November 2020
“Pandemic Perspectives”
A Reflection on Ageing - Russell starts off the responses with a reflection on ageing, and virtual art & nature
"How lucky we are to have this on our doorstep" appears regularly on the Pentlands Facebook pages, and no one able to access them would disagree. I feel the same about the Edinburgh Festivals; how lucky we are to be entertained by them every summer. While my 60+-year love affair with the Pentlands has become even more vigorous this year, I know in not so many years I will lose the ability to physically caress them, and then only admire from afar. My mother tramped those same hills from childhood (as did her parents) and perhaps her greatest regret of ageing was no longer being able to visit the wild open spaces of her youth. She also was a regular concert goer but had to give up when the climb to “the gods” became as demanding as Howden Glen. She however could at least still listen in to the radio broadcasts. It has been a delight to find the various Edinburgh Festivals online, still bringing us much of what makes the city in summer. While the immersion in an event has not been the same, one of the unanticipated advantages has been to share the experience with a global audience literally hailing via the ‘chat’ function. And similarly I have been able to share the experience of, for example, the Islay Book Festival, the Fuji Rock Festival, the Oslo Jazz Festival (how lucky are the denizens of those locations to have those on their doorstep). So how can we in a similar way share the Pentlands with others in the future? How will I still visit when my legs will no longer take me? Some people are posting drone videos and giving everyone a new perspective. One of my most interesting finds in lockdown was “remote tourism” in the Faroe Islands where, with a virtual joystick, you could direct a real avatar (if not a contradiction in terms) to walk/run/jump/turn along the paths of the islands. Perhaps in a few years I will don a virtual reality headset and direct my real avatar across to Glencorse, or perhaps a little self-driving electric buggy will wheel me at a gentle pace along the high ridges that even now are a challenge. And a decent sound system would provide accompaniment from the summit of artistic endeavours in the city centre. But of course I could then go further afield. The West Highland Way? Mount Kilimanjaro? Machu Picchu? A beach in Bali? “Live like a local” would take on a new meaning, but without masks, airports, queues, language issues, sunburn, quarantine. The whole world is on my doorstep.
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Helen Boden 01