P&J Column 15.9.16

The Madness of Kingswells

Davinia Smythe-Barratt, ordinary mum

The Smythe-Barratt household has been thrown into utter turmoil since Firstbus announced their intention to axe the service to KIngswells. As ever, the blame for the whole sorry mess lies squarely at the feet of the beastly Tories and the selling-off of public services. I remember marching against the privatisation of the railways in 1994 with some of my Uni chums. We had a great weekend in London, staying at the Savoy – all paid for with our cashed-in British Gas shares. Take that Thatcher!

I seldom use the bus, of course. It’s not that I consider it beneath me; it’s just that the current route doesn’t coincide with my most frequent destination – the Spa at the Marcliffe.

Mind you, I’m not surprised the bus has seen low passenger numbers. The whole experience could do with a makeover. When I last caught one, on my way to collect the Land Rover from the garage after damaging the paintwork during an altercation with a cyclist (don’t worry, I won), I couldn’t even get a latte on-board. Talk about slumming it!

Most of the public outcry has focused on the inability of residents of Kingswells to access the city centre without a car, but the untold tragedy is that of the people who rely on public transport to get out here. Snezhana, our au pair (she’s Bulgarian but she’s fabulous) is one such victim. We did a trial run yesterday to see how long it would take her to walk. 2 hours 45 minutes – and that was in pleasant enough weather. In the depths of winter the poor thing will have to set off at 3.00am to get here on time! It’s appalling, how do the Firstbus fat cats sleep at night?


View from the midden – rural affairs with Jock Alexander

It’s been a communicative wik in the village, efter reports that almost a third of Scotland’s pay-phones hiv been earmarked for removal.  Michty, it’s changed days, I can mind fan you were niver mair than a few hunder yards fae an iconic reed telephone box, freshly vandalised and unusable.

Of course, we hinna hid a public phone box in the village for a filie.  The een in the village square has long since been repurposed as a handy roadside greenhoose, where local botanist Skittery Wullie grows his medicinal herbs. They’re funny-looking, things wi’ their jaggedy-leafs, but Wullie insists they dae wonders for his back.

Of course, it’s mobile phones that have seen aff the traditional phone box, though we’ve niver hid ony mobile phone reception in the village either. Here we communicate over long distances by the time-honoured traditional method of tying a message tae the leg of a sheep.

Noo, some fowk have concerns aboot the removal of sae mony phoneboxes. ‘It’s a lifeline’, they say, ‘it’s vital tae rural communities who may otherwise be cut aff’. To which I say, ‘Fit’s the problem?’ At’s fit wye I bide in Meikle Wartle. If I winted my phone tae ring, or tae spik tae folk I dinna ken, I’d move tae somewye mair urban and bustling. Like Colpy.

Oot in the sticks we are fine pleased tae be able tae relax in peace, wi’ oot the constant hassle of cold-calling PPI chasers. And it’s even mair relaxin’ wi’ some of Wullie’s medicinal herbs on the go. Cheerio!


Ron Cluny, Official Council Spokesman

This week, we in the council have been troubled by a most unusual noise – the sound of praise being heaped upon us. A firm of crack designers has been retained to look at ways of re-vivifying Union Terrace Gardens, and Aberdeen’s public imagination hasn’t crackled with such excitement since the rumour (subsequently proven false) that the famous wrestler caught up in a sex tape scandal might be Len Ironside.

So far, the feedback has been overwhelmingly supportive of the initial concept drawings.  However, there have been some predictable brickbats to go with the bouquets.  “Aren’t the designers’ ideas blindingly obvious?  Should all of this not have occurred to us at the time of the great Union Terrace Gardens farrago?”

Well, hindsight is a marvelous thing.  I ask only that we be judged by the state of knowledge prevailing at the time.  Who could have predicted that improving access by means of lifts, new stairs and wheelchair ramps would have encouraged people to use the gardens?  Who would have realised that staging year-round events or that using the already-existing arches to house shops and cafes would have lured people in?

Fair criticism is all that we ask for.  And, on this occasion, all that we have received.