Thursday, 14 November 2013

Tweetering with Lesley

14th November 2013

Aldo has a nice chat on Twitter with his good friend Lesley Hinds, Edinburgh Council Transport Convener, and ends up in tomorrows chip wrapper!

With friends in high places, it can't be long now until Aldo gets himself onboard the Edinburgh Gravy Tram!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Testing Times for Edinburgh Trams - Introducing the TREPPELIN

12th November 2013

Dear Marie,

I hope this email finds you well?

This is just a quick note to let you know that I've now submitted my applications for the 'Part-time Ticketing Services Assistant' and 'Part Time Tram Driver' roles advertised on your website. Please be advised that these applications are IN ADDITION TO, rather than a replacement for, my previous application for 'Ticketing Services Assistant (full time)'.

To be honest with you Marie, considering we've not actually conveyed a single paying passenger yet, I'm a bit confused what the difference between a part-time employee, and a full-time employee would entail, but such is my enthusiasm for Edinburgh Trams, I am prepared to accept any role to get ON BOARD Edinburgh Trams!

I'm sure you can empathise with me Marie, when I tell you that trams are never far from my thoughts. Why just the other day I was thinking about the recent tram testing debacle. As is now public knowledge, tram testing commenced a few weeks ago, and promptly ground to an abrupt halt quicker than an...erm...Edinburgh Tram... when we discovered that our state-of-the-art trams are so heavy that they are cracking the concrete track bed infrastructure.

My major concern is not that fact that we have spent a BILLION QUID on what appears to be a mismatched system, but that Edinburgh Council Tax Payers might get wind of this, and put an end to the EDINBURGH GRAVY TRAM before I’m even able to get onboard!

Image is everything Marie, if we want to stay ON THE GRAVY TRAM, we need to maintain the confidence of the public. In short, they need to see OPERATIONAL TRAMS as soon as possible, tested or not. This presents something of a conundrum, how can we deliver operational trams, when our vehicles are too heavy for the track?

Don’t worry Marie, it’s a rhetorical question – while Trams General Manager Tom Norris is probably crying himself to sleep at night by now, by contrast I consider every successive Tram foul-up as a NEW CHALLENGE, and once again I have come up with an INNOVATIVE, ICONIC and 21st CENTURY solution!

We must simply utilise the AWESOME POWER OF HELIUM to deliver Edinburgh's TRAM VISION!

A lot of people already refer to everyone involved with Edinburgh Trams as a ‘bunch of balloons’, but it’s time for us to CALL THEIR BLUFF, Marie. Balloons are in fact the answer to our prayers!

I have attached an illustration of how I envisage this would work, but basically my proposal involves tethering each tram to a helium gas balloon, thus dispensing with the need for ANY track whatsoever.

As a Human Resources Professional, you will of course be aware that the ‘lifting power’ of Helium at sea level and room temperature is approximately 1 gram per litre of gas, Marie.

I believe the average Edinburgh tram weights approximately 55 metric tonnes (unladen). Thus we will only require 55,000,000 litres of Helium gas to render a tram completely weightless. This might sound like a lot of gas, Marie, but it is only a quarter of the volume contained in the famous Hindenburg airship, and that all worked out fine, pretty much. Also remember that Helium is only one form of gas, we could also (like the Hindenburg) use the cheaper Hydrogen option, or even utilise some sort of mechanism to harness the vast amounts of hot air generated by the Edinburgh City Chambers?

To give you an idea of cost using Helium:

50 litre disposable helium gas cylinder = £30 (
10 pack economy latex balloons (1 litre capacity) = 99p (Tesco)

The latex balloons, once filled, would be contained within a large plastic sheet. I propose constructing this from recycled bin bags at no additional cost - there are usually plenty blowing about in our street after the cats have ripped open all the ones Lesley's bin men refuse to pick up.
Per tram we require:
5.5M balloon packets = £5.5M
1.1M Helium cylinders = £33M

Total cost to render each tram completely weightless = £38.5M

Total cost of each weightless tram as percentage of entire project budget = £38.5M/£1000M = 3.85%

For less than the cost of the track construction, I think we could easily create a fleet of 20 helium trams, capable of unrestricted flight.

"Is there a name for this new type of vehicle?", I can hear you asking, Marie.

There is now! I call it a TREPPELIN.

