NCWindowI was so proud when Ross, my partner’s son, crossed the line in Musselburgh, just over four hours at his first attempt.   Twenty six miles of constant slog, dehydration, sore feet and hitting the “wall”, where the body runs out of energy.  It’s hard to comprehend; it would take me the full day.   Much easier to understand were the expressions on faces, with each runner’s home straight telling something about their journey, their state of mind: euphoria, pain, theatricals, grim determination.  A great spectacle.

Ross told me how, towards the end, when he was slowing to walk and in a terrible place mentally, a much older man, grabbed him and cajoled, pulled and lambasted him into one last effort, running with him to the line.  And when they reached the home stretch, the old timer urged Ross to sprint to the virtual tape, but they crossed together.  I saw many examples like it and in a sport where people obsess about “PB’s” and beating the clock, it shows great generosity of spirit and humanity at its best.  It is good to see how wonderful people can be when you have been exposed to the grubbier side of existence, with point scoring and the pursuit of narrow party advantage. 

Following the local government election a combination of Conservative, Labour and Independent councillors formed a coalition in Aberdeen, followed by the Labour councillors being suspended by their national party for not having a deal to protect the people of Aberdeen from austerity.  Am I the only one confused about this?  Despite some recent devolution of welfare powers to Holyrood, it doesn’t go far enough and the only body that can protect Aberdonians from austerity is Westminster.  The Labour group’s woes left me thinking.  Does the political animosity amongst parties help anyone “over the line”? Have the four decades of council administrations done justice to Aberdeen and its status as an economic powerhouse?  

I’m a new comer so maybe not best placed to tell.  Aberdeen has had very low unemployment for most of the time and occasionally, a counter-cyclical economy when the rest of the country was in pain, so in the round its citizens’ quality of life has been better than in most parts of Scotland, or the UK outside of London.   Nice!  If you look at other oil capitals around the world, you see transformation and sparkling modernity.  As an outsider I see a City gripped by mall mania to the sad decline of Union Street.  I am underwhelmed by the piecemeal and uninspiring development of areas around the Dee and the harbour.  Now, half a century after the discovery of oil, we are rushing to expand the airport, and build the by-pass and another harbour but it all feels tactical and not strategic.  What about the legacy?  

An increasingly unequal society gives a charity like Grampian a lot to do.  The North East is more unequal than most, driven by oil and gas.  Or was?  Research or speculation from Stanford University in the USA suggests that driverless electric cars and haulage could eviscerate the fossil fuel industry in the next decade, leaving the price of oil stuck below $30.  Ouch!  The North Sea will be largely uneconomic.  Regardless, keeping the lid on climate change compels us to leave half of fossil fuel assets in the ground.  Does that make me a happier CEO?  Surely an impoverished Aberdeen will be more equal?  Ask Wishaw or Paisley.  It doesn’t work like that.  The price of housing may stall again but those that have benefited from the energy sector can convert their advantage or move.  For the Association and the families we are trying to help it will be grim. Life tends not to be like a four year elected term, more like a marathon.  Is it unfair and unreasonable to expect local politics to take a longer view and work together to get us all over the line?

 

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