Glancing at a BBC webpage one day last month, we were surprised to learn that Perth wants to be classified as one of the world's slow cities. "A move to win Cittaslow status for the Fair City has received backing from the council and enterprise company," said the report. "Cittaslow, which means 'slow city', began in Italy in 1999 and aims to improve life in small towns and cities."
The only slow thing about Perth when we last visited it, was its traffic, which moved at snail's pace at peak hours, a condition shared with most of the world's great cities.
Perth (population nearly two million), on the banks of the picturesque Swan River, is Western Australia's dynamic state capital, . It's enjoying boom times as a result of record prices for the state's seemingly inexhaustible reserves of gold and iron ore, plus a steady flow of natural gas from its offshore fields. There are said to be more jobs available than people to fill them.
However, when we searched the internet to discover the reason for Perth's strange wish to be labelled a slow city, we found these items to support the claim:
Still puzzled why Perth in 2006 wanted to be called a slow city, we re-read the news story, on a BBC Scotland webpage, this time more carefully, and all was explained. We had overlooked the very first paragraph, which reported:
The story referred not to Perth, Western Australia, but to its ancient namesake in central Scotland, 70 km (43 miles) northwest of Edinburgh, population below 50,000. Called "the fair city," it was the capital of Scotland from the 12th century until 1452. James I of Scotland was assassinated there in 1437. Queen Victoria named the Australian city after its Scots ancestor in 1856.
Three English towns have already joined the Cittaslow movement: Ludlow in Shropshire, and Aylsham and Diss in Norfolk.
Cittaslow's UK President, Graeme Kidd, who is also mayor of Ludlow, said the movement was about encouraging and helping towns to retain their own identity and vibrancy.
"It's not about resisting change and development," he said. "Rather, Cittaslow aims to promote a mindset that pays due attention to the needs of individuals and the needs of the natural and man-made environment."
Scotland's Perth isn't always slow. Edinburgh's Evening News reported on July 29:
And only a week later, Perth Theatre featured The Singing Kettle: Old MacDonald's Farm.
Who could possibly call that slow?