After wishing, waiting and wanting for more than two grinding years, we finally have normality back in our lives.
And, yes, my mask was off as soon as the legal requirement to keep it on was lifted.
True confession, though, it did feel weird walking through the hallowed halls of the Journals Towers without a face covering. Almost like I had wandered into the office and forgotten to put trousers on.
But, that sense of something being out of kilter with reality only lasted as long as it took me to get to my desk.
It was swiftly overtaken by the realisation that my specs hadn’t steamed up and, gosh, look, I can see people smiling at me as they say good morning. Which is nice.
So far, I’ve only had one moment of standing up and reaching for a mask that isn’t there before thinking: “Nope, not needed.” There is a tangible sense of liberation in that, which goes beyond ditching the minor inconvenience of wearing a face covering.
The worst is behind us
This feels, for the first time, like the worst of the pandemic is finally behind us. That all the hardships and sacrifices have been worth it and we can breathe easily again. Get on with life again.
Now, it does need to be said that there will still be times when I will cover up. After all, the X7 to Stoney is rarely without someone coughing or spluttering. So, in those circumstances, a mask makes sense. There will be other times, too, no doubt.
I am fully aware that other folk will want to be cautious and follow Nicola Sturgeon’s strong advice to keep wearing a mask. That is to be respected.
But, personally, I feel a real sense of relief that it is now a decision for me to make. For the most part, I will choose to go without.
It’s time to get things back to normal. However, ditching the mask is just one part of that – because normality is a thing we all need to work on together.
What we need now is collective confidence. The confidence to get back out into the world and enjoy the things we have missed for so long, but also to support the people who have missed out so badly.
Choose local and give back
Let’s get back into the restaurants, shops, pubs and theatres. And, when we do that, let’s make sure we choose local.
Don’t forget that these local businesses did their best to make our lives better and easier during lockdown
Our homegrown retail, entertainment and hospitality industries have taken an absolute hiding during the pandemic. Some have vanished, many have teetered, but all now need our help in getting back on their feet.
Don’t forget that these local businesses did their best to make our lives better and easier during lockdown. They found innovative ways to keep us entertained, to still allow us to enjoy a fine meal and great drinks – all to make the dark days of the pandemic just that little less bleak.
It is time for us to pay that back in the only way that makes a tangible difference – by getting our bums on their seats and spending our money with the people who live and work here and who make our communities so much better for everyone.
We are now free to make choices, so let’s choose to help those who helped us.
Scott Begbie is entertainment editor for The Press & Journal and Evening Express