I WENT for a pint the other day after work. As red-letter days go, it's not up there with getting married, having your first child or quitting your job to travel the world on a penny farthing but it still felt significant.

All our lives have been turned inside out in the last year and a half and the commonplace – seeing friends and family, going to an office to work with other people, visiting the cinema – has become quite exotic.

During the darkest days of the lockdowns, I'd walk past shuttered bars in Glasgow with signs on the doors warning that No Stock Remains on the Premises and wonder if they would ever open again. If the world could go back to normal.

So it felt incredibly freeing to be able to walk into a favourite Hope Street pub. OK, there was still the rigmarole of signing in like a prison visitor but there was no need to book, something I never could get my head around. You book a restaurant, an MoT or a flight to Spain. You don't book a pub. It's just not natural.

Of course, you still have to wear a mask if you dare venture to the toilet – something that I can't believe anyone thinks is necessary – but it's a step in the right direction.

Inevitably some pubs, drowning in debt, won't wipe down their tables, switch on their fridges and reopen. They will simply, quietly and without fuss, shut down.

You may think: so what? If they shut maybe a coffee bar or a hair salon will take their place.

Well, I think it does matter. Pubs are part of a nation's fabric as much as museums and parks. They are a space where people can come together. OK, the dustman and the doctor probably don't trade drams at your local but they could share the same space as equals on a Saturday night. And that's got to be worth something in this age of social media isolation and political divides.

Then there's the jobs. From bar staff, to draymen, to those in hotels, distilleries and bottling plants, the hospitality industry supported 150,000 jobs, according to the Scottish Government. That's a lot of people.

Now, I've got friends and colleagues who still avoid pubs. Who wonder if they are safe. That's understandable. The virus is a terrible thing but the half-life we've been sentenced to is no life at all.

Scotland is opening gradually. We are not throwing all the rules out in one go in a Boris Johnson fashion – one that courts disaster in the land of pints of tasteless bitter. But sometimes, just sometimes, we have to give ourselves a shake and get our lives back.

Who knows, maybe I'll see you in the pub one day soon. I might even buy you a pint of Old Normality.

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