Diary Day Four - This Shouldn't Have to be Said ...

It was a lovely spring day here with early blossom just starting on our neighbour's beautiful tree. But now I'm not sure if the fine weather was a good thing or not.

We're getting reports from various rural based friends, not just here in Scotland, but throughout the UK, of assorted numties thronging the beaches and parks, but worse, heading out into the countryside, like extras in one of those apocalyptic dramas.

I sometimes wonder if fiction writers like myself might be to blame for at least some of this. Do we give a false impression of the Highlands and Islands - and other rural parts of the UK? Do people watch dramas set in Scotland or Cornwall or Wales,  historical dramas in particular, and imagine a vast wilderness into which they can flee?

Well, there is wilderness in plenty but also numerous small, industrious but finely balanced communities. Tourism is important - vital even. And its time will come again. But for now, people thoughtlessly trekking to these places, thoughtlessly stocking up in small, often community run, shops, and above all, people threatening to bring the virus to communities that have already been social distancing and coping well  ... it shouldn't need to be said, but it's iniquitous.

It isn't that health provision in these places is inadequate. In fact in most parts of the Highlands and Islands there is excellent provision. But the landscape is harsh and distances between communities can be very great. The provision that exists in rural Scotland is always - of necessity - finely balanced, taking into account the needs of many small communities and the seasonal variations. This works in normal times, when the peaks and troughs of demand can more or less be predicted. But these are not normal times.

Stay at home. Read books, watch films and TV dramas. Plan for the future. Dream. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Don't endanger others. Come back later, when things are safe. This shouldn't have to be said, but it seems it must.