Shona Cook

Edinburgh/East Lothian

Soon as Nicola permitted, I fled the one-bed, top-floor Edinburgh tenement, airy eyrie in a vibrant city turned office-prison-midden, for my folks’ house, feet in the ground and a hop from the sea. Alone three months, more, distance worn as razor-feathered wings, a hug smashed me, left me foam, quivering on the shoreline. Empty mornings, toes pressed in sand, beachcombing soothing seething news, breathing scents of seaweed and hand sanitiser, I revelled in spaces stretching endless and pieced myself together, retreating before joyous families arrived in search of lost holidays, returning at dusk.

Things to keep: A world stolen back for birdsong from engine drone. Showing low-paid and low-skilled are not synonymous. Rediscovering books as shields from the tyranny of screens. Reconnecting drifting friendships. Valuing shop workers for their humanity and fighting the slide to lonely self-checkout.