by Colin Campbell
WHY did Drew Hendry last week target Matalan for opening up again to grateful customers, who formed an orderly, socially distanced queue to get in? I can’t recall the Inverness MP publicly criticising a commercial business like this before. In a “tweet” he said: “I can think of no reasonable excuse for Matalan to be reopening their store in Inverness ahead of lockdown restrictions being eased. I will try again and contact their management but this looks and feels selfishly irresponsible.”
These are harsh words from a local MP.
How about their “reasonable excuse” being that they were legally allowed to do so?
Matalan replied: “As per the 1st of May, the Government changed the exception list of retailers who are deemed ‘essential retailers’ with homeware retailers being included. Matalan is a clothing and homeware retailer and are therefore allowed to legally open following government guidance.”
Although Hendry is a prolific user of Twitter (so much so I sometimes wonder how he gets any work done) why engage in this with a “tweet” in any case?
If he was so concerned about the situation at Matalan, why not just go up there and see it for himself? I very much doubt the management would have slammed the door in his face.
Or was it that he wasn’t so much really concerned, but wanted to be seen to be concerned?
Business are struggling as never before. The sooner they reopen to preserve jobs and prevent people from being thrown on the scrapheap the better.
Drew Hendry would do much, much better to spend his time trying to persuade Nicola Sturgeon and her clueless advisers to drop the requirement to retain two metre social distancing, which will make it utterly impossible for hotels, restaurants and bars to function – no matter how much effort they put into implementing safety measures.
That’s like telling them it’s ok to reopen again – as long as they keep their front doors permanently locked.
But that’s the problem with Sturgeon, Hendry and co as thousands of jobs teeter on the edge of oblivion. They’re going to be just fine financially, whatever happens. The only thing they know about a hotel is how to book into one – or get an underling to do it for them.
A store like Matalan is an easy target. When it comes to much bigger issues, like the risk, growing by the day, of a jobs disaster in the tourist industry, does Drew Hendry find it easier to duck?
I don’t know where he buys his clothes from, but it’s certainly not Savile Row.
Primark? No he has the swarthy but more stylish look of a Matalan man to me.
When he goes there for his next suit, he may find he’s less than welcome.
History lesson a world away from crazed mobs
IS the crazed urge to tear down statues across the land now receding? We should hope so. Some people involved in this were driven by genuinely conscientious objections. Others just enjoyed the post-lockdown release of being part of a rampaging, uncontrollable mob.
However, because of the events of the past two weeks we’ve learned from local historians, in a calm and measured way, of buildings in Inverness which were built from money from the slave trade in the 1800s, including the old Royal Northern Infirmary. That will not be new information to some people – including me – but the way it was delivered, in a historical context, was a world removed from the seething aggression on display elsewhere last weekend.
A plaque at what is now the UHI headquarters in Inverness states: “Placed here to acknowledge that this building was erected through donations from profits of the slave trade and slave plantations of the Caribbean and South America.”
The fact is acknowledged, and it’s there for all to see. Nearly two centuries on, there is nothing else we need to say, or to do.
It makes the “Black Lives Matter” rioting of last weekend look like the anarchy and thuggery it was.
Even if you get there, will you be able to return?
HOLIDAYS certainly aren’t what they used to be, mainly because it’s currently almost impossible to go on them.
I was supposed to be on a long-haul flight on Friday, June 12, a date imprinted on my mind for months.
Instead the only long-hauling on offer was a bike ride round the Beauly Firth.
Flights are taking off again, but not much more than relatively short hops to the continent. It would be a bold man or woman who started seriously looking much further afield anytime soon.
An Inverness couple I know travelled to the Philippines in February. They’re still there now, anchored in Manila and unable to get home.
Fortunately they have friends they can stay with so their situation is somewhat short of desperate. Still, the experience won’t be remembered in their photo album as a relaxing break in the tropics.
Like many other people, for me a refund for my cancelled flight wasn’t an option. But I do have a voucher to go somewhere else. Scouring the map for a likely destination used to offer an enjoyable sense of escapism.
That has now gone, and maybe it’ll be some time before it returns. Like the folks I know who are currently trapped in crowded, sweltering Manila, how long will it be before it’s possible to travel once again to a distant country, without doing agitated daily checks of the local covid-19 situation, in case you’re unable to get back?