Saturday, 14 December 2013



IT is that time of year to be merry and extend peace and goodwill to all on earth.

That being so, I would like to take the opportunity to spread some festive charm of my own, starting with a rant about the dual disgraces that are the A9 and the A96, the two main arteries linking Inverness with the central belt and the west and Aberdeen, in the north.

We are assured that the “killer” A9 will be completely dualled by 2025. Meanwhile, barely 30 of the torturous 108 miles from Perth to Inverness are currently dual carriageway.

At best it is a two-hour drive on a good day, considerably much longer when the tourists hit the trail, especially those who desire to spend a fortnight living in a cramped square box on wheels!

The result is frustration, risk taking and, sadly, in some instances, death by crazed driving.

As a regular user of the “Gateway to the Highlands” for the past two years I am appalled by the standard of driving and the complete lack of regard for other road users.

Now we have the mad cap suggestion that average speed cameras are part of the answer to reducing the annual carnage.

And these are the same Holyrood mandarins who want to make the country Independent! God help us all if their wish is granted.

In some instances the journey from Inverness to Aberdeen can turn out to be even more hair-raising, taking anything up to three hours to complete 102 miles of twists, turns and blind corners.

But average speed cameras are most certainly not the answer. Imagine the growing frustration of regular business users queued up behind a trail of heavy goods vehicles and happy-go-lucky, don’t give a damn, caravaners exploding into suicidal overtaking manoeuvres and sudden bursts of speed exceeding the ton.

But then what do I and thousands of others know? Wee (Sometimes Big) Eck and his SNP cohorts knows best, but there again, how often does he and they get behind the wheel of a car and experience the hell for themselves?

Instead of wasting time and a small fortune on hairbrained average speed camera schemes, they should be digging deep to find the necessary finances to ensure that dualling the A9 and A96 become a matter of immediate priority – not 12 years from now in the case of the former.

RANT TWO concerns the thorny subject of parking on the mean streets of Inverness.

Local councillors and MSPs have expressed concern that Traffic Wardens are being dispensed with in parts of the Highlands, notably Inverness, as a cost-cutting exercise.

Why? The Highland capital already appears to be operating a “park where you like” policy. That is the only conclusion to be drawn from the way motorists simply abandon their vehicles on the streets of Inverness.

For some considerable time now I have observed vehicles parked on double yellow lines on a daily basis, largely without incurring parking tickets.

One evening, not so long ago, one inconsiderate clown actually succeeded in partially blocking one street by the banks of the River Ness.

Presumably a guest of the Premier Inn Hotel, this unfortunate creature considered it acceptable to park on double yellow lines outside the establishment’s front door, directly opposite parking bays, with the result that vehicles were forced to perform a delicate manoeuvre to execute an escape with inches to spare.

An hour after I had made a telephone call to police headquarters informing them of the impediment, the offending vehicle had not been moved.

Was I surprised by the lack of urgency? Not a bit of it.

Having by chance followed police vehicles along Castle Street on several occasions and witnessed the occupants ignoring a line of traffic parked illegally, blocking an entire lane, I would expect nothing less.

So, good riddance to the wardens, whoever you are! You will not be missed – if indeed you were ever noticed in the first place.

RANT THREE is an attack on the producers of HOLLYOAKS, the teenagers’ soap that is aired daily at 6.30 on Channel 4.

Having had the misfortune to watch the omnibus edition, I was aghast at the content – an unrelenting mix of rape, pillage, illicit sexual liaisons, drunken excess, duplicity, rank bad behaviour, disrespect, theft, major crime, drug-dealing, murder and general mayhem.

Is this really the diet of life society wants to feed to our youngsters? Can we really blame them when they ape the appalling behaviour of those actors that portray the goings on of a modern Sodom and Gomorrah?

I am no prude who has lived a squeaky clean life, far from it. But it seems to me that those responsible for filling TV air time also have a responsibility for NOT glamourising the worst excesses of life.

Society is currently headed for Hell in a handcart – without also fitting the vehicle with turbo jets!

And, finally – you’ll no doubt he delighted to learn - RANT FOUR and the season of amateur drinkers.

I refer to those who consider it acceptable to get miraculously drunk for a three week period over the Christmas and New Year period and behave badly.

On behalf of those of us who enjoy a drink 52 weeks of the year I say this: Get real and get a life, otherwise you may wake up nursing a sore face - or worse!

Right, that’s it – compliments of the season to one and all.