Aberdeen Voice is grateful to Ben Harley, a retired-psychology-student-turned-cartoonist for permission to reproduce his work here. Writer and illustrator, Ben’s comics can be found resting at www.FlockOfInk.com
Aberdeen Voice is grateful to Ben Harley, a retired-psychology-student-turned-cartoonist for permission to reproduce his work here. Writer and illustrator, Ben’s comics can be found resting at www.FlockOfInk.com
Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.
Lots of action at BrewDog this past week, with a few tastings, new products, and interesting visitors. I spent some time with my favourite Scottish film director who was there for a bite and a beer.
Earlier in the week a newlywed couple and small wedding party lit the bar up; it was a pleasure to see the happy couple, and all happiness to them
Animal charities Mrs Murray’s Home for Cats and Dogs and Willows threw fundraisers; they and other charities such as Blaikiewells Horse Sanctuary and The New Ark need support as the cold weather, feed costs and animal abandonments all get worse.
This winter will be tough on everyone, especially our older residents and those facing financial hardships. The VSA can point you in the direction of how to help.
It will be a pretty bleak winter and future for Scotland’s deer.
Scientists are lecturing estate managers on killing does and hinds, and organisations such as SNH (Shootin’ ‘n’ Huntin’ to give it its full title) want to wipe out up to half of Scotland’s deer, much to animal lovers and estate managers dismay. SNH wants powers to turn its deer guidelines into enforceable laws so they can go onto any land they like and demand deer culls.
We did see that coming. Estate managers argue the SNH has its figures wrong and they see firsthand what the deer populations are like, and no additional cull is needed. Who are you going to believe – empire-building, jumped up power-hungry government mandarins, or people who see deer daily? Why the government, of course – when have they ever steered us wrong?
On the other hand ‘Wildlife’ charity (???) Scottish Wildlife Trust want to wipe deer out in order to help Scotland meet its wholly arbitrary (and very high) CO2 management goals. It’s all those deer driving around in cars on their own rather than taking the bus that’s polluting our air you see.
Between the Wildlife trust charities wanting to blast deer rather than protecting them, and the Forestry Commission wanting to turn forest land into windfarm sites, it’s a wonder we have any wildlife left at all. Deer are also being blamed for the demise of the Capercaillie, the decline of which has nothing to do with loss of habitat, pollution, human activities, fencing, etc.
Also hard up this winter will be our very own Stewart Milne
Perhaps for festive Christmas cards we should replace any scenes of deer in forests with wind turbines, guns, boffins, and Aileen Malone. Funny, you don’t hear that much of HoMalone these days, but rest assured, she is remembered for her work on Tullos Hill, culling deer.
Also hard up this winter will be our very own Stewart Milne. His company is posting a loss (again).
No doubt once people snap up his new houses by the Cove Bay roundabout and electricity substation overlooking the dual carriageway, he’ll be back to his 7 course meals in the Marcliffe (before it is turned into a much-needed office complex instead).
In the news this week, Audit Scotland reports there may be arguments and problems in the council – this shocking claim has caught everyone by surprise. Willie Young will be posing for photos with Callum McCaig for a joint Christmas card, to disprove the rumours of infighting.
At least the current crew of councillors aren’t flogging property off for a song and shutting down needed services like the past lot did. If some people seem to be coming to blows I’m sure it’s actually just good-natured horseplay (although from what my sources tell me, this can get a bit rough).
Of course it is only the elected officials who are the problem; it has nothing to do with staff and officers, who all get along famously.
Finally in the news, Hull has won ‘City of Culture 2017’ over Dundee. The judges had some interesting things to say about the Aberdeen bid, which can be found here. Perhaps a few definitions on ‘lacks cohesion’ and ‘deliverability’ are called for.
Gone with the Windfarm / Storm in a Toilet
No story was bigger though than the Trump Court of Session windfarm trial. It’s even bigger than the Evening Express’ exclusive that city council gardeners are storing tools in the otherwise unused and lockable Union Terrace Gardens toilets. The gardeners gave up their own personal time to help with many events in the gardens held by many groups.
Clearly, the Evening Express and the city council would have preferred them to be doing important things like moving old paint cans out of the loos instead.
it’s in such a poor state those who might want to buy it aren’t allowed in to see it
There has already been a flood of argument on this subject on Facebook, but for those who are worried about the heritage of our city and its listed buildings, perhaps turning an eye towards Westburn House might be a more appropriate way to channel energies for those who are worried about Aberdeen’s built heritage.
This great building is Grade A listed, it’s on the market, and it’s in such a poor state those who might want to buy it aren’t allowed in to see it, which is something of a drawback.
Old Susannah hears the city’s own engineers don’t want to set foot in it either. No word on whether any rakes or paintbrushes are inside Westburn. Perhaps it’s time to take stock of all the listed properties in the City’s care, and get them up to scratch.
Anyway, Trump in his generosity is even willing to selflessly get involved in whether or not Shetland will get more wind turbines; as an American billionaire (or should that be racketeer?), of course his ideas about Scottish energy generation are essential.
As mentioned, that champion of social justice Donald Trump is bravely demanding his rights in the Court of Session. What are his concerns? They can be summarised as:
What a guy. You’d expect such noble aims from a man with his own, brand-new, family crest, wouldn’t you? Anyone suggesting that this is hypocrisy taken to a whole new level is just jealous of Donald.
Word is that Susan Munro is baking him a bund-shaped cake
It would churlish to suggest he, in some way, is getting a dose of his own medicine or his just desserts. It’s time we gave credit to the man for everything he’s done to us – sorry, for us.
Word is that Susan Munro is baking him a bund-shaped cake as a consolation gift, and that David and Moira Milne have invited him up for a drink to look out from Hermit Point past the dying Trump-planted trees to see just how bad the windfarms will be. I may send a bottle of Glenfiddich, if he’s not named Top Scot of the year.
In celebration of all things Trump, and as a gesture of solidarity for the wigged one, Old Susannah considered flying to Africa, killing some water buffalo and elephants, stopping for a few selfies, and flying out again. As there were no suitable private jets with gold-plated taps available, I opted instead for offering a little true or false quiz.
First and Second prize will be a pint of BrewDog; last prize is a pad of genuine Trump logo notepaper, and a photo of Sarah Malone, aka Mrs Damian Bates. Send in your guesses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
True or False Quiz
1. Susan Munro and residents of Leyton Cottage have had their view of the sea removed by a mound of earth Trump plunked yards from their home without any planning permission. No site visit was ever made to consider the impact of the bunds. This is acceptable.
2. Donald Trump’s golf course was not visited when consideration of an offshore windfarm miles away was planned and his permission was not sought. This is unacceptable.
3. No one should have to look at offshore wind turbines when they’re playing a round of £200 per game golf at Trump Golf Links International Scotland.
4. Trump had advice from government quango Scottish Enterprise worth at least £30,000.
5. It was completely wrong for the government to give advice to pro windfarm groups.
6. Trump wined and dined with two First Ministers and Jack Swinney of Scottish Enterprise when he was seeking to build his golf complex at Menie. This did not in any way indicate undue influence for a live planning application.
7. Trump’s aide was present at the Marcliffe Hotel (beneficiary of the ‘Trump Effect’, soon to be turned into office buildings and its grounds destroyed) when a call was made about Trump’s application to the Shire council, which rightly raised a few eyebrows.
8. Trump told the media he’d been promised permission for his golf complex by the government; he released this after he had a spat with Salmond over the windfarms.
9. It was OK for the government and Scottish Enterprise to favour the Trump course. It is not OK for anyone to favour windfarms that golfers might have to look at.
10. Trump is bringing billions of pounds into our fragile economy, has made us all wealthy, and therefore we should do as he says.
11. Trump is implicated in the US in racketeering for his ‘Trump University’ scheme.
10. There is nothing at all contradictory or hypocritical in any part of Trump’s legal actions against the windfarms and the government.
Do send in your entries. In case of a tie, here is the tie-breaker question:-
“I support Donald Trump and all he’s done for Scotland because…… “
We’ll leave it there for now; good luck with the quiz, and next week – more definitions.
Old Susannah aka Suzanne Kelly casts an eye on the past week’s vibrant and dynamic events.
The Members (‘Sound of the Suburbs’) played at the Moorings; the Gerry Jablonski Band is touring Poland, the Opera was in town, and the fireworks went well (better than the last time, when everything went off all at once).
Giant balls and lights are being hung on Union Street for the holidays. Let’s hope the balls don’t drop, like they did a last year.
I bought a wonderful new mattress from Glencraft; the company continues to employ and support people with visual problems and others with special abilities.
It’s just as well it’s still here, those nice ConDems have a plan to save money by taking it away from several thousand people who get independent living benefit. At present a court appeal is saving the day. Let’s hope commonsense prevails at least once. If those individuals and corporations which avoid paying tax paid their fair share, we’d possibly not be in such a position. But they know who they are, and they’re holding onto their money.
Aberdeen Positive (cleverly branded AB+), had one of their inspiring cultural talks this week.
