Lockdown Jottings – 05

You apricate if you want to; I’m staying in

Autres temps, autres mœurs – we’re learning to do things differently under lockdown. Meetings held by video conferencing, practising social distancing, and shopping just once a week where we can.

But these unusual times are making me realise we need to develop a new set of manners: is the wearing of plastic gloves in the supermarket something we should do, or something we should not do? Is it socially acceptable to not wear a mask?

If you pick something up while shopping, are you allowed to put it back or, rather like the admonishments in the antiques shop (‘If you break it, it’s yours’), do we need to adopt a new social code – if you touch it, you have to buy it?

I ask because I ended up buying something I didn’t mean to the other day. I didn’t realise until I had brought it home, so the immediate question of whether I could have swapped it or should have felt obliged to put in my trolley didn’t arise on this occasion, but the experience of picking something up you didn’t mean to buy is, I am sure, one that many of us have shared.

I wanted a tin of sliced peaches in fruit juice. Having identified their location on the shelf, I reach across, picked up a tin and put it in my trolley. It was only when I took it out of by shopping bag at home that I saw I’d actually bought a tin of apricot halves in light syrup. Clearly, someone had picked up the tin at some point and put it back in the wrong place. Hey ho, these things happen. It will be apricots for tea and no harm done. But the question is, would it have been appropriate to put the tin back on the shelf (in its proper place, of course) had I realised the mistake I was about to make while still in the shop?

Anyway, whether peaches or apricots, tinned fruits are a mainstay of any larder or kitchen cupboard, little pieces of sunshine in a can that can be eaten at any time of the year (supermarket stocks permitting) and because of the canning process they retain many of the health and dietary benefits of fresh fruit.

But seeing the word apricot set me thinking? Was it related to apricate I wondered? It would have been neat if there was a connection – but sadly no, the two don’t seem to be directly connected: the link is tenuous at best. The word apricot comes from the Arabic word Al-birquq, itself taken from the Greek berikokon which in turn comes from the Latin praecoquum meaning early ripening. Meanwhile apricate (to sunbathe or to bask in the sun), comes from the Latin apricare.

Talk of aprication, the act of sunbathing, couldn’t be more topical this Easter weekend with temperatures rising and the sun putting on a show. Under the lockdown rules, people are allowed out of their homes to exercise, but not to sunbathe. If you want to go to your local park (assuming it’s open) you have to keep moving; lying on the grass to sunbathe appears not to be permitted within the rules and people are being moved on. It’s all well and good if you have a garden or balcony which catches the sun, you can apricate to your heart’s content – but you can’t do it in the park or on the beach.

Personally, as someone who burns quickly, I’ve never understood the supposed joys of sunbathing: I find just find it uncomfortable. I’ve never booked a ‘beach holiday’ in my life. And don’t get me started on what I can only regard as bizarre practice of grabbing a sun lounger when on holiday – or popping out first thing to reserve one next to the hotel pool….there’s an essay on that topic alone.

If there’s shade to be had and I’m outdoors, the shade is where you’ll find me; if there’s a shady side to the street, that’s the side I’ll be walking on.

You apricate if you want to; chances are, I’m staying in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *