Aug 202010

Old Suzanna enlightens the unfamiliar to some more tricky terms.

It may be fair summer weather now, but winter is not far off.  Here are some terms you may not be familiar with, which may prove useful in the months to come:


A pothole is a tiny dent or rut appearing in a road for no discernable reason.  The causes of potholes are unknown, although there are those who believe potholes might occur more frequently in cold, harsh climates; on less well-made roads; on roads made up of many different types of materials; or on roads which are constantly being dug up (but that would not happen here).

On the rare occasion a pothole may become large enough so that vehicle users may feel a slight bump when they drive over one.  In fact, some are apparently so large that they can cause minor damage to a car.   Should this rare event take place, the local council (responsible for road condition and road safety) will swiftly come forth and offer the necessary funds for any repairs necessary.

When a council is made aware of a pothole, its action will be swift and decisive.  Within days, council road workers will be on hand  to create new cycle lanes adjacent to any offending pothole (as seen recently in the Torry section of Aberdeen, where there have actually been one or  two potholes).  Since road users pay little in the way of taxes or fees to local councils or governments, they can hardly be surprised if filling in potholes takes time.

The local council may advise driving around potholes;  re-routing your trip via Inverness or Edinburgh is recommended.  Repairing of potholes can be an extremely expensive undertaking; one pothole in Aberdeen will reportedly cost £140 million pounds before cars and trucks can go over it.


A rare substance sprinkled on roads in icy and snowy conditions to improve traction.  As the advent of ice and snow are hard to predict, it is extremely complicated for a city to know how much, if any grit should be kept to make roads safe.  It should be noted that as most people walk and do not drive, grit and sand are rarely, if ever, used on pavements.

In fact, the few pedestrians there are greatly enjoy the sensation of sliding and skating their way to and from work in the cold and snow; it adds an element of fun (even if the local hospitals run out of plaster to mend the resulting broken bones:  after all, plaster is nearly as rare and expensive as grit).  The older people particularly like to feel like they are skating.  With a bit of advance planning however, you can make sure you do not have to deal with icy roads and pavements – simply get a job in local government in a position of power (say leader or head of planning) and be chauffeured wherever you need to go at the taxpayers’ expense.

Some such officials ensure that they don’t spend more than 5 or 6 thousand pounds a year on transportation, thus saving the taxpayer money.  There is also the expression True Grit to describe someone with great integrity (presumably because grit is so rare) -but this is rarely heard these days.

Public Transportation

Public transportation is a means by which people can journey from place to place in safety, comfort, cleanliness and style for a small fee, according to a strictly adhered to timetable.  Public transportation routes are developed by the helpful bus companies and local authorities to meet the needs of the people; sometimes a small profit is generated for companies such as First Bus or Stagecoach.

Bus services planners realise that people only need to travel during rush hours on weekdays, therefore services are reduced (or cut entirely) after 6pm at night and weekends.   Planners also realise that most people want to have to journey into a town centre rather than go directly where they want to end up.  It is only to ensure the buses can be kept clean and made to run on time that a bus operator will, with great reluctance, increase the bus fare.  In Aberdeen, where the bus services are so exacting and excellent, one expects to pay more than in other parts of the UK or indeed Europe.   One would have to go far to find a better or more expensive service.


A speedbump, sometimes called a sleeping policeman, is a device placed on a road to ensure people stay within the speed limit.  They are used on streets in Kincorth, presumably to prevent speeders from damaging the highly-finished, smooth road surfaces, which do tempt people to speed. However, they are not used in Torry because the local authorities insist that speedbumps prevent fire, police and ambulances from speeding to the rescue – and because no one in  Torry ever speeds.

Coming soon:   Common Good Fund, Sustainability, conflict of interest