They’re going to give us a cultural identity brand, which is great. BP is of course involved, as are various other businessmen, and RGU admin types (who I’m sure don’t take any direction from web-happy Sir Ian Wood, who is more or less in charge at RGU). Old Susannah tragically couldn’t make their last meeting, but was told a riveting time was had by all.
Sadly someone dared to bring up the subject of Union Terrace Gardens; this dismayed the convener. Happily just at the end, our man from RGU (who’s actually lived in 27 different places, so he proudly boasts – wow!) closed by saying we need a public square. Of course we do.
I’ve spent a happy few hours this past week at BrewDog, you’ll be surprised to hear. They’ve run out of their new creation ‘Hello my name is Sonja’ – which is a blueberry packed delight. Hope it’s coming back soon. There was some pumpkin brew from the US, which was subtle, and perfect for this time of year. And yes, I’ve even bought a few more shares. Me and a few thousand other people.
BrewDog are hiring, reinvigorating the drinks sector in the UK and abroad, and are expanding. If my few quid contribution helps, then I’m glad of it. Cheers all.
It’s a good thing people’s noses don’t actually grow when they lie like Pinocchio’s did; or else some of the great and the good would have to either clam up or hire permanent plastic surgeons. Truth, or the lack of it, has featured largely this past week in the news.
In mythology, Diogenes searched endlessly for an honest man. It seems like he’d have his work cut out for him today. Here are a few definitions to illustrate.
Lying: (English Gerund) To deliberately distort the truth.
Times have changed; and I think people are getting much more honest than they used to be. After all, absolutely no one, no matter what kind of situation they might get caught in, admits to lying these days.
We’ve seen the ‘Plebgate’ case unfold: first policemen accused senior Tory MP Andrew Mitchell of a foul-mouthed rant over a bicycle, which upset the public. Later, Channel 4 obtained the footage, showing no public within earshot at all. The police logs seem to have been creative writing exercises. What followed, when the police and their superiors were asked to explain further, saw one or two innocent little white lies coming to the fore.
Mitchell lost his job, had never used the word ‘pleb’ and it’s proved no such rant actually happened.
Mitchell may have lost his job over this, but don’t worry: all the police involved are still in place, ready to continue to fight crime in their usual virtuous fashion.
The BBC reported:-
“A police officer has apologised to MPs for an “inadvertent error” in evidence to them about the “plebgate” affair.
“Det Sgt Stuart Hinton, of Warwickshire Police, said he had made an “honest” mistake in a previous hearing held by the Home Affairs Committee last month.
“He also said he regretted the “distress” felt by Andrew Mitchell and his family during the whole saga.
“But Sgt Chris Jones, of West Midlands Police, said he had not misled MPs over his disciplinary record. On Tuesday, he told MPs 13 complaints had been made about him but none had been upheld.”
So, no lying there then, just the odd ‘inadvertent error’ and the odd ‘mistake when talking to the Home Affairs Committee. Could happen to anyone.
Just because we assume the police can and should have a head for accuracy and details is no reason to think they’re superhuman. In fact Sgt Jones also managed to forget any claims had ever been lodged against him, but this was soon proved to just be another little mistake on his part.
He seemed very believable to me in his court appearance; first of all, he’s a policeman, and second of all, he was wearing a nice suit. Did the policeman admit to blatantly lying by making up this little story that cost someone a job? Not a bit of it. He does however regret things. I’m sure he does.
So how did the press get all the previous alleged dirt on former MP Mitchell? Er, the police leaked it to them, but I’m sure it was all well intentioned. It’s very bad form for the BBC and Channel 4 to point out these flaws, and to remind us that policemen from the slightly powerful union would wear ‘police pleb’ t-shirts to show solidarity for their ‘inadvertently erring’ colleagues. That’s what friends are for.
It was all going so well against the businessmen involved, who had been granted export licences to Iraq
Perhaps we had expected the politician was lying in the ‘Plebgate’ saga; after all, there have been one or two small instances of politicians lying to us in the past. Even Tony Blair decided to turn an intelligence dossier into a spectacular, sensational, frightening case for attacking Iraq.
Weapons of Mass destruction were poised and ready to take the UK out within 45 minutes; of course we had to have a tiny little war, even if a few million UK residents marched to protest against it. After all, we’re better off, the veterans who went there are better off, and of course the Iraqi people are better off. As is Halliburton and as are a few US tycoons.
Aside from the dodgy dossier, we had the earlier instance of saintly Alan Clark, purveyor of truth back in the days of Thatcher. The Matrix Churchill trial saw gagging orders handed out like sweeties. It was all going so well against the businessmen involved, who had been granted export licences to Iraq. It might have looked like the Government was caught in a web of blatant lies, but that wasn’t the case.
Alan eventually admitted in the face of evidence that he was just being ‘economical with the actualité’. So, once again, no real lying was going on.
Don’t worry, Aberdeen makes the grade when it comes to having honest police. We now have our own local policewoman who managed to avoid being branded a liar and/or snoop.
WPC Amanda Dixon decided that she needed to know a wee bit more about her new Peterhead neighbours; the poor policewoman was in fear they would break the law and rob her. She then merely bent the law a little, and used the police’s STORM database to do a little pre-emptive spying on them. Sure, it might have been illegal, but she is a policewoman after all.
While in the old days, if people wanted to snoop on neighbours they would simply hide behind twitching net curtains and peer, it’s nice to know Dixon is willing to go just that little bit better.
I can’t think why she got into any trouble for illegally accessing personal data in contravention of the Data Protection Act, but the story has a happy ending: she didn’t have to go to court.
Police don’t lie, and they don’t break data protection rules, fabricate notes, and leak info to the papers
Obviously admitting no lawbreaking, Dixon bravely admitted being ‘nosy’.
Thankfully her lawyer told the sheriff that Ms Dixon was too mentally fragile to appear in court and such appearance would be detrimental to her mental health.
I, for one, am so very grateful to the legal system for sparing her this huge trauma of attending court, which clearly would be something a policewoman would never need to do normally as part of her job. You might think she was just trying to evade justice, but surely it is health after committing a crime that’s more important than the people being spied on or the law being upheld.
Now that the police have displayed such compassion to spying Dixon, I await their expedited compassion in offering compensation to George Copland. If you need a reminder, Copland was arrested days after a siege at his empty flat.
The flat was meant to have a gunman in it, although it was empty, and whoever said they were looking in the windows at a gunman would have had to go very close to the house, set away from the main road and peer in deliberately. Perhaps it was Dixon? Anyway, that was in June. No doubt a fair, full compensation deal is winging its way to Copland as you’re reading.
Police don’t lie, and they don’t break data protection rules, fabricate notes, and leak info to the papers. They might sometimes make mistakes, but don’t we all. And if police like Ms Dixon spy, I’m sure it’s for our own good in the end. No doubt her neighbours think so.
Spying: (English Gerund) The act of covertly obtaining information without the person or organisation being scrutinised giving consent or having knowledge.
In this Age of Information, the only thing that’s successfully stopping wars, terrorist attacks, organised crime, and Policewoman Dixon’s neighbours from undoubtedly robbing her is spying. I am very glad big brother is watching. I am very glad that the ‘all-seeing eye’ on American dollar bills stands for something less nebulous than some Masonic symbolism.
Spying is only done when necessary. Sixty Million Spanish telephone calls were intercepted by the US. Yes, that hardly seems like any, and that’s actually the number of calls for a whole year’s worth of listening in. I’d have thought it would be a higher figure, after all the population of Spain is about 47 million: that’s only about a call and a half per citizen.
However, Germany’s Angela Merkel is a bit put out the Yanks have been spying on her personal calls, and there is some evidence to point to the UK helping the US out in these covert activities.
As so many right-thinking people claim ‘if you’re not doing anything wrong, then you don’t have anything to hide’. Quite so. Perhaps we should just give up on the idea of individual freedoms, privacy, intimacy and individuality if it means we’ll all be safer.
It would be churlish to bring up the fact that back in the day, famous cross-dresser and paranoiac J Edgar Hoover had files on millions of Americans. If he needed one of these people to spy on other people, all he would have to do is threaten to expose the personal info he’d collected on them. If we could only get back to those good old secure, happy days – Communist witch hunts, paranoia, government control.
Thankfully, it seems we’re heading there.
Sometimes it might seem that the security forces and police get a bit sensitive about sharing the details of their own activities – particularly when these activities fall into grey areas of law. No doubt if they want our lives laid bare for their legal inspection (or for a less than legal whim, Ms Dixon), they’ll become completely honest, transparent, and law-abiding as well.
I feel sorry for those who make their living from spying on the innocent, that nasty whistleblower Edward Snowden has made life tricky for them and their crucial work. He’s obviously let the world know the extent of US snooping for his own personal gain.
He’s currently living a luxurious life as a fugitive in Moscow somewhere (no – I don’t know where to any government spooks reading this). After all, the people who are willing to look into your and my personal business for reasons ranging from national security to Dixon’s ‘nosiness’ are just trying to make an honest living.