With our modern, iconic, and quite frankly FREAKIN' AWESOME LOOKING TREPPELINS , we can ‘fly’ round the track, and thus achieve an operational tram 'network' with no concerns about weight damage to the infrastructure! We can also forget about the previously discovered problem of ‘wheel deformation’ on stationary trams by simply ‘hovering’ our entire tram fleet a couple of feet off the ground even when parked up at the Gogar Depot!

This would also provide quite a unique spectacle for tourists visiting the city! And as we all know, impressing the tourists is what Edinburgh Trams is all about!

This is just the sort of thinking outside-the-box that you could have expected if you had given me that Tram Controller job, Marie.

Has Tom Norris come up with anything as good as that yet – I THINK NOT!

I look forward to discussing this, and many other pretty awesome ideas I have for Edinburgh Trams, at interview.


Aldo Broon

WARNING: on NO ACCOUNT should a balloon-equipped tram be left untethered and unattended close to Edinburgh Airport, as this could very easily escalate into a ‘near miss’ air traffic incident, which is just the sort of bad publicity we DON’T NEED. The newspapers already make a great big deal about us taking out a few cyclists, so I dread to think what they will write about something  serious!

Friday, 1 November 2013

The Face of the Trams - Ticketing Service Assistant

31st October 2013

Dear Marie,

Apologies for being out of touch for so long. As you can imagine, I was somewhat devastated to hear that once again I had been unsuccessful in my application to become a Revenue Controller for Edinburgh Trams, despite being able to demonstrate considerable experience of borrowing money on the never-never, and spending well outwith my means on a regular basis, skills which would have proven invaluable working at Edinburgh Trams.

I decided to take a break from Edinburgh and have spent the last six months working as a holiday rep and promotions executive in Ibiza. I returned to Edinburgh last week, and was overjoyed to see that the Tram project has advanced in leaps and bounds since I was last here. Where previously the Haymarket junction was a cyclists deathtrap of roadworks and rubble, I am pleased to see that it has now been transformed into a cyclists deathtrap of roadworks and rubble with some metal tram tracks through the middle. Bravo! We're surely ON TRACK to success now!

Enough of my chitter-chatter though Marie, let's get to business! I'm writing to you to ask you to consider me for a couple of positions which you have available.

Firstly, I would like you to accept this letter as an application for a position on the Executive Board of TfE, or whatever they are calling TIE now. You may recall I was previously unsuccessful in my application for the top job, but I feel that an executive board member is a position to which my skills may be better suited. In particular, the 'attend 3 meetings a year for £8K' requirement seems to be something that would suit both my sometimes chaotic lifestyle, and my renumeration:effort ratio requirements.

I note that Lesley Hinds has stated that she would like board members to have some experience of public transport systems, and I can assure her that I have spent many, many hours on public transport during the construction of our tram line. Generally it has been completely stationary, but I have utilised the time to come up with a large number of suggestions and strategies to bring public transport into the 21st Century. I am fully confident that I will be able to bring 'a voice of sanity' to the boardroom, to complement the unspecified skills and talents which Ms Hinds, Mr Cardownie, Mr Bagshaw and Ms Mowat will be providing.

The other position in which I am interested is the role of 'Ticketing Service Assistant', or TSA. I believe that Edinburgh Trams General Manager, Tom Norris (that was supposed to be MY job Tom, you chancer!) stated that he was looking for people who would enjoy the job and 'have fun', and Lesley has even called this role 'the face of the Tram Service'. A heady responsibility, I'm sure you'll agree, Marie, but a challenge to which I am IDEALLY SUITED.

My recent experience as a holiday rep in Ibiza meant that I was responsible for the enjoyment and safety of hundreds of holidaymakers and colleagues. Apart from a couple of friends who got themselves into a bit of bother and ended up in Peru, I was 110% effective in ensuring that everyone had lots of fun, while remaining safe and well at all times.

That is what I will bring to the role, Marie - RELIABILITY AND FUN.

For example, as you may know, Edinburgh is rapidly becoming a destination of choice for Stag and Hen parties. The increasing availability of tacky festivals and events expertly provided by Councillor Steve Cardownie, together with the wide selection of reasonably-priced saunas and massage parlours, has put Edinburgh on the Bohemian party-map. As a fun-loving Ticketing Service Assistant, I would ensure that our visitors can START THE PARTY the minute their plane touches down at Edinburgh Airport!

