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Iain Maciver: Which scientist said forgetfulness is the brain getting rid of junk? I forget

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How could we forget? On Tuesday, it will be a year since Boris Johnson finally got his act together and announced that people should, if possible, work from home and that many businesses would have to shut.

I remember it well. We heard it on the radio down at Cannery Road in Stornoway and a local taxi driver I was chatting to exclaimed: “About time Boris did something. Anyway, it’s probably too late now.”

Not what I expected from a self-employed guy. He understood droplets though, even back then. Not everyone did then and not everyone has now. Which is why we are where we are, and any other pointless clichés you can think of to describe the mindlessness of some of our fellow citizens. Did you see… och, there’s no point in talking about it. I am guilty of the occasional bout of mindlessness myself.

Take last week, for example. That was the week I forgot Mrs X’s birthday. Now I’m being made to suffer. She’s not going to iron my pants anymore because, she says, ironing contributes to global warming. Please, Mrs – oh, and my pyjamas while you’re at it. Or would that contribute to bed warming? There is something else which I forgot to do. I completely forgot to go to the gym yesterday. That’s – oh, let me think – that’s 17 years in a row.

And more than 17 million people in a row have been vaccinated with AstraZeneca in the EU and the UK. Now the bad news. Some people do get blood clots after it. Some also get various nasty diseases and restless leg syndrome. Trawling through very high-level studies, as I have done because sometimes I become a part-time geek, it is clear these conditions would happen anyway and aren’t linked to the vaccine.

Scientists are in no doubt there is more risk in not having the vaccine – particularly now. You cannot blame governments for cautiousness but they should trust the science. If we had followed other dodgy suggestions, we would all be worse off. One prominent guy suggested we could be injected with disinfectant. Where’s he now? Maybe he did that to himself?

Everyone forgets things sometimes. Even First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has had recent problems with recall. However, Mary D, can’t forget being a hippy. I wish she would forget all that hippy-speak. Yeah man, cool man. When something is great, Mary D says it’s “groovy” and when it’s bad, it’s a “downer” or, even worse, a “bummer”. If I tell her to speak properly, she tells me to be “mellow”. Me? Me-ee?

Hippies are paranoid. In the 1960s, they used Big Brother Is Watching You from George Orwell’s 1984 as justification for their dropped-out and bohemian lifestyle. Who knows what some of them were taking – well, mainly lentils and brown rice in Mary D’s case. She went shopping with her sister the other day. Mary was no sooner in the door than she grabbed her sister’s hand and said: “Hey man, we have to go.” She said she’d had a signal to leave from Big Brother in the vegetable aisle. Her weary sister asked Mary to show her.

Mary D pointed to a handwritten sign and said: “See? It says ‘Man get out’.” Her sister sighed: “No, it doesn’t say that. It’s a type of pea. It’s called mangetout.”

Men always get in trouble for not remembering things. Murdo and his wife are a kindly couple who live on the west of Lewis. One night recently, they were awakened at 3am by someone banging their door. Murdo got up, opened the door and a wobbly fellow was standing there in the rain. The man says: “Haoi cove, any chansh of a push?” Murdo slammed the door and stomped back to bed, telling his wife it was just a drunk whose car wouldn’t start. He shouldn’t be driving in that state anyway.

His wife was appalled. “You’ve a very short memory, Murdo Mackay. Don’t you remember when we broke down in Leurbost? Those two nice Lochies helped us. Shame on you. God loves drunks, too.” Feeling guilty, Murdo got dressed again and trudged back out into the pouring rain. He shouted: “Are you still there?” “Yes, a’ bhalaich,” he heard the man say. “Do you still need a push?” asked Murdo. “Yesh I do,” came the voice out of the darkness. “Where are you?” asked Murdo. The reply came: “Over here. On the swing.”

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