Mar 252014
 

With thanks to Dave Black.

Childrenchains3As part of Aberdeen’s Festival of Politics, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign Aberdeen are screening the film Children in Chains (40mins), followed by a Q&A with the director Jon Pullman, a political activist and film director from Edinburgh.
Children in Chains is his most recent project, and focuses on the abuse of Palestinian children in the Israeli Military Court System.

Many children stand up against the occupying soldiers of Israel combatting tanks and guns with mere stones but as the film explains, “for them the consequences of defiance can be kidnap, torture and imprisonment”. 

SPSC asked him to explain a bit about the making of the film;

SPSC:Tell us something about your latest film project

JP: Children in Chains was inspired by a seminar which I attended and filmed back in 2011. Having been involved in the campaign for justice and human rights in Palestine for many years, I really thought I knew all there was to know about the suffering endured by ordinary people living under Israeli occupation. However, the main presentation at this event was given by a West Bank-based lawyer, Gerard Horton.

Gerard spoke powerfully and in some detail about the appalling treatment of young Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli military court system. It was a shocking revelation to most of us and I realised that I had to make the information more widely available through film.

SPSC: How did you make it?

JP: The core of the film is Gerard’s presentation. However, in order to avoid just a talking head, with the limited appeal that would have, I built up a selection of commentary and often harrowing real-life footage that would help bring the issue alive and hopefully engage a much wider potential audience.

SPSC: What challenges did you face?

JP: The difficulties are always in the edit. And deciding on a target audience. I wanted to produce a documentary that was short enough to be usable at meetings, classes and public events, but long enough to make an impact with the subject matter. I also wanted to give a bit of background historical context for those not necessarily familiar. This is a challenge in itself because how do you summarize a conflict so misrepresented and so disputed in just a few minutes.

SPSC: What was the most striking/surprising/shocking thing when you made the film?

JP: The sheer volume of incriminating material on the internet. Much of the footage I used in Children in Chains was filmed by Palestinian activists on the ground. These days, we rarely have to rely on third party witnesses to tell us what’s going on in the world; there is usually somebody there with some sort of lens. It is shocking to me that the cruelty and violence involved in the oppression of the Palestinian people is so visually documented and freely viewable and yet unacknowledged by the political powers that really matter.

SPSC: Why should people see this film?

JP: Israel-Palestine is a subject that most people glaze over at the mere mention of. This is largely due to how the conflict is portrayed – an intractable squabble over land. The reality is much darker and disturbing. The brutal and illegal abuse of Palestinian children is just another aspect of Israel’s project to destroy Palestinian identity, but, by nature of the subject, has a particular power to move people, and through that, transform awareness. This film aims to do that.

SPSC: Do you have any other Palestinian projects in the pipeline?

JP: I visited the West Bank twice in 2011 and brought back many hours of vibrant, life-affirming footage of ordinary life among Palestinians and remain determined to produce a film that documents this experience. I think it’s important to depict and celebrate the positive aspects.

‘Children in Chains’ and Q&A with Director Jon Pullman will be taking place on Thursday 27th March, 7.30pm, upstairs at the Blue Lamp. The event is free. All welcome.

Sep 172013
 

Get InclusiveFeatWith thanks to Maree Adams.

The Aberdeen Arts Coalition are hosting Aberdeen’s first ever inclusive arts festival on the 20th and 21st September 2013.

The Arts Coalition are a partnership of arts and disability organisations who are working together to promote opportunities for adults with learning disabilities to realise their hopes and dreams, and to flourish within the arts. The Festival will showcase a wide range of talented acts, featuring people with and without disabilities.

Acts at the two-day Cowdray Hall festival will include Leanne Smith, Tonik, Mixit, SCAT and 5th Avenue – an eclectic mix of North-east culture , including disco, pop, jazz, blues, and Scottish traditional and new music.

The festival will also showcase comedy from John Scott, along with art, film and photography exhibitions from established local artists. Satellite events will be staged in various venues in the city, including Gerry Jablonski and the Electric Band at the Lemon Tree, Dan Leckie at the Atheneum, and live comedy, art, dance and drumming workshops.

GET INclusive has been organised by the Aberdeen Arts Coalition with Aberdeen City Council, and is supported by many local and national artists and bands including world-renowned percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie.

Dame Evelyn Glennie said:

“GET INclusive aims to increase awareness and to see beyond the disability. Projects like this have had an enormous impact on the lives of people who need to be included and given purpose”

Jul 012013
 

With thanks to Charlie West.

The Folk of Stonehaven will be celebrating the town’s 25th annual Folk Festival this July. The weekend festival began in 1989 with a series of concerts in the Town Hall and a number of fringe activities including workshops, sessions and a Tradition Bearers singing concert.

The festival has grown over the years to include many more events such as the World Paper’n’Comb Championship – a fun ‘competition’ with a different theme each year and the unique Aqua Ceilidh held in the Open Air swimming pool.

Dancing is to a live ceilidh band and includes well known favourites such as the Splashing White Sergeant and Drip the Willow. Rain or shine this is one for all the family.

This year the organisers have placed an emphasis on highlighting some of the exciting new young talent alongside well-established artists such as Scotland’s Dougie MacLean and Paul Brady ( pictured above ) form Ireland. Dougie is well-known as a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist and is famously the composer of Caledonia.

In the 70’s Paul started with the supergroup Planxty, going on to establish a very successful solo career in America before returning to his roots in Ireland.

