Jun 212013

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

Tally Ho!  Summer time and the living is vibrant and dynamic.  Race for Life takes place in a fortnight; Duthie Park will reopen in style on the 30th; Willows is holding an open day on the 22nd, the Portsoy Boat Festival runs all this coming weekend, and much more is going on.

As soon as time permits, I’ll write about the RGU degree show held last Friday.  Visitors and staff alike were impressed at the quality of the work.

With the BrewDog Annual General Meeting days away, I can barely concentrate for excitement.

They are also releasing more shares, and no doubt my purchase of another two shares will throw my moralistic critics into a tailspin.

Not only that, but I have accepted my first ever ever gift from someone I’m writing about.

The piece should be in today’s Aberdeen Voice, and I am sure it will do as much to restore your faith in our police as it has done for me.

Anyway I initially refused the gift, but not wanting to upset my contact, I acquiesced and accepted it.  Readers will have to decide on their own how corrupt this makes me and how biased and obligated to my source I am.  I have accepted, as a gift for writing about something, a tiny piece of macaroon, and an (unopened) packet of popping candy.

I intend to share this at the Aberdeen Voice anniversary party; more on that eventually from our editor, Fred.

Suffice it to say Aberdeen Voice is now virtually 3 years old.  I shall wait by my mailbox for congratulatory letters and telegrams from old and new friends, from Neil Fletcher and Kate Dean to Stewart Milne and Donald Trump.  I keep trying to convince editor Fred Wilkinson to either marry one of the Trump children or open an erotic publishing arm to boost our standing and income, but he seems a little less than keen.

So Alas!  We won’t be in the same league as Aberdeen Journals anytime soon.  Still, I live in hope.

My BrewDog and journalistic freebies euphoria as been tempered by the surprise announcement that Aberdeen did not get further with its City of Culture bid.

You’ll never guess the suspected reason, so astutely pointed out in unbiased fashion by the 20 June Press & Journal.  They are 100% certain we’d have won this prestigious award if only we’d built a granite web over Union Terrace Gardens. I’m sure the culture judges simply didn’t do their homework.  I just hope they didn’t get distracted by our little hiccoughs regarding culture.

we shot our 70 year old herd of harmless roe deer, bulldozed their meadow

Did they care that we allowed the Foyer to close?  It provided structure and support to young people with problems while allowing established and fledgling artists to show their work with openings attended by many sections of Aberdeen society.

Did the culture judges care that in a town of billionaires and multi-millionaires no one would rescue – for a mere £5k – Limousine Bull?  Bull provided affordable studio spaces in Torry for new artists, held art classes, ran exhibitions, and improved the cultural life in Torry.

Did the judges care that while ‘transforming’ Aberdeen we shot our 70 year old herd of harmless roe deer, bulldozed their meadow which was home to many species and turned it back into a barren rubbish tip, studded with saplings destined to die?  Did they care about how we closed services to young, old and people with special needs and abilities?

Of course not – like the rest of the world, they wanted us to borrow £90 million, rip out the only city centre green space without tombstones on it, and build a bunch of ramps that went up and down.  And that’s why we lost.  I hope you feel as ashamed as I do.

This devastating loss of a prestigious award, which saw giant spiders in the streets of Liverpool costing only a million pounds or so is crushing.  Still, we live on.

Thankfully we are being castigated over the loss by arbiters of good taste, John Prescott and the Press and Journal.

Some folks suspect the P&J had a vested interest in supporting their advertisers’ granite web dream project.  Others still think the P&J and its sister the Evening Express contrived in subtle ways to gently, subliminally convince the public the web was the answer to our prayers, but I can’t find any examples of any such behaviour.

Where did our culture bid go wrong?  We had a guy painting himself different colours and sitting in the window of an independent record store that couldn’t afford to keep going.  We took web saleswoman Rita Stephen and put her in charge, ostensibly because she knows how to sell things like, er, the idea of a web.

John Prescott wants Barney Crockett to be ashamed

We have missed our one and only chance to be a city with webs that people want to live close to.  As the P&J suggests, we should ‘Hang Our Heads In Shame’.

