Coronavirus: Scotland is doing well now but outbreaks elsewhere show there could be trouble ahead – Christine Grahame MSP

Now is the time when patience is most needed over the Covid lockdown, writes Christine Grahame MSP

Nicola Sturgeon speaks at a coronavirus press conference
Nicola Sturgeon speaks at a coronavirus press conference

"Suffrance is a soverayn vertue.” Well, what on Earth does that mean? To you and me, it says “patience is a virtue” for those who have not already guessed or are not well-versed in 14th-century Middle English (see footnote below).

Now where am I going with this? For me to even paddle into the waters of patience I’m out of my depth. Anyone who knows me personally or professionally would hardly rate me high on the patience Richter scale.

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I lose my rag at milk cartons that splatter contents, at safety caps on bleach bottles. I have a pair of new secateurs and have no idea how to open them, so that impatience is to do with my incompetence with all matters practical.

Professionally when I chair Parliament, I can become quite stroppy with MSPs who speak well over their time (or try to).

But I am patient at other times: with grandchildren, the cat (Mr Smokey) and the rules we are required to follow to suppress Covid.

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When I say I know how hard this has been, I cannot put myself into the shoes of anyone else, but I don’t just have my own experience of those dark, early, isolated days but also those of my constituents over these four months who have been emailing and phoning me with problems as never before.

I have heard from and tried to help elderly shielding for months on end, small family businesses on the brink of bankruptcy, estranged parents not seeing their children.

Why say this? Not because I want a pat on the back. This is my job, but to put into context where we are now.

Face coverings are now the necessity and indeed the fashion, I have six or so, all gifted bar one. We are wearing them in shops; we are wiping down trolleys, sanitising our hands and in the main, observing social distancing.

We can sit in the sporadic sun on Porty prom with a coffee and watch the wains paddle or people-watch from one of the donated benches.

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This is our reward for our patience. But with the good news comes a warning.

Sometimes I have forgotten to wash my hands thoroughly. Some folk are thinking all is well, we are back to normal, let’s just party (and it’s not always the young).

In the meantime, cast your eyes to Spain, to France, to Germany and to the tragedies in rural India, the follies of Trump in the US.

When I read that there were 600,000 people from the UK stuck in Spain when quarantine was announced, I wasn’t shocked at the quarantine but the fact that 600,00 people had not heeded the warnings.

Scots were told time and time again by the First Minister that there were no guarantees if you travel abroad. It seems that for some, four months, well that’s long enough to take on this killer virus.

The term global pandemic no longer scares, if it ever did. But it does scare me.

Scotland is doing incredibly well now but so were Spain, France and Germany and winter with its bouquet of bugs is just round the corner. It is now that patience is most needed.

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We need patience to ensure that the virus remains suppressed, without which a surge, a spike, would damage people, our NHS and our recovering economy. They go hand in hand.

So, am I being patient? You bet.

Footnote: “Patience is a virtue” comes from the Middle English poem Piers Plowman by William Langland, written between 1370 and 1390.

Christine Grahame is the SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

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