Well, have a good week everyone. And mind what you put in that email, or say on your mobile. Big brother is listening, taking notes, and will be in touch.
Old Susannah, Suzanne Kelly, gets to grips with Grangemouth, Granite Webs and Gardens. The revolution may or may not be televised, but almost everything else is being privatised.
Tally Ho! Well, it’s been a colourful week in the Granite City; plans for the city centre are being drawn up, and that’s something you don’t see every day (unless you get the P&J). Apparently all our problems are solved if we let one Sir Ian Wood give us £50 million, and let him raise (or is that ‘raze’) Union Terrace Gardens.
If only we’d have known that before! All we’ll have to do is hand control of Union Terrace Gardens over to a few committees, stocked with powerful people, Wood’s friends, special friends and relatives, and ignore the fact you and I own this land under common law.
Oh, and we are thinking about trams. No reason to think trams aren’t a good idea; I’m sure the successful tram programme in Edinburgh can be reproduced in the ‘Deen.
I’m sure whatever Ian wants for UTG is just what Robert the Bruce would have wanted when he bequeathed the gardens to you and to me. Bruce famously sat in a cave, feeling defeated when he spied a spider weaving a web. The spider’s perseverance and determination had a profound effect on the heroic Bruce.
He watched that spider, and decided that a web – made of granite – was what we would eventually have the ambition to build over the gardens.
For some reason architects Halliday Fraser Munro continue to make, free of charge, imaginative Escher-esque drawings of the city centre. These can’t actually be built, but they are pretty. Questions like ‘What will happen to the businesses on Belmont Street, which currently have pleasant vistas overlooking the gardens’?, and ‘How will the centre of town suddenly be pedestrianized’? are just minor details we can iron out once we agree to the plans.
Dame Anne Begg opened an exhibition on the history of witchcraft in our city over the centuries at the Tollbooth Museum.
I could have nominated some better candidates for the witchcraft lecture. Aileen Malone (known for sacrificing animals i.e. deer, in the hope of getting £££) and Kate Dean (famous for making vital support services vanish) each seem to have a fair amount of free time on their hands these days, and their undoubted personal knowledge of the dark arts and witchcraft would have been illuminating.
he must be out of touch with the average person, unlike our elected and unelected rulers
Speaking of witches, I saw some graffiti recently which I can’t quite understand. I was in London this past weekend. As my train made its way into the city, very large graffiti on a building caught my eye: “The Witch is Dead, but the Spell Remains”. I wonder who this referred to? No doubt I’ll soon Iron out which Lady the words were about.
People are talking about a recent edition of Newsnight this week.
“[We] shouldn’t destroy the planet, shouldn’t create massive economic disparity, shouldn’t ignore the people” said comedian Russell Brand, “the [political] system .. just administers for large corporations.”
Poor Mr Brand. Clearly he can’t appreciate how lucky we are; he must be out of touch with the average person, unlike our elected and unelected rulers. We’ve never had it so good, or so we’re being told. The Newsnight interview can be found here http://www.treehugger.com/culture/russell-brand-interview-revolution-planet-is-being-destroyed-video.html .
For Brand’s benefit, and to remind us all of our recent economic successes, Old Susannah offers a few timely definitions. So, as you snuggle up in your perfectly heated home, eating your lobster dinner, and lighting your Cuban cigars with 20 Euro notes, directing the maid to clean the second bathroom again, here are this week’s definitions.
Privatisation: (noun) to dispose of a state or publicly-owned institution by sale of shares.
Remember what a huge success the sell-off of British Gas was? Lots of people got to make money on shares when the government sold off British Gas, and that was great. For some reason, we seem to be paying higher prices for gas, but I’m sure there is no connection between this and the privatisation.
The recent sale of the Royal Mail is making us all wealthy beyond our wildest dreams. Result!
So what if the future for postal employees is a bit shaky; they’ve all been given a few shares in the sell-off. I’m sure that in 3 years, when they are allowed to sell their shares, it will more than make up for any job losses or pension devaluations. I’m sure we won’t see any cost increases, layoffs, or change in the quality of service.
The selloff must have been a success, because it was oversubscribed.
This of course helps stimulate the economy, as well as rewarding the long-suffering banking sector
The experts in the banking world who arranged the flotation may have made a teeny error in pricing the shares up, but since this hasn’t cost the taxpayer more than about £750 million in lost potential share sale revenues, it’s no big deal. Shockingly, shares were not sold to anyone who wanted more than £10,000 worth.
This sounds like discrimination against the rich to me. Thankfully, the many banks which were part of the consultation process got lots of money (about £17 million according to the Guardian) for arranging the sale. This of course helps stimulate the economy, as well as rewarding the long-suffering banking sector. Also, the many banks which had put in for shares largely seem to have been successful, to the tune of about £29 million.
This is quite a happy outcome for the banking sector, even if it seems like quite a coincidence they managed to get so many shares and so many individual investors were frozen out.
We’ve sold British Gas, we’ve sold our Royal Mail; we’ve sold off most of our water. These have been huge success stories financially.
Operationally, there are one or two minor issues that crop up after privatisations, but I wouldn’t worry about that kind of thing.
Thames Water for instance, had a few minor teething problems after its sell-off. There are pipelines leaking millions of gallons of water which go unrepaired. The new management choose to pay dividends to shareholders rather than worry about fusty, boring water infrastructure. They may have to pay the odd fine for polluting the UK’s streams and lakes, but this is just an operating expense.
Thames Water has only had a few fines for pumping raw sewage into the environment, with one fine coming in at £204,000. Thames water also cut its workforce; but on the bright side, the chairman’s salary went up by several hundred thousand pounds per year, no doubt he was doing extra work, what with fewer workers on the payroll.
The best part? Thames Water doesn’t pay corporation tax, which is great news for shareholders (if not the Treasury). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2339282/Thames-Water-pays-corporation-tax-550m-profits
One such successful entrepreneur is the owner of Scotland’s Grangemouth, Jim Ratcliffe
But don’t worry – none of this is gives any reason to think the Royal Mail sell-off will have any negative consequences. A few job losses, a few thousand people out of work and/or with less valuable pensions, a few banks making tens of millions – that’s what keeps this nation great and competitive. There is no reason to fear the new owners of UK Plc. won’t decide to cut the water or gas.
Just keep the candles handy, stock up on fire wood, and get a rain barrel – we’ll be fine.
Union: (noun) A collective of workers organised and empowered to protect workers’ rights, health and benefits from employers who would seek to maximise profit margins at the expense of the workforce.
There is one fly in the ointment for those benefactors who kindly seek to own key British industries and companies – the Unions.
I’m delighted that private companies, often coming down to foreign governments, one family or even just one man, own crucial parts of the country’s essential utilities, resources and infrastructure. To the uneducated, this may just seem like either Imperialism or in the latter case like Feudalism, but remember how much better off we are. One such successful entrepreneur is the owner of Scotland’s Grangemouth, Jim Ratcliffe.
It may not seem like it, but Mr Ratcliffe’s had to make many financial sacrifices to keep Grangemouth and its employees going these past few years. He’s not making as much money as he used to – there are rumours he’s down to only one super yacht, the 257 foot Hampshire II. Ratcliffe was shopping one day, had a spare £9 million to play about with, and bought Grangemouth from BP.
Since then he’s become kind of a father figure to those who work there. Rather than gratitude, these workers want to have pay increases and to keep their final salary pension schemes. Jim can’t afford this. According to the Daily Record, Jim’s not very rich at all anymore, and hardly rates:-
“Manchester-born Ratcliffe owns two-thirds of the company’s shares, giving him a personal fortune of around £3.5billion in 2008, when he was named the 25th richest man in Britain.”
With no choice, Jim announced he’d simply shut the facility, which is fair enough. Putting 800 workers, their families, the area businesses that depend on the custom of those workers in a bit of jeopardy probably just taught them a good lesson.
Such vital services I thought should be run without a thought to making money from them
Ratcliffe showed the unions he was boss. And by the way, we don’t really know how badly off Ratcliffe is, because the owner of arguably Scotland’s most important refinery keeps his businesses largely in Switzerland. If I hear of anyone starting a collection for him, I’ll let you know how to contribute.
Before Old Susannah was old, I naively thought we needed governments to tax us so they could protect our rights, help us when we were too ill to work, and provide services such as schools, hospitals, clean water and energy. Such vital services I thought should be run without a thought to making money from them, and were so vital they should be protected from any form of outside or private control, for the benefit of the taxpayer.
How I laugh now to think on this foolish ideology.
Pay your tax, work hard, and good luck. Where you can afford to live and what you earn will directly impact how your children are schooled, what drugs you’ll be allowed to have if you are seriously ill, and how your granny will be treated in a nursing home. Work for a public sector employer such as Royal Mail or oil refineries at your own risk.
Make sure you buy shares in whatever’s being sold next, and try not to think about the pollution caused by cost-cutting measures designed to improve profits, your spiralling energy costs, and the stealthy privatisation of the NHS.
