It’s clear that Dr Jason Leitch, the Government’s clinical director, isn’t a football fan. Either that or he supports Albion Rovers, which is the same thing.

It’s OK to sit in an enclosed space, like a pub or a cinema without a mask but you can’t go to a game in the open air, even in a mask and socially distancing.

I appreciate that you can’t design policies that cover every business and eventuality, but football, with some of the lower league clubs on the cusp of bankruptcy through reliance on matchday crowds, needs special measures.

So, Jason, if you step aside here’s what we’ll do. There will be two or three seats between each punter and two rows between. Every fan will have to wear a mask and they’ll have to turn up, at latest, 90 minutes before the game so that they can all have their temperatures taken by the infrared thermometer, like the one used on me in a hotel in London last Sunday.

Yes, this will reduce capacity. It will be season-ticket holders only. Where the number of seasons bought, like for Celtic and Rangers, is greater than the new capacity, then attendance will be sequenced or balloted.

Obviously there will be no cuddling when your team scores but the usual swearing will be allowed, which will be substantially muffled by the masks. Away fans will be encouraged to get together on Zoom to record chants and ditties to be played when their team is in possession and, of course, abuse of the referee will be mandatory.

Surly masked stewards, like now, will patrol the aisles but they will also be issued with fire extinguishers containing high-pressure red dye – and any transgressors will be sprayed and thus identified retrospectively if necessary.

Over arch-ing

The venerable Archie Macpherson, former TV football professor and lifelong Labour man, waded into the Scottish party, or the nostalgic cult as he called it, to slide tackle the “invisible man”, second only in difficulty to getting the ball off Jimmy Johnstone. Erch was referring to leader Richard Leonard.

I don’t know if Leonard knows anything about football, certainly not compared to Archie, but he’s one up on him at the top. He has a fine head of hair. Possibly Archie did too, in the mists of time, but today a billiard ball is hirsute by comparison. Most of us remember him from his TV days sporting an elaborate comb-over, which someone said appeared to start in his oxters. That was cruel, and I shouldn’t have said it.

I have a fondness for him since, in a commentary about a Bayern Munich game, he called the striker Roy Makaay, Ron McKay. Twice. I have witnesses. Unfortunately, I didn’t score.

Quote of the week

From the young Irish writer and musician Séamas O’Reilly, originally from Derry now living in London and comparing there to here. “It’s this sense of political unseriousness that seems the most marked difference between the two places, and it says less about the “enviable beauty” of Ireland’s system than about Britain’s further slide into a fact-averse, consequence-free banana republic of malevolent toffs.”

First world problem

Don’t tell me machines don’t talk to each other and conspire against you. I have both a Beko washing machine and dishwasher, bought at roughly the same time (but as the past is another country to me I could be wrong about the chronology). Both decided to leak simultaneously, but at first just a few dribbles so I didn’t notice. This obviously wasn’t coincidence but a joint obsolescence decision between them. They’d had enough. It wasn’t until the wood floor began to stain and buckle that I twigged what they were up to. Still, the upside is that I have a wood supply to last me through winter, once it dries out.

Dragon on

Elon Musk’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is due to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida today and return two Nasa astronauts to Earth after 64 days. Well at least they missed lockdown.

Possibly in an attempt to muscle in on publicity, Richard Branson, who would turn up at the opening of an envelope if there was a TV crew in attendance, once more boasted during the week about his Virgin Galactic operation, where 600 of the world’s uber-rich have paid $250,000 a head for a two-and-half-hour trip to the edge of space and experience six minutes of weightlessness.

Obviously none of them have ever been in one of his trains.

The hype has been endless, starting when the company was formed in 2004. Four years later he was saying: “Let’s go 20 years forward, if all of this goes to plan, I hope that we will have a hotel in space; and in that hotel I hope we will have small spaceships that can go around the Moon – an excursion.”

In 2013, he was predicting the first passenger trip would be on Christmas Day of that year and that he’d be on board. “Maybe I’ll dress up as Father Christmas,” he declared.

In the event no white bearded figure in a red jumpsuit was spotted spinning across the firmament.

Tragically, a year later, the VSS Enterprise went where one should do and crashed during a flight over the Mojave Desert, killing one of its pilots. Undaunted, Branson commissioned the VSS Unity, which was given a virtual tour a few days ago so those who had paid up could see where their money went.

Then, in October 2017, he was promising again. “We are hopefully about three months before we are in space, maybe six months before I’m in space.”

That’s now nine years behind schedule.

If the Crew Dragon lands successfully today, conditions permitting, then it will pave the way for space tourism. Musk’s company SpaceX plans to send Japanese fashion billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and a group of artists to the Moon in 2023, and given the company’s successful track record it will probably happen. Doubtless there will be fashion shoot on the Moon’s surface.

Leave it alone

Back here on Earth, if it isn’t badgers on the points it’s leaves on the line causing the latest rail delay or cancellation. According to new research, it’s the lack of friction between steel and steel when leaves are on the track which forms a black layer, and the friction between wheel and line is reduced.

Apparently, leaf tannins grab onto the iron and a kind of black ice is created. These tannins are the kind which make wine dry, although it is advisable not to lick the line.

This all comes from a team of researchers headed by a professor at the University of Sheffield. Except, well, they didn’t actually compare the black material they made in the lab to the stuff recovered from rail tracks, so they can’t rule out other factors contributing to the slippery conditions.

Hey, but at least they got well paid.