VAN Morrison joins Ian Brown, Roger Daltrey and Noel Gallagher in a kind of supergroup of Covid deniers. He’s putting out three lockdown protest songs, the lyrics of one sate: “No more lockdown/No more government overreach” and “No more fascist bullies/Disturbing our peace.” And Brown, who has never had a firm grip on reality, similarly a note, apparently thinks when the vaccine arrives it will just be a plot to implant chips into us to make as docile and subservient to the government.

I’ve seen Van many times and have most of his albums. But I wouldn’t go to him or Gallagher for medical advice any more than I’d go to my GP for a classic album. It’s rumoured he’s also reworking some of his classic tracks, No Guru, No Method, No Mask surely? Cleaning Windows (no hand sanitiser). The Way That Young Lovers Don’t on the album Lockdown Weeks?

Oscar winner

Oscar Marzaroli photographed Scotland, and Glasgow in particular, in all its grandeur and squalor. With an unerring, unsentimental eye, the instinctive capture of a moment which would live in the memory of those who saw it, said more about the time than those fabled thousand words could ever do. His most famous shot is of the Castlemilk Lads, taken on the estate in 1963, three of them prominent, one, with ruffled hair looking away to the left of the frame, his pal, chin on his shoulder, staring pugnaciously into the lens. The snapper Robert Perry brilliantly recreated the shot with the same three, now old men, in the same pose.

Marzaroli was the child of Italian immigrants fleeing fascism who settled in Garnethill in Glasgow. In 1954, when he was 21, he spent a year being treated for TB at a sanatorium in Kingussie, where he read voraciously – the classic authors, the Russian greats, Rabelais, Voltaire, Camus, Burns and Shakespeare. The influence on his photograph he credited to the artist Joan Eardley and her pictures of Glasgow street kids. His photographic influences were Cartier-Bresson, Bill Brandt and Edward Steichen.

In a host of favourites pictures I’d pick out one taken in John Brown’s yard on the Clyde in 1966, of a man, small in the photograph, standing at the end of a long crane or gantry, the river and the city spread out below in all its grimy beauty. There’s a Marzaroli exhibition on at the marvellous Street Level Photoworks gallery in Glasgow’s Trongate until the end of the year. It’s one to return to. The gallery has just had its Glasgow council grant cut so you could also think about chipping in a pound or two.

Lovely Rita

A BURIED treasure. I appreciate I am some leagues behind the cultural curve but trawling Netflix (why doesn’t someone publish a guide to streaming services?) I came across a hidden Scandi series called Rita. Hidden to me at least.

It’s not in the slightest noir, it’s about a fiery, sexy, subtle and uncompromising teacher, her (sex) life, family, and the problems that all teachers must face in the classroom. It’s funny, it’s wise and Rita, or rather the actress Mille Dinesen, strolls through the show in her tight jeans, plaid shirts and leather jacket utterly dominant. I just don’t get that she could possibly fall for an obsessive compulsive who walks around in shorts. It just be a Danish thing.

The fifth season has just ended in Denmark and there won’t be any more. Fortunately, I still have one or two to go.

Pass the spray

IF you are even passingly interested in Scottish football, its strange and twisted past, it’s heroes and eejits, then you should be a subscriber to Nutmeg magazine, issue 17 of which is out now. Alastair McKay described it thus: “The new @NutmegMagazine is out. It smells like samba night at the Ochil Tree Bar, Stenhousemuir, with Forfar bridies and Dundee pehs, all doused in Brazilian hot sauce.”

This from the man who thought Sydney Devine’s house smelled of s***e, until later when he realised he had trailed in dog poo on his shoe.

It’s in the air

FORGET the joy of six – we’re heading for another lockdown, aren’t we? Or perhaps a growing series of local ones so that the only remaining free places are cricket pitches and grouse moors? The coronavirus figures are on the rise again, the test-and-trace programme is a shambles, and the suppression measures are inadequate.

I’ve just returned from a mini-tour of Italy, travelling internally by train from Bergamo – Lombardy was the epicentre of the outbreak and almost 17,000 died – to Parma, Florence, Naples and Rome, with a few digressions and fuelling stops. Almost everywhere temperatures were taken, going into shops and bars, even at the entrance to mainline stations, immediately before boarding inter-city trains. On some of them, armed police patrolled the corridors to see if everyone was wearing a mask.

We know how Covid spread initially. The infection began in Wuhan, probably in a wet food market, in early January. Around seven million people left the city before travel was restricted, but as the outbreak spread across China international travel continued.

Tens of thousands of people left China and, according to researchers, 85% of those who were infected were undetected, spreading the infection first to 30 cities and 26 countries, then local infections took over.

It’s pointless rehashing the failures of the UK Government measures – initially the Scottish Government was in lockstep – which continue to this day. But you might think that international travel, which initially spread the virus, would be under particular scrutiny and subject to stringent safety measures.

Not so. We flew back from Rome’s Ciampino airport to Prestwick last Saturday night. On a Ryanair flight. No temperatures were taken there or on arrival. More than that – the flight was jam-packed, elbow to elbow, although everyone was wearing a mask.

Why is it that on intercity travel in the UK there is social distancing, and passengers not sitting next to each other unless they are family, which clearly doesn’t apply on flights?

This wasn’t essential travel. It was booked before the virus arrived and as a present to me. Initially, we were going in May and would take in football matches, but the pandemic postponed that. We could have decided not to go but my boy would have lost the money spent on flights and travel. So we went.

I tweeted about it and got a barrage of criticism, possibly deserved, ranging from being called a wimp to deserving everything that I get, the subtext being it was a criticism of the Scottish Government and to the Nat loons that was impermissible.

On Friday, at her BBC-resumed press conference, Nicola Sturgeon likened the present situation as being on the same trajectory as France, if possibly a month behind, and “if we do nothing we could see an exponential growth”.

Well, doing something would be to ensure that all air travellers are tested and that the same rules about numbers, distancing and bubbles apply in the air as they do on the ground.