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On being a fit old loon

One of the quite significant changes brought to my life through lockdown is the taking of more exercise. And yesterday marked an important numerical milestone - 400 of them. Coupled with my having spent 427 minutes (7 hours 7 minutes if you wish) on the rowing machine where it's been 40 strokes a minute, I have not been fitter for decades.

There's been a bit of rooting about among the accumulated detritus of at least fifty years. Mainly that's led to a slow movement of junk towards the bins. But it has also uncovered a pair of chest expanders. They certainly haven't been used for some forty of those years.

I might consider that their time has come as part of the fitness program were it not for the handles at the end of the springs having gone walkabout. May have to fabricate something.

All of the 400.11 miles I have walked have been on my daily exercise in the local area. My saviour from the potential damage to my feet and legs has been a pair of shoes with good padding between me and road. And the wearing of two pairs of socks, one thick, one thin, to avoid rebound or friction inside the shoe. Lots of walking without care and attention to feet can lead to loss of toenails. Past experience tells me that is little fun—only a hobby for masochists.

So the shoes are now high mileage and in need of replacement. Initially worried that I couldn't find the same model of shoe. Success, albeit a different colour.

Although this is an item of expenditure I can attribute to the COVID lockdown. It's one of very few. Rather, an examination of my banking shows a sharp drop in personal spending. That's on top of a big drop in business expenses too.

I am clearly part of the consumer slowdown.

Today we contemplate a money-saving and convenience-creating activity. There is only one brand of mayonnaise that my spouse will contemplate using. And it's a regular on the kitchen table at mealtimes close by her plate.

Our neighbour has just left a tray of very large eggs on the doorstep. Thanks, Mark! That creates the opportunity to make a home-made product. We seem to have the makings. All that is apparently required in addition is a strong arm to beat at speed, and for some time, as oil, vinegar and egg blend. I have been elected as the "arm".

The eggs came, of course, on an egg tray. A week ago, it emerged that there is a shortage of egg boxes and trays. Apparently, no one in the UK manufactures such things and egg demand has risen sharply. Does that Paul Hollywood have something to with this? People moving from merely watching "Bake Off" to actually doing some baking? I did a "gig" with him in East Kilbride when I was a Government Minister.

When our egg tray is empty, it will go to a local farm that can re-use them after they have been purged off any infectious fellow-travellers.

Preparing for the week to come has to fit in as well as holding an egg whisk to make Mayonaisse.

There's barely any white space in next week's diary. Each day is scheduled to start at 0530. and the finish times are 2130, 2000, 1915; 2000 and then a breathtakingly early 1700 on Friday.

But it's what is in the days that needs intensive preparation. Monday is two online meetings, and with approaching 200 pages of briefing materials for Tuesday's Committee meeting, a continuation of today's prep. And then a one hundred and seventy-mile drive south.

Tuesday has four online meetings and intensive prep for Wednesday. Which has two concurrent Committee meetings, First Minister's Questions for which I will bid soon? And the final stage of the Animal Welfare Bill where I am first up to speak from the backbenches. Cannot "wing" that.

The Rural Committee on Wednesday is further legislation where we shall be dealing with a wheen of proposed amendments to the Agriculture (Retained EU Law and Data) (Scotland) Bill. If we don't get one right, and on time, there may not be the power in place to allow Ministers to provide support to farmers next year. And given that they will have committed themselves to what they will be doing in 2021 within a few months from now, there's not much slack in the schedule.

Thursday looks easier with only scheduled Parliamentary activity being my question to Ministers. But with three substantial online meetings on Friday, It will another prep day. And it ends with my driving another one hundred and seventy-mile drive back home.

Now don't think any of the foregoing is a moan. It ain't. I actually hate being idle. The return of a full diary and a wide variety of activities is very welcome.

And I may even have a wee bit time to have some chat with colleagues, at a 2-metre distance, when I am in Parliament on Wednesday. Haven't met any of them since the 12th of March. Will they be impressed by my flowing locks? No, they won't. I shall be getting my hairspray out of my office drawer and to firmly lacquer it in place. I may even shave for the occasion.

After next week, there is but one further week before the diary shows the start of recess. Except that there will be weekly meetings of Parliament, but I think no Committees, until the end of July. Will need to find out what my role in that has to be. I expect we shall still be exercising social distancing at Holyrood and hence not all our group will be required there each week.

Provided everyone behaves themselves, I mean everyone in our country, not just MSPs, we should see further edging of the COVID "R" number downwards. If so, that creates scope for the hospitality industry in particular. It might be possible for us to contemplate renting a cottage for a week after mid-July. A relaxation for us and income for some else.

But not quite sure how all this blends with our being classified as "vulnerable" due to our being 8th-decaders.

It's a ... being old.

Even if I am now very fit old.


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