Among the new breed of up-and-coming talent is Rura – a five-piece band featuring pipes, fiddle, bodhrán, guitar and vocals and including three BBC Young Tradition finalists, and Zoe Bestel, the girl with the ukulele, a singer-songwriter of amazing talent and depth of understanding whose repertoire of self-penned songs covers a range of subjects, often with an interesting twist.

There will also be the North East Folk Collective led by Sharon Hassan – a group of 13-18 year olds with some amazing tunes and tight arrangements all ensuring the good health and future of Scottish folk music.

In addition to the Town Hall concerts, there is also a full programme of activities on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday there is, weather permitting, a concert in the square, featuring festival artists and local singers and musicians.

In case of rain the concert will be held in the Town Hall. At 12 noon in the Belvedere Hotel, a tutor from Scottish Culture and Traditions (SCAT) will lead slow sessions giving less-experienced musicians a chance to learn some tunes and join in the fun.

There will be a big singaround during the afternoon with Danny Couper and Arthur Johnstone showcasing some of the best of traditional Scots song and singers and a series of hosted sessions and workshops throughout the afternoon.

At 1600 the World Paper’n’Comb Championship kicks off, with the theme Loud Shirts. Just about anything goes and fancy dress is optional.

Sunday starts with the unique Aqua Ceilidh in the Art Deco open air pool. The pool has heated seawater so it is always at a pleasant temperature for dancing to the NE Folk Collective Ceilidh Band. This is followed by the Cowie Fringe in the nearby recreation club. This is a mix of festival artists and guests with additional fun things for kids of all ages to do, rounded off with a fun Family Ceilidh.

Also around the town there is the Tradition Bearers concert featuring four of the best traditional singers in the UK followed by the Chorus Cup – a fun completion to see who can get the loudest chorus. There will also be workshops with members of the band Breabach and sessions around the town.

For full details, visit www.stonehavenfolkfestival.co.uk.

Tickets are available online from the Town Hall Trust web site http://stonehaventownhall.org.uk/ from Celtic Chords in Barclay Street, Stonehaven or from the ticket line 07766 851596.

Thursday 11th July

Stonehaven Folk Festival weekend starts here :

Opening Concert in Stonehaven Town Hall – featuring Dougie MacLean, one of Scotland’s most successful, respected and popular musicians, Singer-songwriter, composer and ‘magical’ performer, he is also a fine guitarist and fiddle player.   He will be supported by local singer and musician Ken Clark.

Friday 12th July

Stonehaven Folk Festival big Concert Ceilidh night in the Town Hall starts at 7:30 ‘till late (well 1 o’clock). Featuring Ray Moore, Rura, Mairearad Green and Anna Massie plus the Occasionals Ceilidh Band.

Saturday 13th July

Stonehaven Folk Festival Weekend : things gets going at 11 o’clock with workshops, sessions, afternoon Open Stage at the Plainstones (Town Square) featuring local artist and Festival guests. Evening concert in the town Hall, guests are the North East Folk Collective, Kristina Olsen and Braebach.

During the day there will be a singaround led by Danny Couper and Arthur Johnstone. There will also be the Steenhive Big Sing with Christine Kydd – a chance to join a group of people and sing together, no experience is necessary and Christine will ensure everyone has fun while learning some songs and harmonies. Don’t forget the World Paper’n’Comb championships – this year with a “Loud Shirt” theme.

Sunday 14th July

Stonehaven Folk Festival Weekend – the day gets going with Aqua Ceilidh in the town’s open air pool, a great way to clear the cobwebs. Dancing to the North East Folk Collective with dances such as Drip the Willow and the Splashing White Sergeant. The day continues with the Cowie Family Fun Day at the Recreation Club plus more sessions around the town.

During the afternoon there is a Tradition Bearers concert with four great traditional singers Henry Douglas, Bella Hardy, Jerry O’Reilly and Moira Stewart followed by the  Chorus Cup competition.

The Festival closes with an evening concert in the Town Hall featuring Zoe Bestel, Bella Hardy and legendary singer songwriterPaul Brady.

Workshops with members of Breabach and day two of the Steenhive Big Sing with Christine Kydd.

MC For the weekend will be Martin Kasprowicz

Although tickets are usually available on the door, people are advised to buy tickets in advance as most concerts sell out.

Tickets are available from Celtic Chords, 8 Barclay Street in Stonehaven (01569 763193) or by calling the ticket ‘phone 07766 581596 or visiting the Stonehaven Town Hall web site http://www.tickettailor.com/checkout/view-event/id/7885/chk/0d5c

There will also be a Festival Office located in the Upper Town Hall over the weekend; it opens from 4 o’clock on the 11th July for ticket sales and programme information.

Jun 072013
 

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s events in the ‘Deen and beyond. By Suzanne Kelly.

Interesting times in the Granite City of Culture; there have been two notable photography exhibitions.

On Friday 1st June a group show of hundreds of images of Aberdeen was launched in the City of Culture HQ (formerly known as One Up).  It was a good event; the Lord Provost made an upbeat speech and promised we would have a year of culture, regardless of the city’s city of culture bid.

A show of photography work at St Machar’s Cathedral by the River Don group was very impressive.

With the help of award-winning photographer Alicia Bruce, the group spent time shooting along the Don; the results are stunning (more on that elsewhere in Aberdeen Voice).

