I have had a glimpse of Hell. I have swum the waters of the Styx and crawled up the bank on the far side. I did it all in the hunt for the single stem garden plant support.

When I say I swam, it might be nearer the truth to say that I sweated my way up the hill in a waterproof in more humidity than I anticipated. Having spent half an hour in this endeavour, I arrived at the gates of hell to be met by a stout woman in a green apron and fetching matching blue face mask and rubber gloves.

“May I go straight in?” I asked, pointing at the gaping jaws that opened and closed as they spewed out shoppers and ingested the unsuspecting.

“Get away from me she commanded.” Her large blue hand extending towards my face Lord Kitchener style. “Move,” she barked. I took a step back. “You’ll have to queue.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realise there was a queue,” I said, vaguely wafting the all purpose cane about in front of me.

“Well there is.” She turned away.

“Where do I need to go? ” I asked.

She didn’t answer but started a conversation with someone else. I blundered about a bit and took out a couple of posts that were strung together with invisible cord to denote the place we had to queue to pass through gates of Hell.

As we snaked our way forward, our instructor said to the man in front of me. “it’s so nice when people think about others and OBSERVE the social distancing rules. Thank you. It’s lovely when people are considerate, unlike SOME people.”

“Take a trolley and you can go in.”

“I don’t need a trolley,” I said, doing a bit more cane jiggling.

“It’s the rule. If you don’t take a trolley you can’t go in.” I took the trolley and wobbled towards the entrance.

There must have been a roaring trade in hazard tape because they seem to have completely sold out, and had resorted to, giving us poor sinners, mere clues. We navigated our way through the circles of damnation; through lighting, bathroom fixtures, all the way to paint and garden accessories with the merest hint of a clue provided by grey arrows on a grey floor, which everyone largely ignored. There was not a blue fingered angel in sight to guide us on our way.

Magically, help was at hand. The single stem plant support was in stock and could be found in one of three places.  Disappointingly, that particular bit of magic was a mere illusion. None of the three places yielded it up. All was not lost though, because they were definitely in stock. It was just that nobody knew where they were.

I didn’t know where I was either.

Having spent an afternoon crashing about in #Homebase, in a state of infernal damnation, in search of enlightenment, I now found myself at that special place in Hell, reserved for Brexiteers and hapless shoppers like me. I was in the final circle of damnation, where the chill winds, of having to pay for the privilege, now penetrated my bones, to the cry of “cards only”. This too, was a commandment that had passed me by.

Having breached the first blind commandment of Covid, “though shalt not go shopping,” I had looked the dangers of disobedience in the face and survived. With a scaled back bus timetable, I had met and surpassed my daily exercise ambitions and managed a couple of grumpy exchanges with real people in real time. Then I did what anyone else would have done. I went on line. Delivery is tomorrow.