.... is the road to England. So said Dr Johnson, we are told. I was reminded of this by an article in the Berwick Advertiser this week. I've borrowed this picture from them, because I can't be bothered to go out and take my own boring photo of a road. (So sue me - I've given you lots of free publicity on here, 'Tiser.)
The piece was about the ongoing and frankly extremely tedious debate about why the A1 ought to be converted into a dual carriageway and how to persuade central government to cough up the money to do it. The tedium lifted for me when I read that the Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Borders area, John Lamont, has denounced the Nationalist government for failing to upgrade the A1, saying 'just because a road leads to England is no reason not to invest in it". Posterity will be grateful to Mr Lamont for this immortal utterance. I laughed so much that I dropped the paper. It's lucky I was at home at the time and not on public transport.
Residents of North Northumberland have been quietly fuming for decades over the inadequate roads in the region. What is now prosaically known as the A1 was historically called The Great North Road and is the central transport spine of the country, running from London due north all the way to Edinburgh. Unfortunately the bit of it that runs through North Northumberland tends to get blocked every time it snows heavily or rains a lot. Never mind being the main link with London and Edinburgh, the residents of Alnwick and Berwick are cut off from each other in bad weather. I was once on the last bus to make it through from Alnwick to Berwick before the water from rapidly melting snow made the road impassable, and that kind of thing is hard on the nerves.
The campaigners for improving the A1 have now leaped with commendable speed and agility onto the bandwagon of the Scottish independence referendum. Is the present government in Westminster not committed to the continuance of the Union? It is. Does it not wish to maintain and promote in every possible way the links between England and Scotland? Well, yes. So it must realise the importance of - drum roll please - the road which runs between the two countries? Erm, suppose so. And so will it demonstrate its commitment to the continued existence of the United Kingdom by giving Northumberland County Council a big wodge of cash with which to build a sparkling new multi-lane highway to connect the council's taxpayers with the Scottish capital? Now hang on a minute ....
John Lamont MSP is, as you may have guessed, a member not of the SNP but of the party known north of the border as 'the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party'. He has surveyed the portion of the A1 running through his own patch of 'Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire", noticed the same bandwagon trundling along it and joined Northumberland County Council on board. It must be a bit of a squash.