The only fly in the ale was last week’s outing by local CAMRA group, holding another real ale festival in Pittodrie.  I’d been several times over the years, going on different dates, but never experienced the shortage of cask ales that my friend and I encountered Saturday afternoon.    Paying full price to get in with no warning they’d run out of nearly half the advertised beers, disappointment was in the air and then some.

“Every beer I’m getting tastes the same” John said

“… as a token gesture I’d have accepted a £ reduction” Stephen said

“*%£!!”N S £”!~*$%%^*!!” Paul said.

Well, the beers that were left were, er – probably not stored or shipped very well.  They were the last turkeys in the shop for a reason.

Without shaming the breweries involved, one was immediately spat out, the others bar one half (we got half measures in more ways than one) were poured out.  And for comic effect, one with a ‘citrusy hint’ was so acidic that I gave a few people a good laugh as they watched my face as it hit my taste buds.

Hint of citrus?  It was as much a ‘hint’ of citrus as the scene in Public Enemy where Jimmy Cagney smashed a grapefruit into Mae Clark’s face.

I was wearing a Brew Dog teeshirt, having just left their alternative beer festival.  80% of the Pittodrie crowd commented that they’d be heading to the dog soon.  The thing is, I genuinely respect CAMRA; they helped me a decade ago stop some small pubs from closing.  I feel like a favourite pet has bit me.

The first five minutes were spent poring over the long list of available beers; we decided what we’d have.  Rounding the corner to where the casks were, we saw disappointed faces and hardly any casks.  The word ‘FINISHED’ hung on signs on at least 40% of the casks.

We’d gone back to the guys who sold us full price admissions less than 10 minutes after we arrived.  We explained we were not happy.  They explained they usually drop the admission price when the stocks get low.  What they were waiting for remains a mystery.  They told me I could ‘write an email’ if I wasn’t happy.   I told them I’d write an email and a bit more.

 The original newsletter for Councillor Owen is no more to be found!

By way of contrast, a meal in Golden Square’s Granite Park took an overly long time.  A talk with the manager about this and a minor issue or two, and the matter was amicably settled there and then.

The beer wasn’t the only disappearance last week.  Alas!  The original newsletter for Councillor  Owen is no more to be found!

Visitors instead receive a message ‘This user has elected to delete their account and the content is no longer available’.  I understand that copies of the lovely photo of the Councillor with Donald Trump senior and his hairpiece can be obtained by ebay, or at the Snappy Snaps near Little Belmont Street – feel free to ask.  If only there were some way to see the cached evidence of this newsletter.  Hmmmm.

And while ‘this user’ expunged her newsletter, making it disappear, a new Register of Interests appeared on Aberdeenshire’s website.  The Snappy Snaps job is now registered.  I couldn’t find the previous version on the Shire’s site, but happily I do have a copy saved.

Last week said councillor took time out from their busy life to comment on my column to say:-

“I object to the serious implication you make that I have or will receive or accept bribes. I refute entirely your allegations and put you on notice that I consider these defamatory and therefore actionable. I request that you desist from repeating them with immediate effect”

Old Susannah is a little confused at Gillian’s mode of attack.  She seems to be telling me that I’ve been a bad girl and could be in trouble, and is backing her statement up by…. taking down her newsletter and updating her register of interest.  Of course, this potential threat of my writing being ‘actionable’ is deeply distressing to me.

So much so that I’ll have to calm my nerves with a half or two of Jackhammer, Dead Pony and AB13.

Finally, spare a thought for 62 year-old Isle of Wight woman Dawn Martin.  She either lost or ended a short-term lease and somehow wound up with nowhere to go.  The Council are investigating, but the story is that she was given temporary accommodation in…. a tent.  I think there will be a tax issue – it is a three-person tent.  How this will sit with the bedroom tax officials remains to be seen.

This week the beer at Pittodrie was gone despite my paying full price to taste it; Gillian’s newsletter faded into the ether; and there have been other disappearances and losses to related to these .  Time for some topical timely definitions on the things that have disappeared

Sense of  Humour Loss: (compound English noun) a failure to find humour in a joke, prank or situation.

They can’t say we don’t have a great sense of humour in Aberdeen.  We’ve elected kerb-crawlers, teenagers, plumber’s mates and embezzlers to Council – and they were the more serious element.  The latest Aberdonian stunt to hit the nationals will no doubt impress those City of Culture judges.

Merry pranksters Jack Hearns, 20, and Owen Petrie, 21 played a hilarious joke this week; they attacked HazelheadAcademy during a school day with paintball guns.  How teachers, parents and pupils would have laughed as two strange men drove to the school and started brandishing guns and firing.

Alas, some crabby parents, teachers and law enforcement officials seem to have lost their sense of fun, and arrested our pranksters.

I can’t for the life of me see what’s wrong with making kids and adults think they were under a gun attack at a school; it’s not like that could ever happen.  Perhaps we’ll see another sly joke from this pair when they appear in court, probably pretending to be filled with remorse, telling tales of how tough their lives have been and that they’ll never do anything like this again.

Now that would be funny.

Evidence: (noun) tangible proof indicating an event or crime has definitely or likely taken place.

Spare a moment for the Scottish Police; they have managed to lose evidence in a few instances which hit the news this week.

Firstly, evidence seems to have gone walkies in the case of Seal slayer Graham McNally.  He was found guilty of using nets designed to drown seals near his salmon cages (some would define this as a salmon farm; these installations are as much a ‘farm’ as a cage in the zoo is a lion or tiger farm).

