Hart of the Matter
Christmas Eve is just such a tiring day - Iím still working away at analysing this survey, and I havenít even started to write Hart Of The Matter for this week. I do hope I donít end up posting a questionnaire someoneís filled in instead.
As youíll be passing this evening, I wondered if you could take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to fill in this short questionnaire about Haverhill Town Centre.
We are carrying out a survey of the usage people make of our town centre and the views of visitors from outside the area, like yourself. All these questionnaires have been devised specifically for the age and socio-economic groups to which potential visitors belong.
The answers you give will be fed into a long process of consultation about the town which began in 1980 and is expected to be completed some time around 2031. At that point all the ideas which have been put forward will be evaluated and those with the highest priorities will be included in the councilís forward plan.
The first set of questions is about you.
The automatic selector has identified you as being in the over 60s age bracket. Are you a) 60-65; b) 65-75; c) 75-85; d) over 85 (please state age)?
Answer: d (2,000yrs). This answer does not compute.
Is your annual income a) less than £10,000pa; b) £10,000-20,000pa; c) £20,000-£30,000pa; d £30,000-£50,000pa; e) over £50,000pa.
Answer: a (nil). Bizarre or what?
Did you travel by a) car; b) bus [from Lapland? you must be joking]; c) train [or dreaming]; d) bicycle; e) on foot; f) other (please state)
Answer: f (reindeer-powered sleigh). The participant does not seem to be taking the questionnaire seriously.
Now questions about town centre usage:
Which of the services provided in Haverhill town centre is most relevant to you?
a) Retail [Some decent shops, but probably not enough to serve me]
b) Sports centre [wrong shape Ė me, that is]
c) Arts centre [no time now, but I want to get back for Puss In Boots]
d) Restaurants or takeaways [the latter Ė Iím in a hurry so USA Chickenís good, but what happened to that McDonalds?]
e) Pubs [hope to get back for some decent beer in the Queenís Head when Iíve finished work]
f) Beauty salons and hairdressers [Ho-ho-ho]
g) Others (please state) [Charity shops Ė thatís where I get my best stuff]
Finally, please give your comments about our town centre.
Where shall I start? I see your parking charges have gone up since last year. That was a bit of a shock as I tried to slip my little sleigh in among a herd of off-road 4x4s in Jubilee Walk. I quickly moved on to Tesco because itís free. So this year, I did my last minute shopping in there. Gent my size canít go trotting off for half-a-mile down the street when thereís no need. Anyway, it adds another half-a-mile just to use that ridiculous pelican crossing. Whose idea was that, then?
I must admit I did like those new shiny leaves youíve got down in Queen Street Ė I could see the lights on them from way up high. And I did make sure I dropped in early this morning to get some nice veg off the market. You donít know how lucky you are to have a Christmas Eve market. It really makes the day.
But my biggest disappointment was down on Ehringshausen Way. My new satnav told me there were some new shops there Ė and a McDonalds Ė but then I noticed it was a year fast. But they havenít even started building them yet. The weather this year has turned that great big concrete platform into a skating rink. I had a bit of fun putting Donner and Blitzen through a few figures of eight on there. Still, next year Ė oh, my 2011 programme has just wiped all the shops off. So itíll be skating again, will it? Boo.
The weirdest sight Iíve seen this year was that strange, iridescent green line that has suddenly appeared over towards the eastern side of town. Itís a great big oval with the sewage works in the middle of it. You can only see it from the air. I looked on the ground and thereís nothing there. I turned on my new app that tells you what everything is all around you and it came up with some French rubbish Ė Ďcordon sanitaireí. I should get rid of that. Itís the sort of thing that could put visitors off.
I donít think your little town centre is doing too badly nowadays. I always look forward to coming here because you know youíll get a friendly Haverhill welcome Ė and a nice questionnaire to fill out. Iím getting quite used to these now.... Merry Christmas.