SCOTLAND’S cultural heritage is aa o a sudden hingin by a shoogley peg. We hae tae act noo tae safeguard it. In daein so, we can save lives through this crisis.

Whan ISIS went breengin through Syria, ane o their crimes wis tae ding doon, bulldoze, or just blaw up wi explosives mony o the region’s – an the warld’s – maist weel-preservit ancient religious biggins. Ceevil war in Mali gied us the ugsome sicht o flames lourin aboon the auld library in Timbuktu, whaur mony Islamic records fae the 14th – 16th century wis gaithert. Sic dunts tae regional heritage is a skaith tae aabdy. These treesures belang tae us aa.

A guid pairt o Scotland’s cultural heritage doesnae bide in ony library, archive nor fantoosh biggin. It bides in the minds o oor aulder generations.

This country cam thegither slawly. Fir hunners o years, maist Scots wad bide their hail lives inside a circle o grun aboot sax mile across. That gied generation aifter generation time tae big up a sense o theirsels an o their community that wis unco local an parteecular.

That’s how just aboot ilka wee clachan has its ain chairms, its ain stories, its ain dialects an wirds, its ain likes an dislikes, suspicions an superstitious. This is a big pairt o oor cultural heritage.

Hamish Henderson captured a skelf o aa this variety fae the 1950s. He did a pooer o wark as an oral historian, takkin doon a guid skelp o the stories an identities that makkit up the Scotland o his dey. He’d fire aboot wi his muckle tape recorder, just gettin normal fowk fae field an fairm, toon an city, tae gie him their crack. Wi this, he biggit up a kist o rare insichts intae whit Scotland is.

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The dey Covid-19 his potential tae threaten oor cultural heritage in a wey no dissimilar tae the threat ISIS or the Mali rebels posed tae African treesures.

Aulder fowk will hae tae effectively bide indoors fir the neist fower month. Thon wad be a hellish scunner o a jile sentence fir maist o us, bein sindered fae oor social netwarks fir sae lang. But fir aulder fowk it poses a greater risk nor it does tae younger generations. Bidin on yer tod wioot regular contact is a gey dangerous position fir them that’s owre 65.

The braw Campaign To End Loneliness gies us a puckle o the heidline stats. Social isolation an lonliness are waur fir yer health than obesity, an hae the same detrimental ootcomes as smoking 15 fags a dey. The rate o dementia in fowk that are lonely is miles abuin whit it is in the general feck o the population, aroon 40% higher. Mony studies concur that ye are mair likely tae dee if yer lonely. Simple as that. An there’s away tae be a wheen mair lonely aulder fowk.

Isolation is aye wi us, pairtly a symptom o the modren age. But in this virus moment, wi aulder generations haein tae bide in the hoose fir sic a lang time, the risk is aa the mair potent. We dae risk, gin we dinnae tackle isolation richt the noo an tackle it firmly, comin oot o the ither enn o this isolation period tae finn that dementia, ill health an chronic

social isolation haes tane haud o a bigger skelp o oor population than ever afore.

This wad be a cultural loss akin tae the libraries an biggins bein brocht doon by fechtin in Africa. Lettin aa the sangs, stories, saws, identities an memories o a hail generation o oor parents an grandparents slip awa wi isolation-relatit illness wad be neglectfu.

O course, its aa aboot the humans at the hairt o the culture. We can stap, or slaw doon this loss wi simple, regular phone calls. Oor first obligations are tae them nearest us. Mithers, faithers, bauchley auld uncles we mibbie dinnae loup oot oor seats tae speak tae usually. Gie them aa a bell regularly. But noo we’re aa bidin in the hoose onygates, how no expand oor efforts? There’s a wheen o services that will put volunteers in touch wi fowk at risk o social isolation. I’ll pit some details at the fit o the airticle.

See whan ye’re thinkin aboot ringin up an aulder body ye mibbie dinnae ken sae well, definitely speir at them if they’ve food in the hoose an whit like their health is an aa that. But I’d implore ye tae dig deeper. Auld yins hae seen the lot. They hae sae much gowd tae pass on, an need naethin mair than a chance tae speak tae transmit it. Speir at them aboot their youth, aboot their favourite music, dig in tae the chat.

We cannae aa be Hamish Hendersons, diligently gingin aboot Scotland an pittin on tae recordin tape aahin that the common fowk believe an say. But we can aa pick up the phone an get regular blethers in wi aulder neebors, pals, auld colleagues we ken. This is awfy important, an will save baith lives an culture. Ye can even, wi permission, record some o the chat fir future archives.

The heroes o this are aa the healthcare staff on the frontlines, an the auxiliary staff keepin aahin warkin an rinnin tae support the emergency services. My love an respect fir ilkane o ye cannae be mair sincere or ma respect mair deep. But for us wha arnae usefu at the shairp enn o combattin COVID 19, we still hae an opportunity tae yaise oor time an oor energy fir guid. The economy micht weel be gubbed. Lairnin, the airts an sport will be in a fankle fir a while. No much maist o us can dae aboot that. But we can tak ae measure tae reduce the impact o aa this on the health an culture o oor communities.

A swatch o some available services: Voluntary Action Angus (, Dundee Voluntary Action (, Forres Area Community Trust ( hae opportunities fir Telephone Befrienders, as will ither services in your area.