At the end of May, evidence proving such acts occurred must have existed, but now:-

“John Robins, of the Save Our Seals Fund, said that McNally originally pled not guilty to setting illegal nets between August 2009 and August 2011, based on evidence that seals had been entangled and drowned in such nets.

“Robins has written to the COPFS asking if the charges were amended in return for a guilty plea or for any other reason, asking why the reference to the killing of seals was removed from the charges.”

See: http://www.shetnews.co.uk/news/6885-court-challenged-over-dead-seal-evidence

Could this be a case of plea bargaining?  Quite possibly.

Next we have claims from one golf course owner, one Mr Donald Trump.  He told the media on several occasions that there had been acts of vandalism and theft at the Menie Estate.  Did the protesting rabble had damaged Mr Trump’s property.?

Interestingly the police were keen to arrest film- and trouble- makers Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney; they were charged with breach of the peace on the say-so of Trump’s site manager.  The calm, reasonable, level-headed arresting officer was caught on film.    However, the police  were keen to make photographer Alicia Bruce’s complaint against a member of Trump staff disappear.  Bruce had called the police while being threatened – but the police seemed  more interested in getting her to forget the incident, saying a prosecution would be hard on the accused.  Again, evidence of wrongdoing seems to have gone astray.
 
In a Freedom of Information request (more details of this FOI in the future), the police revealed the number of cases of vandalism against Trump.  That number is – zero.

Evidence of damage to property belonging to David Milne and to Michael Forbes exists, but alas, the police have problems finding it.  This includes a videotape of vandalism taking place which Milne offered to them.

To lose one piece of evidence is unfortunate.  To lose a half dozen or so pieces looks like carelessness.  To refuse a piece of evidence of potential crime on film looks like something altogether different.

Here is part of a recent exchange between the police and Old Susannah (my questions in bold):-

How many claims/complaints of vandalism, theft, trespass and/or damage have been made by the Trump Organisation and/or its employees since 2010 involving the Menie Estate?

Vandalism (Damage) – 4
Theft – 3
Trespass – 0

How many of these claims/complaints of vandalism, theft, trespass and/or damage made by the Trump Organisation and/or its employees were dropped due to lack of evidence?

No crime report has been ‘dropped’ – however, the figures in brackets below indicate those that are currently closed, having been investigated to their conclusion.

Vandalism (Damage) – 0 (4)
Theft – 0 (3)
Trespass – 0 (0)”

All of which is a bit odd. The Trump organization claimed in 2010 that £50,000’s worth of vandalism occurred – to vehicles, fences and the all-important marram grass, which is stabilizing the dunes so effectively and ‘preserving them’ in such an environmentally friendly manner.

in June of last year the Evening Express wrote:-

“VANDALS caused thousands of pounds of damage at Donald Trump’s Menie golf course just weeks before it is due to open, the Evening Express can reveal today. A police investigation was launched after gardening equipment on the Menie estate near Aberdeen was targeted.  It came after a vandal attack last month when paint was thrown on to part of the course. 

“A spokeswoman [but presumably not the chief spin doctor Malone] from Grampian Police said up to £10,000 of damage was caused as a result of the latest incident.  The vandalism of equipment used to cut the grass on the estate took place between May 30 and June 4.”

Well, we’ve got fences, grass, grass cutting equipment, trucks vandalised and items stolen.  But no evidence to bring to trial.  Presuming any of this was reported to insurance companies, as would normally be expected possibly required, it does make you wonder where the evidence has gone.

Surely you wouldn’t cry vandalism or theft without evidence?  As to the allegations of paint spilled on the course, I wonder if anyone will be charged with the turquoise colour now evident on most of the greens.

Unfortunately other than Michael Forbes being accused of stealing the white border flags worth a staggering eleven pounds or so, I can’t find any news items relating to anyone stealing from the Donald. Perhaps we can charge the North Sea with vandalizing the course at Blairton Burn early this year.  Other than that, the claims of crimes against the course have, well, disappeared.

More on evidence of crime at Menie will be coming in the weeks ahead….

Time to disappear down to BD.  Tally Ho!

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May 132013
 

The picturesque Glamis Castle plays host to a varied programme of events this weekend. Fred Wilkinson writes.

Encouraged by the success of their Diamond Jubilee Gathering last year, Glamis Castle provides the venue for a similarly family friendly series of activities and entertainment this weekend.

This year’s gathering will surely be of great interest to the thousands who enjoyed Scotland’s biggest Jubilee Celebration in 2012.

A healthy turnout will ensure that chosen charity, Ninewells Cancer Campaign, receive a boost from the event.

This year, Glamis Gathering will take place over two days. The Saturday is billed as ‘Live on The lawn’ and is essentially a series of live music performances headlined by Michael Buble tribute, Drew Wilson.

The Sunday is a Family Fun Day, the climax of which will be the ever popular Singing Kettle performing their new show.

Saturday 18th – Live On The Lawn

In front of Castle from 3pm

Featuring:

MICHAEL BUBLE Tribute – Drew Wilson

IRON BROO – Ceilidh Band

GLITZ – All Girl Rock Band

Pipe Band Blairgowrie

Paul Anderson – International Fiddler

Local Choir

Master of Ceremonies – Mr Doug Duthie

.

.