And on that note some definitions.

Shameless: (Eng. adjective) to fail to, or refuse to acknowledge or display remorse, guilt or regret when conditions merit it.

When our betters tell us to be filled with shame, we would do well to obey.  When our conscience tells us we have done wrong, we should admit it and show remorse.

The Press & Journal want us to be ashamed for not building the web.  John Prescott wants Barney Crockett to be ashamed – Crockett suggested Aberdeen was edged out of the all-important Culture contest in part for being a rich city compared to the other contenders.

Who should know more about shame than Prezza and the Prezza and Journal?

Prescott, when not confessing his infidelities with his secretary, doing television programmes about ‘class’  and beating egg-throwing protestors, seems to have a new string to his bow – criticising his own party members.  As to the affair, his wife Pauline decided to stand by him after he admitted two years of cheating with one of his secretaries (which was OK, because it wasn’t love, so that’s all right).

Pauline Prescott stayed with her husband for the sake of the book, which earned a few pennies here and there.

It recounts John’s romantic marriage proposal (to the wife, not the secretary), which was delivered in a train toilet (hopefully one of those larger train toilets rather than the small ones).  So if anyone is qualified to tell Crockett and the web-resisters they should be ashamed, then it is Prezza.

Quite what the City of Culture judges saw in Dundee is a mystery

Also without sin and eager to cast stones is our own Press & Journal. By now Old Susannah readers know about the cosy relationship between its editor Damian Bates and Sarah Malone Bates, face of Trump golf in Scotland.

Bates’ faultless love life conduct and professional bearing dictate the editorial policy that allows him to use the P&J to tell us to be ashamed.  And that, as they say is a Result.

Quite what the City of Culture judges saw in Dundee is a mystery – they have an arts centre with programmes for all ages to create, discuss and view art, socialise and engage with each other.  They have embraced their old buildings and, in Brownfield sites created new spaces for the arts.

They have turned their waterfront not into an extended industrial harbour as is proposed for Torry’s remaining unspoilt coast, but instead created a pleasant, social meandering walk from restaurants and bars to historic sailing ships.  (If you haven’t visited the Unicorn or the Discovery, I recommend you do so).

Their shops are in part filled with small designers and local merchants who can afford the rates. They must have bribed the judges.  And not a web in sight.

I can think of one other cultural crack in our granite culture bid.  That is our disappointing crime culture.  The guilty know who they are – because the police shamed them in the P&J issue of 18 June.

Guilt: (Eng. Noun) responsibility, culpability for an event, problem or issue.

This car crime that plagues Aberdeen – the police know who’s behind it, and they’re doing something about it.  No, they’re not re-establishing the  Facebook page ‘Aberdeen Stig Boy Racers’.  You may recall this website which operated under the watchful eye of our police – over 400 people bragged about / supported/ joked about car theft, including posting ‘how to’ schematics.

Of course this was in no way a problem; the police never criticised it at all.  Perhaps they were using it as a handy way to detect crime.

It’s not the thieves who are at fault

Some might think preventing crime by having police doing the rounds, or by not allowing people to glamourise crime might have been a better idea, but there you go.

These Stig theft fans were only engaging in harmless banter.  The real culprits should hang their heads in shame.  According to the P&J 18 June:-

“Police blame careless owners for car thefts.’

Yes that’s right.   Those selfish, greedy, careless people who don’t lock their cars 100% of the time and/or who keep keys in their kitchens or near their front doors are guilty as sin.  They’re asking for it.

It’s not the thieves who are at fault; it’s the people who want to think their belongings shouldn’t be stolen from their garages or their homes.  Of course in terms of violence against women, the idea that women are ‘asking for it’ has been deemed offensive and inaccurate.

When it comes to car owners though – fair enough for the police to say they bring it on themselves.  That is what we call progress.

I’d like to ask everyone who’s ever not locked their car, everyone who keeps keys in their properties which could be seen by a thief innocently casing the joint and pressing their nose to the glass to do the right thing.  Turn yourselves in.

