The Answer? 42 of course … but What of the Question?
At the beginning of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (H2G2) Arthur Dent – a quintessential Englishman – appears in his PJs and dressing gown to lie down in front of the JCB and prevent the destruction of his home in the name of creating a hyperspace bypass. He meets up with Ford Prefect and together they hitchhike around the galaxy, Arthur remaining in his dressing gown for most of the story.
“This must be Thursday,” said Arthur musing to himself, sinking low over his beer, “I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”
I feel that I should be doing an Arthur Dent …
“Have you any idea how much damage that bulldozer would suffer if I just let it roll straight over you?” said Mr. Prosser. “How much?” asked Arthur. “None at all,” Mr. Prosser replied.
… not that Kirriemuir is getting a Hyperspace Bypass anytime soon (well I don’t think that is what the plans say) … but there is whole scale destruction of Dog’s stubble field and that is almost as distressing as a Hyperspace Bypass would be!
Even the sky didn’t seem happy about things this morning …
The pavement has ceased to exist overnight and we had to walk through a taped off section with the traffic under traffic light control using a single lane. They will be putting new kerbs in at the newly created road end so hopefully tomorrow it will be safely passable again.
In the meantime Dog is still wanting to get through the barrier to give them a piece of his mind … but he settled for peeing on their road sign on the way back home! Ah … so Dog is Arthur Dent!
Why are they doing this I hear you ask? where is the new road going to? They are creating business premises. It is part of our local plan and has been for sometime but there is oodles of unused business land in nearby Forfar, Brechin and Arbroath as well as in Dundee … why do we need more unused business land? Businesses are struggling to keep going never mind relocate to shiny new premises!
This sort of scheme gets passed time and time again on the promise of bringing employment, improved infrastructure and prosperity to small rural communities. The reality? the companies already have their workforce so if they relocate folk will relocate with them. The construction creates short-term employment but not really new jobs because most construction staff either contract (so move with the work) or have just finished another local construction contract and will move with the company to the next.
As for the improved infrastructure … they are putting a new road in which will service the business land. It is ultimately to form a roundabout (circle) junction with the road going through our hamlet and a service road to a proposed new supermarket on the pony paddocks opposite the stubble field.
It is questionable whether a supermarket is viable – and in fact there are currently two sites with outline permission each claiming they are talking to the only operator who wants to have a supermarket here. If the supermarket and the business land are successfully established there will be greater flow of traffic through our hamlet and since we aren’t getting the Hyperspace Bypass it will not help our infrastructure at all. Our road is already in poorish condition and large commercial vehicles and extra cars will not help it. So the new infrastructure will be a circle with a pedestrian crossing … I am so excited – can you tell?
Eventually they are supposed to make additional provision for public transport and bicycles. The real problem is the capacity of existing road and junction in Kirriemuir – as with many small towns they were not built to carry modern traffic ad there comes a point where you cannot improve them any further … unless you build the hyperspace bypass and take everyone off to “the Supermarket at the end of the Universe”, although Kirriemuir has a rather conservative population which would find the idea of space travel to pick up messages a tad scary?
One of the arguments for giving us this shiny new supermarket is that people will leave their cars at home and walk to do their shopping … obviously none of our Planning Officers or elected representatives have ever done a weekly supermarket shop without their own car to get them home. Even with my limited financial means at the moment by the time I have bought bulky items (like loo roll), heavy items (like Milk and dog food) and things I don’t want to squish (like bread) I am not going to walk even half a mile home carrying it all and as you know I am not averse to walking.
It is all theoretical anyway as far as I am concerned – why would I go past my home to go shopping and then get a bus back one stop when I can go shopping on the way home? And many people who work outside Kirriemuir will continue to do that same thing. The supermarket won’t be on the high street in the town centre – where I might pop in regularly for odds and ends; so I will not be a customer. And whilst the supermarket will create employment if it ever happens how many of the staff will have had to move from their current job because small traditional stores have been forced to close?
So what is the Question? I think it is How many months will it be before ANY building uses the service roads arising from the current destruction of good agricultural land? We’ll see … if you are still reading in almost 4 years time!
Now I am going to indulge myself with a few more of my favourite quotes from H2G2 mainly because they are in tune with how I am feeling right now in some way or another …
“You know,” said Arthur, “it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”
[Ford Prefect:] “Why, what did she tell you?”
[Arthur:] “I don’t know, I didn’t listen.”
I listen to my mother on a daily basis … am wondering whether to volunteer for the next Vogon airlock incident? (seriously I love her but she talks and talks and talks)
“Pardon me for breathing, which I never do anyway so I don’t know why I bother to say it, oh God, I’m so depressed. Here’s another one of those self-satisfied doors. Life! Don’t talk to me about life.”
I am neither paranoid nor depressed but I so relate to this poor android – ignored and left to deal with out of date technology … and doors that talk to you as you pass through ….eugh!
“Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to take you down to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction? ‘Cos I don’t.”
Marvin: “And then of course I’ve got this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side.”
Arthur: “Is that so?”
Marvin: “Oh yes. I mean I’ve asked for them to be replaced, but no one ever listens.”
Arthur: “I can imagine”
… can I get a lift please? anywhere will do as long as there is room for Dog … think I need to get out more don’t I?
Acknowledgement: H2G2 quoted all from Refspace thank you.