Forget the train crash victims who died at Hatfield; cutting corners on safety for profit was seen by the privatised management as a ‘cost of doing business’. Forget your library closures, school closures and hospital ER closures. If something starts to nag at you, then Old Susannah suggests getting drunk, getting wasted, or getting some engaging virtual world computer games to while away the hours.
Don’t wonder why you are paying more taxes when you no longer have to support these vital services once privatised, and don’t ask why the uber rich are paying no taxes. I’m sure everything will be just fine.
There we leave it for this week; but if you can suggest any other services that could be sold off, do get in touch. For some reason, I’m thinking of that bit of graffiti I saw again.
Old Susannah, aka Suzanne Kelly, gets to grips with her greens this week, with the never-ending Union Terrace Gardens saga, GM crops and various vegetables – including Eric Pickles – all vying for news coverage this past week.
Another vibrant and dynamic, connectivity-laden, smart, successful Scottish week passes in Aberdeen.
The weather is taking a turn for the cooler at night, and I’m starting to throw old unread copies of the Evening Express (is there any other kind?) onto the fire at night (living without central heating has its charms).
Alas, I’ve been down in London and missed many events here, including Thrashist Regime, who I’m told were so lively the staid Lemon Tree staff were freaking out at all the rule infractions the band committed.
London was wonderful, but the Londoners seem to think they can manage without one central square smack in the geographical centre of town. Somehow they carry on, in a city which is more like a series of different villages, each with its own ‘green/living/vibrant/dynamic’ heart, as our Evening Express reporters would put it.
Why, they haven’t even drawn up a map to show what is the Civic Zone or the Merchant Quarter, like we’ve done. London clearly needs a transformational project – if only one man with a horrific – sorry terrific vision would come along, put money on London’s table (well theoretical money anyway) and tell Boris Johnson what to build and where to build it, London would start to thrive.
Thankfully, we have Sir Ian Wood.
Looking at aerial maps of London, huge great green open spaces abound. Some call these parks/wildlife reserves/wetland centres/leisure spaces. Some people hold that these green spaces help give London a decent air quality, encourage wildlife, provide leisure space – even decrease stress levels and improve fitness.
Such spaces are, at least to the more sophisticated billionaire and ACSEF member, development opportunities. Oddly, London chooses to build in its disused brownfield rather than ‘transforming’ its green areas. Thankfully, we’re not falling for that stuff here. (I did hear a rumour that Hampstead Heath was going to be lowered to ground level for greater accessibility and connectivity. Watch this space).
Trafalgar Square remains a focal point, but it is far too small.
That will make London and Moscow take note.
At some 12,000 square metres for a population that’s around 8 million, it’s clear they are out of step with our Aberdonian city square project, otherwise known as the thing that wouldn’t die. Our much needed outdoor square will, if Sir Ian gets his way, be larger than Moscow’s Red Square.
Perhaps Aberdeen’s quangos, committees and elite have more in common with Moscow than London, come to think on it.
The City Square/Granite Web/Garden Project is proof that reincarnation is real; the thing just keeps coming back under new names, with increasingly beautiful, workable, desirable details. Our broken heart (aka Union Terrace Gardens) could have had a new beating heart (copyright Evening Express), dwarfing both Trafalgar and Red Squares, for our population which is around, er, a quarter of a million people.
That will make London and Moscow take note.
You have to hand it to Sir Ian Wood (or so he thinks); he is persistent. If half the goings-on I hear of were true for his retinue, finding time for any granite web project flogging would be nigh on impossible.
Aside from London’s museums, I saw the amazing Deborah Bonham and band at the Half Moon in Putney; I hope that someone is working on getting them an Aberdeen date…
Returning from London to the Deen, I eagerly bought the first P&J I could find, and started to catch up on the news; learning that former top cop Ian Paterson has just been found guilty of sexually harassing and assaulting several women over time. Looking back over old news stories, council records and so on, I find he was involved not only with the AVCO but also with groups working with young and vulnerable people. How wonderful.
Old Susannah remembers first moving to the Deen, and reading stories about old people being neglected, abused and mistreated in residential homes. There was even a home that had a broken lift for weeks – leaving people stranded and unable to get outside (I’ll bet it was a jolly adventure and fun for them, rather than a hardship).
Some might find his behaviour sleazy, contemptible, inexcusable, predatory and degrading
Naively I wanted to do my part, and I called my nearest residential home, asking how I could volunteer / help. ‘Oh, no, you have to get all kinds of clearance and be security checked’ was the response I got; I was definitely discouraged from taking it further. Fair enough – leave the volunteer work to the professionals, I thought.
All the while, some people were allowed access to vulnerable, young and old people because they were important – like Paterson.
Kindly, Patting Paterson would ‘comfort’ women – whether they wanted him to or not – by touching them where he had no business touching them. Sounds very comforting indeed. Then again, he only did this for a few years to a score of women. If those around him knew about this, they were quite right to leave it be, so he could continue ‘comforting’ others.
Some might find his behaviour sleazy, contemptible, inexcusable, predatory and degrading, but you can’t argue with a policeman, or indeed an ex-policeman, can you?
Old Susannah wonders now just who his friends/colleagues were (kerb crawling ex-councillors perhaps like Gordon Leslie?). Who knew what of his activities? What work was he presiding over as Chief Superintendent, or as chief executive of Aberdeen Council of Voluntary Organisations?
Could his actions and decision-making have been compromised at any time? Could he have been coerced or influenced by people who knew what he was doing? Was he around when the police were tasked by Audit Scotland to look into the dodgy property dealings uncovered in 2008?
Thankfully, we don’t need to bother with any such questions, because it’s all in the past. The police could find no wrong-doing on the former council’s part, for instance when we sold land for peanuts, ripping off the taxpayer, and keeping very shoddy records. Who knows what could be unravelled, but I’ll certainly not be pulling at that loose piece of yarn on the jumper, will I?
Time for some definitions (and a shot of BrewDog’s Watt Dickie) after thinking over this week’s news. Note to self – I must try some ‘Hello my name is Sonja’, a new addition to the ‘Hello’ BrewDog collection. And to Messrs Dickie & Watt, and all at the BrewDog Aberdeen Bar, a Happy Third Birthday.
Garden Salad: (modern English compound noun) – A dish comprising leafy and other vegetables, or a recipe for same.
Take one small, perfectly formed natural hollow, fill with trees, greens and flowers. Add greed, a pinch of desperation for immortality, and lashings of ego. Add in various vegetables (Tom Smith, Ian Wood, Stewart Milne, etc.) and toss. Add a few hundred inches of column spaces, revoltingly poor architectural grandiosity, and unintelligible drawings.
Garnish lavishly with hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayer money (for consultants, PR, etc.). Serve with a side helping of indigestible financial sauce. Add £50 million pounds; remove; add again; remove. This dish can be served again and again. And again. Keep serving until someone, somewhere swallows. Best eaten out of Sir Ian’s hands.
Yes, he’s at it again. We can’t keep our only city centre green space, despite having so much unused brownfield, because Wood wants it.
Barney Crockett has promised that if the garden is raised, it will not be for parking spaces – which are what was wanted by the ACSEF/Wood mob in the first place. If you have any opinions on this, please let your elected councillors know, lest they then turn around and say no one ever got in touch with them.
Let your council know how great a glass pyramid will be, or how ruining the back side of Belmont Street’s businesses which overlook the park will somehow add to connectivity. Tell your councillor how destroying our only natural wind break, getting rid of the few city centre trees we have will mean to your sense of transformation.
Pickles: (English noun) A sour, bitter, bloated vegetable, preserved in brine.
Eric Pickles. Where does one even start with this one man’s accomplishments? He’s been in the news again lately, and like me, I’m sure you relish reading about him. I love to ketchup with his doings, even if some people find Pickles unpalatable.
MP Pickles claimed expenses for a second home so he wouldn’t have to commute the massive 37 mile trek from his first home to Westminster. (I wonder if Pickles’ second home is close to the Gherkin?) This may have seemed a bit greedy to some, but for Eric to have to travel so far to get to work just wouldn’t have been right.
If he was tired in the House of Commons, he might not be able to cut the mustard. He also needed at least £300 in cleaning expenses, which he kindly repaid when asked to, at the height of the MPs expense scandal.
One of the reasons he’s rated so highly is his love of the countryside, as development opportunity anyway. As Secretary of State, he refused to call in controversial plans which saw a vast swathe of historic Dover and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty turned into a housing development / complex.
Area residents found Pickles jarring.
If the refusal to listen to a public demand sounds familiar to anyone in the Balmedie area, another quote from this particular debacle may ring bells with Union Terrace Gardens watchers: defenders of the plan said “This is about building for the future; unlocking the economic potential of our heritage assets.” – the tone of which somehow seems familiar to me.
You can’t help but wonder if Pickles and his supporters would find a spiritual home in city and shire.
teenagers at the Kendall House home in Gravesend were restrained with huge doses of tranquillisers
He was also instrumental in getting rid of greenbelt in Yorkshire, Liverpool and other formerly boring areas in favour of skyscrapers and parking lots- and a gas plant in Tewkesbury where the objections were virtually unanimous. We do need a man of his vision here.
