YOU know what it’s like. You wait ages for a bus to come along and then a whole bunch come at once and crush your soul.

Deputising for Nicola Sturgeon at FMQs, John Swinney stared in horror as the underside of a fleet of 63-seaters rolled over him.

The First Minister had been “knocked for six” by Covid. He was knocked down by coaches. It was bedlam from the off. 

Douglas Ross used Ms Sturgeon’s absence to torture the deputy FM about his role in the CalMac ferries fiasco, something he’d refused to face Holyrood about before. As soon as the Tory leader raised the subject, Nat MSPs hooted like tugboats.

“Members! We are just beginning this session… and I would be very grateful if we could hear the question,” jumped in presiding officer Alison Johnstone.

There was then some mystifying stuff about email snippets from 2015, before Mr Ross was pulled up for calling Mr Swinney “Honest John”. Mmm. Sarcasm, methinks.

“Mr Ross, we will desist from using nicknames in the chamber,” said Joyless Johnstone.

When Mr Ross changed track to the ScotRail farrago, Mr Swinney jumped on his opponent. 

“When a political leader changes the topic of their question during FMQs, that’s an indication they’re in trouble,” he declared. “That’s exactly where Douglas Ross is.”

Anas Sarwar went on trains too, asking how many replacement buses had been put on to help people cope with 700 service cuts a day due to the industrial dispute.

Correctly suspecting the answer was ‘none’, Mr Swinney tried to talk about drivers numbers.

The Scottish Labour leader walloped him again by raising the 28 chauffeur-driven cars free to SNP and Green ministers while the plebs go cold, wet and trainless.

Shouldn’t ministers give up the limos until the dispute is over?

The deputy FM leaped back as if the question were an electric rail. 

The  Government had doubled the Scottish child payment, he burbled. It was giving the needy more than Labour-run Wales. Helping folks with council tax. 

Labour MSPs scoffed. Didn’t Mr Swinney just tell us that when a leader changes subject at FMQs they’re in trouble? Honestly, John.

The coup de grace came from Green Ariane Burgess, with what was meant to be an innocent bit of sucking up to the bosses. How is the Government “celebrating Scottish bus week,” she asked.

The place erupted. Certainly not with replacement buses.  Mr Swinney knew he was done for.

As he read from his script, every word had to be endured like a 16-wheeler thundering overhead.

“I am pleased to support the first ever Scottish bus week,” he almost cried. “And to celebrate the many environmental, economic and social benefits that buses provide.”

Uproar reigned. “The Scottish Government has put buses at the heart of Scotland’s just transition,” he went on, cheeks red as tail-lights. 

“Join us in supporting Scottish bus week and encourage more people to travel by bus.”

He has sensibly wished Ms Sturgeon a speedy recovery.