A Saturday after a Friday night in which we failed to ration our supply of wine.
I jolted groggily into the morning as though a member of cabin crew had asked whether I wanted tea or coffee with my breakfast. My organs reorganized themselves like bubbles in a water cooler.
Cheap red wine. The kind that has no dimple at the bottom of the bottle. The kind whose grandiose label like, I don’t know, Felipe de los Llanos* — Philip of the Plains — belies its vinegary bouquet. That’s what does it.
I washed down any memory of Phillip with a glass of water.
Saturday has become the big shop day under quarantine. The idea being that you only have to leave the flat once a week and you’re sorted. The reality being that Saturday’s big shop is followed by Tuesday and Friday’s mini-shops.
It’s a five-minute jaunt down to the supermarket and a 15-minute hike back.
I took my passport, a gas bill to ward off any prying police officer, some hand gel, a euro for the trolley and three reusable shopping bags the size of parachutes.
Before I even made it to the street the shop is on, I saw a line snaking up and down the pavement.
It was odd seeing so many people in the same place. It was also odd to feel the sun on my back.
I joined the back of the line.
Wait. Shuffle. Wait. Shuffle. Wait. Shuffle.
Don’t lean on the pole. Don’t touch your face. Don’t cough. Don’t sneeze. Don’t rub your nose. Don’t wipe your eyes. For God Sake, do not cough.
I felt a tickle in my throat and an itch on my face and sweat began to collect on my now overgrown fringe.
My body was re-familiarizing itself with our nearest star after what is now four-weeks of proving like pale dough in a cupboard.
And by now the glass of water I’d supped in the morning to knock back any remnants of Phil the night before had well and truly worn off.
As we rounded the corner and edged closer to the entrance, people became increasingly impatient. It was one in one out.
Shoppers walked back up past the line, bags laden with toilet roll and olive oil.
There’s going to be nothing left by the time I get in.
I’ve familiarized myself enough with the layout of the supermarket that I now consider a Spanish Dale Winton, only incredibly less tanned (see: afore-mentioned dough metaphor).
The only early hiccup I had in my expedition was someone accidentally social-distancing me from the cheese I wanted by leaving their trolly unattended in the dairy aisle. I wouldn’t touch it for fear of germs.
I ticked off my items faster than a celibate’s to-do list.
The only thing left on it was booze. I turned the corner and there he was, Plain Old Phil, sitting on the bottom shelf.
I tried to avoid eye-contact — it’s always awkward bumping into someone you know in a supermarket.
Not today, Phil.
In all my confidence rushing around the supermarket with my trolley, I’d forgotten to bear in mind one important fact — I was on my own.
The rules in Spain state that only one person can go out for errands at any given time. Mind you, I’ve seen people flout the rules all over the place, mainly couples.
You’ll often see one person passing by apparently talking to themselves, only to see someone two metres behind say: “What?”
Three parachutes full of food lay in wait as I moved the trolley back to what Google reliably tells me is called a stack.
I slipped one over my right shoulder, one over my left and held another with my right hand and trudged for the door like Scotland’s gangliest World Strongest Man competitor.
The people at the door stared me down.
My thighs were already telling me to stop, to re-adjust, to take a break. I’d gone 10 meters. I couldn’t stop now, the crowd watched on, willing me to leave.
One in. One out.
*This name has been altered to protect the integrity of the winemakers. And people called Phillip.