Sunday 19th – Family Fun Day

Family Day of Music/Dance including Food/Crafts from 10.30am

Featuring:

THE SINGING KETTLE – With their new show

GLAMMERJACK – a take on the famous CRACKERJACK television programme
Hosted by
HILARY WHITLEY of BBC SCOTLAND

TEDDY BEAR PICNIC
Competition for best dressed Teddy

IRON BROO – Ceilidh Band

GLITZ – All Girl Rock Band

GARRY SEAGREAVES – Magician for Children

LOCAL MUSICIANS – on Stage during the afternoon

COOKERY DEMONSTRATION – CRAIG WILSON
The Kilted Chef from Eat on the Green Restaurant
with a special guest appearance from
ANDREA BRYMER of STV

FOOD AND CRAFT VILLAGE
including stalls from local producers and crafts

POLICE AWARENESS UNIT ON SITE

ANGUS COMMUNITY COUNCIL DISPLAYS

Funfair and Food Outlets all day

Oct 112012
 

The Future Shorts Festival is the biggest pop up film festival of its kind, and continues to grow. Showcasing the most exciting short films from around the world, anyone anywhere can set up a screening and join this massive screening network and powerful global community.  With thanks to Fiona Soe Paing.

Since November 2011, festival screenings have taken place in over 541 cities and 178 countries with an audience of more than 75,000 people experiencing a showcase of the best short films, often alongside live music, DJs and art.

From London to Tokyo, Cairoto Kabul, screenings have taken place across a massive network of music halls, cinemas, theatres, galleries, clubs, bars and warehouses.

Future Shorts celebrates the best and most innovative short films, connecting global stories with global audiences.

Every three months, Future Shorts HQ in London puts together a feature-length programme of some of the best classic, cult and award-winning short films from around the world. The festival programme is then made available to a global network of film enthusiasts, promoters, entrepreneurs and adventurers who book, organize and host local screening events. Screening partners pay a fixed fee for the festival programme, which varies according to the intended size of their audience, and then promote the screening, charge for tickets and keep any profits.

In addition to the Future Shorts selections, the autumn programme at SNAFU will also include screenings of short films by local film makers, and this first edition will premiere three new animated music videos by local electronica artist Fiona Soe Paing, which have been made with assistance from Creative Scotland.

The organisers of the SNAFU event are sending a call-out to all local film makers who have work that they would like to show at the next event, to get in touch via the Facebook event page – https://www.facebook.com/events/177919612332737/

THE FILMS –

Cafe Regular,Cairo

Director: Ritesh Batra
Egypt- 2012
11mins

A young couple find themselves speaking about things they have never spoken about before. In a city where the old and new meet, with the potential for anything to happen, they try to find their own place in a changing and uncertain world. Winner of Special Jury Mention at Tribeca Film Festival.

A Brief History of John Baldessari

Directors: Ariel Schulman & Henry Joost
United States- 2012
6mins

From the directors of CATFISH and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3, A Brief History of John Baldessari tells us everything we do and don’t need to know about this American conceptual artist. Many know Baldessari as “the guy who puts dots on people’s faces.” But did you know that he is 6’7″ and that his wi-fi password is 123456789B?  An epic career is crammed into five and a half frenzied minutes. Narrated by Tom Waits.

Rite

Director: Michael Pearce
United Kingdom- 2010
14mins

Mike visits his estranged son on his birthday, wanting to take him out and rebuild a damaged relationship. But drink and the simmering violence from match day inLondontaints the occasion, resulting in a strained afternoon for both father and son. Pearce has been named one of the ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ by Screen International, and Rite was nominated for Best Short Film at BAFTA Scotland.

The Black Balloon

Directors: Ben Safdie & Joshua Safdie
United States- 2012
18mins

Winner of Sundance’s Short Filmmaking Award, the Safdie brothers bring a film intended for children, morphed into a sci-fi urban fable. Black Balloon exploresNew Yorkand the complicated lives of individuals and their daily experiences from the heights of a stray balloon.

On the Line

Director: Reto Caffi
Germany- 2007
30mins

A story about love, voyeurism and guilt. A department store security guard watches a clerk in the store’s bookshop on CCTV and falls for her. After he witnesses, and ignores, a supposed love rival being attacked on a train, guilt begins to destroy his once ordered life. On the Line has won over 50 International awards.

Thurs 25th October.
Doors open 7pm,
films start 8pm.
Adm: £5

Sep 212012
 

Suzanne Kelly reports on the results of some important research presented at the recent Science Festival.

Aberdeen Science Festival had an amazing array of lectures, talks, trips and cabaret events which thousands of visitors enjoyed.

One of the more important issues covered was the very serious subject of second-hand smoke and its effect on children.  I took the  opportunity to talk to Dr Stephen Turner ( pictured ) of Aberdeen University and Rachel O’Donnell of ASH Scotland on a promising initiative to attempt to tackle this complex problem.

You smoke, or your partner smokes; you have a couple of children and a cat.  No harm in smoking around them in the house – just open a window and the smoke can’t bother them.  Can it?

You close the window when you’re done smoking.  You don’t smell much smoke and you can’t see any clouds of smoke at all, so there’s no risk to anyone.

The truth is that ANY smoke residue can definitely harm your children and your pets.  Smoke that you can see and other chemicals in smoke that you can’t see or smell are injuring kids.   About 85% of cigarette smoke is invisible.

