Thursday, 27 February 2014

Flames of desire

Flames of Desire
You know, I got back on Tuesday night from a horrible weekend in Glasgow. I was visiting a friend in Lenzie who is in the midst of a family problem - his wife has fallen by the wayside. I thought I could help but he accused me of being a voyeur and a self-centred uncaring old fool (well that wasn't the word he used) who had come to gloat over his unhappiness - a similar description was used by commenter William Ballantyne after I published my great article about the Culloden housing approval. It has given me cause to reflect.

On the way back home the Scotrail Express pulled into Perth. I observed a group of Neds misbehaving on the platform outside my window. They pointed at me and started laughing - I knew what was going to happen next and I was right. One of the Neds got on the train and sat next to me. He was smelling to high heaven. I don't think his overcoat had been cleaned in years and he had obviously been drinking heavily and had probably vomited inside his coat. I felt nauseous all the way back home - I tried to cover my nostrils and breathe through my mouth but it didn't help. There ought to be a way for Scotrail to intercept these people before they get on a train. The young tyke had his headphones turned up so loud that I could scarcely hear myself think. It reminded me how much I dislike Perth and my mind turned to the seemingly endless campaigns by completely misguided people who are trying to save the dreadful Edwardian eyesore that is the City Hall.

Last week the Scotsman carried another article, this time around the idea of an indoor market and food hall. What's wrong with an outdoor market on the site? Another suggestion was a five-star hotel with 'fine-dining' with a rooftop terrace bar and restaurant. Well it wouldn't be much good if the dining wasn't fine but more obviously, if the building was demolished you could have a restaurant on the site without having to build a rooftop terrace. What the Scotsman needs is an Expert Planning Correspondent to guide them in these matters.

Of course it was inevitable that Prince Charles would become involved in this and to my mind, this is the perfect reason to demolish the building as soon as possible. He has no business getting involved in this fight for progress. I have complete faith that the forces of the New Scottish Enlightenment will triumph in this battle.

As the train wound its way north I closed my eyes and imagined the wrecking ball and bulldozers moving in on the City Hall. I saw masonry toppling and flames rising from piles of rotting timbers. I saw rats fleeing towards the river. I saw crowds booing as the Fire Brigade arrived. Suddenly my trousers were soaking wet - I awoke in a cold sweat. What had happened? The young ned had spilt a can of beer over my lovely green corduroy suit. 'Sorry Grandad - dae ye want some?' I was disgusted. I sat in silence - fuming! Eventually I got off and found the car but just to round off a terrible trip, it had a flat tyre and a parking ticket. I got back to Auchterness very late and leapt straight into the shower. Then I wrote to First Scotrail about this terrible experience - I will let you know the outcome in due course. I have also written to the Scotsman about the perils of giving oxygen to this ridiculous campaign to save Perth City Hall and offering my services as an Expert Planning Correspondent.

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