You can’t expect the police to be out on patrol everywhere (or indeed anywhere); they have some really dangerous people to deal with.  I don’t mean ‘one man crime wave’ Mad Max Milligan who at 17 has stolen over £15k’s worth of goods   He had a troubled background, and we need to cut him some slack.  I mean the really dangerous people.

Guilty as charged is one hardened criminal, a Mr. X.  I won’t name him for fear of reprisals.

He was given a lenient £300 fine for his first offence – although a custodial sentence would have been more appropriate.

I only wish they had cordoned off streets at the time and tasered him.

This man, seemingly a mild-mannered engineering graduate with no criminal record was spotted by eagle-eyed police camera operations at Christmas time walking our city streets with – a small corkscrew.

The offensive weapon, still in its plastic wrappings, was deemed to be an a massive security threat, and worthy of the fine imposed.  I only wish they had cordoned off streets at the time and tasered him.

I suppose the guilty party would have got off with a lesser fine, but he invented a ridiculous story, and claimed he won the corkscrew in something called a ‘Christmas cracker’.  Ridiculous.  If any of you out there are carrying nail files, corkscrews, pointy keys, knitting needles or hair pins turn yourselves in now, you too may get off lightly.

However, if you feel like walking into the £1 shop next to Moulton Brown and buying an air pistol and some pellets, the police are happy for you to do so, as long as you’re over 18 years old and are then obviously completely mature.

I’m just glad to know that somewhere, someone high up in our esteemed police force is deciding who to target, and the judicial branch is responding with appropriate sentences.  We can all sleep easier tonight – as long as there is nothing valuable in our kitchens, downstairs rooms or cars.

Next week:  more law enforcement news, BrewDog AGM, and more.

  17 Responses to “Old Susannah’s Journal No 124 – The Shame Of It”

  1. You’re referring to Liverpool in this as a UK City of Culture, it was in fact, a European City of Culture. THis year is the first time a UK CoC has been tried, and Londonderry won it. Aberdeen pulled out of the race 4 years ago when it was considering going for 2013.
    yours, Phil.

    • Good point; thank you. We can still use the Liverpool experience to use as a benchmark. I have read a few reports, written by those who were behind the events as well as Private Eye pieces which were hardly a ringing endoresment for this scheme or Liverpool’s implementation. Hard to get black and white (or should I say red) figures on how Liverpool did. We do know costs were incurred, and public money was used. I see the same financial bottom line for the UK version of this competition; we’ll see how it turns out. Or not – as at present Aberdeen don’t even seem to want us to be able to read what their submission was. Watch this space… PS – I hope the Lord Provost will make this a year of cultural events – open to people of all ages, financial backgrounds and abilities.

  2. Funny really… Dundee seemed to have acheived all this with little or no fuss. Take the DCA ( Dundee Contemporary Arts): invisaged in 1996 by Dundee Printmakers Workshop and realised in 1999 at a cost of £9million. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Difference is, no alternative proposal to scupper it, along with the baggage of two referendums and media hype which only served to divide opinion.
    Dundee now have an established, internationally renowned contemporary arts centre in a prominent city centre location. In Aberdeen we have an internationally renowned contemporary arts centre and workshop stuck down a close off the Castlegate.
    It could have been so different.. but what the hey….

  3. I’ve always enjoyed my visits to Dundee, I’m glad they were short listed for the “City of Culture” award. The people are friendlier and it feels much safer to be out and about during the day or night.

  4. While I’m disappointed that the city missed out on the City of Culture bid, I can’t say I’m surprized by it. I don’t think that we should pursue the idea to have a year of culture in 2017 if Dundee win it would be hard to attract visitors with the main event going on 60 miles south, but I do believe the council and committee should push on with making culture more widely available in Aberdeen. With the sale of Woolmanhill Hospital there is an opportunity for ACC to create an area of culture in Aberdeen city centre from HMT to the Gallery Wollmanhill to the triple kirks. As pointed out Peacocks is located down a lane in the Castle gate wouldn’t it be beneficial to all if it moved to an iconic building the triple kirks ACC could look into buying it through compulsory purchase. Woolmanhill would have plenty of room to create studios for photography, art, dancing and drama.