You might not believe this to be true, but please remember the old ‘canary in a coal mine’ story.  Miners would take canaries down into the mines and if the bird suddenly died, either the oxygen was running out, or there was something dangerous, but invisible and scentless.  Things you don’t see can indeed hurt you and your children.

REFRESH is an intervention aimed at reducing the exposure children get to second-hand smoke which was presented during the Aberdeen Science Festival.  Dr Stephen Turner and Rachel O’Donnell were available to explain how they worked with smoking families when they did their research.  They were not trying to make parents stop smoking, but instead were making people aware what the consequences can be on children’s lives.  The full details are written in a paper called ‘REFRESH – reducing families’ exposure to second-hand smoke in the home:  a feasibility study.’

Families where young children were living with regular smokers were asked to take part in a study which would measure indoor air quality in their homes.  The personalised air quality data were presented to the smoker, then a motivational interview was held and positive solutions were suggested for cleaner, healthier air for the child.

There were about 60 Aberdonian participants in this study with each receiving four visits.  At the first meeting a questionnaire was filled in to get a picture of the household members and their smoking habits; saliva samples were taken for chemical testing and monitoring equipment was set up.  At the second visit the indoor air quality result was given to half of the households in addition to the motivational interview.

The chart below shows smoke levels in one study household.  

Any quantity over 25 micrograms of smoke in a cubic metre of air space is harmful; the higher the figure, the more harm.

When the smoker was asleep, the levels dropped to non-existent.  When the smoker lit that first cigarette, the levels went up to between 500 and 950 micrograms of smoke in a cubic metre of air.

Throughout the day, the smoke lingered – even when the smoker assumed the room was clear of smoke.

This came as quite a revelation for the smokers.  Here is what some of them had to say:

“Seeing the results made a big difference.  It was like a shock because I didn’t realise.  Like I don’t sit here and smoke in front of my child, I do it in the kitchen, but for the readings to be high like that when I’m not like anywhere near it, if you know what I mean, it’s like a shock factor to realise what it can do.  So I think that’s the best thing that like helped me.”

“I showed them how high it was, and some of them was like – you’re  joking?  And I was like no…”

“For it (monitoring) to be done in your own home and for you to know that the level of smoke is so high and you’re putting your children at risk of asthma, emphysema, all kinds of things, it’s quite shocking.”

One comment in particular shows the strength of the motivational factor provided by caring about children’s health:

“For me I think my son’s health, that’s my priority.  So I would like to think that all mothers would think like that, that their kids come first no matter what.  My bad habits shouldn’t be put onto my child.  Because I can’t stop smoking doesn’t mean he has to suffer.”

After one month the research team revisited the houses, repeated the air quality measurements and, this time, gave all the households their results.  During the month the air quality had not changed in the houses where air quality data was not initially given but air quality had improved by more than one third where the graph was used as part of the initial motivational interview.

  personalised measurements of smoke in the home, while shocking, can also be very motivational

The trial was not large, but its results show that a future, large-scale programme would be beneficial.  Like everything else, budgetary constraints are a factor.  The vast sums that the NHS has to spend treating smoke-related illnesses should be sufficient to show that prevention should be actively pursued as one solution to the smoking issue.

The study has shown that lay people can most definitely engage with science and can understand complex matters when it is presented using clear, audience-appropriate, audience-relevant formats.   Crucially, the personalised measurements of smoke in the home, while shocking, can also be very motivational.  As the paper concludes:

“…in almost all participating households, indoor air (quality) approached a threshold considered unhealthy, suggesting a need to reduce indoor air (quality) in many households across the UK, and that many people would benefit from such an intervention.” 

It seems that this combination of personalised data, positive suggestions and active participation of smokers might be the way to tackle smoke exposure to children.  It is hoped this small study won’t be the end of the matter.  The research goes on but, in the meantime, parents who smoke can create smoke free homes and smoke free cars to protect their children from the harmful effects of second hand smoke.

Smoking is still a social norm for many families but in the same way as drink driving and not wearing a seat belt are no longer acceptable, in future smoking will be considered as not acceptable by society.

PS for animal lovers –  according to Dr Turner, the incidence of feline leukaemia is twice as high in cats that live in a smoker’s home than for cats that live in a smoke free environment.

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Sep 072012
 

By Suzanne Kelly.

This year’s TechFest is bigger than ever before, and it’s not too late to catch a host of lectures, activities and events.  TechFest runs through Sunday 9 September at various venues throughout Aberdeen. Archaeology, Psychology, Geology and even Mixology get a look in this time around.

The Bill Bryson talk may be sold out, but there are still plenty of free events for people of all ages.  These include:-

  • ‘Is Access to Water a Human Right’ – Friday 15.30pm
  • ‘CSI – Fact or Fiction?’ – Saturday 10am
  • ‘Café Cosmos’ – Sunday 10am
  • ‘Looking for Leviathans’ – Sunday 1pm
  • ‘Multi-Track Mixing’ – all day Saturday
  • Festival Finale – Sunday from 7pm

Do check the programme for dozens more events, event locations (some free events may still require booking in advance).  Times may change; check with the organisers.  Or better still, wander up to the Spiegeltent on Aberdeen University Campus, and see what’s going on when you get there.  Details and booking:  www.britishsciencefestival.org

There is a festival bar at Elphinstone Hall, and other eating and drinking venues on campus.

Sep 072012
 

Voice’s Old Susannah looks at events over yet another vibrant and dynamic week in the ‘Deen. By Suzanne Kelly.

