On this 29th February, the likes of which we won’t see for another oooh, well, four years, do we have a spring in our step as we walk into a bright new future, or are we limping into near-total shut-down of social life in the face of Coronavirus? It wouldn’t be the worst thing to cut out casual travel around the world, it would give the natural environment a break. It might even get us to re-discover neighbours and the neighbourhood. Problem is, of course, it would seriously mess with our too-long food supply chains, and other things, producing a serious economic downturn, and we all know who suffers most when that happens.

There’s a moral panic with the arrival of any new sickness, as veterans of the arrival of HIV know only too well. In this country we have got it down to more or less manageable proportions, but that certainly isn’t the case everywhere in the world. We’ll have to see how the arrival of Coronavirus goes. At the time of writing, my guess is that the genie is out of the bottle, and it will enter the general population and will quickly become primarily a public health issue, with medical treatment coming into it further down the line. The reason for this fairly straightforward progress is the people who are affected – everyone, especially “innocent” travellers – and the means of transmission – breathing. This is in stark contrast to the people who were affected by HIV – predominantly gay men in the first phase – and the means of transmission – gay sex and later needle-sharing in the course of using illegal drugs. Both groups were ostracised minorities acting surreptitiously. This will be different.

In other news, I’m planning a programme of tours in the Leith Festival (13 – 21 June) and the Fringe in August. I have a few book gigs coming up: Leith library on 30 March at 6.00 pm and at Lauriston Castle on 15 September at 10.30 am. And I’m upping my comms capacity with a Facebook page and a Twitter account. I won’t say I’m not a little nervous about this, but I reluctantly appreciate it has to be done. I wasn’t brought up in the digital world. It doesn’t come easy.