But in his latest pickle, Eric told a woman with health issues, who had severe side effects to ‘increase her medication’ as he wisely disputed her story of residential care home forced drugging. His friend (yes, I didn’t know he had any either) told the BBC that Pickles “was giving her a frank piece of advice in private. It wasn’t meant in any way to offend or insult her”.
What a nice guy. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24324556
The BBC story goes on to say “An investigation… claimed that teenagers at the Kendall House home in Gravesend were restrained with huge doses of tranquillisers and other drugs… 10 girls who were heavily sedated while living at the care home during the 1970s and 1980s went on to have children with a range of birth defects.” – Doesn’t sound like much of a big deal to me; perhaps upping her medication was just Eric’s fatherly, well-meant advice. With Pickles around, there is never a dill moment.
Golden Rice: (Modern English noun) A genetically modified, patented rice variety.
Are you one of those people who are unsure about GM foods – not certain that Monsanto should be able to splice genetic material from arctic fish into strawberries, own entire strains of food, seek a monopoly on existing seed businesses, charge farmers each season for food crops rather than farmers being able to store and use their own seed?
Are you unsure about environmental and health aspects of newly-nascent GM plants entering our food chain? Do you have ethical qualms about the third world being indebted to Monsanto forever for using GM food? Maybe you’re not convinced farmers should be sued for theft when GM pollen gets into their own crops (as happened in Canada)?
Then Minister Owen Paterson knows what you are: wicked.
Paterson said as much to the BBC; quite rightly too. The proliferation of GM food into our environment is nothing to fear at all, no more so than when the pesticide DDT came into wide use, and was hailed by the Patersons of the day. Of course, traces of the deadly stuff can now be found in EVERY living organism in the planet, but there you go; no harm done.
There may have been the occasional reason to harbour doubts about scientific advancements, but Science is always right, and technological advances are not made for profit, but for the betterment of the world in every instance. The odd nuclear accident, Thalidomide birth defects, tranquilisers with deadly side effects such as Halcyon – that sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore, well hardly ever.
Don’t question, don’t worry, don’t object – doing so is wicked. Where would we be without the guiding moral compass of Paterson and his ilk?
You wicked people should be ashamed; Paterson also says it is your fault people are starving in the third world, and golden rice will solve everything. That’s you told, then. And here I was thinking centuries of colonialism, civil war, disease, violence and draught were to blame.
Next week: A look at recent Trump news including his classy new roadside sign and 2012 accounts; a glance at Stewart Milne-related news, and more definitions.
Confidential to anyone who is feeling old: In passing, someone in their mid 50s told me they were old. First of all, I was Old Susannah way before anyone else decided to be old. Secondly, don’t be old if you don’t want to be old. One of the most youthful people I’ll ever meet was Les Paul (the guitarist and innovator).
I had the extreme pleasure of watching him play many times. There was nothing like it; the music he made; the passion for what he was doing all kept him at a mental age of perhaps 21. He’d joke; he always smiled; he had a twinkle in his eye, and he loved every moment. (And I wish I could see and hear him again). Did he have pains, aches, heartache, problems the same as the rest of us? Absolutely. He just chose to be young.
I hope to be as young as he was one of these days. Anyone who’s reading this at a computer/phone, in a warm building with food in their stomach is pretty lucky compared to most of the rest of the world, something too easily forgotten. If you have some kind of talent or gift, you have much more reason to lighten up.
Refuse to be jaded. Carpe Diem. Do something new. Go somewhere you’ve never been. Go on an adventure. Start something. I can promise you, you can stay young in heart and mind if you want to. As they say, ‘this is not a dress rehearsal’.
|The Marcliffe t’is closin doon
It’s gyaan tae be nae mair
Some fowk wull be sorry
Ithers jist winna care
Mr Spence he is tae retire
Say’s he’s gyaan oot wi a bang
Wi lots o things tae celebrate
Wull Trump compose a sang?
The mannie his bin aroon
The hotel gemme fer a fyle
An naebody can argie aat
The Marcliffe his some style
A’ve bin ‘ere at some waddins
Wis leuk’t efter wi great care
Bit the price o a roon o drinks
Wid gie the Rockefellers a scare
Yet a canna help thinkin
Fit wye’s it closin doon
Cwid it nae be cairry’t on
Bi Ross, a Spencie loon?
The toon needs gweed hotels
O ess we’re aye bein telt
So fit wye is ess een closin?
Fit wye cwid it nae be selt?
|Priced ersels oot the mairkit?
Even in ile rich Aiberdeen
We’ll nivver ken the answer
Meybe times they are mair lean
Wis the askin price ower muckle?
Did ess scare hoteliers aff?
Or his the roomies nae bin full
Fer tae justify aa the staff?
Is Mr Spence jist affa shrewd?
An he’s oot tae mak a killin?
Kennin fine aat property developers
Tae pey his price they wull be willin
Fin the Marcliffe it closes
Mr Spence he wull be free
Tae wanner ower tae Menie
An meet Donald on the tee
He micht be a Trump supporter
Bit in retiremint a wish ‘im weel
Ae thing he his fair proved,
As a hotelier, he’s nae feel
©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2013
Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.
Another exciting week passes in Aberdeen. The papers were filled with interesting stories; the restaurants and bars were filled with interesting people, and the Moorings was filled with the sound of the ever interesting and intense Spear of Destiny.
The band transported everyone except for one selfie-taking troglodyte; friends and strangers alike sang ‘I wanna go home’ to each other towards the end of the set; the warm up band were also engaging. I also had a tour of the Moorings’ beer cellar. It was a high-tech, temperature controlled, immaculate beer Valhalla.
No wonder the pints are always perfect. I’ll be back.
I did a double-take when I looked at the Evening Express on the Thursday; there was Alex Salmond staring out at me, done up in a pink beret and pink sunglasses, ostensibly to draw attention to breast cancer charity.
I thought at first someone had put Captain Sensible in the washing machine with bleach, but no it was Salmond. At the same time, the word is that some North East cancer treatments are being cut because of staff shortages. It is great however that Alex took time out for this photo op. Perhaps later he’ll have a chance to look into cancer patients going without treatment. Nice beret, Alex.
In the courts, last week saw the usual cases of theft, drunkenness, and embezzlement; there were a few particularly dark moments.
A newborn infant had suffered injuries – the man in the dock first said a dog attacked her, then he said he accidentally dropped her, then shook her when her eyes rolled up in her head (the rest of us would have phoned for an ambulance, but I’m sure he meant well. Really). A doctor who testified begs to differ with the accused, and says the injuries seemed to be deliberate.
The mind boggles at that alone, but our accused has the nerve to say the doctor is lying. No doubt this baby abuser probably had a hard life, a drink/drug problem or something.
Then we have charity worker Philip Muirhead who believes charity definitely begins at home; he stole money from three vulnerable pensioners, and scarpered when he was found out, skipping town. His defence attorney says his mental state has deteriorated these past months he’s been on the run with the older peoples’ cash.
It’s a funny prison system we have in this country
Perhaps it’s just his conscious is bothering him, or maybe we should pool together for a collection for him to help him out; I’m sure you feel as sorry for him as I do. (No word on how the pensioners who trusted this man are feeling; I’m sure they’re fine).
And finally in Danestone, a hit and run quad bike rider ran over a dog which later had to be put down; and the biker just kept going. Perhaps he didn’t notice that he’d struck and injured a collie. A 25 year-old man was later charged; I hope this ordeal won’t be too upsetting for him.
Some of the above may wind up with custodial sentences, and it’s a funny prison system we have in this country. Prison offers many vocation opportunities; younger offenders can learn new skills from experienced career criminals; people who have mental and emotional problems are locked up, which no doubt does them good.
The Sun newspaper’s recent headline let us know that many murders were committed by people with mental illness. I remember well the Birmingham incident – a young girl was stabbed on a bus by a man with mental health problems.
His family had repeatedly asked the NHS for health and warned officials he was a danger. I guess they had other things to do than look into the health of the man.
I also remember the man in Aberdeen some years back who committed suicide; he’d asked for help; his friends and family had asked for help, no help could be found. Old Susannah has a rather radical thought – let’s help these people at the first sign of trouble and rather than prison being the answer following a tragedy, early health care just might be a better solution.
Also in the news this week is the lovely Myley Cyrus, aka Hannah Montana.
The right of the devoutly religious to wear a niquab isn’t called into question
I remember thinking ‘music doesn’t get any better than this’ when her dad released the seminal anthem ‘achey breaky heart’ – but I was wrong. No one can caper with dwarves or lick a hammer like Myley; and it’s all just her creativity coming to the fore (in case you thought it was some cynical marketing exercise).
Ms Cyrus has every right to express herself. This week Old Susannah’s considering Myley’s rights and the rights of those who wind up in trouble with the law. With that, it’s time for some definitions.
Religious Freedom: (modern English compound phrase) – the right to practice a religion; a human right.