Tally Ho!  I hope everyone’s had another exciting week in  Aberdeen.

The Science Festival has kicked off, attracting visitors, scientists and lecturers from around the world.
It is most kind of them to visit Aberdeen– we have a garden that’s not at street level and we don’t have a web – we should be most grateful to them.

We should be grateful to BP as well, which is investing £100 million in the area.

Old Susannah discovered beer cocktails at BrewDog this past week.  They are gorgeous, and very enjoyable in these trying times.

I am amazed BrewDog chose to open its brilliant bar and factory in our area when we didn’t go for the granite web.  It’s almost as if the gardens were not a factor in their plans.

The more cynical among us wonder:  Would businesses really prefer operating here if we were £92 million in debt and had a giant city centre construction zone for at least a year?  If you listen to the SNP, some LibDems (funny, HoMalone doesn’t seem to be the charismatic leader we all thought she was) and ACSEF, then the answer is yes.

The petition to ask Sir Ian to spend his wealth to Africa instead of the web is now one week old.  Please do visit, read, and hopefully sign at www.gopetition.com/sir-ian-send-your-£50M-to-africa-as-promised   No doubt the mainstream press will take the story of this petition up any day now.  After all, our local papers wrote about the MASS demonstration planned by pro CGP activists when the figure was around 200.  Guess the Wood petition is about to be massive, too.

And massive and genuine thanks to Lush shops throughout Scotland; last weekend they raised hundreds of pounds to benefit Willows Animal Sanctuary.

Finally, Morris the Monkey has a new pal in Si the Seagull, new mascot for AFC.  Word has it that the fans are not necessarily impressed by this development, but I’ll wait and hear what Si himself has to say when he starts working for BiG and promoting the web.

On with a few definitions.

Union Terrace Effect: (modern English phrase, attributed to F. Wilkinson) – scheme in which powers that be allow a building, park or structure to decay deliberately, until such time as there is an outcry for a new replacement to be built- which is what the desired outcome was to begin with. 

Old Susannah heard this term recently, but can’t think of a single historic building, museum, school, terrace gardens or Tullos Hill that would fit this definition of something left to rot so it could be sold off / developed.  If I think of anything, I will let you know.

The Itemiser: (mod Eng noun) a portable particle scanner which can detect microscopic traces of a variety of substances.

We will all be safer soon!  Result!

traces of the drug (cocaine) can be found on any bank note

First, we are considering building a giant ‘state of the art’  prison soon – yet another construction job coming our way!  Secondly, the police now have a portable scanner which can find particles on a microscopic level of things like cannabis (!) and hard drugs.

They plan to go from bar to bar and search people here and there, for traces of drugs.  Anyone who’s been in contact with these substances (except for politicians, the wealthy, successful creative types, celebrities, etc) will be thrown in jail – where tons more drugs and interesting career training opportunities will freely available.

There is just one flaw in this cunning plan of searching citizens for microscopic evidence of crime, and that is this little fact:  90%+ of all paper money in circulation in the United Kingdom has traces of cocaine and/or heroin on it.

Old Susannah can’t begin to imagine how or why that should be – but next time you buy something in a bar, use coins rather than folding money – or it might just be off to jail with you.

The Daily Mail was one of the many news media that reported the presence of drugs on currency; it wrote:-

“A senior analyst at the FSS, the largest provider of forensic services in the UK on behalf of police forces, says traces of the drug (cocaine) can be found on any bank note regardless of its geographical location.

It takes just two weeks for a new note to pick up the drug… “

Read more: http://www.dailymail/Every-British-bank-note-contaminated

So to sum up, anyone with traces of drugs on them is either:  a)  a drug fiend who should be locked up, and/or b)  someone who has £5, £10, £20 or £50 pound notes on them.  We will all be safer if these types are all locked up.

If anyone’s worried about any bothersome civil rights issues over this type of presumed guilt / mandatory search, infringement of freedom, they could always organise a protest.

Witty Kevin Stewart is making a stir once again.

Except that Gordon McIntosh is proposing to the Council that we get rid of such things as protests, or at best only allow them in the Castlegate, where any crowds can easily be kettled.  Thanks, Gordon.

Anyone suggesting his latest report (which also recommends charging groups for holding events in parks as well as banning protests) is over-stepping his remit will be locked up.

King Midas: (ancient Greek mythological figure).  Midas was magically transformed so that everything he touched turned to gold.

Witty Kevin Stewart is making a stir once again.  Back in the day, he told the people in care homes, schools, Choices, etc. that we all had to be ‘reasonable’.  Then he cut their services off and closed their schools.

ACSEF was of course allowed to flourish, city real estate was sold at bargain basement prices, and we wrote off millions of pounds in bad debts.  Reasonable indeed.

Kevin had a wonderfully clever sound bite this week, aimed at Aberdeen City Council’s web-rejecters.  For the benefit of those who have stopped reading it, the P&J wrote:

“MSP Kevin Stewart claimed the administration had an “inverse Midas touch” hindering future private investment in the city.”

As mentioned before, I guess someone forgot to tell BrewDog, BP and a host of other businesses about the hindering future private investment in the city.  But as painful as it is to correct him, I feel I must remind Kev the moral of the Midas story.

King Midas was not a bad man per se; but he loved wealth and lived for gold.  So far, so good – if you’re an ACSEF member.

