I’VE just read the comment in Thursday’s National by Nicola Sturgeon (We are going to have to get used to living our lives differently). I have one question: “In what way exactly?”

You see, over the last couple of weeks I have “self-isolated” as much as possible. However, as a pensioner living on state pension and pension credits only, I see very little difference.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Coronavirus will see us living our lives differently

For years now I have had to budget carefully. This has meant working out my meals, for the week, in advance and then going to the supermarket just once a week – usually on a Saturday or sometimes on Sunday after church – and buying only what I need.

I can’t afford to go to the pub or to the bingo, and the cinema and theatre have been out of my budget for many years now. My entire social life consists of a short chat with the check-out operator at Morrison’s or Aldi, and a 10-minute conversation with a couple of the members of the church congregation just before the Sunday service starts.

READ MORE: ‘I was shocked to find out I am considered vulnerable’

OK, I’ve stopped going to church, but the only worry I have in that respect is that I usually make a contribution to the local food bank, via the church, on the last Sunday of each month. I’ll now have to find some other way of doing that at least until I am able to return to the church. My family all live quite far away, so I can’t depend on them to do my shopping.

I live in “pensioners’ housing” so all my neighbours are in the same boat. Thus, I will still have to get my food in when I need it.

I will also have to collect my repeat prescription, although that isn’t going to be needed for a couple of weeks.

As far as I can see, the only change is that instead of leaving my house for about six hours each week, I will now leave it for about 1.5 hours every fortnight and I will be wearing a surgical mask when I do. I hope I will continue to be allowed to do that – otherwise I’ll probably have to starve myself, unless some sort of provision is going to be made to have small orders of groceries delivered. Most places will only deliver for orders over £20, or something like that.

Alas, this situation is typical of what a high percentage of pensioners experience as their reality. Gone are the days when you had a chat over the garden fence about your roses or cabbages. Most gardens are now covered in concrete slabs and most folks only go into the garden to put out the rubbish or recycling. When I was a kid we all knew all our neighbours both up and down the street, and they all spoke to each other. Today, after living in this house for about 12 years, I know about five of my immediate neighbours. Everyone else just gets a nod if they happen to be getting in their car at the same time as I’m getting in mine.

So, for most pensioners, self-isolation will just be a continuation of what we’ve all been used to.

Little difference there then!

Charlie Kerr

TO be honest, like many I’m absolutely scunnered with the exhausting and extensive coverage the media is delivering to deal with our current crisis. You can’t pick up a paper or turn on the television without being swamped. The media in all its forms is giving us useful information but is also exciting the population into an unprecedented frenzy of selfishness and greed, and detrimentally effecting morale and our blood pressure!

In Thursday’s 40-page National only pages 14 (half advert), 15 (advert), 19 (USA presidency) 22 (advert), 32 (puzzle page) and 36 (Rangers story) were coronavirus-free.

I’m not suggesting we ignore the advice. It is clearly helpful. And reading stories of good neighbours helping the more vulnerable is heart-warming. But please, scour the country to find more good news, coronavirus-free, and entertaining stories that will divert us, all be it briefly, from the challenges we face.

Robin MacLean
Fort Augustus