NICOLA Sturgeon’s in a forest, and there’s a fork in the path. She’s wearing sturdy boots and all the right weatherproof gear, kindly gifted to her by the UK Government, and now has to decide which route will lead to a strong, sustainable Scotland. The surface of one path is poor, full of wide spending gaps that could easily result in a nasty ankle sprain. The other path is well maintained, but a dense cloud of midgies hovers above it, ready to attack. She checks all her pockets, but none of the generous folk at Westminster have thought to pack any Avon Skin So Soft. An innocent mistake, she’s sure.

So which route should she take? With no map or compass to consult, she decides to give Alex Rowley a call. Maybe he’ll have some ideas about the best way forward.

After hearing about Nicola’s predicament Alex goes uncharacteristically quiet. “What do you reckon?” she asks, peering through her binoculars at a boggy puddle. “Well,” he says. “I wouldn’t start from there.”

Not to worry, Nicola tells herself, Patrick Harvie will surely have a valuable contribution to make. He’s always keen to promote active travel and must surely spend lots of time in the great outdoors, admiring the greenery. He answers on the first ring, almost as though he’s been hovering by the phone. “Take the smooth path,” he says, brimming with confidence, “and I’ll back you all the way.”

“But what about the midgies?” asks Nicola. “I have a horrible feeling I’m going to be paying for this tomorrow”. Patrick doesn’t sound very concerned. “Well the price might be a bite or two – or 20 or 50 – but it’s definitely a price worth paying”.

Nicola’s getting itchy just thinking about it. “That’s easy for you to say, Patrick,” she says, scratching her scalp.

“I know – it’s great, isn’t it? It’s easy for me to say a lot of things. In fact, while I’ve got you on the phone can you promise me you’ll provide a free skateboard for every Scottish commuter by 2021?”

“I’d need to look into the figures for that, Patrick,” says Nicola, by now a little exasperated, “and right now I’m in the middle of the woods.”

“You can’t put a price on tackling adult obesity, Nicola. But can you figure out the cost of that policy when you get back to the office and let me know? I’d do it myself but my calculator’s solar powered and it’s a bit dull this afternoon”.

Nicola hangs up – she’s already done quite enough maths this week and if she has to explain block grant adjustments one more time she’s in danger of losing the heid.

There’s only one thing for it – she’ll need to call ... but wait, what’s that rustling in the bushes? Is it a bird? Is it a deer? No, it’s Corporal Davidson in full camouflage, edging through the undergrowth on her elbows.

“Ruth! What on earth are you hiding from? Apart from scrutiny of your enthusiastic support for Stephen Crabb, I mean.”

“I’m working on my upper body strength. We’re going to need some pretty big shovels to clean out the Westminster stable of sexual misbehavers like Stephen Crabb, who I definitely never backed at any point, and if there’s a chance for a photo op with an actual horse I’ll be first in line for duty.”

Ruth stands up. She’s covered in mud.

“Well now that you’re here, maybe you can help,” says Nicola. “I need to choose a path but I can’t do it alone. You don’t happen to have any Avon Skin So Soft in that hip flask, do you?

“No, but I’ve got some whisky: 1878 Macallan single malt, no less,” she replies.

“Do you, aye?” says Nicola.

They stare each other out for a moment.

Ruth knocks back the last few drops, which are actually a special blend of cheap whisky, buffalo urine and children’s tears. Fortified, she assesses the options before them.

“Well I know which way I’m going,” she says, picking sticky willow out of her hair and marching on the spot.

There’s a rumbling at the rear.

Then the sound of trees crashing.

“Ruth!” calls David Mundell, his head poking out of the tank’s hatch. “Just in time. This is exactly the sort of military precision we need from the next leader of the UK. I mean Scotland.”

“See you later Nicola,” chirps Ruth as she climbs aboard. “Watch out for those midgies.”

Sting in the tale

ALARMING news from Scottish train stations that young people have been loitering, congregating and generally breathing in the vicinity of trains. Clearly this won't do – why aren't they slobbing around at home, contributing to the nation's obesity crisis like the rest of their peers? Scotrail insists it only blasts delicate young eardrums with a mosquito device when their owners are being anti-social, which is reassuring to know. Use of the remote-controlled squealers may count as a form of torture in the eyes of the EU, but the EU seems to be cool with batoning wayward Spaniards so surely they'll turn a deaf ear to this.

The only slight problem is that antisocial has no objective definition. If a youth kicks a bin on a station platform and there's no-one there to be frightened or alarmed, has any anti-social behaviour occurred? Either way, such unwholesome activity should be condemned by all right-thinking people. These hypothetically frightening and alarming delinquents should be encouraged to return to their homes, and to their usual nocturnal activities of shooting prostitutes on their Xboxes, cyberbullying their peers and watching hardcore pornography. Then we can all relax.

Revenge of the nerds

GOING out with a bang was the theme of the week, with a dalek operator exterminated for slagging off the BBC via elaborate code, and a Twitter employee putting a peg on Donald Trump's beak before logging off for one last time. OK, so the numpty-in-chief was only silenced for 11 minutes, but the hero responsible is surely owed about 11,000 free drinks, 11 million high-fives and a Nobel peace prize.

It's debatable whether BBC Worldwide was equally deserving of the four-lettered farewell it received from former Dr Who worker Nicholas Pegg, who spent more than a decade behind he controls of the Time Lord's most feared foes. One newspaper reported that he “may have been irritated by the corporation's supposed reluctance to release a DVD of Shada, an unaired serial of the show filmed between 1979 and 80” – perhaps the most wonderfully nerdy motivation in the entire history of bridge-burning. The warning to keep your enemies close has surely never been more applicable, given we're talking about a man with a grudge and a sophisticated knowledge of mutant cyborg weaponry. He might have been sacked, but can the producers really be certain he's gone?