Embezzlement seems to be the new crime of choice, but do pity poor Ms Shaheda Lorgat. She’d borrowed a few pounds from the taxpayer, but hadn’t had time to ask in advance, and helped herself to about £21K. When caught out and sent to court, she turned up in a niquab.
The right of the devoutly religious to wear a niquab isn’t called into question, but what made Ms Lorgat’s case special is that, er, she didn’t wear one before she had to be photographed for her crime. She wore a headscarf on her Facebook page; she went about her neighbourhood without a niquab as well. Funny how getting caught doing a crime can make some people find god.
Alas! She was forced to appear in court and be photographed with her whole face showing . You could almost be forgiven for thinking she was trying to hide her identity as a talented thief. As it was put by Shaista Gohir, chair of the Muslim Women’s Network UK:-
“I would find it difficult to support that [wearing a niquab] if she is found guilty. If she has committed a crime, she’s clearly not following her faith anyway.” – Metro, 19 September 2013
- Hmm. perhaps Ms Gohir has a point.
Then we have another group of people whose religious freedoms are likewise being challenged when they face jail. There aren’t that many Sikhs locked up in Scottish prisons, but those who do get sent down are being denied their religious freedom: we’re not letting them have ceremonial knives.
many are deciding that going without a blade is not an option
Thankfully that nice Kenny MacAskill MSP is doing something about this intolerable situation, and is meeting with Sikh leaders to see what we can do to help these poor chaps.
Not only aren’t the prisons letting prisoners have knives (or slightly duller ceremonial blades), the authorities actually making visiting Sikh priests leave their daggers behind when they speak to prisoners.
Rightly, many are deciding that going without a blade is not an option, so they won’t visit prisons instead.
I can’t see what the big deal is; it’s not as if there is a knife crime problem in Scotland, and I’m sure the prison guards will be able to ensure no one is ever injured by a knife.
Expect large numbers of religious conversions among prison populations if this goes through.
Artistic Freedom: (compound English noun) the right / need for a creative person to practice their craft unhindered.
Isn’t it wonderful that little Hannah Montana is now Myley Cyrus? Her dad’s proud of her, too, and had this to say to his daughter:-
“You can’t count on somebody in a suit and a high-rise in New York to tell you what the chemistry is for you as an artist; you have to figure that out yourself. Your daddy spent almost 20 years trying to find what that thing is to bring you out of the eclipse of a monster.”
It’s just too bad that a few women performers are unhappy with Myley’s exploits. Annie Lennox and Sinead O’Connor have both weighed in on the wrecking ball riding, hammer-licking Myley. Lennox said on Facebook:-
“I have to say that I’m disturbed and dismayed by the recent spate of overtly sexualised performances and videos. You know the ones I’m talking about. It seems obvious that certain record companies are peddling highly styled pornography with musical accompaniment.
“As if the tidal wave of sexualised imagery wasn’t already bombarding impressionable young girls enough.. I believe in freedom of speech and expression, but the market forces don’t give a toss about the notion of boundaries. As long as there’s booty to make money out of, it will be bought and sold. It’s depressing to see how these performers are so eager to push this new level of low.
“Their assumption seems to be that misogyny- utilised and displayed through oneself is totally fine, as long as you are the one creating it. As if it’s all justified by how many millions of dollars and U tube hits you get from behaving like pimp and prostitute at the same time. It’s a glorified and monetized form of self harm.”
It’s a sad state of affairs when a young talented singer is ganged up on, just for expressing herself. If she had to escape from the Hannah Montana personality she’d portrayed by getting her kit off, I’m sure it was her choice alone.
I can practically hear her record company and management pleading with her not to use sex to sell herself, devaluing her musical currency in the process, but good for her for sticking up for her artistic vision. (Of course, if she hadn’t signed up for the lucrative Hannah Montana work in the first place and had done her own music from the start, maybe she wouldn’t have to work so hard to escape the image she and her team created, but there you go).
I just wonder what she’ll be doing in her next video
Perhaps if Annie and Sinead were younger and sexier, they wouldn’t have to rely on singing, songwriting and activism to get their music sold. I guess it was a different world in those days; people writing music, sometimes even playing instruments. Thank goodness for progress.
In 30 years’ time, people will still come from miles around to look at – sorry listen to – Myley perform live; no doubt ‘Sweet Dreams’ and ‘Nothing Compares 2U’ will be long forgotten.
It’s not that long ago that Suffragettes fought for the right of women to vote; Malala was shot in the head for wanting an education; women and girls are being sold into forced marriages; and women still don’t earn equal pay for equal work. With women like Myley expressing themselves against this backdrop, I know the future is in great hands. I just wonder what she’ll be doing in her next video.
Her supporters say this:-
“Separate the songs from the lick-happy clips, though, and they’re solid ballads. “We Can’t Stop” is a call-to-arms for a younger generation, a reminder to older people that, fortunately or unfortunately, life is like an ever-flowing river; these kids with their Molly and their pasties will be our age soon, just as we were once where they are. And “Wrecking Ball” is a modern day “My Heart Will Go On,” a song about love lost and found, but also about—again—the idea of youth burning hard and fast and then fading away.” – http://www.avclub.com/articles/miley-cyrus-bangerz,103885/
Perhaps I’m being too hard on the girl; no doubt she’ll still be as proud of the music she didn’t write as Led Zeppelin is of their work when they were her age. As for the idea that ‘Wrecking Ball is a modern day ‘My Heart Will Go On,’ why yes, I believe it is. I’m sure you loved ‘Heart’ as much as I did.
Autobiography: (English noun) The story of a person’s life as told or written by themselves.
By now we’ll all have rushed out to by the exciting autobiography by former spin doctor and right hand man to Gordon Brown, Damian McBride. McBride’s book tells of his time working for Prime Minister Brown, setting the moral tone, doing what was right, and leading by example. Here’s an extract, with a few comments from me in square brackets:-
“We could lose power for a generation. ‘Après moi, le déluge’ always has a persuasive effect, even when people are bloody sick of the ‘moi’. [so nothing pretentious there then]
“I helped this process by briefing the hacks hard that David Miliband and Harriet Harman were already on manoeuvres: Miliband courting wealthy donors to fund his leadership campaign, Harriet touring the bars of Warwick talking about her ‘moment’.
“At that point, it didn’t matter whether either thing was true, which neither was; [basically make up any lie that suits you to hold power is an acceptable path] what mattered was that people heard the drumbeats of a Labour civil war.
“When I was hurriedly spreading my mischief [one person’s ‘mischief’ is another person’s lie] about Miliband and Harriet the weekend of the Warwick conference, I wouldn’t lie outright; I’d just point a journalist in an erroneous direction by asking a question: ‘Are you hearing this rumour about Miliband asking Lord Levy to bankroll his campaign? Won’t that be a massive story?’” [well done Damian]
The most impressive thing is that McBride is clearly proud of what he did. Some might say that in a perfect world,
a) he’d have been stopped at the time from his activities,
b) he’d have been too embarrassed to confess to being a sleaze in his book,
c) he’d be being investigated by the police, and,
d) decent media wouldn’t promote his book and no one would buy it.
But it seems that if there is money out there from telling the world you’ve been a sneak and a bully, or money to be made by taking your clothes off and sitting on a wrecking ball, singing someone else’s material, there’s no shame in it. The world wants to buy, and it seems where there is muck, there’s people with the brass to turn it into gold.
Next week – more on the closure of the Marcliffe; a Trump update, and whatever else comes up.
Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.
Tally ho! Has the Deen ever seen a fairer summer? It’s not faded out just yet, and the parks are still full of people. Union Terrace Gardens were full of revellers for the Rainbow festival.
The mythical drunks and junkies said to loiter there are as much in evidence as the transparent giant boy who floated over the lurid flowerbed in the Granite Web drawings.
Hazlehead is filled with people, including motorists who don’t give a damn about parking on the grass, as well as thieves who’ve stolen a metal plaque.
More on this and other thefts shortly.
Gerry Jablonski & The Electric Band had a great night last Friday at the Lemon Tree; Techfest has rolled into town with a 20th anniversary birthday party and a programme of events that couldn’t be broader.
I hope to make it to the talk in Cruickshank botanical gardens on Friday. There was a talk about what to do if there is a zombie apocalypse; I missed this, but it couldn’t have been that much difference from some of the previous administration’s full council meetings.
Alas! I wasn’t quick enough to get one of the limited planetarium tickets, and because of other commitments I had to miss BrewDog’s ‘Science of Brewing’ talk which took place Tuesday.
I consoled myself considerably when I discovered two of BrewDog’s new offerings. A new light beer ‘How to Disappear Completely’ is filled with flavour yet low in alcohol content. Then there is ‘Misspent Youth.’ The bar staff told me it was rich, creamy and tasted of coffee and plums. They were right. I’ll be back for more of each soonest.
Alas! Everything that’s not nailed down, everything that is nailed down, and even the nails are being stolen in City and Shire. The epidemic of thefts all around us is alarming. If the police are recovering stolen goods, I hope they let us know about it, for the news at present is all about the thefts. Metal drain and gutter covers are going faster than cut-price cider.
