The current troubles surrounding Aberdeen’s ailing retail sector can’t be fixed by the local authority.
It’s not in their gift.
If shop owners feel the need to pull down the shutters, so be it.
They’ll have their reasons.
So, let’s see Aberdeen City Council get to grips with an issue they can influence – potholes.
I know, I know. We’ve been discussing them for years, though in recent times it’s a matter that has slipped off the radar.
It’s almost as if we – or more importantly, the local authority – have accepted that our pitted, third-world roads are now the norm.
OK, we know about the large scale projects of recent times; £400m here, £35m there, not forgetting the £30m upgrade of Union Terrace Gardens which we’ll see at some point.
But attractions like TECA and the art gallery should come with a health warning for your car along the lines of: You’ll enjoy a visit, but you may wreck your suspension en route.
“Hold your Honda,” Town House chiefs say. “We’re pouring money, and tar, into repairing potholes.”
Yes, we know. But you’d be as well pouring money down the drain because the repairs are very temporary.
So, as bringing our roads into the 21st Century isn’t being taken seriously enough, surely we can have a bit of fun while somebody considers a more immediate concern – watering the potted forest that’s been planted down the middle of Union Street.
Today, I am launching WARPA (Worst Aberdeen Road for Potholes Awards) 2021 and I expect dozens of nominations as you relive fond memories of a burst tyre or a damaged suspension courtesy of these irritating and often unavoidable crevices.
The winning street, to be named later in the year – we’ll try to book one of those hilariously laddish Top Gear guys to make the announcement – will be totally resurfaced and the awards scheme will run for the next century, or until all of Aberdeen’s roads have been fixed, whichever comes first.
The question for our civic and national leaders now centres on a growing unemployment problem as the economy shrinks, resulting in – yes, you’ve guessed it – more businesses folding. We therefore urge academics, business leaders (brainy ones, please) and politicians (brainy ones, too) to produce earth-shattering ideas to alleviate Aberdeen’s travails.
Maybe we could start by diverting the £400,000 earmarked for suspended, illuminated street signs towards something that would be more meaningful.
After all, they’d only shine a light on our potholes.
Goggle-boxing but not so clever
Eight years ago we learned of plans for a new television show that involved us watching people watching TV in their own homes and commenting on programmes.
It will never work, I thought.
Today, I’m a fan of Gogglebox, partly because of the jaw-dropping stuff that pops out of the mouths of some of the participants.
Two girls, for example, discussed a young man who wanted to be an author. “An author?” said one to the other.
“Is that somebody who writes books?”
“Hm,” thought the second girl, “I think so.”
The new, improved slam-dunk SNP team?
It was Dominique Wilkins, an American basketball star of the 1980s, who coined the phrase “You’re only as good as your team”.
So, who’ll be on Nicola Sturgeon’s new, hopefully improved, team occupying cabinet seats on May 7?
More importantly, will they have the ideas and the nous to stop the practice of their predecessors and fix problems rather than chuck money at them?
Need we be reminded of the NHS scandals surrounding new hospitals in Edinburgh and Glasgow, the shambles of BiFab and the shameful handling of the CalMac ferries contracts, boats that appear years away from launch?
Which of the SNP MSPs in place next month will want to tackle those and other problematic portfolios?
Meanwhile, supporters of independence, rummaging through their dressing-up cupboards in preparation for election victory, may have to wait longer than expected for indyref2.
The first minister now appears in Kenny Dalglish – “maybees aye, maybees no” – mode in her approach to the referendum, now pushed back a wee bit further than the first half of the next parliament. But if you were in Ms Sturgeon’s stilettos would you feel comfortable calling for “freedommmm” while your country’s economy is flashing red?
Or would you rather wait five years or so in the hope of greater stability?