In the past year, we have almost become used to worse news piling on bad news.
But nothing could have prepared us for the absolute hammer blow that bosses at John Lewis have decided to axe their Aberdeen store.
It was one of those, “no, that must be a mistake, surely” moments, until it sunk in that they are planning to keep the doors closed for good.
This goes far beyond just another shop tumbling to the economic devastation driven by Covid-19.
It is more than the last of the department stores to exit the heart of Aberdeen.
It is about watching the legs being cawed from under our city centre and the high hopes we have for seeing it recover once we beat back the pandemic.
John Lewis in Aberdeen is not just a good shop – one that I and thousands of others use and enjoy regularly.
It’s a statement of belief in Aberdeen as a major city, Scotland’s third-largest, and with a reach that extends far beyond its boundaries.
John Lewis in Aberdeen says, quite clearly, here is a city that is prosperous and thriving. Somewhere that is a good place to live, work and play.
It is an anchor for the heart of Aberdeen and one we have all come to know, use and depend on being there.
It never occurred to anyone that it was at risk and might disappear. It was, until last week, an idea as unthinkable as Marischal College suddenly vanishing from the landscape.
But let’s not take this lying down. We have to let the bosses at John Lewis know they are wrong. Seriously wrong.
If you haven’t already, then please, sign the petition urging them to think again.
Let’s also urge our local politicians on in their drive to ask the firm to change its mind, to look at the devastation it will wreak in Aberdeen if this goes ahead.
Longer-term we also need to join the serious debate about the future of Aberdeen’s city centre, and not just as it recovers from the pandemic.
How can we help strengthen the many strands that make the heart of the city a place we want to be?
From retail to entertainment, food and drink to housing, how can we transform and uplift the city we love.
This is not a thing to leave to others. It isn’t just for politicians and business leaders to come up with ideas and decide the course for the future.
We all need to have a say – even those who, like me, don’t even live in the city. But, like everyone else around the north-east, Aberdeen is where I spend much of my life.
That’s why I want it to be the best it can.
Before Covid-19, we were going in the right direction. The city masterplan, the work of Aberdeen Inspired, the growing cultural sector and the festivals it was creating, all pointed to a better future.
We cannot allow that vision to slip away. We need to stay the course.
First things first, we need John Lewis to be there. Please, sign the petition. And John Lewis, please don’t turn out the lights in Aberdeen.
Roll up your sleeve so we can get lives back
There was only one answer when the nice nurse asked: “Are you happy to have your vaccination today?”
“Happy? I’m absolutely ecstatic,” I said, rolling up my T-shirt sleeve as I replied.
Seconds later, I had an armful of AstraZeneca and was as happy as Larry.
A wee seat for a while and then I was on my way, with a spring in my step and a renewed hope for the future, and counting down to the booster shot.
I have to say, the whole thing was slicker than slick. I rocked up at Stonehaven Leisure Centre just before my allotted time and, after answering a few questions, was whisked straight in and was out again in a matter of minutes.
Now, I was told about the possible side-effects but, to be honest, I was just fine.
Sure, my arm was a bit sore and tender where the needle went in, but that’s to be expected.
The only other “symptom” I had was running out of steam on a 5k run and having to walk for a bit – something that never normally happens.
But that could just as easily have been down to the beers the evening before to celebrate being vaccinated.
Of course, it’s not a Get Out Of Jail Free card. All the usual cautions and measures, the distancing and sanitising are still very much in play.
But if everyone does their bit and rolls up their sleeve when the time comes, then we can get our lives back.
Lockdown makes me a big mis-spender
I have another thing to add to my list of reasons lockdown must end.
It might stop me spending money on pointless things. Boredom drove me to think my life would be better with a kimono. The one that is now just decoration in the bathroom.
And I really needed a set of double-ended measuring spoons, because the tablespoons in the drawers were not up to the task.And why not spend a ludicrous amount of money on a thermal coffee cup when I don’t go anywhere and the coffee maker is just through the house? Can we please get back to my disposable income being spent in the Marine? Thank you.