I am having difficulty completing this belated farewell to Strathclyde Region. No matter how hard I try, it comes out as if I've got a grudge against the recent deceased. In 1977, I fell off my Lambretta on the Esplanade in Oban. The local bikers who came to my aid blamed the remotely sited council for the poor state of the roads that had precipitated my accident. Come 1994, I was forking out nearly Pounds 100 for a new alloy wheel for my Favorit after an innocuous looking puddle turned out to be a deep pothole. I tried for compensation from the roads department but didn't get it.
Those who read my piece in the General Teaching Council's Link freesheet ("my wife spotted your photograph as I was making the magazine into a paper plane," writes a friend from the City of Discovery) will know that I didn't like being compulsorily transferred in my early teaching days. I didn't like it either when a much valued colleague was displaced a year or so ago after a mid-term staffing review. Guess which organisation I held responsible?
In each case it was the feeling of being a piece on an elaborate board game that got to me. I imagine most of us feel we belong in or to our schools rather than to the local authorities that seem to have ultimate control over our destinies.
My eye falls on the Radio Times. There is a feature on the X-Files, the detective series about alien abductions and spooky happenings. Suddenly all is clear. My article has a new direction and grudges are abandoned. I realise that politicians, councillors and administrators in general are all aliens. They are not Wellsian monsters bent on domination. Far from it. Their intentions are by and large good but they see the human race as inferior, in need of direction.
These aliens race towards Earth at speeds approaching that of light, hibernating in suspended animation until they gain the outer reaches of the solar system. Then they wake to learn of our culture from the wisps of electromagnetic radiation that make it out that far from satellite broadcasts and, by a freak lensing effect of the upper atmosphere, from Scottie McClue's radio show. Once in orbit the visitors' sophisticated imaging systems pick out the headlines on newspapers, concentrating on the tabloids as they are the easiest to read from afar.
Thus equipped with a distorted view of how life really is, they land in moorland sites near Falkirk and Livingston. Soon they have worked their way into positions of power and influence in local and national government. Kind but dim landed gentry Tories and ex-union Labour men who whistle through ill-fitting false teeth as they shpeak find themselves edged out by the greys. Though reasonably benevolent, the aliens treat us as an enlightened dairy farmer might treat his herd: no deliberate ill-treatment but no recognition of us as individuals either.
At the moment I am probably alone in believing that politicians and local government administrators are increasingly likely to have extraterrestrial ethnic backgrounds. By publicly expressing these views I lay myself open to ridicule but at least "they" won't abduct me now. That would prove I've been right all along.
But what of the new authorities? Anyone who ever watched Doctor Who knows one thing for sure. You might have seen the aliens destroyed with their spaceship at the end of the last episode but they'll be back in the next series. And they never improve.
Gregor Steele notes that it is now possible to buy anti- alien abduction stickers for your car.