When plagues meet – a lesson from history about bad blood


Here we go again. New plague. Same stigma. Gay and bisexual men have been told they cannot donate their plasma to a trial hoping to provide a treatment for COVID-19. To be clear this is not about access to treatment. It merely reinforces a discriminatory provision already in place for blood donation. Men who have […]
We will meet again: but the world has already changed


A long time ago, in another world, I was with a group of trade union colleagues in Belfast. Drink had been taken. Late in the evening, our Northern Irish colleagues just out of earshot, one of our number, Pete, commented on how remarkable they were. And how we couldn’t do what they did. Pete was […]
‘Waiting for the world to begin again’ – a letter from a plague


I know it’s been a while since my last letter. But we agreed, didn’t we, a few months before you died when I broke down in the hospital, that I’d get on with life? The thing is, 25 years after you left us, we’re in the middle of another plague. I had to let you […]
Stay at home, save lives – nothing else matters now


We’re locked down. We knew it was coming and yet when the moment came it was still deeply shocking. It made for an evening none of us who live through this crisis will ever forget. And for the vast majority of us, like none other we’ve experienced before. Or ever thought we would. If living […]
How do we survive a plague? Only connect!


Picture it. Edinburgh, the Meadows. It’s late March. Dusk. The evenings have only just lightened up again. A group of runners assembling for our Thursday session. Sidling up in dribs and drabs. Chit-chatting. Waiting for coach Alex to call us to order. ‘Thanks for rocking up’, is how he’s always started. Accompanied by knowing grins […]
How do we survive a plague? Together


For those of us who found ourselves at the heart of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, COVID-19 incites old emotions which have never been far from the surface in the intervening decades. In myriad ways, the world of 2020 is one we couldn’t have imagined back then — not least the digital connectivity we […]
Tough times and golden moments — the story of Pyllon Endeavour Two


I wasn’t there at the beginning and it’s hard to know where to start. Perhaps the best place is the bare facts about Pyllon Endeavour’s challenge, Out of the Wild, completed earlier today. Nine runners, between them, have run the entire length of the Scottish National Trail — Cape Wrath to Kirk Yetholm. That’s 102 […]
Scotland has decided it wants a different future — and we need to get there together


In the dead of election night, I polled my Twitter followers about whether my next move should be tea, coffee or gin. The result was overwhelmingly gin. A bottle, not a glass, one suggested. Intravenously, said another. But I chose tea. A strong mug of Scottish Blend. I was reminded of election night, 1987. In […]