The trams! The bloody trams! Those bloody b*stard trams! Those bloody b*stard f*cking trams! The bloody b*stard f*cking c*nty old TRAMS!
Permutation upon permutation of exasperated expletives have been thrown at the now infamous Edinburgh Tram project. Each time I return to the city after a length of time on tour I expect the fervent dissing of the tram works to have quietened a little, that the city's drivers and pedestrians will have accepted the situation and moved on to another subject of complaint. Not so, and it's easy to see why. This is a project that has become known for its complete failure to become a working transport system and has wasted millions of pounds in the process. The initial estimated cost in 2003 was £375m, which over the last 10 years has spiralled, seemingly uncontrollably, to the £600m mark. In the meantime the population of the city has been somewhat 'put out', and not just in a "what on earth are you doing with our money?" sense, but literally, physically shoved in all directions. I no longer know how best to navigate the city centre, awash as it is with barriers and ever changing pedestrian and vehicle detours. And as I walk through this sh*t labyrinth, it's also quite easy to assess the amount of work still left to be done, and exactly how urgently this work is being attended to. In the past I have felt like shouting "FASTER! WORK FASTER YOU LOT!" through the metal grill of the work-site fence. These days, however, I usually just feel like climbing over and lending a hand, realising that it is not the fault of those on the front line, but is in fact due to some fairly major errors further up the ladder. Perhaps a 'lend a hand' scheme wouldn't be such a bad idea though. I'd happily do a day a month, maybe making the tea, occasionally getting a shot on a digger - well worth it.
And all to make our city seem somehow more European. That's it, isn't it? Trams give off an air of a cosmopolitan, forward-thinking urban environment. Coffee tastes better when there's a tram going past, as do croissants and Danish beer... probably. The tram system as it stands in Edinburgh does nothing but make one of the most beautiful cities in the world look like a bit of hole and we can't wait to have it the holes filled in. FASTER! BLOODY FASTER!