PLEASE don’t let me down, Johnstone. You never let down the millions of women across the world who wore the Playtex bras produced in the town. You once held the world’s shoes on its feet, thanks to your Paton’s shoelace mill.

And you proved yourself a world leader in engineering, with industry works such as Lang’s toolmakers.

So surely you can be a supertown once again when it comes to beating covid?

Since the 1960s glory days of Johnstone Burgh winning the Scottish Junior Cup twice, the prominence and social positioning of my home town has taken a kicking.

Industry has collapsed, criminality and drug use increased. But now the negative headlines have been typeset upon the face of the Renfrewshire town for another reason. Johnstone’s covid infection rates have been fluctuating between 200 and 300 cases per 100,000 since October.

Councillor Andy Steel said on social media: “It gives me no pleasure to see that Johnstone has some of the highest rates of positive Covid-19 cases in Scotland.”

But now there’s a chance for Johnstone to prove itself, having been chosen as Scotland’s first large community testing pilot for the virus.

Local authorities are hoping to test up to 12,000 people over a five-day period. From today, those who are asymptomatic are encouraged to take to the town hall for testing, with results produced within 30 minutes.

But already there is a fear many Johnstonians will avoid the test. “I wouldn’t go near the town hall to have a test,” said one local on social media. “Too many skanky people hang around there and I fear I’d catch the virus while being tested for it.”

That’s hugely unlikely; the testing centre will represent the heights of sterility. And the Scottish Government doesn’t wish to see this guinea pig experiment fail.

But there are other reasons why Johnstone residents won’t wish to take the test. If the result is positive then they will be asked to isolate for 10 days and family members for 14. Many in Johnstone slip through the furlough net and can’t afford to stay at home.

Yet, if Johnstone doesn’t turn out in large numbers to be swabbed it will send seismic signals out to the rest of Scottish society: it’s a vital indicator of how we as a country will adopt the vaccine take up.

Right now, we’re as sure of landing a working vaccine by Christmas as Maisie Smith is of winning Strictly. (Believe me.) But when it comes to asking people to take the jag in the arm we’re up against major hurdles.

There will be those who won’t be bothered, who don’t see the virus battle as being a priority (the Rita Oras of this world). And there are the covid sceptics, such as actor Laurence Fox, who loves dinner parties more than he fears the collapse of his lungs. (“If the NHS can’t cope, the NHS isn’t fit for purpose”) he said, blithely.

And, even more worryingly, we have to contend with the likes of the SNP’s conference host Hayley Matthews who stated she would not let her child have a flu jab “or any Covid sh***”).

Now the presenter’s obvious lack of eloquence also suggests a lack of clear thought. And it’s not surprising the First Minister has put a greater distance between herself and the host than Sir Philip Green and the concession staff at Debenhams. But we have to worry about how many virus-averse Matthews there are out there.

And I, for one, don’t want Johnstone to indicate it’s a town full of Oras or Foxes. I want Johnstone to relive its success stories in social commitment form.

I’d love the town that nurtured talent such as Gordon Ramsay, actor Phyllis Logan and Rab C. Nesbitt writer Ian Pattison to prove it’s prepared to make a small sacrifice in the form of taking the test.

I want Johnstone, the warm, friendly town I grew up in, to become Liverpool for five days, where a Covid pilot test programme saw more than 300,000 turn up, from a population of around half a million. (As a result, cases have fallen from 635 per 100,000 in mid-October to 106 by the end of November, prompting a move from Tier Three to Tier Two).

I’d love to believe that the sense of community I wallowed in as a child is still prevalent, a little world that worries deeply about its old people who are now too frightened to walk down to Morrisons, or the café at the back of the Square, in case they catch the Covid.

Johnstone has a chance to be a success story once again. All it has to do is invoke goalkeeper Jim Leighton’s glory days, or the warmth of actress Renee Houston.

So please don’t let the Covid test numbers amount to a pitiful Russell Watson/I’m A Celebrity self-congratulatory-five-stars sorry tale.

Johnstone, Scotland is watching you.

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