THIS column is virus-free so please feel free to shake its hand. And don’t worry if it sneezes on you. It’ll always wipe you down afterwards with its sleeve and say, “Excuse me”. No need to forget our manners just because there’s a war on.

I’ve lots of blitz spirit advice I want to give you – “now is a perfect time to organise your lard” – but I fear folk will say: “Hell’s bells, now even that thick bloke is throwing in his tuppence worth.”

So, I shall forbear. I’ll try to take you out of yourselves, which is the best place to be. Looking for reasons to be cheerful, I came up with this: it’s Saturday! Not much consolation if you’re working, I suppose, but for the rest of us it’s a hap-hap-happy day, ken?

The working week is done. The very air smells different. The atmosphere is easy-going. For a few fleeting moments, the fortunate few might even seem blessed. And for me, though usually one of the unfortunate many, it just got better because there’s no football on. You gasp. You splutter. Didn’t I mention only last week something about going to the footer?

I did indoodie. And I will own that I love the game. But I don’t often go to the actual matches. Such a lot of shouting and rudeness. No, I prefer watching them on the television. But that adds a trying aspect to the otherwise unalloyed joy that is Saturday.

The reason? Because I like to watch the Match of the Day highlights programme at 10:30pm. With its endless back-passing and stifling tactics, football is now a horribly dull game to watch for 90 minutes. But the technicians at Match of the Day do an excellent job of knitting together the best bits.

And just because they’re highlights doesn’t mean we want to know the scores first. Why would anyone knowingly do that? They wouldn’t go to the actual games if they knew the scores first, and it’s obviously much more exciting to watch the highlights without knowing the results of what you’re about to watch.

In the information age, it’s a struggle not to be informed. Presented with a loop, I’ve always believed the best place to be is out of it. But everywhere you look folk are shouting the scores at you. So my Saturdays are spent on edge.

You can’t go into shops selling televisions or computers as they might have the scores on the screens. You have to ignore phone calls from your mates unless you tell them to shut up before they start speaking (about 92.8 per cent of our conversations relate to football).

You can’t listen to live radio broadcasts of Scottish games because the presenter keeps updating you on the scores from England (Match of the Day is English football). Why is he doing that? Doesn’t he know anything about football fans?

News websites are a no-no because they’ll often put the score from a big match on the home page. You also have to avoid folk’s twitter accounts (I’m not on Twitter, but I spy on people’s accounts; it’s very satisfying). In effect, you have to self-isolate electronically.

Even before the highlights come on, the preceding programme is the news, and they’ll often end that with a sports bulletin, complete with the scores of games that are about to come on. Bizarre. BBC Alba caught me out with that before a Scottish match a few weeks ago. That’s the worst of it: you often manage to get through the whole day before falling at the last minute.

Some of you might remember the famous Likely Lads episode, where Bob and Terry spend all day trying to avoid the score – not knowing the game has been postponed.

Well, all the games are postponed now, which will make my Saturdays a lot less stressful. Enjoy your own days, folks. And remember to apologise if you sneeze on anyone.

Way to go

I PROMISE not to mention the virus again, other than to point out that one good thing about it is that it has made us all think a lot more about death.

I don’t want to sound controversial, but I can say categorically that I am against death. Terrible business. And it always has been, as a list of causes of deaths in 1632 from English parishes illustrates.

Recently doing the rounds on Twitter, it records 10 cases of “cancer and wolf”, 18 of “executed and prest to death”, and 13 of “tympany”, which my researchers tell me – though they admit to guessing – is something to do with wind, though more often associated with ruminant animals.

Twelve died of “French pox” (syphilis; all together now, “Racist!”), 13 from “Planet” (which seems to have been illness attributed to movement of the planets; what clots these people were), and one from being “affrighted”, poor soul. However, most sympathy went to the sole death from “piles”. That was a bummer.

Animal magic

OK, now I’m freaked out. You will recall that last week’s bombshell column reported various normally horrendous animals becoming tame and liking absolutely nothing more than a good cuddle, usually after being reared or saved by humans.

Lions, tigers, birds of prey, creatures that are by any objective standard evil, turn out enjoy nothing more than a good snuggle.

And, in that vein, now I’ve seen it all: a shark showing affection to a man. Its eyes actually roll with pleasure as the chap (a diver) greets and strokes it. It’s been going on for 20 years ever since the bloke removed some hooks from the beast.

More and more, I’m beginning to feel that all creatures are trapped in roles that maybe they didn’t or wouldn’t want – killing other creatures to survive themselves in a system devised by a sadistic god.

But something profound is now going on, presaging perhaps a new relationship between humans and animals. There’s growing evidence that it’s definitely happening: a world in which all the creatures get on. Wouldn’t that be marvellous?

My Dirk secret

I’VE complained before about being a Robert because it induces multiple personality. One is (deep breath) Robert, Robbie, Rob, Rab, Rabbie, Bob, Bobby, and Bertie. Rabbie is usually lobbed at me by bairns, Rob by English friends trying to civilise me, Rab by Scottish pals ensuring I don’t get ideas above my station, and Bertie by fellow fans (two) of PG Wodehouse.

The whole thing is a thundering nuisance. You should just get one name and that’s the end of it. I’d much rather have been christened Dirk or Aragorn, but what can you do?

The National Records of Scotland has revealed that Jack was the most popular name for boys and Sophie for girls in the decade to 2019. Fine monikers both.

I’m not so sure, however, about Phenomenal, Excel, and Legend. A lot to live up to there. And then there were 17 Odins, one Thor and a Zeus. What if they turn out to be wimps with high-pitched voices?

Nowt as strange as parents, I’m afraid. Next year, I’m convinced we’ll see several Coronas and at least one Lockdown.