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11th May 2020

John in Lockdown (inst.14)

by Burns Team Writer

Coronavirus Lockdown 9th May 2020

What day is it today? Friday? Saturday? It’s Sunday! At the moment, for me, every day is Sunday.  The expression, ‘A month of Sundays’ which used to denote a very long time, has become real.  Mine jew, I can’t complain; the sun is shining, I have a garden, I can go out. Many are worse off than me.

Quite a coincidence that as we celebrate VE Day, many of the people who lived through the war are suddenly remembered as they die off in their thousands in what is laughingly called our care home system. The neglect and impoverishment of the system is not a new phenomenon; it can be traced back to the blessed Margaret Thatcher. It was she who adopted the free market, privatisation, ‘private sector knows best philosophy’, which has been accelerated by the ridiculous austerity of the last 10 years.

Almost 100 years ago, Scottish writer Neil Munro created his character Para Handy, captain of The Vital Spark, a ‘puffer’ freight-carrying vessel, which plied its trade between Glasgow and the western islands of Scotland. The Para Handy tales have been televised twice, once by the BBC back in the 1960s and again by ITV in the 1990s. [I’m getting to the point now.]

One of Neil Munro’s stories was about his cousin McLean of Skye, who, thanks to the introduction of the old age pension of five bob a week, was able to take in pensioners and make a profit out of it. The cousin was delighted because the pensioners didn’t need much looking after and would even dig the garden and plant tatties for the kitchen.

The McLean’s only regret was that the pensioners didn’t have a fleece on their backs so that he could shear them too. The story was entitled Farming Pensioners. Margaret Thatcher’s idea wasn’t new; Neil Munro thought of it fifty years before and made a joke of it. I’ll bet he never thought it would actually happen.

I see the Dogs Trust has tweaked its ‘A Dog is for Life, not just for Christmas’ slogan to ‘A Dog is for Life, not just for Lockdown‘. It seems there has been a spike in interest in dog rescue which is tied to the increased time people are spending at home. Some are probably thinking now’s the time to get a dog, without considering the consequences when they return to normal.

I’m pretty handy with the English language but here for your enlightenment are two words, the meaning of which I didn’t know:

Bucolic – relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside and country life.  During the lockdown city dwellers are looking to move to the countryside.

Whack-a-mole – (North American) refers to an amusement arcade game in which players use a mallet to hit toy moles, which appear at random then disappear back into their holes.

The latter word, used in reference to a situation in which attempts to solve a problem, are piecemeal, or superficial. In this case, used to describe the UK government’s efforts to deal with coronavirus.

Stay safe,