  5. The previous City of Culture winners – ‘Derry and Liverpool – were both in urgent need of regeneration. The same can’t be said for Aberdeen can it? OK, we have The Haudupagain and weeds growing out of half the empty shops in Union Street, but we have a good industrial base and high employment (thanks to the oil) compared to Dundee which has suffered from high unemployment for decades.The heady days of jute, jam and journalism are long gone alas.

    Did this prestigious award benefit any of the ordinary folk in ‘Derry and Liverpool I wonder? Would it have done anything for ordinary folk in Aberdeen, or Dundee for that matter? Given £1m plus was wasted by the SNP on The Granite Web fiasco, I suppose we should be grateful that Labour only wasted £500k on The City of Culture bid. That £1.5m would have gone a long way to building a railway halt at Muggiemoss or Cove which would have been much more use than any “award.”

  6. I hope all you people who objected to the UTG project and the regeneration of our City Centre are proud of yourselves, we now have nothing but an empty hole in the ground and an ever dwindling Centre.

    I went into UTG when the International market was in town, despite a busy bustling Union Terrace the garden was empty, my daughter objected to even going down the stairs as she was scare of the place.

    And to think a local businessman was going to donate £50 Million from his own pocket to take the current shambles to street level and people still moaned! Let’s not forget the referendum where the people of Aberdeen spoke, an utter disgrace that a small minority shouted loudly and got their wish against the wishes of the majority.

    When we’re up against people like that it is no surprise the City of Culture bid got nowhere, our City is a crumbling disgrace and we have the worst Nimbys in the whole World, a golf course can’t even be built without the usual suspects stomping their feet, to hell with what the people want, WE KNOW BETTER!

    • The Gardens were empty when The International Market was on George were they? What did you expect. In regard to The “City Garden Project” : You conveniently forget that Sir Ian said he would, “walk away,” if Aberdonian’s voted against his proposal initally. They did and he didn’t. They were then bombarded with downriight lies and a myriad of half truths, leading to a marginal vote in favour (20% of the population voted if I recollect correctly – a minority of the population?). We had “consultations” where a fair number of comments were not recorded because they were “inconvenient” to the proponents. That devious effort of the business community getting their hands on a prime city centre site is now dead thankfully. Live with it George.

    • Ian sorry “George” clearly you haven’t read the recent released information on the economics of the plan, which show that if it had went ahead, we’d have been left with a half finished building site for the next decade as there was no way it could be afforded and there was a massive shortfall in donations.

      But don’t let fiscal reality or common sense knock you off your tedious and ill-informed taxi-driver rant soap-box. Amazing how anti-cultural plebs still fixate on CGP years later, like a crazed monkey banging it’s head against a cage. There’s plenty other dummies out there to chew on, little cry baby.

      Before judging our city of culture bid as failing due to this project, might be an idea to broaden your horizons and get a feel for what culture actually is. Here’s a starter tip for Philistines like yourself. It’s not another boring shopping centre, fields of concrete, architectural vandalism or kissing the arse of big business.

  7. There was only one referendum, democracy was ignored, something I never thought I’d ever see in my Home City. I for one wasn’t aware of an initial consultation, of course all the activists were and voted several times.

    You reap what you sow and now have the City centre you deserve.

    The socialist mindset that all rich people must be opposed has done enough damage in our City, time you gave it a rest for the good of the vast majority.

    And Ron, yes they were empty, despite it being a really nice day and the Terrace mobbed, it’s past its sell by date, instead of a vibrant Centre we’ve been left with a dank hole in the ground surrounded by roads and rail lines, again well done all those involved.

    I’ve read with interest that a friend of the activists plans to open a cafe down there, I despair that anyone would think that is going to make one bit of difference towards City regeneration or improve the area, a pathetic gesture.

    Perhaps next time you sit in Brewdog in your Arran jumpers flying red flags discussing your next crusade you’ll take a step back and take a look at the damage you’ve already done to the city.