Cars are being stolen at a rate exceeding sales of the new Grand Theft Auto V game. One car was stolen twice in the space of a few hours; you’ve got to give those thieves points for daring.
Your more ambitious thief is ripping their employer off, be it restaurant, the council or oil company. People in supermarkets are treating self check-out lines as optional. People are stealing pets in broad daylight. Your more intellectual thief is plagiarising poetry, and having the nerve to win poetry contests. Award-stealing poet Allen has had to return a prize; he was caught stealing other poets’ material. The BBC quotes Allen as saying :-
“I accept that I did plagiarise certain poems (although it was genuinely not my intention to deceive)”
It’s OK then – he was only stealing, not trying to fool us. Phew. Here’s a poem for him:-
Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue
I Think You’re A Tea-leaf
Och Aye Tha Noo. (copyright 2013 Old Susannah)
we all know what great places care homes are
Here in Torry, people have stolen not only drain covers but bricks – and a section of a stone wall. Worse, serial fantacist and idea appropriator Jeffrey Archer has a new book out to boot.
What’s going on? Why is it going unchecked? Who stole the pen I was just using a minute ago? Time for some timely theft-related definitions, as well as one timely definition for good measure.
Old Fashioned Policing: (old-fashioned English phrase) to keep the peace by intimidation and physical force.
Ah, the good old days. There was of course never any crime or social problem in the past, because in those halcyon days, police were not adverse to beating the daylights out of people, or scaring them out of their wits. Ah, the good old days eh?
I was surprised to read the tale of Ross-shire policemen Ovenstone and Kelman, who are in a bit of muck because of two teenage girls.
The policemen, both in their early 30s decided the girls needed a bit of old-fashioned policing for acting up at a care home.
Now we all know what great places care homes are, and how every child that winds up in one is no good. Well, the kindly policemen decided to use some initiative. They handcuffed the teenagers, drove them to a remote farm, intimidated them, made them walk without shoes through manure.
Now, if you can remember back to your teenage years, think what it would have been like if two uniformed, weapon-carrying angry policemen handcuffed you and made you do things that were outside of the law. Yes, you would have been scared into becoming a model citizen. There was of course no chance that this harmless escapade would have caused any lasting psychological scars.
Kelman, was given credit in court for bravely saying ’that’s enough’
Sadly, the courts have taken action against the police. Shocking, isn’t it. Of course there will be no custodial sentence, because that would serve no purpose. And here Old Susannah was, thinking that the deprivation caused by a jail term, and the message this sent out had some value.
No doubt this logic will be applied in the future to those with and without uniforms equally.
One of the braver cops, Kelman, was given credit in court for bravely saying ‘that’s enough’ at the end of the ordeal. I think he should get a medal. He didn’t stop anything; he was there, but he said ‘that’s enough’. Again, perhaps this logic will extend to those who are accessories to crime. For reasons unknown, Ovenstone decided to leave the police.
No, you just don’t get policing like that any more.
Theft – Pretexting: (Modern English phrase) – to gain entry to premises, to con, to deceive with the intent of stealing.
Hard up for cash? Need a little extra spending money? Why not do what Charles Skinner did, and trick your way into an 80 year-old woman’s house?
Pretend you’re there to do some work (as if you did any work), read an electricity meter, whatever. If your victim’s been dumb enough to let you in the front door, then they kind of deserve to be robbed, don’t they?
An Aberdeen pensioner is now having problems sleeping after Skint Skinner did just this to her, and once in her home stole money from her handbag.
Old people will have lots of money after all, and sometimes they forget they have it (like the hospital patients you hear of now and then that are ripped off by their ‘carers’. In fact there have been a few thefts recently in the ARI – gold chains, money, etc.; I’m sure this won’t be upsetting to patients and their families in the least.
thieves stole a commemmorative plaque from Hazelhead park
After all, you probably have a good use for the money – like your drug habit. What fun is an old person going to have with their cash anyway? If they wind up injured or emotionally upset, that’s not really your problem is it?
Besides, if you have had a tough childhood, a drug or alcohol problem, then it’s not your fault, and a decent lawyer will get you a reduced sentence, probably with the taxpayer paying.
Yes, pretexting your way into someone’s house can be a nice little earner.
Metal theft: (Modern English phrase) The theft of goods for their metal/mineral content and/or the stripping of metal from property.
Times are indeed tough; the value of metal is shooting through the roof (no doubt the roof’s lead has been stolen from the roof by now). Time to get some tools, a truck, and go nick some metal.
As mentioned, thieves stole a commemmorative plaque from Hazelhead park. Well, if the park is for everyone’s enjoyment, why not theirs?
Rail commutes will have notice no less than 4 recent disruptions on the Aberdeen to Inverness line: thieves have been stealing the cabling used in the signalling system. To lose copper cables to thieves once is unlucky. To lose your cables a second time is a bit careless. To have your copper stolen a third time begs the question ‘are you paying attention?’
Somewhere there are scrap metal dealers who are taking this material in
To lose cabling a fourth time implies incompetence. As to the thieves, well, the cabling is just there for the taking apparently. What’s the worst that could happen anyway? A potential train crash can’t outweigh the need to steal some copper wire.
Somewhere there are scrap metal dealers who are taking this material in. There must be a few clues when people go to sell plaques that are inscribed to the people of a city, or miles of copper wire. But none of these metal yards seem to be coming forward.
ATM Theft: (Modern English Phrase) to steal cash dispensers.
In the old days, the ones cops like Kelman and Ovenstone might have yearned for, a thief would just have waited for an unsuspecting person to use an ATM, and then either make note of their card number, and steal the card later – or just beat the cash withdrawer senseless once they had the money in their hand. These days are gone.
Need to supplement your metal theft income? Get a truck round to an ATM, and just steal the whole thing. In this line of work you get to travel as well – New Deer, Bieldside, Inverurie. Sounds pretty good to me.
Auto Theft: (English Phrase) the theft of a vehicle.
Well, the police do have this covered nicely in our area. Of course cars are stolen, driven in a stylish stuntman manner, and then often set alight, in one case cheering up some shoppers at a supermarket not long ago.
The police are blaming car owners for keeping car keys in their kitchens.
Car thieves taught admirers and young apprentices how to hotwire cars
Granted, you have to lock your homes and your cars these days. But even if you do this, if the keys are in your locked house somewhere they can be found, then it seems you’re pretty much guilty of being an accessory to any resultant theft.
We did have the exciting Stig Aberdeen Boys Facebook page not long ago; it had hundreds of members.
Car thieves taught admirers and young apprentices how to hotwire cars, how to steal motorbikes and so on. It’s a shame it was taken down, but Facebook decided promoting crime wasn’t something it wanted to branch out into. Shame.
There is No Honour Among Thieves: (English saying) A proverb advising that thieves are not to be trusted.
Well, it does my heart good to say there is always the exception that proves the rule. In a recent court appearance, a noble, brave robber (who had assaulted and threatened his victims and acted as part of a team) has refused to name his co-workers.
The man in question did tell the court he was very sorry indeed for upsetting people and taking their money, but ‘he is the only one going to jail’ for the spate of robberies he and his mates committed. I’d love to tell you his name, but someone seems to have stolen my notes.
For reasons of space, I’ll leave it there. There have been people embezzling from public and private sector employers; people stealing from charities, people stealing from the old and the infirm.
In Torry people have stolen bricks and even a bit of a stone wall. It just goes to show you, when you need to earn some money, there is always a way. (Did I ever tell you about the rich property developer who did a deal with the City over land in Kingswells, and then tried to keep £1.7 million pounds’ worth of profit)?
PS – pet theft is most definitely going on. Be vigilant.
Next week: more definitions.
The state of the EE has proved divisive in our area.
Some see a dark hole that should be rid of druggies and alcoholics. Some think it is a waste of space, empty of any meaningful content.
Some see a cute place to look at baby picture competitions.
Have your say on the future of this once-loved institution.
Answer questions which are in no way leading, and have your say. Participate in this survey, the completely scientific results of which will be shared with government, Star Fleet Academy, and even ACSEF.
The survey can be found here http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PYSMBQ2
It’s been another event filled week in city, shire and country, but at least the weather has been amazing. By Suzanne Kelly.
Last Sunday I took a long drive with some friends through Banchory, then down to Drumtochty and Stonehaven. We also stopped into one of the NEOS (North East Open Studios) venues.
Even though it was past closing time, Katrina McIntosh showed us in to her very enviable loft gallery/painting space.
Her gallery space is crammed with a wide variety of work, and I was pleased to see so many ‘red dots’ indicating sales. Safe to say we enjoyed her work.
Animals, especially highland cattle stared back from canvas; there were some very evocative red pepper paintings (already sold) using painting techniques to great effect to convey the vegetables’ skins; I particularly liked some of her paintings of birds.
The NEOS experience is all around us; visit Katrina’s webpage here:
http://www.northeastopenstudios.co.uk/neos/p-memb-viewentry.php?entid=48 and the overall NEOS website here: http://www.northeastopenstudios.co.uk/neos/index.php .
