So what's it like down here? Everyone behaving?
Well, on the hottest day of the year I was aghast to read of a young female acquaintance, walking through a packed Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow (evacuated on police orders later in the day) who was hassled, cuddled and breathily harangued by sweaty groups of drunk youths. Albeit "good naturedly".
Unacceptable in any circumstances - yeah, even at football matches - but in the middle of a pandemic?
I've been given grief by teenagers for wearing a mask in the street (it's simply not possible to maintain a constant two-metre separation in an urban setting) though interestingly, I do (in the west end of Glasgow) see a good number of young (under 30) folk committedly face-covered. In supermarkets (I've only been to three, Big Tesco in Dundee, Wee Tesco in Glasgow, Medium Co-op in Ayr) I'd very roughly say the day starts with serious shoppers, about 50 per cent wearing face coverings, and that figure drops as time passes. One-way systems, hand sanitising and plastic screens for cashiers are not universal but usual (especially at Tesco). The only shop where I've seen any (not all) staff masked was the Co-op at Greenan in Ayr, which has been a lifeline for my elderly dad and stepmother. Who are doing OK, thank you, after some fairly major hassles.
Coffee shops and restaurants have been adapting at speed. On my single walk through Kelvingrove, it looked at one point as if every picnic group was eating takeaway pizza from Paesano. One top restaurant has turned itself into a street bakery, and flat whites with fresh pasteis de nata are available if you (socially distanced) queue at various hatches. And oh, are those tables and chairs on the pavement for sitting at? Goodness knows who put them there. Nothing to do with the cafe owners...don't mind if I do...DON'T PAT MY DOG!
From what I've seen, there's a significant, younger, dumber element who couldn't give a rat's arse about the pandemic (and to be honest, it's the same in Shetland with these 'secret' house parties and the like) who know they're unlikely to be badly affected and who are desparate to socialise exuberantly and carelessly. The old and the vulnerable, as ever, don't figure in their thoughts. There are older people clearly operating on either bravado or a resigned 'come-and-get-me' attitude.
In Shetland, in the Highlands and Islands generally, there's space to be apart. In the cities...well, frankly it's a miracle lockdown and social distancing has lasted and been effective thus far.
And there's a sense that everything is moving towards a fatalistic Belfast-in-the-70s, 1952-Farnborough-Air-Show attitude: Shrug, take precautions if you want, take the risk, get on with it. Second spike? Roll with it. If the over-60s have to die, well. Pass me a Capstan Full Strength and a large Grouse.
Or in my case, large amounts of vitamins C, D and omega three fatty acids, probably in vain. Don't forget the aspirin and Clopidogrel. Oh, and I'll have a double Respro activated charcoal cheery Bowie fishing boat mask as well. Possibly goggles.
I'm heading back north, if possible, at the end of next week. It will be a sorrow to leave loved ones but I know the tension of constant vigilance will lessen (and even in Shetland, I haven't been in public indoor spaces without a mask since the beginning of March). I'll be taking full safety measures and isolating for a fortnight after coming home. You won't see me on the boat. I'll be in my cabin, eating sour cream Pringles (it's a rule for sailing north).
By the time I get home, the tourists will have arrived.
𝘊𝘰𝘱𝘺𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘛𝘰𝘮 𝘔𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘰𝘯, 2020. 𝘕𝘰 𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘥𝘶𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘹𝘵 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘸𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘮𝘪𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯. 𝘚𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘯 𝘍𝘉 𝘖𝘒.