I don’t know about you, but I appreciate art because it’s pretty. And because someone worked hard to make it pretty.
On 6 February, the Skywhale will take to the skies over Canberra, joined this year by its new hot-air-balloon daddy, Skywhalepapa. But I, for one, will not be looking skyward.
Sorry, they are not art.
They are, respectively, seven and 10-storey-high grotesque testaments to the fact the ACT Government has lost the plot.
You see, a Western, liberal, democratic government such as ours is essentially a group of representatives elected by the hoi polloi, on the charge that they will take some of our money and give it back to us in the form of useful things.
Things that oil the cogs of society and make it all run more smoothly.
For starters, new roads will be built and existing ones maintained, sufficient supplies of water and power will be secured, and rubbish will be collected.
What a government is not is a child who draws a woeful picture and then expects us to pin it on the fridge door for all to see and celebrate. Not least a picture with 10 boobs on it.
So, why then – if indeed the ACT Government understands this – did my wife hit a pothole in Chisholm the other day and blow out a tyre?
Yes, it has been a wet few months, and potholes form when the patch of dirt underneath a road subsides, usually due to erosion by water.
And, yes, most of them are repaired eventually, which should be a wonder given how many roads and, in turn, road patrollers there are in the entire region. Not only that, but imagine all the red tape they must have to machete through to close off a section for repairs.
The ACT is also getting to the stage where all those things that were built in the 1960s through to the 1980s are wearing out. Like the toilet cistern in my unit – it’s just what happens in this world when something is used for long enough.
I’ll go on in their defence. Compared to the roads in many countries around the world, those in the ACT are still a billiard table.
Nope, can’t do it any more, because the people in many countries around the world are also not each paying $2000-plus a year in rates.
Too many of our local roads are crumbling and riddled with ruts, bumps and potholes for much money to be going anywhere near them.
I should admit that just across the border in NSW, things are even worse. My wife and I are renting in Queanbeyan, where the roads were obviously designed by a group of preschoolers throwing wet spaghetti onto paper. The council looked at the result and said to the surveyors and drafters standing around, “Make it exactly like that”.
So they did, and the result is predictably chaotic.
Of course, the ACT Government will say it is very busily improving our roads. It is, after all, painting rainbows on roundabouts, lowering speed limits and dropping speed humps and safety chicanes everywhere like someone who has picked up far too many M&M’s for the size of their hands.
But by the time you add this to a concoction of potholes and bumps, you end up with a road that isn’t much more comfortable than the dirt wallaby track that was there to start with. Why did they even bother?
As far as I can make out, there are a few things going on here. One is the modern trend to expect a lot more from our governments than merely the basics. But that’s a discussion for another time.
The other is that it’s not really much of a legacy. No-one will remember the string of lumps that was patched on Streeton Drive, but they will remember the traffic lights in Braddon feature two men and a love heart.
But happily for us, there is some incentive.
Insurance companies are bloodhounds at sniffing out money wherever it is to be found. So if you happen to shatter a wheel in a pothole and it’s worth a claim, chances are they’ll go after the local government or council, teeth bared.
It shouldn’t have to come to that, though. It’s well overdue for a return to the good old three Rs: roads, rates and rubbish.
Nobody asked for the Skywhale and its equally deformed father.
I ask for the three Rs. I’m sure my now deflated tyre isn’t alone either.