement Syndrome is the absence of having anything practical to do. The element of practicality – or doing something with your hands – is important here. There is nothing more satisfying or sure to keep you sane than working with your hands. Having identified this causal agent, the treatment was self-evident. For example, what about that radiator that has always seeped a tiny amount of water from one of its ends? Why not spend a minute or two nipping-up the nut a fraction with a suitably-sized open-ended spanner, while holding the valve steady with a molegrip while you do it?
However, there is a problem with that. Coronavirus is not the only thing that is endemic in the modern world. Also endemic, at any rate in the developed world, is an inability to do anything practical, and a concomitant absence of tools in many households other than a hammer and screwdriver. Consequently, in giving the advice I am about to give, I have kept the need for tools as limited as possible.
The first project I would like to propose originated in a harrowing tale told to me by a friend. One day, whilst suffering rather badly from Lockdown Unhingement Syndrome, he observed that although hair was still growing, all the barber shops were shut. Consequently, he enlisted his wife – also suffering from Lockdown Unhingement Syndrome – to take on the role of a barber. Such was the ensuing calamity that she eventually had to shave his head completely.
Later that sunny and unseasonably warm day, he went out for a walk. It being a seaside town, he came upon a flock of seagulls. It was not long before he was hit by a very large deposit from one of them. It splattered over the top of his head like the icing on a plum duff in an Oor Wullie cartoon. And, given the heat of the day, it hardened instantly such that when he returned home it had to be removed with a windscreen scraper. The way my friend was later to describe the matter, the avian culprit was more likely to have been a great condor than a seagull.
Fortunately, I was able to bring my practical skills to bear in order to assist him. The result is illustrated in Figure 1.
The funnel opening is the width of the wearer's head, thereby enabling complete protection. The discreet chin-strap affords security in windy conditions. The funnel is fashioned from rolled-up cardboard of the kind found in any home. It is coated with paint from an aerosol can in order to protect it in the event of rain. Any avian deposits are concentrated in a small area of the head so that they can be easily removed. I would note that, in order to protect his identity, the person shown is not a likeness of my friend. His dismayed and rather ungrateful expression is accurate however.
Another problem faced by people with Lockdown Unhingement Syndrome is to do with shoes that are too tight. Although this has always been an issue, lockdown has made it more obvious and urgent due to the compulsion to get out of the house and walk around. In the olden days, a month ago, we would simply have taken our shoes to a cobbler to have them stretched a bit. But all cobblers are shut now, and, in any case, the stretch process they offered did not always work. However, I have devised a method that is 100% successful, can be done easily at home, and which costs nothing. The process is illustrated in Figure 2 (although a gentleman's shoe is depicted, the process is equally effective for ladies' shoes).
The shoe is toe-down in a sink (any basin would do). There is a Tesco freezer bag sticking out. The bag has been pushed carefully into the toe of the shoe using the handle of a wooden spoon. Now fill the bag with water, close it with a bin-tie, and do up the shoe's laces. Keeping the shoe toe-down, put it in the freezer where it must remain upright until the water has frozen.
As the water freezes, it will expand and in doing so exert stretching pressure on the shoe. It is best to leave it in the freezer for a week. When you thaw it out, the shoe will be damp. Put it on while it is still damp and go for a walk. This will help the shoe to adjust to your feet. That done, the problem will be solved.
Finally, I must express my gratitude to President Trump for his inspiration in formulating this advice. His support was unstinting despite himself suffering from an unhingement complaint considerably more serious and permanent than Lockdown Unhingement Syndrome.