The Isle of Arran is one of the better places to weather the COVID-19 storm. Being a holiday destination the island population normally more than doubles at this time, but not this year!
A few errant holiday homeowners have managed to blag their way onto one of the two boats a day to sit it out on Arran, much to the annoyance of Arranites who fear disease being brought to the island as well as the demands on scarce resources.
We do have a few cases and being a small island everyone knows who they are and how they got it. There is fear too in the co-op store, usually one of the busy social hubs on the island. Now the strictly limited number of shoppers hurriedly shuffle past each other in the aisles and at the checkouts, the workers look strained behind their Perspex visors. I take my hat off to these brave people working on the front line for £10 per hour.
Arranites are justly proud of their community spirit which is very much in evidence. From the Co-op coordinating food deliveries to various helplines being set up for the vulnerable and lonely, and of course the many individual acts of kindness to neighbours. All of which serves to bring our community together. We saw the same thing in 2015 when Arran hit the national news with ‘Snowmageddon’ when most of the island was buried under several feet of snow. I remember that time very vividly as I had returned from the balmy South of Morocco the day it started.
Covid has impacted everyone’s social life. Mine tends to revolve around music, so no more sessions or gigs. My only public performance with the bagpipes being at the front gate on Thursdays at 8 pm to honor our NHS workers and others on the front line. Listening to the pots and pans being banged and rattled, an incongruous thought enters my head and I am reminded of old newsreel footage of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. A very different context!
Arran with its miles of empty coastline is of course perfect for the one allotted exercise of the day. The ‘Social Distancing rules were formulated with a worst-case scenario in mind i.e. crowded urban environments. In the wide-open spaces of Arran, a bit of discretion aided by common sense could be employed, e.g. taking my dog for that second walk.
When I think of the awful situations many people will be in with the ‘Lockdown’, I count my blessings and feel really fortunate to live in this place.
What the future holds for any of us remains to be seen.