College Life at Home: David Milne, Estates Team Leader

In this update from our College Life at Home series Estates Team Leader David Milne opens up about the issues he has faced throughout his time in lockdown.

Since January 2011 I decided to write my memoirs in regards to growing up in a single parent household and highlight the people who helped shape/influence and teach me the life skills that I would need to make my mark in life. March 20, 2020 interrupted my writing juices because the Covid-19 pandemic was about to change my life and that of my family and friends.

As stated, March 20 was the day West Lothian College closed its doors not knowing when it would re-open. Only thing on my mind that week was a surprise party for John Mckay who was retiring after 40+ years and we wanted to give him a great send off as he entered a new chapter in his life, but sadly that was cancelled till a later day.

When we closed the doors my initial thinking was it would only be for a couple of weeks till the experts got it sorted and life would return to normal with me gaining two free weeks off work.

It was during the early days that I started following the news channels to see what was happening because I didn’t fully understand the seriousness of what was about to hit us. Things started to get serious when I watched Nicola Sturgeon announce that we were going into lockdown with the very minimum being leaving the house for food only.

I became obsessed with watching the news channels, hearing daily death tolls almost reaching 600 was something I struggled to understand or come to terms with. 

Going to the shops, queuing for about 40 minutes only to find most of the shelves empty, it felt like Britain had overnight become a third world country. 

As the death rate started to climb to 900 and lockdown restriction got even tighter with people starting to lose their jobs, my son Daniel and his girlfriend lost their jobs during a phone call telling them they were being made redundant.

Life was fast becoming scary, it was like a bad B-movie only it was real life. I was constantly following news channels trying to get as much positive information as I could, but there was none. 

Going to the shops I started staying in my car meaning my wife was the only person I would allow in my company, I was that obsessed with avoiding anyone/everyone.  

The first week in lockdown wasn’t a concern, but suddenly things started to deteriorate quickly, only thing on the news was the death toll which seemed to be going higher as each day passed. 

The last two weeks of April was the time I decided to avoid all news channels because what I was hearing was having a negative impact on me. I wasn’t sleeping properly and I wasn’t talking to anyone. Days, weekends, time meant nothing, I couldn’t tell you what day it was never mind what the time was. 

I can safely say that almost all of my life I’ve been a very positive individual, life and sole of the party, the go to man if you had any problems, and I found myself a little lost in knowing what to do next. 

The call to start doing maintenance checks couldn’t have come at a better time because it hurts to say it, but I was a bit lost. No grandkids to cuddle, no football to watch, no betting allowed, couldn’t visit my sister.

Recently I’ve been helping my wife deliver lunch food parcels to the vulnerable kids, about 20 a day Mon-Fri for a couple of hours, and doing maintenance checks on Thursdays. I’m now back on track. My head is now full of positivity, reading bed time stories to my grandkids on FaceTime, karaoke night on Zoom, singing or dancing compilation, which I’ll say from the off I sing like a knackered bird and dance like a brick. 

I’ve never thought about or fully understood mental health until recently, it creeps up and gets a grip when you least expect it, too much bad news in that short period isn’t a good idea. 

Hearing that five kids in the Lothians have taken their own lives as well fills me with heartache and sadness, the unseen casualties of Covid-19. 

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