Nobody told our cat, Harry. The night after a nationwide lockdown was announced he decided that this would be the time to escape from our tenement flat. He had been outside before but it was getting late and he didn't appear to be in any rush to return home. We found him hiding under next door's hedge but, in typical cat rebellion style, he refused to budge.
We subsequently chased him over fences and walls to neighbouring gardens; it was much easier for a cat to simply pass through gaps in the fence, or to climb over and along walls, than it was for us. We climbed into and out of all the adjoining gardens in our bid to find him. This was not the once-a-day exercise I had envisaged.
We were doubly worried when we remembered that the council had put rat poison in our midden area and we couldn't be sure how many others. We covered our 'rodent control' box with a bin lid then retraced our steps over neighbouring gardens to ascertain whether there were any more, covering any we managed to find amongst the general detritus lying around so many of the middens (I wonder why there might be rats?!). These boxes clearly state 'keep children and animals away'. This could be a matter of life and death for Harry. Literally.
Eventually, we had no choice but to go to bed leaving the flat door ajar and a notice on the close door pleading 'Please leave open – missing cat'. We put his food bowl near our door and some of his litter outside (with his scent) in a bid to help him find his way home.
We got Harry from the cat rescue a year after my husband died and the wean thinks he's 'dad in cat form'. Let's think: Harry is handsome and cuddly, affectionate and loving, and always somehow manages to bag the comfiest seat in the house. He can also be grumpy, takes up most of the space on a bed and he snores. Loudly. Hmm.... I can see the similarities.
I wasn't initially sure whether to discourage this thought of reincarnation – I did point out that Harry was about three when we got him so this wasn't actually possible – but I concluded that if it helped our son to think his dad's spirit was in some way continuing within our adorable new pet then so be it. I call him our wee Godsend. Either way, he is one of the family. We couldn't lose him. He finally came in at 3am. I thanked a God I don't even believe in.
He's now grounded. And I warned him, 'If you do it again I'm telling Boris Johnson. Or, even worse, Nicola Sturgeon'. I know who I'd rather be told off by and it's not the one with the neatly brushed hair, steely eyes and the Presbyterian lips. Scary.
Alex Salmond: truth will out?
Questionable behaviour and questions remaining. For those of us who have no clue as to the truth of the allegations or as to the interpretation of the evidence that was heard – and that which wasn't – it was a surprising result. Why? Truthfully, because of the number of charges and the number of complainants. Something suspicious somewhere. On which side, I don't ultimately know.
Having been acquitted of all charges, Alex Salmond told the assembled press pack waiting outside the High Court and, I supposed, all of us, 'My strong, strong advice to you is to go home – those who can, are able to – take care of your families and God help us all'. It seems Alex Salmond has forgotten who's in charge. Unlike the cat, I'm prepared to listen to Nicola Sturgeon, and possibly even Boris Johnson, but Alex Salmond? Questionable indeed.
A week in coronavirus
Today, as I write this, the clocks go forward to British Summer Time. Despite being cold, the weather is dry and occasionally sunny. Time to get out and about; socialise; meet friends in the park for a walk; a coffee in town; a bite to eat or a pint in the pub later maybe? Oh, dear. I remember now. Most days I wake up imagining I am telling someone: 'You will not believe the nightmare I had last night. There was a national lockdown! Everywhere was closed: pubs; cafes; restaurants; most shops; everything. Across the whole country! I know, crazy eh?'.
At the beginning of March, I was at a birthday weekend in a country house hotel with friends, family, children; lots of social contact. Who amongst us could've believed then where we would be only a few weeks later. On 12 March, I was at Ibrox stadium with 50,000 others, a few thousand of them from Germany. The players didn't shake hands and when Rangers scored we wondered whether we should hug people around us; otherwise we weren't overly worried. Importantly, we believed then that the old firm match that weekend was going ahead so, notwithstanding the Bayer Leverkusen result, all was well. It feels like a lifetime ago.
When the old firm game was cancelled, I took the opportunity instead to meet a friend in town. We had a bite to eat in a pub and watched the news of cancelled sports fixtures filtering through on the TV screens. The supermarket was still busy too although, weirdly, there was no toilet roll. What's going on? I wondered whether there had been an outbreak of diarrhoea.
Just over a week ago, with salons closing, my hairdresser quipped that we are all going to be showing our true colours soon. She meant literally. I suggest we beware of politicians with neatly trimmed hair in the following months. Unless you live with a hairdresser (or are friends with Edward Scissorhands – a trim from two metres?) there will be little way to avoid looking shaggy pretty soon. Boris Johnson and Donald Trump are noticeably ahead of the game on this point.
A week is a long time in coronavirus politics. A month even longer. On 1 April, I am hoping someone will say: 'April fools! That Boris Johnson, he's a joker isn't he? Honestly!'. But Boris Johnson has recently tested positive for coronavirus after allegedly ignoring his own social distancing advice. And now COVID-19 is reported to be self-isolating after developing Dominic Cummings-like symptoms. If you too wake up with a continuous contemptuous attitude, displaying tasteless tendencies interspersed with downright weirdness, I would stay indoors and away from others. Preferably forever.
Jeremy Corbyn recently said in interview: 'The coronavirus crisis has actually meant in every country in the world there's suddenly a realisation that we're only as healthy as the safety of our neighbour, and that can be internationally, as well as locally'. He's surely right. We need to pull together, whilst, paradoxically, keeping our distance. Hopefully, we are still doing the former when the latter is no longer required. Time, I suppose, will tell.