Took a walk down through Aberdeen City Centre today.
Grim, grim, grim.
A third of the shops on Union Street empty or closed down.
Another third comprising of charity shops and budget stores (e.g. Poundland)
The final third of quality merchandisers hanging onto their businesses by their fingertips.
Will Marks and Spencers be next to close up, following on the heels of John Lewis? I wouldn't bet against it.
Don't dare look up, it's not a pretty sight. Filthy windows and rotten woodwork. Gutters and drainpipes with grass and weeds growing out of them (check out Hadden Street; unbelievable!).
And don't dare look down. Pavements covered in pigeon and seagull shit so badly you can smell it as you walk past. (e.g. between the Co-op and the Music Hall on Union Street; in Golden Square - not so Golden, more white-ish).
I managed to negotiate crossing the Bridge Street / Union Terrace gardens junction with Union Street and hastily made my way onto the Union Street pavement. Wouldn't dare walk on the "pedestrianised" roadway, I'm likely to get mown down by a speeding cyclist with no regard for the safety of pedestrians.
Walking past beggars every 20 yards, I made it to the Bon Accord Centre.
Do I wear a mask inside the mall, or do I not? It's hard to tell, I think the rule is "please yourself", as so many don't seem to bother, and no one is bothered to enforce the law.
Walked round a few streets in the city centre. Deliveroo bikes mounting pavements, watch yourself. Oh, and cars pulling up at the side of pavements with no regard for the double yellow lines. What ho, it's a free for all. Thought I saw a parking attendant, must have been a mistake.
Certainly haven't seen a police person. Do they still exist? Maybe the Black Lives Matter movement did away with them all.
Then there's the Nuart artwork daubed anywhere a blank wall can be found that isn't owned by anyone that prefers to keep their walls paint free. I read in the Evening Express recently - "Who doesn't like to see a drab blank wall painted with some Nuart artwork?". I can answer that - "me!"
What on Earth has turned Aberdeen City Centre into this horrible, dilapidated, impoverished mess? If this is progress, please build me a time machine and take me back to the 1960s. A time when beautiful buildings like the Majestic Cinema still existed and was considered beautiful. A time when Aberdeen won Britain in Bloom regularly.
People used to joke about Dundee being called "Dump-dee", but having been in both cities recently, I think Aberdeen is winning that title hands-down now.
Can anyone sort this sorry mess out? I fear for the tourists landing at the new Nigg Harbour next year rushing to get back to their cruise ship with stories to take back home about what a "horrible" city Aberdeen is. "Nothing to see here Captain, start the engines!". Negative comments about Aberdeen city centre distributed worldwide.
And how did it come to this sorry state so suddenly? How is it that a city, once openly recognised as the most attractive in Scotland, now lags so badly behind Glasgow , Edinburgh, and even Dump-Dee! As soon as the oil money went, the affluence went with it. Add in a SNP Scottish government with an instilled hatred against Aberdeen, and we are dealing with a serious case of government under-investment in Aberdeen.
Can Aberdeen City Council do anything to improve matters? Undoubtedly, the Union Terrace Gardens upgrade will help, but only a little. There seems to be a great unwillingness to tackle the day-to-day requirements of occupied shops, clean and safe streets to walk in, and law enforcement of the kind that keeps bikes off pavements and cars where they should be.
Oil Capital of Europe? More like the Black Hole of Calcutta.
Still no one is to blame. It's all Covid's fault. Isn't it always?