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Learning from History

An old saying is "Those who know no history, are condemned to repeat it".

In today's New York Times, author Paul Theroux recalls his time in a politically inspired lockdown in Uganda. and says, "In times of crisis we should all be diarists and documentarians." 

He highlights the diaries of Samuel Pepys, which were written during the Great Plague of 1665 as an example.

Now I doubt that my diaries will be considered to rank with Samuel Pepys three centuries plus from now. But it is good to have encouragement from others to keep writing. Parliamentary colleague, and Deputy Presiding Officer, Christine Grahame, like me an 8th decader, is also writing daily. Indeed I think she started earlier than me.

So the encouragement to write comes from many quarters. But I am not sure that I need that. Each day it seems to come a wee bit easier. I have an electronic scratch-pad that I jot down ideas for writing on. The list of potential topics keeps growing even as I remove items as I write about them. But my real-life walking still adds to my experience.

Yesterday I heard the rumble of a cement mixer as I approached the neighbouring farm. Engaging in conversation revealed that there had been a sun-porch sitting in the barn for 15 years waiting for installation. Its day had finally come. The relentless nagging from his spouse, as it was described to me, was about to pay off. Installation time beckoned. And 100 metres further on, the said spouse was clearing a neglected patch of the garden.

Spring is of course the traditional time for cleaning the house, top to bottom, corner to corner. And I suspect, and indeed there ia some evidence of, much more thorough than usual spring cleaning.

Dogs seem to be being walked more than usual too. Yesterday it was a neighbour's husky eyeing me up from the other side of the road. On a lead of course. A more common collie was a bit further around my circuit. In his case fretfully looking at his master whose lead was constraining a collie's natural inclination to walk, run, three times as far as the dog-walker.

And on my return to base. A noisy, happy pack of four labradors, three black and one sensibly called Amber. No visitor to our house can arrive without our being warned by them.

Some evidence of youngsters going "stir crazy" too. Two youngsters with mum having to be reminded about the distancing rules as they approached me. And one, in particular, looking as if they might benefit from a restraining lead.

The time for my 2½ mile walking circuit continues to creep satisfyingly downwards. And my circumference is similarly shrinking ever so slightly. I was able to walk around in New York yesterday. It was a virtual walk courtesy of Google Streets. Who knew that the city had an airport for model aircraft? A bit of visual variation in walking, even if it involved no actual exercise.

With the bit between my teeth, I also had a quick "walk" around on a Scottish island I have yet to visit in real life - Coll. And saw the new airfield where the scheduled air services to Oban have been flying from.

Is this new future of tourism? Ecologically, a good idea, but no substitute for the noise and smell of foreign parts. But a good way to sus out prospects for future visits. And with a view to minimising my greenhouse gas footprint, travel by train and ferry makes sense. And when I hang up my Parliamentary boots, modes of travel, interesting in their own right, that I will be less time-constrained from using.

For some years, I have tinkered with train travel ideas using the wonderful "The Main in Seat Sixty-One" web site. I have planned the train journey from Yerevan in Armenia to Isfahan in Iran. Yes, it can be done, in theory at least, and with some large diversions from a straight line between them.

Almost no tourist visits Armenia and the carpets in Isfahan are among the world's best. Although you may not wish to visit the workshop as the production conditions in many of them would appal you.

But enough of the day-dreaming of time beyond coronovirus. Practical considerations intrude. We had planned to make our visit to the shops yesterday, but it transpired that the time in our diary set aside was for NHS workers to shop. Well done ASDA Huntly. So we plan to be there today when they open at 0800.

I am not off duty. Oh No! My first meeting of the day, online of course, is at 1000 and others follow it. So must escape shopping promptly to get home in time.

As I consider the most environmentally friendly options for our shopping and the proper management of my calorie intake, can anyone remind me of the nutritional value of a blob of toothpaste?

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