Perhaps the summer cold I picked up somewhere along the line had dulled my senses, but a bus journey around the outskirts of Aberdeen last week turned out to be a depressing affair, giving me food thought on what Scotland’s third largest city is all about.
Far from feeling I was in a vibrant city, as should befit the so-called oil capital of Europe, I was more inclined to think I was heading into an abyss of poverty, poor communication on transport filled with listless, even lost souls who seemed to have no purpose in their lives.
Okay, what did I expect on a bus heading out of the city on a Saturday morning? Not a song and dance routine that’s for sure, certainly not from Aberdonians.
But let’s put my journey to and from Dyce in some kind of context, as someone who is more used these days to travelling in and out of Ellon where in the main I travel with apparently affluent, reasonably animated commuters, even if many of them are senior citizens, cashing in on the generosity of the government’s free bus system.
No, my journey last week was different for a number of reasons, embracing all ages groups, none of whom appeared to being paying for the pleasure of using an excellent service to and from the city centre.
A discreet enquiry of a fellow passenger led to him informing me that most were travelling on bus passes paid for by our department of social services, but so many I thought.
Is this really Aberdeen of the 21st century? Surely not if we are to believe the low unemployment figures for the North-east?
Much chastened by the experience I got off at my destination, reflecting on what I had witnessed as I walked on to my place of work for the day.
But if my morning experience had been depressing it was nothing to what befell me on the way back on the same service some eight hours later in the early evening.
The same bus service was less busy, as you might expect, but the bus I boarded had not enjoyed the best of days in the face of the abuse it had undergone from litter louts. Describing it as knee deep would be unfair, but let’s just say it was most unedifying to say the least.
What’s worse nobody seemed to care or mind sitting among debris on what was a relatively new vehicle, deserving of a better fate.
I was more than happy to dismount in Union Street, and clamber aboard a tidy Stagecoach bus heading for the safety of East Gordon in the company of my ain folk who at least on the surface seemed much happier than my travel companions of earlier in the day.