    • Dear George, Perhaps it slipped your memory, but from the outset Labour said they would not be bound by any referendum, because they had problems with the idea from the start. There was a great deal wrong with the referendum; for one thing it was waged by the pro-web side using huge amounts of money which the people who wanted to save our green space would never be able to match. The bias of the local printed press also helped; they printed scores of pro-web propaganda, much of which doesn’t stand up to the slightest amount of scrutiny.

      The referendum was filled with problems as I wrote at the time. The project won this skewed contest with the smallest of margins for a massive expense. Labour had said –‘vote for us and we will stop the granite web.’ The public voted Labour in. They stopped the web. (Indications are that they have some saner, more affordable plans for our city as well, hopefully which will not involve borrowing nearly 100 million on a precarious TIF loan. Sadly, Salmond can’t stop punishing us for our choice. He will soon learn to leave the web out of it, mark my words.

      The park will be greatly improved by a social enterprise – we can finally have a coffee/snack/socialising area which every single other major city in the UK has in its parks. The profits will be 100% put to fixing the gardens further. We had a past administration which squandered money on ridiculous schemes while cutting services to the most needy groups in society, and of course while neglecting our common good land.

      It’s a park. It’s ours. It’s not a development opportunity.

      You’re never going to get over it, but as long as you and others refuse to look at brownfield oportunities and leave the park alone, I and others will point out where your thinking is going wrong. Guess I won’t be seeing you at BrewDog; a great shame. The creativity, open-mindeness, intelligence of its customers, staff and founders alike would benefit you, as perhaps a pint of Punk IPA would as well. Tally ho.

      • I’m well aware you are a friend of the cafe owner, so please don’t bore me with bias claims, pot kettle.

        Your Socialist agenda reeks, almost every article you write is an attack on either big business or a rich person, you need to stop basing your thoughts in such a bias manner.

        You and others like you have ruined the only chance we have of seeing proper regeneration, a cafe in a shed and a lick of paint isn’t going to make that park busy, it isn’t going to regenerate the area either. Take off your blinkers and see the damage you’re doing, people voted for it, no matter how you spin it your side lost, at least have the decency to respect democracy.

        Our City Centre is a shambles, one man offered a life line, of course the ultra rent a mob trade union type lefties wouldn’t be having that, we want our dank manky hole in the ground, how dare a rich man try and improve such a huge underused crap space, hoe dare he use money to fund surrounding regeneration.

        Your ilk think you’re intelligent and above the working man but you never will be, ever, you can’t think logically as your mind is so anti establishment, you do damage to the citizens of the City where I was born and raised, you create nothing.

        So you sit drinking your crap over priced beer and pat yourselves on the back, but perhaps afterwards visit union street on the way home, see the shambles you’ve left behind, all because you couldn’t stand a rich man wanting to improve the area.

        A raised square would have brought a cafe culture, concerts, exhibitions, markets, ice rink, a real focal point for the people to gather, think of that next time you gaze over the railway lines and dual carriageway.

  8. George Smith, can you help me explain why, on reading your posts, the words ‘medication, lie, down, darkened’, and ‘room’ keep running through my mind?

  9. The play park is another bizarre idea, what right minded parent would let their child go play in there without constant supervision, the park is a magnet for drunks and drug takers. My daughter is 14 and wouldn’t dream of going down there with her friends.

    With it raised the green space would have doubled, families would have been drawn to it, roll on the next election so we can replace this joke of a council and get the project underway.

    • George: I live near to and pass the park regularly, occasionally using it for what it was intended. I’d love to know where you get all this nonsense about alcoholics and drug taking individuals overtaking it, unless you’re talking after dark, when all parks attract dubious individuals. I regularly see families down there on a sunny day, especially when some event is being held. Perhaps it’s your warped outlook on life being passed on to your child that is affecting her?

    • George
      What a load of absolute bloody codswallop. My wife and I have for years used the Gardens as a
      place to get from Union Street to Schoolhill. The amount of times in all these years we have seen anyone resembling “undesirables”. could be counted on one hand.FACT!!! There are more druggies and alchoholics walking up and down Union Street in one day than you would see in the gardens in a year. FACT!!

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