HAVE you found yourself embarrassed wearing your mask to the shop yet? Yes? Me too. Ridiculous, isn’t it?

And yet last week my long-suffering car finally gave up the ghost and I had to look into getting a new one. At the car dealer’s I noticed no one else was wearing a mask. The second time I went there I didn’t bother either.

To be fair, my mask was in my dead car, but even so, that’s not really an excuse. I guess I just didn’t want to feel conspicuous. On reflection, that’s not a particularly sensible reason. Embarrassment isn’t on a par with getting (or giving) the virus. But there it is.

Which is why I’m all in favour of the mandatory wearing of masks in shops in Scotland that starts at the end of this week. If it’s the norm then there will be no social pressure not to wear them. And yes, you shouldn’t give into such pressures, but people do. I know I did.

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There are other reasons you might not wear a mask, of course. In the United States, in part because of President Trump’s refusal to wear one as a result of his infantile narcissism, it has become a political issue. Not helpful in a country that is in no sense getting to grips with the virus.

It is also, mostly, a guy problem. Academic research has found that men are more likely not to wear a mask than women. Reasons cited include that it’s “shameful, not cool and a sign of weakness.”

A sign of weakness? Man, how fragile is the male ego? There have even been suggestions that masks should be designed that specifically appeal to alpha males.

Really, the simple fact is this shouldn’t be seen as a statement of masculinity or otherwise. It’s a public safety issue. It should be as uncontroversial as wearing a hard hat on a building site, or a lifejacket on a fishing boat.

Unfortunately, a tranche of political leaders who seem to feel that their masculinity is performative (you know the kind of thing; doing press-ups, lifting their glass of water with one hand and expecting praise for it) have rather undermined that message.

Hopefully, in time, though, mask wearing will become the norm, a standardised activity that will help – or at least certainly not hinder – us in dealing with a pandemic that has killed tens of thousands across the UK.

Who knows? It might even become cool. You can buy a Kendrick Lamar mask from Redbubble if that helps.