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NICKY MARR: I'm ready to admit it - lockdown has been a real struggle

By Nicky Marr

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Nicky has enjoyed wild swimming.
Nicky has enjoyed wild swimming.

I know we’re inching towards the light at the end of the lockdown tunnel but indulge me for a few paragraphs while I deviate from my usual state of breezy optimism.

Because for all my talk of focusing on what I can do, rather than what I can’t, and for all my stoical words of ‘shortening my horizons’ and finding contentment at home, there are times when I really struggle.

You too? Yes – I hear you. Does it help to know we’re all in this together? Admittedly yes, sometimes it does. Masking up at Caley Stadium on Easter Monday to queue for my vaccine was momentous.

With cheerful, bright efficiency, hundreds of patients from Crown Medical Centre in Inverness were processed, punctured, and passed back out into the sunshine.

Vaccination, for all its worries about blood clots and the politics of passports, seems to be our ticket out of this sorry situation, and I was thrilled to have reached my place on the list. Everyone else clearly felt the same way – the atmosphere was almost celebratory.

But apart from that, it’s all feeling a bit oppressive.

Like everyone else, we’ve missed family, we’ve missed holidays, we’ve missed nights out and at home, eating, drinking, and laughing with friends.

We’ve ‘done our bit’ by sticking to the rules, so we’ve played card games, cleared out cupboards and watched endless hours of telly. I’ve even taken up embroidery while Mr Marr does jigsaws, matching head torches essential.

We’ve worn grooves in the pavement on daily walks, and I’ve swum, and cycled. Everything seemed to be ok. We were getting through, we were coping. But suddenly I feel resentful.

This isn’t the cause; but it was the last straw. Last week we sat at home, laptop between us, watching the funeral of a friend.

The service was beautiful; the music, photos, videos, and the eulogy, even the Saltire draped across the corner of the coffin, were all perfect.

B died far too young but his was a life well lived. He didn’t care about jobs or status, he cared about the person you were. He brought out the best in all of us, with fun and generous laughter, making any gathering into a party. He adored his family, and he adored music, Nairn County and Scotland.

Thanks to lockdown, we watched his funeral through a screen, unable to be part of a crowd of people who loved him, unable to share our condolences with a hug, a tear, and a wealth of inappropriate stories in the pub later.

Our loss as friends is nothing compared to the grief his family are feeling, but he isn’t the first friend we’ve lost during lockdown, nor is his the first funeral we’ve been unable to attend.

Of all the horrors of Covid, families and friends not being able to say their goodbyes together, to visit their loved ones in hospitals and care homes, and to be present as they slip away, is the cruellest aspect of all.

More from Nicky Marr

Nicky Marr - coach/writer/broadcaster. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Nicky Marr - coach/writer/broadcaster. Picture: Callum Mackay.

Dog mess is owners’ issue

The message is clear – if it comes out of your dog, bag it and bin it.

Please don’t leave a dirty smelly mess on the pavement or in the park.

If you’re deep in the countryside, at least deploy ‘stick and flick’ – getting it off the path will stop it sticking to the soles of my walking boots.

But please, I beg you, don’t go to the bother of bagging it in plastic only to dump it by the side of the path, or hang it from a tree.

I know you don’t want to carry it with you, but it was your dog, so it’s your responsibility.

And a final plea – if you provide a dog bin, (Scottish Canals? Highland Council?) please empty it!

The beautiful Caledonian Canal deserves better than this…

Praise for the litter pickers

There are two types of people when it comes to litter – those who arrogantly drop it, and those who pick it up.

Bravo to litter pickers everywhere, especially to Matt Wallace and his team.

Matt runs Clarity Walks, a social enterprise that aims to improve mental health and well-being through ‘No Phone’ nature walks. On a recent walk in Inverness, they brought bin bags with them, and cleaned up 250l of rubbish in hour. That’s outrageous. It didn’t get there by itself.

Matt and his team are awesome, but surely they’ve better things to do than clear up after you.

*Read more of Nicky Marr's columns here.

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