Ethan Waller Column: Sandpaper, Self-Isolation and Life With No Rugby

Ethan Waller has been a columnist for TRU since last summer

I’ll set the scene. Its March 2020, I need the toilet. I do my usual precautionary checks and come to the deflating conclusion that I am out of toilet roll. I let out a heavy sigh. I walk to my front door, put on my hurt locker outfit, leash up my German shepherd and begin the walk to my local supermarket.

As I walk past overturned cars, random fires, the words “help us” graffitied on walls, I can’t help but remember a time before the coronavirus. I arrive at the shop to an armed contingent of men surrounding the Andrex. I realise my hope for a relaxing trip to the lavatory is nothing but a distant memory. I walk home and search my barren cupboards for something to use, and find some 120 Grit sandpaper. Well, at least it’ll be smooth.

Okay, granted things aren’t as doom and gloom as that, but walking into any supermarket at the moment you’d be forgiven for thinking they were. Shelves are empty of the most random items. It's like people are genuinely preparing for an apocalypse. I wanted to make a spaghetti bolognese but there are no tinned tomatoes anywhere, the only tinned goods left are beans with hotdogs in. I’ll be honest, I considered it as a substitute.

Not only that, but I think one of the equally saddest and funniest moments I’ve seen so far, is multiple couples having in depth discussions about whether kitchen roll is a suitable alternative for toilet paper. “Do you think…no we shouldn’t. Unless? No we can’t…unless you’re happy with it? I’m happy with it? Bounty is ultra absorbent after all.” This thing is serious yes, but please use some common sense when going into supermarkets. I can make do with 120 grit sandpaper and some beans with hotdogs. The elderly, the young or those less able might not. 

I write this blog on Day One of self isolation. Premiership Rugby has postponed the season for five weeks and at Worcester, we’ve all been sent away for almost three weeks with no returning to the club for any reason. There's so much uncertainty about all of this, and with the amount of people at games, the nature of our training being so close proximity and, most importantly, the fact that there are far bigger things out there than rugby, I completely agree with the decision that’s been made.

 If I’m being completely transparent, I was massively skeptical of this disease at the start. I was one of those shouting, “just wash your hands, eat your vegetables and stop being so wet about it all.” In recent days however it’s proven to be a bit more serious than first anticipated.

Look, by no means am I saying it’s an apocalypse, it isn’t, but none of us are experts and frankly, life is bloody short. You might not be able to go to your favourite coffee shop, or have a few pints down the pub, but as far as I’m aware, as long as you listen to guidelines, wash your hands, and keep an eye on any symptoms, you can still keep yourself very much entertained. 

With that being said, to keep myself sane I made myself a list of tasks, and put them to twitter to decide order of importance. The four options were:

  1. Clean my WWII bunker (it came with the  house and could be quite useful if people keep acting like the worlds ending)
  2. Do all the jobs that need doing in my house; build a few bits of furniture (flatpack of course), take things to the tip, clean/tidy
  3. Learn Origami
  4. Learn the perfect somersault



WWII bunker

Learn origami

House jobs

I’ll keep everyone up to date with these on Twitter/Instagram if you are as bored as I am. The bunker could be really entertaining.

Keep yourselves occupied! Do some random task you would never have done otherwise. Or, just switch off the scaremongering social media, go outside and enjoy doing nothing.

The worlds not ending. It’s just a little different for a while.

Now, “wash ya hands ya detty pig”

Stay safe. All’t best.


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