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Hotspots of insanity await an incautious motorist

PAYING a visit to the Borders, the cruelty capital of Scotland, I was appalled at the driving on both the A68 and, more especially, the A7. How someone isn’t killed every half-hour I’ve no idea. People overtake on blind corners and into oncoming traffic. It isn’t just unevolved bumpkins who don’t drive properly, though. Edinburgh, generally a civilised place in which to motor, also has its hotspots of insanity. For example, everyone turning right from Craiglockhart Avenue on to Colinton Road speeds as if demented. It’s just a short stretch of road, but it splits into two lanes each way and, since no one wants to be overtaken, this crazy contest takes place to see whose car has most testosterone. Then there are the Mad Car Door Openers of Morningside Road. The thoroughfare is narrow, with cars parked on both sides, but the Morningsiders – people used to getting their own way – just open their doors into the oncoming traffic causing, on average, around three deaths an hour. Nearly all my friends and most of my family have been killed in this way. But nobody does anything about it.

SPEAKING of Morningside, am I the only one increasingly restive at the easy time the rich have had in recent years? They pay little tax and no-one threatens them with shooting any more. When I was young and idealistic, it was only the thought of offing the rich that kept us going. There was nothing immoral in this, since scientific-style intuition reveals rich people are almost always evil. That’s how they got where they are today. You could see it in action in Morningside Road. Most people were decent and polite but the nobs from up the hill never used their car indicators, never said please or thank you, and never bought me cakes when I asked them to. It was the same when I was a junior executive in tree surgery. The poorer folk were always kind, giving us tea and cakes (sometimes without me having to ask), while the rich always quibbled about the price of the job and never gave a tip. I remember one job where the nob householder watched us through binoculars during the whole operation. Admittedly, Horace Morris and I had an unusual modus operandi. Horace (who was the tree-surgeon; I was just an occasional labourer) would hack off bits of tree and I, standing below wearing a helmet, would head these into a skip. It’s true, too, that we would sometimes get a bit pissed at lunchtime. And it was generally on these occasions that Horace’s dreaded catchphrase, “That should hold”, would be followed by a crash and the sound of splintering glass. But that’s not the point. I can’t remember the point.

NOT that it’s any of your business, but I’m getting married tomorrow.

HOW odd. I turn up at the registry office and they say they’ve no appointment for me. Then I remember that, when I wrote “wedding” in my diary, I meant to say “dentist”.

QUITE a lot of people write to me complaining of depression. They say they were perfectly all right until they started reading one of my articles, and now ask what I’m going to do about it. Luckily, as I write these words, I happen to be wearing a white coat and since, coincidentally, one of the neighbours has just walked in with a stethoscope, I feel qualified (even a bit over-qualified) to offer the following diagnosis. There’s nothing wrong with being depressed. It’s just a form of sensitivity. All depression comes from growing up and having childhood’s illusions shattered. As a child, you think of adults and the authorities as magical, benevolent elves who somehow make things work. You think nothing could really be cruel. Then you grow up and realise society is run by idiots, or “managers” as they’re known, and that cruelty beyond your wildest nightmares happens every day. Indeed, it would be fair to say that, if you are educated and not depressed, there must be something wrong with you. There is, too, a clear link between alcohol and depression. People who don’t drink are depressing. Next week: how aromatherapy cured my ingrowing toe-nail; 10 meditation exercises for scrotal elasticity; conquer nervous anxiety by the creative use of worrying.

from The Scotsman 01/03/03

thanks Uncle Bertie.

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