FMQs was packed. Not with talent. Don’t put words in my mouth. But the end of masks and social distancing meant it was the first time in over two years where MSPs filled every seat. 

They didn’t hold back. 

Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone kept pleading for less shouting so she could hear the proceedings. A dubious choice, if you ask me. 

Up in the cheap seats, the bawling was considered a blessed relief from the copy-n-paste answers and toadying questions. 

First up was one Elizabeth Windsor, who occasionally comes down from the hills to nod at strangers in the building and read slowly from scented notelets.

Douglas Ross, who suspected he was in for a shoeing, couldn’t wait to wish the Queen a happy 96th birthday in the hope of defusing some of the malice in the air.

“A global figure and remarkable head of state,” simpered the Tory leader. “Please don’t hit me in the face. Not my big plate of a face.”

With council elections imminent, he asked about SNP plans to charge drivers from outside Glasgow and Edinburgh a “commuter tax” to enter the cities. 

Nicola Sturgeon, as guardian of said malice, wasn’t deflected. She wished HMQ all the best, then gave Mr Ross the skelping she felt he so richly deserved.

“Douglas Ross needs to decide what his position actually is and avoid rendering himself ridiculous," she said, noting the Tories say they want councils to be empowered. 

This was a nod to Sir Keir Starmer saying Mr Ross had been “rendered pathetic” by U-turns over Boris Johnson and partygate.

Mr Ross scoffed. “Pre-prepared answers on what I might or might not have said…” 

He never finished the sentence, drowned out by a boom of SNP laughter, as MSPs took it as a reference to his twists over the PM.    

“Listen, listen,” he squeaked. “Her pre-prepared answers on what I may or may not have come to this chamber to say!” 

He ascended yet another octave. “I don’t know what’s difficult for the SNP to understand!”  

Ms Johnstone intervened. “Can we please hear Mr Ross?” she asked MSPs. At this rate, only if you’re a dog or a bat.

Eventually he got the FM to admit SNP councils might impose road tolls to tackle congestion and climate change, despite the SNP once being the party that boasted of scrapping bridge tolls. 

“Of course all parties agree to do more to meet our climate change targets,” he said. Nats snorted at the oily, rig-hugging Tories. 

“SNP members laugh about this,” Mr Ross tutted. “We’re laughing at you,” they chorused.
Later, Mr Ross was ambushed by the kindly Holyrood press corps.

Are you pathetic? “No, I am not,” he frowned. When a flunky blows out her cake, perhaps the Queen could lend Mr Ross a wish - and let him choose another life.