P&J Column 28.10.13

The new definition of ‘Capital Projects’ – Whatever Edinburgh has previously wasted a fortune on.

Ron Cluny, Official Council Spokesman

The usual gaggle of naysayers and the perpetually disgruntled have been lining up to traduce the Council following the announcement that we are to investigate the feasibility of introducing a tram system in Aberdeen.  “Do we want to split public opinion once again?”, they ask us.  “Have we learned nothing from the “Union Terrace Gardens fiasco?”  Well of course we have.  What we have learned from that episode is that it is only when the population of Aberdeen is bitterly divided that it shrugs off its native apathy and becomes politically engaged.  Brother turned against brother and friend against friend.  People wrote into the papers about us, spoke about us around the water-cooler and chinned us in the Kirkgate bar.  It was magic.  We felt vibrant, alive and relevant.  A political life when you don’t get harangued by an angry wifie when you’re queuing to buy a BLT in Markies is no political life at all. But of course, this is not all about us.  The City and Shire’s population is expanding rapidly, with new developments planned, like Chapeltown of Elsick, and some others the names of which do not actually make you laugh out loud when you hear them.  So it’s not impossible that we might actually need something like this.  More to the point, if we do bring in a tram system, on time, on budget and without excessive disruption, we will have achieved that feat beloved of all Scottish cities, of sticking it to Edinburgh.  Just think how good you feel when the Dons beat Hearts or Hibs.  A successful tram system will make you feel like that all the time.  But of course, even if the project turns out to be a complete farrago, there will be benefits.  As the last few remaining historic buildings in the city are demolished and costs spiral out of control, a culture of protest will develop.  Graffiti will spring up all over the shop.  Long-defunct folk clubs will be re-energised, and the Council’s short-sightedness will be lambasted by mannies who stick their finger in their ear and sing through their nose.  With any luck, a performance artist will dress like a moustachioed Edwardian villain and tie damsels in distress to the rails in satirical protest.   This sort of thing can only help Aberdeen’s bid to be crowned City of Culture in 2021, ‘cause the judges lap up that kind of muck

Tanya Soutar, local lifestyle guru

I dinna ken aboot yous, but I’ve found the last few days affa excitin’!  I’m on the edge o’ ma seat ivry mornin’ waitin’ tae see fit whacky plans the cooncil’s ga’n tae dream up next.  A new exhibition centre is one thing, but trams?  Fit are they smokin’, an’ far can I get hud o’ some?  I’ve been thinkin’ aboot somethin’ else the cooncil could chuck their money at if they’re needin’ rid o’ it.

Nae doot ye’ve a’ experienced Union Street fan it’s hoachin’ jist afore Christmas.  Fit a nightmare it is.  It’s high time we hid dedicated lanes on wir pavements tae ensure smooth movement fer pedestrians.  Ye’d hae a lane fer aul wifies wi’ yon trolley things they drag aboot, a lane fer mums wi’ buggies and a slow lane fer plonkers ficherin’ aboot on their mobiles.  The Markies side wid only be fer folk travellin’ Westbound an’ the Trinity Centre side Eastbound.  There’d be a speed limit o’ 4 miles an hour an’ overtakin’ wid be strictly prohibited.  I think it wid be magic.  They’d hae tae build a slip-lane intae Poundland though!

Davinia Smythe-Barrat, ordinary mum

I almost choked on my falafel when I read about the council’s latest plans.  Pie in the sky pipe dreams seems to be their new stock in trade.  When will they think about us ordinary folk?  Trams and a new exhibition centre are all very well for some people, but all the while we’re still living in a city that doesn’t even have a branch of Harvey Nichols.  Surely the council should spend their money on something everyone can enjoy, like a Philharmonic Orchestra.  And while we’re at it, is a polo team to much to ask for?  It’s been ages since I’ve seen a decent chukka.  Sadly, I fear these everyday things will remain out of reach for us ordinary Aberdonians.

Shelley Shingles, showbiz correspondent

I’m just back from a trip to Hollywood and I’ve got a fab-u-lous idea for the Council to blow their money on!  Why don’t we have our very own “walk of fame” here in Aberdeen?  All the big names would be there, like Annie Lennox, Joyce Falconer and the boy that was in S-Club Juniors.  Instead of stars like in Hollywood ours could be shaped like a buttery and made out of solid gold.  I phoned my showbiz pal Emeli Sande to ask her views about it.  Her reply was as straight to the point as ever.  “Please stop calling here,” she said, “or I’ll notify the authorities”.  Wise words from a great lady.