COVID-19 could not have affected the custodians of our greatest national treasure, the Highland Show, at a worse time.

The proud organisation that is RHASS (the Royal Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland) was looking to this year to square up the books after a high investment, high spend year in 2019. Following a 'profit' of £618,000 in 2018, this past year it went into the red to the tune of £714,000 – which is a swing of more than £1.3m. Now that was all fine and dandy had this year's show been the success it had planned to be – but for Covid-19!

This puts the show somewhat on a war footing – and in a war, there will be casualties, including a slow down in investment spend. Luckily, the new grand pavilion that is the 'members' area' is all finished, but again, RHASS could have done with the income that it was expected to generate to help pay the bills on that one.

With the Royal Highland Show being this industry's most iconic event, ramifications for agriculture as a whole from this pandemic are just coming home to roost. Sadly, it does not look as if things are going to heal over for the rest of this year.

Kelso Ram Sales has been cancelled, some of the larger shows will be facing their own financial limitations and the pronouncements this week that Scots could be living with face masks in enclosed spaces for at least until the end of this year, does not bode well for the two big winter events here, LiveScot and AgriScot. There is, though complicated by other events, the possibility that both could be held very early in 2021 if any bans extend 'to the end of 2020'.

What is certain, though, is that the industry needs 'real' events to cheer it up. Virtuality is all very well, but this is a lonely enough business without the removal of some of its favourite business and social events. There needs to be something for the boys from the hills to meet up with the dairy farmers from the lands of milk and honey ... 'or we'll all go daft,' as one wag told me this week.

But the spectre remains that we might not even have full freedom of movement in 2021. It's too early yet to say, but another year without a show, and ...?

Light relief

LIGHT RELIEF has been few and far between, but we can laugh at ourselves for this one.

As with everything these days, the digital world is taking over, especially in the publishing world where we live and die by the digi-click count. As part of a large and varied multi-media organisation, Newsquest, we are obliged from time to time to host incoming 'hot' stories on our website.

This click-bait is usually studiously ignored by our readership, but this week one that made me laugh when it went to the top of the charts. It was: 'Beauty salons to reopen, but no face waxing or eyelash treatments allowed'. Never knew there were so many hairy farmers out there in need of attention!