EVEN Aberdonians were surprised to be informed that the residents of the Granite City had been named as the happiest of any city in the UK by a government survey.
While I personally would never wish to disparage any award won by the North-east, the self effacing citizens seemed to think it was all a bit of a joke.
The comments I picked up from around the area, including Aberdeen ranged from “You’ve got to be kidding” to “never.” In between there was the gentle cynicism very typical of a part of Scotland never enthusiastic about promoting itself.
So what is the real truth about happiness levels in Scotland’s third city?
For starters Aberdeen is enjoying relative affluence compared to other parts of the country. The region’s jobless queues are shorter than the many troubled parts of the UK, though no one can be happy about the black spots around the Banff and Moray coastline.
We can also claim to have one Scotland’s natural playgrounds on our doorstep, including beautiful Deeside, Donside, and other chunks of rural Aberdeenshire, Banffshire and Kincardineshire, even if the powers that be don’t wish us to use these names.
The quality of life is quite unique, envied by many, for why else would we have so many people retiring up here? Our road links are good, despite our carping about lack of dual carriageways, and bridges.
The rush hour in and around Aberdeen is exactly that - an hour of inconvenience. When compared to London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle, it is a blip in the working day. Granted, our traffic is not well managed, but could be sorted out with some thought and application, though I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for our respective councils.
So having made the case for being cheery in Aberdeen, what about the downside?
For starters the inability, or the lack of desire to promote the town has become an albatross round its collective neck, though there is still an inbuilt arrogance, including self proclaiming itself as the ‘oil capital of Europe.’
The North-east is a mass of contradictions. On one hand ‘wha’s like us’ is balanced by an incredible self effacing attitude to how we are perceived.
The weather is not brilliant, but in a summer of discontent where in UK is it any better?
On the sports front, Aberdeen Football Club has become a mediorce force in Scottish soccer with its shrinking band of supporters happy to live in the past, or be fixated with a former manager of the club to the detriment of the current set up.
Lack of facilties for other sports tells its own tale, begging the question as to what the city fathers having been doing to attract investment from the oil industry in the past 40 years. Golf might be the exception, though with so many courses lying empty, you would have to ask if another course is of any benefit?
However, over the piece, Aberdonians have much to smile about. At least I think so, even if most of you seem not to agree.