There’s a theory called the “Mandela effect”, which proposes proof of alternative realities.
It stems from the supposed phenomenon of people around the world clearly remembering watching Nelson Mandela’s funeral in the 1980s when, in reality, he was still going strong up to 2013. Other examples include the colour of Pikachu the Pokemon’s tail, and whether or not the Monopoly man had a monocle.
And now we have another Mandela effect to add to the list.
You see, I clearly remembering watching Nicola Sturgeon as first minister guiding us carefully through the Covid pandemic. I recall watching her broadcasts and being reassured that, at the highest tiers of Holyrood, sound decisions were being made to keep us all safe, to keep us fully informed, and to help us get through.
Sure, we didn’t like it, but we felt there was a need for it, and there was a body of trust there.
And I really do have vivid recollections of watching the bin fire that was the response to Covid from Downing Street, and being so glad that we had wise heads and firm hands in the wheelhouse in Scotland, steering us through the worst of it.
No parties in government offices up here. No suggestions that bodies should pile high. No one driving across the country to test their eyesight. No fast lane to give millions to pals for duff PPE.
Yet, here we are in the throes of a Covid inquiry, and you would think it was Nicola Sturgeon who had personally nipped down to the offie to buy suitcases full of wine, à la Downing Street spads.
And, for pity’s sake, spare me the pearl-clutching over Sturgeon calling Boris Johnson an incompetent so-and-so clown. She was speaking for anyone with an ounce of common sense – just as she did through the worst of the pandemic.
We were lucky to have the right leader at the right time
It is not just our former first minister who is being vilified. Jason Leitch, too, is being painted as some sort of Bond baddie in sections of the press. Funnily enough, I just remember him as being a quiet, unassuming chap who was thrust into the hot seat and managed to handle it all quite nicely.
Were all the right calls made in Scotland during the pandemic? Of course not. But, did we have a first minister who freely admitted she wouldn’t always get it right and was prepared to put her hand up when it went Pete Tong? Yes, we did.
Few people got to the end of Covid restrictions in Scotland thinking the situation had been handled appallingly – especially compared to the grisly crew in Downing Street.
Of course, much has changed since Covid rules eased, not least the political fortunes of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.
But that must not detract or tarnish the very real fact that, at a time of ordeal for ordinary Scots, we were lucky to have the right leader in the right place at the right time. And we should be grateful for that.
Scott Begbie is a journalist and editor, as well as PR and comms manager for Aberdeen Inspired