IT has been a week for double acts. On Monday we had Vallance and Whitty, the world’s worst Two Ronnies impersonators, appearing for one short press conference only, no questions, in Downing Street. They arrived not wearing masks and left sporting them, which was as perfect an illustration of the chopping and changing of expert advice that you could wish for.

On Tuesday evening came Johnson and Sturgeon. An odd one this, with the participants appearing apart, each in their own five minute segment. Creative differences, perhaps.

Certainly the optics varied. Mr Johnson went for the clear desk look. Sans paper, and some might say sans clue. His Downing Street background was the same as when he last performed this gig in March: a soft light in the room beyond, speaking of hope, hearth, or someone who doesn’t pay his own electricity bill and had left the lamps on again.

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Ms Sturgeon, new to the timeslot but not to public addresses, dared to have a little set dressing in the form of a rather nice vase filled with Spring flowers. I expect the vase will sell out today. Behind her was a sign language interpreter and what looked like a giant white board, on which presumably the First Minister’s next moves would later be charted. Her suit was blue. Royal blue.

Both Prime Minister and First Minister, though the content of their hymn sheets differed here and there, were singing the same familiar tune. At first it was hard to get a handle on what it was.

“Though it doesn’t feel like it now, this virus will pass,” said Ms Sturgeon. “It won’t last forever and one day, hopefully soon, we will be looking back on it, not living through it … Let’s keep going, try to keep smiling, keep hoping and keep looking out for each other.”

And from Mr Johnson: “Never in our history has our collective destiny and our collective health depended so completely on our individual behaviour … If we follow these simple rules together, we will get through this winter together.”

Keep smiling through, never in our history, we will survive. Were they inspired by Vera Lynn, the Queen, or Gloria Gaynor? Probably the Queen. How did it go again? “We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.” Ye cannae beat the original.

Like Budgets that are celebrated on the day, I suspect the broadcasts of Mr Johnson and Ms Sturgeon will not age well, despite the best intentions of both.

Call me naive but I believe that politicians, for all their faults, try to do the best they can in the circumstances they are given. Yet it would be a mad, dangerous old world indeed if we did not question their actions, especially when those actions are failing. If it was otherwise, we would not be ready to roll the lockdown dice again.

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That is not quite true. We are doing the same again, but only half as much. Some people – those exempt from the “no visiting at home” rule – are only partially locked down. Everyone else in Scotland, tough. Those days when you didn’t speak to another soul for days, they’re back.

Still, we must not grumble (there is not actually a law against it but it is early days …). We are all in this together, as Ms Sturgeon and Mr Johnson were at pains not to say. Except of course we are not. Some have had the virus or lost loved ones to it. Others have had treatments for other conditions interrupted or halted. Many have lost jobs, or suffered in other ways. We are not all equal in the face of this virus, and some of the new rules, like the old, will only exacerbate those differences.

Those who can afford it, for example, will get round the household visit ban by treating loved ones to a restaurant meal. Those who cannot, wrap up well because you will all be spending a lot of time in parks. Got a garden? Invest in a patio heater. Live in a flat? Dig out the thermals, it’s the park again.

What irks most is not that we are here again. C’est la vie, c’est la guerre against viruses. It is the suggestion that it is somehow all our fault. Yet the vast majority abided by the rules. We took the warnings so seriously, and kept to the rules so assiduously, that many became afraid to leave the house. We had to be bribed with our own money into going out for cut price meals.

Compliance was our job. Our side of the bargain to keep. The to do list of governments across the UK included, among other tasks, to stop the virus getting into care homes; to set up a test and trace regime, “world-beating” or not, as long as it worked as required; to protect the NHS; and to save lives. At the first two they failed. The third test, protecting the NHS, they passed, at what cost we are still calculating. The fourth is open to debate. How many more lives could have been saved if governments had kept their eyes on the ball?

You did not need to be a virologist to see a second wave coming. Yet the very systems meant to head off a second wave have not been working as they should. In Scotland, for instance, 2000 contact tracers should have been hired by June. By September, the Health Secretary disclosed this week, 874 had been recruited. This at a time when unemployment is soaring.

Testing is not the only area where governments have falling down on the job, or failing to pay enough attention to the consequences of their decisions. Parents have just about limped through summer with soft play areas closed.

They have seen financial help given to the arts and other sectors, but all soft play got was a promise to maybe open again on October 5. That now looks unlikely. If you think families are scunnered now, wait till January and yet another slide down an icy chute. Again, it will be the poorest who miss out the most.

Rules are rules, and that same old vast majority will abide by them as always. All we ask, again, is that governments keep their side of the bargain. (Full disclosure of the information on which decisions are based would not go amiss either.)

Sticking by the rules, doing what is required, is a long, laborious, task, and yes, a thankless one. But we will do it. Again. A second act of this tragedy is just about endurable. A third does not bear thinking about.

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