Kevin Stewart forgot part of the legend when making his brilliant comment

As a reward for his kindness to a Satyr, he was granted a wish – he wished that everything he touched would turn to gold.  At first very happy to be surrounded by his new wealth, Midas soon learnt that he could not eat, as his food turned to gold.  Then he touched his daughter, and she turned to gold as well.

Kevin Stewart forgot part of the legend when making his brilliant comment.  Midas realised his folly in thinking gold and wealth was more important than the environment, living creatures and of course his own daughter.

Midas was cured of his lust for gold, and once cured of the Midas Touch too, he retired to the countryside to enjoy nature. It was almost as if something in life was more important than wealth creation.  Ultimately, the moral of the Midas tale is that the environment and people are more important than gold.  How backward-looking is that?

I’m sure that this ending of the story would horrify our average Chamber of Commerce member, who would gladly have brought their golden daughter to a pawn shop to flog as scrap metal.

In an uncharacteristic slip, neither Kevin nor our local press found time to mention that Kev was on the City Gardens Project Management Board when writing about Labour having the Midas touch in reverse.

Some people might think his connection to the project is relevant to his attack on Labour, but that would just be jumping to the conclusion that a person on a board of a project would want the project to go ahead.   (And that would be as silly as assuming someone in a football supporter’s club might be biased towards the football team).

You might expect this service-axing champion of the people to advise fiscal restraint now until we truly got on our feet again.  You might even think he’d advise restoring some services ahead of web weaving.

No, Kev would prefer us to borrow £92 million on this real estate speculation which he supported as a board member.  (Note – I suppose I should just call it ‘TIF Funding’ like the professional reporters do; if you call it ‘funding’ rather than a ‘loan’, it sounds better and safer, doesn’t it?)

Amnesia: (noun; medical term) forgetfulness; loss of memory.

Isolated pockets of amnesia have hit our business community, press and government.

these ‘industry chiefs’ and our press forgot how rosy things looked earlier this year in a moment of mass forgetfulness.

Kevin forgot to flag up his direct involvement in the CGP project when he criticised Labour for cutting the web.  We’re told by ACSEF, pro CGP politicians, the Evening Express and the Press & Journal that the future is all gloom and doom, and no businesses will come here without the web.

They say we’re ‘closed for business’, we’re ‘frightened’, we’re ‘embarrassing’.  (It’s not that we’re being environmentally-friendly, economically prudent or aesthetically intelligent – no, we’re in the wrong if we don’t want the golden web).

And yet as recently as February of this year things looked so much better.  This is what the Press & Journal had to say back then:-

“Aberdeen is in prime position to help drag the UK economy out of recession, experts revealed today.

“The city has more start-up businesses than anywhere else in Scotland and will suffer fewer public sector job losses than anywhere else in Britain, says a new report.

“Aberdeen was named as one of five cities which Cities Outlook 2012 said was well-placed to aid recovery from the current economic gloom.

“Last night industry chiefs said the Granite City was an ideal location for new firms to flourish.”

I guess that is only true if we have a web though.  Either that or these ‘industry chiefs’ and our press forgot how rosy things looked earlier this year in a moment of mass forgetfulness.

We’re also being told by the guardians of accuracy, PriceWaterhouse Cooper that we need to attract 122,000 people to work in Aberdeen’s energy sector in the next ten years.  Funny, the £71,000+  they earned from web-related consultancy doesn’t get much of a press mention either – yet more amnesia, I think.

So amnesia-wise – Kevin and the press forgot to mention his involvement with the CGP when he attacked Labour; PwC forgot to mention in the press the money it made over the web so far when supporting it, and the media forgot its reports earlier this year as to what a great future Aberdeen has.

Do I think these people and institutions are possibly dishonest, scheming, colluding, corrupt or greedy?  Certainly not – I just think they have selective amnesia.

Additionally, BrewDog and BP forgot that the city cannot survive without the Granite Web when they committed to the area.  Yes, amnesia is at epidemic proportions.

And there we shall leave it until next week.

PS  very best wishes to Declan Michael Laird for his film premier; have a great time tomorrow night and a good trip back to LA. 

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Mar 092012
 

With thanks to Dave Macdermid. 

Organisers of the Denis Law Soccer Tournament, which replaced the longstanding Aberdeen International Football Festival last year, are looking to cement the financial future of the event with the formation of a ‘Friends’ group comprising 200 members.

Scotland legend Denis, the Patron of the DLST, is passionate about the tournament.

“Sport and in this case, football, forms an important part of a child’s upbringing and I firmly believe the experience and enjoyment that kids get from this event in my home town will stay with them forever. The organisers need your support to be able to sustain this worthy cause and I would urge you to become a Friend to ensure it can continue as an annual event. I look forward to seeing you at some point during the year to thank you personally.”

And everyone who signs up at £200 per annum to become a ‘Friend’ will get the opportunity to do just that as there will be ‘Friends of DLST’ reception at Aberdeen Sports Village, hosted by Denis himself.

In addition, Friends will receive recognition of support within the tournament programme, venue and website, a quarterly e-newsletter and entry into a prize draw for a complimentary team to be included in the DLST corporate football event.

This year’s tournament will take place at ASV between July 16th and 21st with action at 16 and Under and 14 and Under age groups.

Anyone wishing to become a Friend can pay via BACS, cheque or debit card via the ‘Friends of DLST’ link on www.aberdeensportsvillage.com or by contacting ASV Events Manager Fiona Cardwell on 01224 438926 or fiona@aberdeensportvillage.com