My German friend Jenni sends me a voice clip over Whatsapp, her voice, soft and gentle, and sad, so sad, her English kind of robotic and American-sounding. (One of the things, by the way, which I have given up for Corona/quarantine/qurona-time/Lent/Christian Ramadan, is trying to force German friends to speak to me in their mother tongue. Look, if Corona has taught us anything, it is that all Germans, #yesallGermans, every single fucking one of them, absolutely hates their parents and wants them to die as soon as fucking possible, of course they dislike their mother tongue. Whatever, man.)
“I had a hard day today,” Jenni says. “I’m starting to think you might be right about Drosten. He should probably stick to the lab work more and concentrate less on his podcasts? And he gives a lot of advice which isn’t really part of his job, to be honest. It made me feel sad, realising this. Realising I feel this way about him. And the weather outside is beautiful, and I feel so alone. I am alone. I feel so alone. And I am sick, sick, sick to death of canned foods!”
I listen to the voice clip THREE times and feel kind of scared of my own power, like this one time, when I was a kid with my Indian granddad in a multi-storey carpark and I shouted, as I always did in those carparks: “Drive to the top!” But instead of ignoring me he just said in a happy voice, “Okie, dokie!” and drove us to the top of the carpark. As we drove up there to the outside world I felt kind of cold inside, powerful and strong, but also a bit cold and empty and scared, too.
Jenni thinks I might be right about Drosten! Fucking hell, things are really bad.
Instead of voice clipping her back, I ring her up.
“Yo Jenni,” I say.
“I have to be quiet,” she loud-whispers back. “Daisy is asleep in my bed.”
“You shouldn’t call them canned foods,” I say. “Of course canned foods sounds dorky and rubbish.” I decide not to mention her 180° horrific u-turn on Drosten, a u-turn so sudden and complete it can be seen from space. “Say tinned food, it sounds much better. Tinned food. Do you want some tinned food? Have you got a tin of sardines? Doesn’t that sound fun?”
“No.” She says. “It sounds awful.”
“Tinned food is glamorous,” I tell her.
“Glamorous?” She says.
“You know what the problem with German people is?” I say.
“We’re all nazis?” She says.
“Well, apart from that,” I say cheerfully. “But the biggest problem with German people at the moment is: they haven’t noticed how glamorous tinned food is!”
Tinned food is glamorous, and if you don’t think so, you didn’t read enough Enid Blyton growing up. Those sexy midnight feasts after long lacrosse matches – they wouldn’t even have happened if tinned food hadn’t been invented yet! A delicious glorious fabulous mindnight feast – don’t invite Gwendolyn or Prudence, they’re such sneaks – I’ll bring the sausage rolls and the ginger beer and you bring a gorgeous, fabulous, wonderful tin of peaches or pears! And didn’t Janet’s mother send her a chocolate cake for her birthday?
I am spending my Crona-time writing gratitude lists (well, we have to do SOMETHING) and one thing I am grateful for is reading Enid Blyton as a kid. Because I think Enid Blyton is literally the reason I, and millions of other Brits like me, actually prefer the slimy tinned peaches to the boring fresh ones you get at a fruit market (yuck, they’re super-dry).
And now tinned food has come into its own. Tinned food, the glamorous Corona-survival companion. Now an army of sexy, young, trendy, nutritionally aware preppers know what we need to do: armed only with a few tins, a spice rack, a Jack Monroe cookbook and, of course, our own brilliant imaginations, we can all become tinfluencers! Baked beans (ludicrously expensive in Germany but still gorgeous), mixed with pesto and Worcestershire sauce – YUM YUM YUM! Chickpea and tinned peach curry – I THINK I AM LITERALLY IN HEAVEN RIGHT NOW! Tinned salmon, tinned peas, a ludicrous amount of chilli and pasta bake – DON’T MIND IF I DO! Vegetarian chilli con carne. Tinned mushroom stew. Rice and lentils. Anchovies and rice and lentils. Chilli and cannelloni bean stew. Pasta Arrabiati but the tomatoes you use are out of a tin! WHAT’S YOUR FUCKING PROBLEM GERMANY?
Now I don’t want to be one of these people nagging everyone to enjoy their Corona-time – or to use it to advance their careers. It’s a worldwide pandemic, not a writing and yoga retreat mixed into one. Of course we all have more time right now to work on our writing/yoga skills, but I also think we should be respectful of our dead, and fucking mourn them a bit. I find it a bit grotesque to only want to see the postivie things about this – like at best it is a bit mendacious and at worst it is, and I mean this respectufally, slightly evil. Having now said all of that: c’mon Germany! Tinned food is healthy. Tinned food is delicious (if you add spices). Tinned food is cheap. Tinned food is sexy and glamorous. C’mon my darling German babies, channel your inner Enid Blyton, put a pot of tinned beans on, set your spice racks and your imaginations free.
If Dr. Bloody Drosten told you to, you totally would.