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Have you tried the ultimate Arran fitness test yet?
To warm up, you wander along the blue tape until you get to a desk where you can buy an entry ticket. Then to the first leg, the mountain. At the top, while you catch your breath, your entry ticket will be taken so you are allowed into the second challenge, the departure lounge chicane, dodging legs, bags, cases, dogs, small children while you weave between the rows of seats to take position in another blue tape maze.
You are now on the starting line for the last leg, the long march. Once the tape is lifted, you are off on a hike halfway to Ardrossan, only to be stopped by a posse of high vis clad stewards who point you in the direction of the ferry and a welcome rest and refreshment.
But beware, instead of automatically turning left for a cup of tea, do the same and you will end up in the bar, maybe not such a bad idea after all that exercise.
This letter is not directly concerned with Arran but sometimes you come across something that impresses you so much you want to share it – even if you’re not on social media; so I decided to ignore, for the present, the potholes and CalMac and mention something a bit more uplifting.
If I’m the last person to discover the words of Ken Robison, the educationalist, my apologies, but if you haven’t come across him and you’re at all interested in kids’ education please check him out. I’ve not yet read Mr Robison’s books but so far have only listened to his TED talks on the web. Some of the talks include ‘How to escape education’s Death Valley’ – ‘Bring on the education revolution’ – ‘Do school’s kill creativity?’ and ‘Changing education paradigms’. Each talk lasts for about twenty minutes – highly entertaining with some fascinating comments on things like academia, ADHD and much more. I was prompted to check out Mr Robison when I saw him on television responding to a statement by a cabinet minister who had stated that all children should aspire to go to Oxford or Cambridge – Mr. Robison said that he reckoned that the politician ‘had lost his mind’ – I immediately liked this guy.
Below is a copy of the letter sent to North Ayrshire and Arran MP Patricia Gibson and Cunninghame North MSP Kenneth Gibson.
Dear Mr and Mrs Gibson,
I write this as a resident in High Corrie on the Isle of Arran and I write as a person who has suffered multiple spinal injuries going back seven years. Daily living is problem enough when what’s going on in my back can make even walking across a room a painful experience.
However the really big problem comes when I am forced to drive the car. On Friday I was obliged to take the car for its MOT in Lamlash – a 20 mile return journey. With my back injuries this means enduring absolutely agonising jolts at every rough bit of road let alone the potholes which are everywhere. I can drive easily even up to 45mph when the road surface is what any road surface in this country should be. But these stretches are very few and very far between. I now know the road well enough to know where all the very many bad bits are. On these I will have to crawl, even down to 5mph, clinging for dear life to the wheel as the jolts hit or threaten to hit my back and send it into spasm.
It is not always possible to let cars behind overtake so they must be left wondering what is going on as my speed alters all the time and as I weave from side to side of the road to find the least degraded surface to drive on. I am due several visits to the dentist also in Lamlash, and believe you me the thought of the journey there and back is far worse than the thought of anything the dentist might have to do. That could look like a joke, but it is definitely no joke. Driving on Arran’s roads is a living nightmare for me – and no doubt for many others with back problems.
I am quite sure both of you are very well aware of the condition of Arran’s roads. I know the South End roads are just as bad if not worse than the roads at this end. They are worse than a disgrace as you both must know if you have ever had to drive on them. Of course if you don’t have serious back conditions you, like many others, might not notice anything too much although it is hard to see how anyone could drive here without noticing anything. Usually the complaints will be about what the roads do to people’s cars. Cars are one thing. You can live with that. With a permanently injured back you can not.
The question I really want to shout to both of you is: Why have the roads here been allowed to get into this state with absolutely no one taking any responsibility and nothing being done about them for all the 17 years I have already lived here?
This may not be the direct responsibility of either of you, but you were both elected to look after the interests of the people here in your respective ways. These interests in this regard have been woefully disregarded for years. There can be no excuse for this. You have the responsibility to get onto the backs of the people who are responsible for roads and to stay on their backs month on month until they do what they are paid public money to do. It would be good to know the name of the person with over-all responsibility for our roads, even though it should not be my task to make sure they start doing the work they are paid for.
We have a new ferry about to come into operation and with RET on the ferries every effort seems to be being made to get more and more cars and huge tour buses onto the island. So there should be every economic incentive to provide Arran with roads fit for the ever increasing and ever heavier traffic. Traffic that is going to make roads at present impossible for me to drive on in a very short time will be impossible for anyone to drive on. Indeed they may soon cease to exist.
For myself, however, it is just a matter of how an elderly disabled person can live on this island – and incidentally, if you think an ambulance could help me out, the answer is never! I have had journeys in ambulances and they are without exception the worst sprung vehicles I have ever been in. Total agony for my back as they bounce and sway and rattle over every bump and bit of unevenness there is.
What is the present plan to give Arran the roads it needs? When are the works going to start? When will the whole operation be completed by? And as for the funding, apart from education and health (and as you can see this is part of health) what is more important than this?
Please do not trouble to reply to this unless you are seriously going to do something about it.