by Colin Campbell
AT the weekend I took a bike ride to Cannich, on a bright but very cold day. At the outset I wasn’t sure if I’d go the length of Strathglass, my favourite glen in the Highlands, but as the miles rolled by with the roads clear of ice or snow in that often wintry part of the world, there seemed no good reason to stop.
Unlike Boris Johnson, currently under typically spiteful scrutiny over a seven mile bike ride he took across London, my movements are monitored by no-one. But in advance I did check that I wasn’t breaking any rules. The rule for exercise in the Highlands is that we’re allowed to cycle to beyond five miles of our local authority area, provided we leave from and return to the same location. As our local authority area covers the entire Highlands, that gives people considerable scope.
As I pedalled past the bus shelter in Cannich I saw something that really did exemplify the “we’re all in this together” mantra which has been trotted out so often in the past 10 months, and which has now become little more than a meaningless cliché.
Shelves placed in the shelter had been stocked up with an array of foodstuffs and other essential items which were available to be utilised by anyone who needed them.
That little shelter radiated generosity of spirit and concern for the welfare of others. As the cold chilled my bones it was a heartwarming sight to see.
The “we’re all in this together” stuff has no great validity that I can see in Inverness. Yes, there are foodbanks, and yes there are people visiting elderly folk who are stuck indoors, which counts for a lot for those who benefit.
Some people online are making an exceptional effort to help others. But for most of us it’s business as usual – well, not by any means as usual – and if anything the level of fractiousness has increased among people worn down by the past 10 months and impatience and frustration and distinctly short temper is on the increase.
On a city bus on Monday one woman sitting opposite me was swearily ranting on loudly about schedule delays – understandable delays given the heavy fall of snow – and another, quite rightly, told her to shut up. I thought the two might come to blows, before the female driver pulled up, strode up the aisle and ordered the wild-eyed complainant to get off, I think to everyone’s relief.
People are becoming more volatile and tempers are becoming more easily frayed as we struggle along through a harsh January in the shadow of this damn virus.
But maybe in a close-knit community like Cannich it’s different and folk really are “in this together”.
For me the well stocked bus shelter was an indicator of coronavirus life in that bleak little village: cold place, warm hearts.