First, the stark, eye-popping fact: almost 100,000 people in Scotland could lose their jobs by the end of the year as the Covid crisis bites more deeply.
That assessment, by Gary Gillespie, the Scottish Government’s chief economist, reckons unemployment may peak at around 8.2 per cent by the close of this year and once the furlough scheme ends.
But wait, Henry McLeish, former first minister and ex-part-time football player, has called for a Scottish Government rescue package for the game’s 42 clubs, insisting many of them could “fall off the edge”.
They have a “great history”, he says.
But worth saving in these critical times?
It was at the turn of the 20th Century that a large number of football clubs were formed in Scotland, around the time Queen Victoria paid her last visit to Balmoral and William McGonagall popped his clogs.
As an aside, you may be interested to learn that the demented poet died in September 1902, less than a year after the Queen. Thankfully for the nation, he had time to compose 14 funereal stanzas in her honour, one of which was:
The people around Balmoral will shed many tears, Owing to her visits amongst them for many years; She was very kind to the old, infirm women there, By giving them provisions and occasionally a prayer.
It was said Willie had a flair. Clearly not for poetry.
It was an era when counting the mice running across the floor was what doubled as entertainment for the poverty-stricken in our communities.
Little football clubs sprang up to offer working-class men something to take their minds off their miserable lives for a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon.
A hundred years and more later, however, leisure pursuits have become more sophisticated and I wonder if McLeish’s “fall off the edge” warning will have the masses shouting: “We can’t have that.”
In the midst of the pandemic, McLeish suggests the taxpayer, through government, should bail out football, which leads me to believe he may have lost sight of priorities here.
When death, illness, job losses, an economic crash and the trauma they bring stare us in the face, where does saving a few football clubs sit on the list of priorities?
While McLeish takes the view that Nicola Sturgeon should lift the ban on fans watching football inside stadia in order to keep clubs financially alive, he and all those who follow our national sport must accept our minds are on more important matters.
Puzzling out the route to reach Covid test centre
Do you live in or around Aberdeen and need a Covid test?
Well, set off early for your appointment because you’ll have a job finding it.
The test centre, the website states, is at Aberdeen Airport; except it’s not.
It’s at a car park on the opposite side, close to the site of the original airport, which closed when Douglas Bader was a lad.
Men sit at decoy “diversion” signs on either side of the test centre.
Cones placed alongside them to prevent traffic from entering that part of the road instruct obedient drivers like me towards a rather bleak industrial estate.
Discard the “diversion” instructions. Head straight for the man in the chair because just beyond him is the centre, although you’d never know.
Mind you, when you reach it, you’ll be lucky to see another car, presumably because they’re all being driven around trying to find the place.
Meanwhile, we hear that the Louisa Jordan NHS hospital in Glasgow, is to shut.
It cost us £43m for it – £31m to set it up at the Scottish Events Campus and £15m to run it – and now we’re told the £430,000 contract to manage its decommissioning has gone to an American engineering firm.
No Covid-19 patients have been treated there and, despite the expected winter spike, it seems none will.
Question remains over lockdowns
Aberdeen’s political leaders were right to ask the question of Nicola Sturgeon: “Would you share the official advice over why we were put in lockdown while Glasgow was not when it experienced a similar pub-based Covid cluster?” Answer came there none.
Well, not if you describe lecturing Aberdeen on the query being politically motivated as an explanation.
The closest the First Minister came to addressing the actual question was that “we took action in both cities we thought was appropriate”.
What she should have said was: “I refuse to tell you what was the official advice.”