Apr 122013

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

It was a very warm welcome at the wonderful Blaikiewell’s when I visited over the weekend; it is a great spot.  There is much to do to ensure its future, but certain figures have pledged to help, and hopefully this great sanctuary will carry on.

BrewDog launched its new ‘Fake’ Lager, which  was a huge success.  I had a nice chat with Alicia Bruce, and hope to have an interview with her on Aberdeen Voice shortly.

News-wise Spoiler Alert:  Mrs Thatcher died; North Korea threatens to wage war, and horse meat tainted with the carcinogen ‘Bute’ are in the food chain, despite previous EU assurances this wasn’t the case.

That the EU got something wrong is obviously the surprise of the week.  Worse still, Psy is releasing a ‘serious’ music video, and Kelly Brook accidentally went around with her dress unzipped.

Astonishingly, there was a photographer to hand.

Faced with all these overwhelming developments, and as a mark of something or other, please be advised that this column will be a bit light on the sarcasm this week.  Normal services resume will resume shortly.

On the national scene, Kent Police’s Youth Police and  Crime Commissioner Paris was forced to resign after some of her old tweets came back to haunt her, throwing huge shadows on her role.  Some one-hundred and sixty people went out for the really cool, hip youth police job, but she was the best candidate.  Makes you wonder.

Despite making drug-related and racist tweets prior to taking the job on more than a few occasions, Paris is not a racist, just someone who makes racist remarks to show off.  Confusing her with a racist is an easy mistake to make; apparently all the young people are showing off by trying to look like bigots.

Thankfully nothing like that could ever happen in Aberdeen.  It is not as if there are any would-be youth leaders involved in campaigns at present organising demos, holding meetings, and getting involved with politicians and academics who have previously made any dubious internet postings.  I’m certain our local political parties and august educational institutions would never get involved with anyone with a dubious history.

As Ms Brown learnt, things never really get deleted from cyberspace.  Can you imagine what a web of intrigue would surround such a revelation here?

In life as in death, Margaret has split opinion

There was no shortage of colourful news close to home, either.  I knew our politicians had great talent, but I hadn’t appreciated that faith healing was one of their skills.

We had the one who was able to make money disappear right before our eyes; we named a street after him for a bit.

We have HoMalone who can grow trees on a severely polluted hill. To this goddess a herd of deer were sacrificed (it’s just as well she’s sure those trees will grow: I think more than a few people will be slightly cross if they don’t).  She also could make things disappear, like the people who previously voted Lib Dem.

We also had a councillor who was very gifted with young people, serving on the Youth festival, and kindly offering lifts to any young people who he found walking the streets late at night.  But faith healing.  Wow.

In life as in death, Margaret has split opinion and bitter division erupts. Champagne corks popped in the streets of Glasgow; others mourned her and placed flowers in locations associated with her.

Old Susannah is, as you can imagine, not in the Thatcher fan club.  But I won’t be dancing on her grave, either.

The first person who told me of her death was from a mining family; I can well understand the hatred she inspired in many.  The privatisation of Britain and the selling of the family silverware largely started with her – but others eagerly took up her mantle and mantras.  It’s said that Tony Blair was a sleeper agent of Thatcher’s, and I for one can’t disagree.

She’s gone; many of her destructive policies live on.

There are those who practically want her beatified, and refuse to hear any word against her.  There are those who’d disrupt her funeral.

Gene Roddenberry put forth all sorts of ideas about equality of races and sexes

Once things quieten down, I hope people will increase their focus on the many things that are going wrong under current local, regional and national governments, and start demanding change.

There is a saying ‘only a fool would fight in a burning house’ –  and all things considered, I think we might all be in a burning house together.

This ‘burning house’ proverb is, er, a ‘Klingon’ saying from Star Trek.  Trek’s creator Gene Roddenberry put forth all sorts of ideas about equality of races and sexes, applying wit and logic to problems, science and fact over superstition, and of creating a better world.   One of the episodes had a sub-plot based around the simple benign philosophy of ‘Can I Help?’

I wonder what he’d make of the goings-on today.   He cast people from all races, sexual orientations and religions in his original series.

On that note, it’s time for a few timely definitions

Handbag: (1.  Eng noun) – a satchel or case carried by women filled with personal effects; (2.  Eng verb) – for a woman to suddenly and/or violently carry out a ferocious, withering  verbal attack often while carrying a purse.

Well, the Thatch did give us a new word.  BBC presenters, politicians, her cabinet members and advisers – none were immune from a handbagging from Maggie.

Grown men wept; this was the late 70s and early 80s, and in those somewhat less PC days, our first female PM would rage unbridled abuse on those who dared to look at her oddly, let alone challenge her, in a fashion  which would  be cause for legal action today.

The handbag in question held state documents and god knows what else. Likewise, several latter-day women politicians here in the Deen were known to keep interesting items in their handbags, but that is another matter.

