After two dark years we can just get out in the sun and enjoy it

by Colin Campbell

WHATEVER kind of heat emergency may occur in the south of the country this week (‘Thousands may die….’) was the apocalyptic main headline in one crisis addicted paper on Saturday, we are facing no fully baked emergency around here.

Temperatures will rise to a predicted 27 degrees, “with mainly sunny spells” according to the Met Office. So a very pleasant week ahead.

I intend to get out and enjoy it and as I am no longer anchored to a desk and, I’m glad to say, never again will be, I can do just that.

If I don’t look at online news in the device I’m holding once in seven days I’d be doing myself a favour. Staying away from the news is about the best summer tonic boost you could have.

Of course many people glance over the headlines here and there and it takes them all of 30 seconds before they move on to something more worthwhile.

But some of us are sucked into it all. The crisis over energy, inflation, fuel costs, thousands now likely apparently to die from excessive heat, the crisis over low benefits and the welfare crisis among those without jobs, and oddly enough the crisis over firms who can’t get people to work for them.

An unending saga of gloom, misery and despair.

And that’s without mentioning the likes of the Herald with its daily average of 10 stories whipping up rancour over the independence debate without adding anything at all new to it.

But in and around the city centre these days you will find no evidence of gloom, misery and despair.

Tourists have arrived in their thousands and welcome foreign voices are everywhere. Hotels are full, restaurants are busy and bars are enjoying a lively trade, during the day as well as in the evening as visitors relax with a drink. The centre and its shops, which can look a bit dour at times, is as busy as I’ve seen it.

Some people may have already almost forgotten about the past two years but they will mainly be younger people who take everything in their stride.

But the unprecedented covid experience we went through left its mark on many people and although I don’t dwell on it I don’t forget about it either.

If Inverness news and views has done anything it has extensively chronicled the covid era in a here and now way which is available in the archives at the touch of a link. This is not available anywhere else. I still find it interesting to look back over the photos and range of emotions, which changed on a weekly basis as coronavirus took yet another snake like twist.

I see in July two years ago hotels had reopened but had slashed prices to a fraction of what they normally would be in a bid to attract some among the trickle of visitors.

Pubs had just reopened on July 20 for the first time, with restricted hours, and on the first Saturday night there were quite a few customers around but not all that many, with many folk staying away.

Venues like the Inverness leisure centre were still closed, lockfast and desolate.

However with the vaccine still a distant dream there were already ominous warnings of “a second wave”. Which would not be that long in arriving. And the city centre would empty out yet again. Apprehension and uncertainty was dominant. When would this end?

It may not exactly be uplifting to remember that dark, very dark time but it happened and not that long ago.

There was genuine reason then, with no vaccine in sight, for gloom, misery and despair.

But this utterly grim time is now far behind us and although covid is still widely prevalent vaccines and boosters have minimised or much lessened the effects. Having recently had it I would not be overjoyed to catch it again but it’s not all that bad an experience. It’s not something I worry about. With the virtual disappearance of these masks, and it’s so good to see them gone, how many people still do?

So I’m just glad that a spell of very warm weather is due to arrive and we can enjoy it to the full. The riverside will have hundreds of people strolling, sunbathing or splashing around if the forecasts are correct.

I won’t be looking much at these headlines. To be honest I’m fed up reading or hearing about crisis after crisis after crisis. There’s been no let up for nearly two and a half years.

I earnestly hope that people don’t “perish in their thousands” because of the “heat emergency crisis” down south. And something tells me that that won’t happen, and those affected by blazingly hot sun will decide to stay out of it and stay indoors, hopefully with a fan on. That would seem to me to be the best way to ensure survival.

But no such concerns need trouble Inverness.

My only concern is that they’ve got the forecast wrong, and it drizzles down all week.

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