Saturday, 27 February 2021

Getting Older


The effect of lockdown on one's mental health is intensified at times you would usually share with family and loved ones. I commiserated celebrated the beginning of the final year of my fifties on Friday but the usual family gathering was prevented due to lockdown rules in Scotland as a result of the Covid pandemic.

These technological times, however, meant I did get WhatsApp messages from my three of my five grandchildren (the youngest two still being a wee bit young for that sort of thing) and these highlighted it isn't just me who is getting older.

Jack, who will be 16 in a couple of months and, therefore, a young man sent me a typically polite 'Hope you have a good day' message. 

Hannah, who will be 14 going on 24 in August, said 'Happy birthday Papapapapapapa' which is probably her way of showing a sense of humour. She does have a tendency to burst into a fit of the giggles for no apparent reason although this may be because I make her laugh without realising it aka extracting the Michael...

It was left to 10-year-old Ava to display the unconditional love which used to be a trademark of her older sister and brother by saying 'Happy birthday to the best Papa on Earth - miss you loads'. This brought a wee tear to my glass eye and underlined how much I miss them all, not having seen them since early November. I like to think Jack and Hannah share their wee sister's sentiments but they are now at the age when showing affection to one's elderly relatives may be deemed distinctly 'uncool'...

It was left to their mother to send me the above collage of my children and grandchildren which cleverly includes a headshot of my father who passed away in 1997. He would have been immensely proud of them all and I like to think he is looking down on all of us. It's a tragedy he never lived to see any of his great-grandchildren but he loved his granddaughters and I know Laura and Michaela still think of him. As I do every day.

Jack, Ava and Laura all have their own birthdays in May (that month costs me a bloody fortune) and I will see them then to join the celebrations - no matter what Scotland's First Minister says at that time. Covid cases in Scotland are falling as are hospital and ICU admissions whilst vaccines are rising in their thousands every day. 

We need hope that we will be able to see our loved ones again very soon. Even rapidly ageing old gits like me...

Sunday, 14 February 2021

Float On, Baby


Cancer - and my name is Larry.....Mmm... take my hand

Come with me, baby, to Love Land

Let me show you how sweet it could be 

Sharing loving with me

On Valentines Day, the present Mrs Smith and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. I say celebrated but we were stuck in the house thanks to lockdown meaning most places are closed. Flicking through the interminable number of trash tv channels, we stumbled across Now 70s which was dedicated to cheesy love songs, many of which I've tried to forget for the last 45-50 years.

One such song was Float On by, er, The Floaters. Part of the lyrics of this cheesefest are above. No, please, don't leave yet, I haven't finished. Being an old romantic - well, old anyway - I dedicated this song to my beloved but personalised the lyrics.

Pisces - and my name is Mikey....Mmm... take my hand (but mind my arthritis) 

Come with me, baby, to Pound Land

Let me show you how sweet it could be - just take your purse with you baby

Who said romance was dead?


Saturday, 9 January 2021

We'll Meet Again

Lockdown means I ain't half missing these little blighters....


Friday, 1 January 2021

The Other Side of the Covid Coin


               Image from Daibhidh Stevenson's Facebook post

We keep hearing from politicians that there is hope in the fight against Covid-19. With vaccinations starting to be given and this process set to accelerate as 2021 begins,  they may be right (although there are few politicians I really trust)

But what about the other side of the Covid coin? Lockdown has impacted on society in a way I feel those same politicians don't want us to know - or won't allow us to know. 

So when the figures are published on a near daily basis on the number of positive Covid cases and the number of deaths perhaps someone in authority could also publish the number of people dying from impact of lockdown. 

But, if you'll pardon the phrase, I won't hold my breath...

Thursday, 31 December 2020

Time To Go, 2020

At least grandson Daniel seems oblivious to the carnage 2020 has brought 

So farewell, 2020. No one needs me to tell them it's been a hellish year - unless you're a manufacturer of hand gel in which case you're rubbing your hands...

It's been a year of:

  • Covid-19
  • Lockdown
  • Hearts unfair demotion
  • Lockdown
  • Fractured family relations
  • Lockdown
  • Elderly relative's much-awaited operation
  • Nae live fitba
  • Lockdown
  • The sad demise of Tim Brooke-Taylor (just weeks after I saw him perform at Edinburgh's Festival Theatre)

On the plus side:

  • Repairing of fractured family relations (albeit a slow work in progress)
  • Hearts reached the Scottish Cup final - which they should have won
  • Grandchildren Jack and Hannah both receiving Gold Merit Awards at school
  • This blog being listed in Feedspot's Top 35 Edinburgh blogs (and, before you ask, there are more than 35 of them...)
  • Er...
  • That's it.