The BBC’s Oliver Lee-Stone has an excellent article cataloguing some of the attacks launched by PM Thatcher on her colleagues, cronies and journalists; many of whom lived in absolute terror of this form of abuse.  In it he quoted Kenneth Baker:-

“”When Maggie was really up against it, she would put her handbag on the cabinet table and take out a well-crumpled paper.  This was the brief that came from no-one knew whom – a friend, or someone who had rung her up.  It was unpredictable, sometimes illuminating, at others weird, sometimes an interesting new light, at others a worthless piece of gossip.  Whenever this happened, the cabinet secretary would pale, and the minister would raise his eyes to the ceiling.”

Alas!  Ironwoman was herself handbagged, in a moment which gave birth to another expression.

A Belgrano Moment: (Mod English phrase) to tell politicians ‘not in my name’ and to call them to account

While the men around her might have quaked with terror, Diana Gould was not having it.  When Ms Gould participated in a BBC question and answer session with Maggie, it was handbags at dawn.

The Falklands war raged; the Belgrano was sunk – while in an exclusion zone.  Margaret T was being interviewed; Sue Lawley, who seems to have been unlucky that day, was given the modern equivalent of the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern treatment – she was fired.  Taking questions from callers, Margaret Thatcher met her match in Diana Gould, Geographer of the Royal Navy.

Maggie held her ground – the Belgrano sinking was the right thing to do.  Gould pulled the rug from under Thatcher’s feet.  Gould wasn’t having it, and sparks and fur flew.  Words fail – the only thing to do is to visit this page, and watch the incident again.

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  6 Responses to “Old Susannah No. 117 – Marmite Margaret”

  1. Of course, “we in Scotland,” (where have I heard that phrase before?) will miss the illustrious, first, female PM. She did such a lot for us after all. She sold off as many council houses as possible, promising to build replacements but failing to do so and insisting that proceeds from such sales must be locked away for decades instead of being used to tackle the ever increasing waiting lists. She destroyed our heavy industry and mining, instead of investing in modernisation to make them more viable. Sold off our utilities to the highest bidder under the illusion that this would reduce prices to the consumer and not simply add to the dividends of the shareholders. Our railways and buses were dealt with likewise to save the public purse having to subsidise them. Perversely, many multiple of the previous subsidies are now paid to these “privatised” companies. Yes, our Maggie saved the nation a fortune. Then there was “The Big Bang.” Little did she realise that she was sowing the seeds of the present crises we find ourselves in now. The investment bankers (and associated crooks) continue to award themselves gynormous bonuses, which seems to have been the main aim of the changes. Yes, our Maggie took a delight in making changes that lined the pockets of the few, to the detriment of the many. But of course, she could never have been described as devisive, could she? In saying that, over a decade or more of Labour rule, the gap between the rich and the poor widened even more. So RIP Margaret. We will miss you sorely. Wonder when Tony’s due for permanent “retirement.”?

  2. Dearie me. How could I ever forget The Poll Tax? Another exercise in Tory “fairness”, plonked on Scotland a year before The rest of the UK.

  3. And Aberdeen is one of two local authorities to lower a flag as a tribute to Thatcher and her legacy. The workers’ vanguard in charge of Aberdeen were only concerned about how low to drop it. t’s a while since the Labour Party sold out its principles but up it pops to remind us all from time to time.

    • Shamefull that any Scottish local authority could even contemplate that action.

      • I agree with Lena and Ron, nothing surprises me about the scum that is Aberdeen City Council.

  4. Och, I mind as a kid in Fife before Maggie. My dad is no slouch, but he was on and off the dole before Maggie, and has never been unemployed since Maggie. I think she did more good than bad. Maybe not much more good tho`. The worst thing I think she did was sell off the utility companies? They announce monsterous profits that I cant help but think would be helping out the Goverment just now. I think its lunacy to expect any economy to keep on growing, surely its a finite thing? Just ppl with lots of money have nowhere safe to put it just now. I think its business as usual for the bulk of the population. I hate the way the taxman is taxing as much as he can just now to cover bankers bonuses.

    Consider when you buy a tv from Currys?

    1 you paid around/at least 20% Tax on money you are about to spend (PAYE)
    2 you get taxed another 20% for VAT
    3 You cover currys extortionate rates/Tax to local goverment (now you know why a cup of coffee can cost up to £5)
    4 You cover import duty/Tax as nobody makes TV`s in this country
    5 You probably drove to pick up the tv and even may have paid a £5 parking fee/Tax
    6 Any profits Currys made from the purchase will be taxed 20%

    Anyone add to this list? 🙂

    oh, and how come in poorer times, we were able to build and maintain things without lottery funding? What are they doing with all the money they take in not just in the above scenario but also proceeds from parking tickets/speeding tickets/fines etc. Have you ever bought anything from America on Ebay? you get a shock when you go to the post office to collect, and you wont be the only one in the que getting fleeced for up to a couple of hundred quid. Either Local and central goverment are very corrupt or they are in a really, really bad way.

    Also, If I am made unemployed tomorrow, after 3 mnths I can expect £50/week, how come the gov have just decided to cap benefits to £500/week – thats laughable

    Anyhows, Back to Maggie, What was the timeline between selling everything off and the Falklands war. Could one have been used to pay for the other? All fair in love and war?

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