EXPECTATION management is a useful tool at any time, and particularly during a pandemic.

I often use it with prospective dates. Rather than telling them how wonderful I am and offering a series of filtered, flattering photos for their perusal, I seek to manage their expectations.

That means pointing out that I am, at times, an absolute nightmare. I take ages to respond to messages and rarely make the effort to "look my best".

Lay it all out right at the start and accompany your list of faults with a harsh, makeup-free selfie of you eating a Pot Noodle in your pyjamas. That way, your date can only ever be pleasantly surprised.

Of course, this is all academic at the moment. Dates are – to coin a popular phrase – "off the table" for the time-being. When they resume, I suspect our collective standards will be lowered significantly anyway.

Over at FMQs, Nicola Sturgeon was engaging in some expectation management of her own. In a sombre statement ahead of questions, she told the chamber we are in the grip of a second wave of coronavirus.

In this, the First Minister issued a stark warning, pointing out we may face further restrictions: "I cannot rule out a return to nationwide restrictions in the next few weeks, including level 4." 

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When questions got underway, Ruth Davidson raised the Public Health Scotland report on Covid-19 in care homes, asking how high the true risk might have been of putting Covid-positive patients into carehomes.

The First Minister admitted there was some "hard lessons" for the Scottish Government in the report, and assured the chamber: "There will be a full public inquiry when the time is right." 

Davidson then accused the Scottish Government of "delay, spin and sleight of hand" over the publication of the report.

Richard Leonard also asked about the care home report, as well as the economic support available for councils in higher level restriction areas.

The First Minister replied that her Government would work with the UK Government to extend support where possible but "we are providing as much business support as we can within the resources that we have". 

A grim session all round that had us longing for the days of Edna Rennie, protests in the public gallery and the nervous giggling that accompanied questions about the Scottish Government’s coronavirus sex ban for non-cohabiting couples.

Over these past few months there’s been an edge to FMQs that makes it difficult to watch at times. The weariness and sense of despair that we have all felt is right there in front of us, etched on the faces of our elected representatives. While the exchanges are still at times bad-tempered and robust, the fire has gone.

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When they are back to slinging insults at each other we can allow ourselves to feel slightly reassured that things are getting better. Until then, grave seriousness is the order of the day.

It’s not all doom and gloom though and it would be remiss of me to end this week’s FMQs on such a dour note.

Midway through proceedings there was an interruption that had MSPs, including the First Minister, looking around in bewilderment. Music was echoing through the chamber. Perhaps it was a sign from a higher power that we are not alone. Or maybe, as is infinitely more likely, it was coming from the phone of an MSP who still hasn’t mastered how to put the bloody thing on silent.

The song was "Alone" by Heart. Its lyrics include: "You don't know how long I have waited // And I was going to tell you tonight // But the secret is still my own // And my love for you is still unknown."

To whichever MSP is going through the agony of unrequited love I say this: tell your crush how you feel. Life is too short to worry about rejection. And if they do reject you, at least you can console yourself with a Pot Noodle and comfy pyjamas.