Other studios will be investigated over the three weeks the event runs.
The weekend was capped off beautifully by a BrewDog visit; the hopinator (a magical device BrewDog occasional attaches to its beer lines and fills with whatever takes their fancy: (herbs, tea, chilies) had been filled with lemon rind, and the already magical elixir, Tongue Tied, was running through it.
The result was a summery, sunny, citrusy refreshing drink that was undoubtedly the Pimms of the beer world (I do like a nice Pimms). I even put ice in it, which may have upset traditionalists. Don’t bother looking for it now; it’s been quickly drunk. Do feel free to ask BrewDog to do it again.
I also had a nice visit to Under the Hammer, where some of my paintings are still on show, and a trip to the Moorings one night was a good occasion to let the hair down. There are many good bands heading to the Moorings soon; I for one can’t wait for the 30th anniversary tour of Spear of Destiny, and local(ish) act Pallas returns in November with a new album. So yes, we do have culture on tap in our area.
Oh, and I spent a few happy hours in Union Terrace Gardens on Saturday afternoon; the benches were all full; people were enjoying the pleasures of being in a city centre park. Children played; the air didn’t reek of car exhaust fumes; and surprisingly few druggies or criminals were about.
Music, art, craft, theatre…we certainly have some creative minds and talents in our area. Outside of the arts, some of our local worthies show creativity I can scarcely believe. We have masters of invention and reinvention, and their sheer perseverance is astonishing. This week Old Susannah looks at a few such people and the odd (very odd) institution, and marvels.
But first, I bring you a shocking story. No, not Cat Cubie’s recent column on the groundbreaking premise that it’s OK to be a geek, but something nearly as important.
A dodgy land deal in Scotland? Hard to believe, but the BBC reports:-
“Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has raised concern over a controversial government land deal struck with a businessman. She said taxpayers’ cash was used to buy land in Paisley from John McGlynn in 2008 for £840,000, which was later sold back to him for £50,000.Ms Lamont asked First Minster Alex Salmond to justify the transaction when she raised the issue in parliament.”
Well, this is a huge embarrassment. You wouldn’t find this kind of thing in Aberdeen. No, when we do a land deal with a dodgy businessman, we would never bother with such paltry sums of money. Considering our own Stewart Milne looked set for a tidy £1.7 million ‘windfall’ from our council, it is clear we’re the more affluent area.
We are also definitely the more creative area, as rather than buying and selling for a loss, we sold for a massive loss, and at the same time coincidentally awarded Milne contracts for projects worth a nice packet. Had the other bidders for this work been given the chance to offset a low bid and resulting low profit margin against making a nice sum off of a land deal, they too could have seen a good cash flow.
If I were one of these bidders, I might be cross enough to call a lawyer.
Without any further ado, I present herewith our masters of reinvention. When it comes to invention; I think you will agree that some of them truly can be called Mothers.
The New Statesman: Kevin Stewart, Fiscal Wizard (with a few memory issues)
Kevin Stewart is now far away from his Kate Dean lapdog past. It’s a few years since his heroic role in ACC’s cuts to services to vulnerable people, and simultaneous generosity to land purchasers (see above for instance). No, Kev is now in power as an MSP, and as such can tell us what the current council is doing wrong. The P&J quote this elder statesman frequently in its pieces critical of the new administration; I’m sure you hang on his every word as much as I do.
That mean Willie Young seems to dislike Kevin insinuating the current administration has cooked the books.
Kev just might be something of a masterchef in this area.
Carrot Top Kev was around when we accidentally sold so much land for so little profit that we set yet more records. Audit Scotland couldn’t decide whether the councillors involved in the deals were incompetent (surely not!) or dishonest. The police were therefore asked to investigate, and as if by magic, no problems at all were found. Phew! Yes, things were different when Stewart and Dean ruled the roost.
His SNP biography has also got a different take on events; it’s funny how the passage of time can make things seem even rosier than they were: Kev’s biography reads in part…
“Finance & Resources Committee [was] — something of a poisoned chalice, for he was soon made aware of the Council’s £50million debt, incurred over the years by profligate and incompetent administrations. Showing considerable courage and tenacity, Kevin Stewart succeeded in making the necessary savings in the Council budgets — without which the city would have faced near bankruptcy — and his efforts were recognised by the electors of Aberdeen Central in the Scottish General Election. He stepped down as a councillor in May 2012.” http://aberdeensnp.org/node/1
Could those ‘profligate and incompetent administrations’ have anything to do with the fact Kev had been serving(?) the city since 1999? Obviously not. As to those ‘courageous’ cuts, Old Susannah guesses Kevin’s courage casts a shadow over the comparatively small courage shown by the people who had to get along once he and Dean cut their essential services.
Choices might want to send him a copy of ‘The Wrong Choices’ – an excellent documentary highlighting Kevin and Dean’s courage; Willie Young might want to consider the accusations of ‘profligacy’ lodged by the SNP on this epic Stewart Biog page.
It seems this experience has given Kevin the expertise and experience necessary to criticise Young and the current administration. Do bear this in mind when he next appears in print criticising ACC’s current government, and be grateful for his encouraging words and finger-pointing: he does know what he’s talking about.
Indeed, when it comes to reinvention, and a bit of historical amnesia, Kevin has few peers. One however is the shire’s sweetheart, Gillian Owen.
Gillian Owen: Campaigner for Free Access (just not for all)
Take comfort people of Menie! Fear no more, photographers and journalists: an Aberdeenshire champion of your access rights has presented itself in the form of Cllr. Gillian Owen. Your right to roam is in good hands.
Well, she might not care about the many infringements of legal access rights on the Menie Estate (I’ve not read a word from her about the treatment meted out to Susan Munro, Alicia Bruce, Baxter & Phinney, etc. etc.) , but you can’t say she doesn’t care. ‘Access Issues at Inverurie Bus Stop’ is the Inverurie Herald’s headline heralding the advent of this access champion:-
“I have been fighting for better protection for our children as they walk to school but BEAR have gone too far, a resident has brought to my attention that pedestrians no longer have an access to the bus stop at the shortest point.”
Yes, there is a stretch of roadway that now has a girder on it, probably 10 yards long. Perhaps this is an infringement on peoples’ rights to get to the bus stop quickly. Perhaps it is just a girder to stop people driving off road. In any event, your freedoms are assured.
Evening Express – Broken Heart Mender
In the distant past, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Evening Express was a mercenary tabloid desperate to please its advertisers, to serve the needs of its proprietor and his family (ignoring unflattering news stories now and then), and to sell as many papers as possible via an endless stream of beautiful bride/baby/pet/toddler/senior accountant competitions. You would be wrong.
It’s really an agony aunt wanting to make us all feel better. It’s a completely different paper to the one that called the shire councillors ‘neeps’ for voting against Trump; it’s a different paper to the one that gave a slight edge to the pro web factions. It’s actually a peacemaker. I for one believe it is taking the peace more than making it.
This selfless paper is going to fix our broken hearts. No, not about your first love – something much more important: not having a granite web.
They want your opinion, and that’s pretty big of them I must admit. In a poll that will in no way be twisted to suit a pre-existing agenda, one which is by happy coincidence the same as the big advertisers, you can have your say on fixing the city.
I can’t wait to see the resulting statistics. Tea leaves, ouija boards, tarot cards all point to a result which sees everyone in town unanimously voting to turn the gardens into something other than gardens. We shall see. Here is where you tell them what you want: http://www.panelwise.com/surveys/GQY4-9MNZ/E459228E/?F81A7F46I3201664
Of course, the paper can draw on its own expertise for how to revive the flagging city centre; it is doiing all it can to revive its flagging circulation. This of course will some time soon include investigative journalism, objective writing, and presenting points of view which differ from the editor’s.
In the mean time, there have been job cuts, and more are quite possible.
No doubt the city government will instantly implement whatever plan this scientific, objective poll says is what we want.
Back when the Trump consultation for the initial planning permission was live, scores of emails arrived which used the exact same phraseology about the benefits the course would bring. This wasn’t some sort of organised ACSEF campaign I’m sure; it must just have been great minds thinking alike.
I’m sure that no such distortion of the results will happen to this poll. In fact, I am sure that if the public demand that the Express shares its raw data, minus any personal data, they’ll be more than happy to do so.
Well, with the parameters of what might/might not wind up in UTG continuing to change by the second, I will comment on that never-ending story soon. Do keep telling your elected reps – those of you who live in the city – what you do or don’t want to see happening.
Next week: the (un)surprising decision of the Petitions Committee regarding Trump at Menie.
Alas! In the midst of all this great weather and great things to do, the abandonment and ill treatment of both people and animals continues. If you want to help in our area, Mrs Murray’s Home, Willows, Blaikiewell’s, The New Ark and the Scottish SPCA are filled to capacity and need both donations and loving homes for animals.
If you can spare some time and energy, Befriend a Child (city and shire) could use your help, too http://www.befriendachild.org.uk/ – among other worthwhile charities and groups.