Daily Record

The equivalent of St Andrews is already lost


ST ANDREWS has a population of around 18,000. That’s the number of people who died during the pandemic and had Covid named as the cause of death.

Imagine St Andrews without everyone. The map of Fife with a blank bit on the East Neuk. The Scotland Covid 19 Inquiry, which started in Edinburgh this week, was full of reminders of those weird, damaging years we all lived through together. Two lockdowns. Schools closed, city centres shuttered, working from the spare room if you were lucky enough to have one. Despite being so recent, the memories have faded so fast. Hand gel dispensers gather dust, face masks are reduced to 50p. We want to forget home schooling and lateral flow tests and that’s understand­able. But the inquiry is a reminder that, for lots of people, that’s not an option. Some of them have made the selfless decision to relive the most traumatic experience­s of their lives to help the rest of us get to the bottom of what actually happened. They were there on Tuesday, taking deep breaths and reliving the heartbreak­ing loss of their loved ones. Alan Inglis, whose son Calum died in Addiewell Prison, feels he didn’t do enough to help his boy at the time. He’s making up for that by giving evidence to the UK Covid Inquiry in London as well as the Scottish one. Maggie Waterton, who lost her husband and her mother, needs to see someone put their hand up and take responsibi­lity.

She’s not looking for blame – she knows that decisions were made in impossible circumstan­ces – but she wants to see someone admit they made mistakes.

I met Maggie, Alan and other families who may be called to give evidence this week and was impressed by their generosity and humanity. There was not a trace of bitterness, only a desire to tell their stories so that a disaster on this scale can’t happen again. Their beloved family members died as health care workers struggled to follow rules that changed by day and were broad brush strokes rather than detailed advice. But what was clear from the first day of an inquiry that will go on

It’s a trick as old as showbiz, appearing in a local sports team’s strip to win the instant approval of the crowd. But Korean pop girlies stAYC got their geography a bit off when they bounced on stage in Dallas in their Rangers finery. Instead of texas Rangers baseball shirts, they ended up with the Glasgow Rangers variety – 90s replica strips in bright blue with McEwans Lager logos. Oops. Only 4500 miles and a different ball game out. However, they wore it much better than Ally McCoist or Paul Gascoigne ever managed.

until at least next year is that a purely clinical strategy was not enough.

Even simple instructio­ns designed to stop the spread of the virus had unintended consequenc­es. Everyone wearing masks, for example, was upsetting and frightenin­g for autistic children and people with dementia.

CrossReach, the social care arm of the Church of Scotland, described how its residentia­l homes had been designed to be cosy, comfy places but suddenly had to follow rules designed for hospitals and health care settings.

People with addiction issues, managing their chaotic lives in CrossReach rehab centres, struggled with any guidelines. We heard all this as it was happening but we need to hear it all again, slowly and clearly, to get a full picture.

Politician­s had to make those decisions every day during the pandemic and no one thinks it was easy or expects them to get everything right.

But they need to look Maggie, Alan and the other family members in the eyes and face up to the consequenc­es of what they got wrong.

The equivalent of the population of St Andrews is already lost.

These brave survivors can help make sure that doesn’t happen again.

check out my latest restaurant review in this weeks saturday mag

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