A very happy new year to everyone, particularly to those who read this blog. It may begin in a similar vein but surely 2021 can't be as bad as 2020?

Saturday, 19 December 2020

A Seasonal Greet


I wish everyone the world over a happy Christmas - well, as happy as you can make it - and fervently hope 2021 is better than 2020. Sadly, the new year looks like starting the way the old one ended.

Stay safe everyone.

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Open the Door and Let Us In

I was at a supermarket last Saturday, one of the major ones who have a large store in Meadowbank. With my face mask adorning my well-worn looks, I wandered in, used the hand sanitiser at the entrance, picked up a shopping basket and strolled in. There were numerous signs about keeping social distance and regular tannoy announcements pertaining to this. I got my shopping, queued at the checkout in an orderly fashion, paid for my goods with my bank card and exited left. No hassle, no problem and everyone adhered to the Scottish government’s guidance about Covid-19.

I was just one of hundreds of people to do this on that very day. I didn’t feel my safety was compromised, didn’t feel the need to rush out of the store in a panic. Few people have any issues with such a practice even though one is indoors (where, apparently, the virus is most likely to spread). I have done this every week since lockdown changed society, perhaps forever, seven months ago.

So what, I hear you ask dear reader, is my point? My considerable bone of contention, possibly shared by many others, is why can’t I go to see a lower league football game on a Saturday afternoon? I want to visit Ainslie Park to see Edinburgh City play in the flesh once more. But football fans in Scotland are prevented from doing so as things stand at present.

Without getting too political may I add that I believe the Scottish government is doing everything it can to try and contain the virus and has shown better leadership than other parts of the United Kingdom. Yet, I feel there are inconsistencies that need to be addressed amid the very real danger that, with little income, some of Scotland’s smaller football clubs could face closure.

I understand why clubs in the Scottish Premiership and some in the Championship – Hearts being the obvious example of the second tier – aren’t being allowed to let their larger fan base into their stadia. A few weeks ago, Aberdeen and Ross County conducted a trial where 300 fans were permitted to both club’s home games. By all accounts both trials were a success with fans socially distant and adhering to the special measures put in place to enable such a small crowd to gain admittance. However, with the number of Covid cases rising as a second wave threatened the country, the Scottish government wouldn’t entertain the prospect of further trials, despite the success of those in Aberdeen and Dingwall. The prospect of thousands of people congregated inside a football stadium just isn’t one being contemplated by the Scottish government right now.

That said, there seems to me to be a one size fits all approach to Scottish football which, if I’m being frank, is a nonsense. Cowdenbeath were the visitors to Ainslie Park on Saturday, a game which would probably attract around 350 paying spectators. Given the size of Ainslie Park are the authorities really saying there would be a serious health risk if supporters were allowed into the ground to see the game? With appropriate social distancing in place we might not all get a seat in the stand but there is plenty space behind the goals and on the terracing across from the stand to accommodate everyone safely.

True, there would be no catering and the opportunity to taste a delicious Baynes pie would be sadly absent (the best pies in Scotland in my view – c’mon that’s got to be worth a free sample…) And one would have to forego a hot drink on a chilly October afternoon although admittedly this might help to control an orderly queue to gain entry to the toilets. With hand sanitiser available as soon as you come through the turnstiles and strategically placed around the ground, and the wearing of face masks required it’s arguably the case that one might feel safer in the open air at Ainslie Park than in the confined space of the supermarket along the road.

So, here’s a plea to the Scottish government. Every day you update the country with the number of Covid-19 cases and, tragically, the number of deaths. Focus is on the pandemic and understandably so. But if you focus on one disease, the impact of other illnesses increases but doesn’t attract the same headlines. How many people are dying because of heart disease, cancer and mental health issues that might have been addressed if there had been no pandemic?

Football is a vital part of many people’s wellbeing. A Saturday afternoon can bring some much-needed relief to many during extremely difficult times. Going to the football is a vital component of wellbeing and people’s mental health has never been more challenged than it is now.

So, how about it, First Minister, and the Scottish government health advisers? Let the fans in the lower leagues back into grounds. They would be far safer there than nipping round to a pal’s house to watch a live stream on a small computer.

Even if you feel the need to limit the numbers to, say, 300 per game, it would be a start.  2020 has been a hellish year for everyone. All we are asking is to let fans of lower league clubs back in to watch the game we love. And help the financial plight of Scottish football’s smaller clubs  – before it’s too late…