How would I do that? Marie, I am proud to reveal my brand new idea:


Each stag or hen do participant arriving at the airport would be helped to purchase a litre of Scottish Whisky in the airport duty free (we may be able to get a cheap deal on the whisky for buying in bulk), and then directed to proceed to the airport tram stop a mere half kilometre away.

Having braved the wind tunnel, the contestants will then jump on the first tram which arrives.

Every time the tram stops - either at a official stop, at signals, or after knocking over a cyclist, I will instruct the competitors to immediately DOWN A LARGE DRAM (two fingers minimum).

The aim of the game will be for the contestants to try to make it all the way to York Place without puking on the seats. To add some additional peril to the game, and increase the excitement, anyone puking anywhere other than the designated puke-bins will be kicked off the tram.

If a tie breaker is required, with more than one non-pukee remaining at the York Place terminus, then the first one to run into the Conan Doyle and down a pint of strong lager will be declared the winner!

With a start to their trip like that, we'll be able to ensure that their stag/hen do in Edinburgh will be an experience (not) to remember! All thanks to Edinburgh Trams!

Of course it can't all be fun and games on Edinburgh Trams, Marie, and I appreciate there is a serious side to the role as well. As 'Ticketing Services Assistant' I will be responsible for dealing with any conflict situations. I refer of course to the presence of any ne'er do wells, or troublemakers on the trams.

Now I have thought about this Marie, and I think we should take a zero tolerance approach to such undesirables. To this end, I have compiled a list of the sort of people I think we can well do without on the trams, and who I would refuse transport to, regardless of whether they presented a valid ticket;

1. Old People - they take far too long to get themselves sat down, and quite often disrupt other passengers with trivial chatter about the weather and their various medical ailments. They're not even going to pay. We don't need them Marie. I will not allow any old people on my tram.

2. Young People - even worse than old people, this group are consistently tuned-in and zoned-out. With their feet on the seats, their constant gum chewing and the annoying tinny rattle of their Sony Walkman or Ghetto-blasters, they are a general annoyance to other passengers. I will not allow any young people on board my tram.

3. Mothers - In particular mothers with prams and pushchairs. These passengers take up an inordinate amount of room, and like old people, take an age to get on board/disembark. Of course they have the added disruptive factor of a leaky and screaming small baby. It's not for nothing they are frequently collectively referred to as a 'bunch of mothers', Marie. I will not allow them on board my tram.

4. People who look a bit odd
- you know the ones Marie, they have a squinty eye, or a lumpy head or something of that nature. Some of them are okay, I'm sure, but should we take the risk? We don't want Edinburgh Trams getting a bad image, we want each tram to be an pleasant oasis of beautiful people. No ugly, or weird looking people will be allowed on my tram.

5. The working classes - I think this goes without saying Marie. The working classes generally have either paint or cement, or some other noxious substance on their trousers - we can't take the risk of that getting on our leather seats. Even the clean ones are likely to have woodbine-stained fingers. No, Marie, no working class types will be allowed on board my tram.

6. Toffs - you know the type Marie, Hooray Henries and Henriettas. They may be clean, but their loudmouthed antics more than make up for that. A particular annoyance for both other passengers and staff alike. Sorry, no toffs on my tram.

I think that just about covers it (in addition of course to all the regulations already published, i.e. the banning of hot/cold drinks, hot/cold food, bacon rolls, Kevin Bacon, mobile phones, over-sized headphones, head cases, drug addicts, drug paraphernalia, items with a marijuana motif, offensive t-shirts, bare chests (some exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis), hairy chests, hairy moles, rodents, pets, heavy petting, heavy parcels, concrete, concrete boots, Wellington boots, Paddington Bear, bare chests, No -  I've done that one, drunk and disorderly, sober and disorderly, moaning minnies, minnie mouses, mickey mouses, fireworks, firearms, tattooed arms, tattooed faces, excrement and faeces, skateboards, skis, hover-boards, hoovers, vacuum cleaners, vacuum pumps, bicycle pumps, bicycles, unicycles, and clowns).

I'm sure you will agree Marie, that I have clearly put a lot more thought and preparation into this than any of the other candidates, and therefore am the obvious and best choice for the position.

It doesn't stop there though - once offered the job I have PLENTY more ideas to make traveling on EDINBURGH TRAMS the fun, pleasant and UNIQUE experience which it deserves to be!

I look forward to discussing these ideas with you at interview.

Yours, in TRAMENDOUS anticipation,

Aldo 'Blakey' Broon