IN Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later a character wakes from a coma to find London deserted.

Through those mean streets he staggers, every now and then encountering some terrifying wretch foaming at the mouth. It is a scenario that will be familiar to many Scottish voters, for this has been the 28 Days Later election for these pandemic times.

Anything that involved coming within two metres of a stranger was out of the question (and against the regulations). So cheerio doorstep debating, rallies, walkabouts, all the usual fun and games, and hello masks and Zoom.

The battle began in routine fashion with the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament. Some MSPs were not seeking re-election, among them Ruth Davidson, who was leaving to spend more time with her ermine.

For everyone else it was off to the constituency or region to prepare for government. Or, if you were a Scottish Labour candidate, to prepare your excuses. With Anas Sarwar in charge there was a certain spring in the party’s step, with the new leader even joining in with an outdoors exercise class dancing to Uptown Funk. Yes sir, he can boogie.

Willie Rennie continued his quest to stage the most ridiculous photo op ever, with shots of the LibDem leader at a penguin parade, in a giant deckchair, and boxing. Not wishing to be left out, Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross continued his party’s tradition of clambering on to the nearest military vehicle, in his case an armoured personnel carrier. And he wasn’t even campaigning in Castlemilk.

Mr Ross received a lot of help from his predecessor, Ms Davidson, who even fronted the party political broadcast. Her omnipresence contrasted with the complete absence of Boris Johnson. Having said that wild horses wouldn’t keep him away, the Prime Minister preferred to stay in London and dodge questions about gold wallpaper rather than take his chances with rebellious Scots (Mr Ross among them).

Try as the parties did to generate excitement, the campaign was proving as empty and devoid of interest as Celtic’s trophy cabinet. Then it happened. Cue movie trailer voice guy: “The sky darkened. Birds ceased singing. Jaws dropped. HE was back. And this time HE had brought a whole new party with him.” After the initial shock of Alex Salmond’s return, observers turned to more serious matters, like how to pronounce the Alba Party’s name. Some said “Alapa” others “Wallopers”. Mr Salmond came bearing the promise of a “supermajority” of independence-supporting MSPs who would make Johnson an offer he could not refuse.

The media was delighted to see the return of Mr Salmond, and reporters were soon asking SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon if she would work with her predecessor. Ms Sturgeon gave the impression she did not wish to be on the same continent as her old boss, never mind in coalition with him.

The SNP leader conducted a lot of her campaign from her by-now-famous conservatory. FDR had his fireside chats, Nicola has natters in the greenhouse. Consensus had it that the election was in the bag for her. It only remained to be seen if she would win a majority, and which party would take second place to the SNP, the Conservatives or Labour.

The TV debates gave voters a chance to see the party leaders in action. Not all the leaders, however. BBC Scotland and STV limited participation to the five largest parties in the Scottish Parliament, which meant no podium for Mr Salmond or George Galloway, the leader of the All for Unity (unless you are a nationalist) party.

Mr Galloway tried to whip up interest in a mano a mano with the Alba leader, moderated by Andrew Neil. Viewers might have been interested had David Attenborough not featured extensive scenes of walruses fighting in his last televisual masterpiece.

So five went off to debate, with Sarah Smith and Glenn Campbell holding the jaikets for the BBC, and Colin Mackay doing the same for STV. Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy came all the way from London town to show us he was as familiar with Scottish politics as Donald Trump was with third-wave feminism.

The televised debates were missing a live audience in the studio, and turned out to be horribly dull in consequence. Scottish Greens co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater divided the debate work between them, though Steve Arnott-dress-a-like Harvie hogged more of the limelight.

Anas Sarwar adopted a “Why can’t we be friends” approach to the debates, albeit the offer clearly did not extend to the Conservatives, who were the focus of everyone’s attacks. Douglas Ross seemed spectacularly cross in most of the encounters, while Ms Sturgeon tried hard not to look humongously smug or bored.

Election day arrived, and with it the chance to exercise that age-old right to take a photie of the dug at a polling place and post it on Twitter.

The one million Scots who had registered to vote by post had already done their bit, quietly and without fuss, in keeping with the mood. In one final insult from the heavens, the counts were not starting till the morning after, so voters were denied the thrill of spending the night with Kirsty Wark and Bernard Ponsonby.

It had been that kind of election, that kind of year. May we never see its likes again.