"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times " when I reflect on this line from A Tale of Two Cities it somehow makes me think of our situation today in that when I reached the "presidential chair" I was looking forward to an immediate trip to visit our friends in Canada and to join with the Jolly Beggars of Medicine Hat Burns Club as the "Chieftain for the Nicht" at their annual banquet. On our return we joined with our German colleagues to celebrate the unveiling of the "fleein' Tam" statue in the small town of Uetse just outside of Hanover.

Fast forward to Xmas and the end of December at which time we celebrated "A guid new Year" with friends and family before pitching in to the Burns' supper season.

How different are times now with the world in lock down, our scheduled events calendar decimated and opportunities to meet with friends old and new fallen by the way side. The number of people losing their own personal battle with Covid-19 continues to rise and I am sure that I echo the thoughts of everyone as I offer my condolences to the families of those affected.

At times like these the lessons of the poem To a Mouse are never very far from my thoughts:
"The best laid schemes o' mice and men, and forward though I canna see I guess and fear" are sentiments which are as relevant to the 21st Century as they were during the time of Burns' life in the 18th Century and when we consider the global impact of events which have followed since the early part of the year, bush fires, drought, flooding, people seeing their dreams and aspirations disappear at the behest of Mother Nature we are made to realise just how precarious is the position of the human race.

The important thing however is for us all to keep safe and well even if it means that the regular meetings of clubs and associations are cancelled. We must do all we can, heed the instructions and hopefully emerge from this latest crisis with a clean bill of health.

Joyce and I send our best wishes to you all and hope for a speedy resolution to this latest trial.