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The Flying Pigs: Confusion over Union Street bus gates signposts the way to £2.5 million in fines

Union street bus gate sign
This was what the bus gate sign outside the tourist information on Union Street looked like last week.

The latest topical insights from Aberdeen musical sketch comedy team, The Flying Pigs.

Ron Cluny, Official Council Spokesman

I see the usual agitators and smart Alecs in the local press have been reporting on the issue of the apparently erroneous signage concerning the Bus Gates in operation over Market St and Union St.

Well, yes, it is true that the sign on the Union Street/Broad Street junction that reads ‘Bus Gate in 200 yards’ should say ‘100 yards’, and the one on the Market Street/Trinity Quay junction which says ‘in 1/4 mile’ is actually only 150 yards from it, but while these signs maybe inaccurate please be assured that this is not evidence of incompetence by this administration. Oh no. It’s quite deliberate.

The Flying Pigs

It is a fact well-known, particularly to those of us au fait with the work of Meatloaf, that objects in the rear view mirror can appear closer than they are. So, obviously we had our bus gate signs labelled further way than was the case in order to avoid the confusion that could cause.

Additionally, we described the distance to the bus gates in ‘yards’ or ‘fractions of a mile’ instead of the more commonly used ‘meters’ because doing mental arithmetic has been shown to have beneficial effects for the brain. Who knows how many lucky citizens have had their wits sharpened by having to quickly multiply by 1760 in order to work out how much road they’ve got left before they have to perform a U-Turn in front of an articulated lorry.

Well, helpfully, we know. Because in just the last 6 months upwards of 42,000 motorist have managed to make a collop of it and sailed through a bus gate incurring a fine.

More than 42,000 drivers have been fined for driving through a bus gate on Union Street.

Now, some moany-faced pooh-poohers have suggested that it is somehow unfair that penalties have been issued for contravention of traffic measures which are at best ambiguous and at worst actually false. But they miss the point of this administration’s transport policy. These bus gates have played a crucial role in reducing traffic in the city centre, improving air quality for pedestrians and, by being absolutely impossible to avoid the first time you meet them, raising two and a half million quid in penalties. You’re welcome.

Dr Hector Schlenk, Senior Research Fellow, Bogton Institute for Public Engagement with Science

As I scientist, I am often asked to comment on vital questions, such as “Does the term ‘soft opening of Union Terrace Gardens’ relate to the precise viscosity of the mud there?” and “Now Stewartie Milne is retiring, who will get his annual mention in the Student Show?”.

But this week I have mostly been asked about the naming of new species. A recently discovered twisted-claw millipede has been assigned the sobriquet Nannaria Swiftaw after the pop singer Taylor Swift because the entomologist who discovered it is a fan of the singer.

Sadly this vogue for scientists naming species after famous figures is not a recent one; we need only recall the abdomen-gyrating wasp Aleiodes Shakirae or the tree loving amphibian Hyloscirtus Princecharlesi. Though it’s hard to tell who the inspiration could have been for the burly beetle Agra Schwarzeneggeri.

It is of course a holy grail for many scientists to have a species named after them. I myself have spent a lifetime communicating the tenets of science to the sort of people who know who Taylor Swift is but couldn’t tell a quark from a supercluster. And thus I long for the day when my own contribution to scientific understanding sees a newly discovered species given the Latin suffix ‘Schlenki’. However, given the way things are going in the world, rather than rely on some 19 year old zoologist picking me over, say, Cardi B or Richard Osman, I realised that the quickest way to achieve this was to find a new species myself.

To this end I spent the last week in the serious endeavour of attempting to turn up an as yet unknown variety of multi-legged arthropod of the Diplopoda class. Given that approximately 10,000 millipede species are known to exist, that they tend to inhabit decaying plant matter, and that I haven’t done any gardening since 1992, I reasoned that conditions should surely be ripe for such a discovery in my backie.

Sadly, despite many hours sifting through the flowerbeds, I was unsuccessful; until Mrs Schlenk spotted the state of the garden and proposed, somewhat forcefully, that as I was wet, spineless and had ruined her bearded iris, I could properly give my name to a variety of annoying slug.


See the Flying Pigs live in The Rothienorman Picture Show at HMT Aberdeen from  September 21 2022

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