Jul 012013

Suzanne Kelly gets to grips with graffiti, ghastly beer and grumpy dads.

Another amazing week whizzed past in Aberdeen, under a super moon, bright and dynamic in its aspect.  BrewDog’s AGM was indeed the beer event of the season.  Great food, brilliant brews, lots of merchandise at great prices, and a presentation of good news were all served up with good humour.  More on the day in another article soon.

The BrewDog AGM could not have been any more different from the dismal CAMRA beer festival I attended a few weeks ago at Pittodrie.  In fact, the only more disappointing thing would have been to watch a match at Pittodrie. I am still waiting for an email, a refund and now an apology from CAMRA.

Its local operative virtually accused me of lying when I wrote to complain about different aspects of the dismal last day I attended.

Despite my offering proof as to when I arrived, how little beer was still available then and so on, CAMRA’s local people insist I was wrong, and they verge on implying I lied to them (as you would do for a £15 refund).

I complained to the national CAMRA PR people.   I’d told them my friend and I arrived c. 3.30 (she’s got a time on the first photo she took minutes after we arrived; we walked to Pittodrie from BrewDog, where we met and had a half, which was just after 2.30).  One beer was awful, we complained to the guy serving it who had been tilting the cask forward to get it to pour, and he agreed it was off, and gave us something else to drink.

In fact two other guys tasted this beer before buying it at my insistence, and went away without buying it. This particular beer I complained about was so bad I spat it straight out.   This is what the local CAMRAMAN’s position is:-

“No such instances [complaints of bad beer] were raised on Saturday afternoon. The cellar records show that the one beer in particular you said was in its “dregs” didn’t finish until after you had left. However its brewery companion did run out during Saturday afternoon. If that was what you saw being finished that would have meant your arrival time at the festival was earlier than you indicated.”

Well, that’s me told then isn’t it.  Perhaps I should fess up and send them an apology for blatantly lying and for not knowing the name of the beer I complained about.  They’ve asked me to wait for some exec or other named Paul Scrivens to get back to me (no word yet).  This is brilliantly good public relations.  In any event, I plan to send a keg of the beer in question to ACSEF as a token reflecting my affection.

Perhaps CAMRA think I’ll forget the dismal day and the accusations made against me.  After all, it was some £15 pounds I wanted to claim back – they have every right to stand their ground. After all, what can I possibly do about it?

While on the topic of PR, there is some bad news I am afraid.  Well, bad news for Zoe Corsi of the BiG Partnership.  In an astonishing move, the  that decision has been made – the public relations work for NESTRANS and for ACSEF is going to be done by the Shire’s in house PR/Communications team.

I know – you’re thinking ACSEF is so wonderful and so universally trusted and loved it can’t need any PR help at all.  Still are the in-house team up to the challenge?  Can they fill Zoe’s Jimmy Choo’s?  Does this mean a pay cut for Morris the Monkey, the fictitious creature they used to sensational effect when promoting the granite web?

There was often a smell of alcohol and urine.  It was no place for children

The not-so-very-BiG-now Partnership will undoubtedly miss the £54K or so income it received in the last fiscal year reported in Aberdeen Voice .  I do so hope that my exposure of the money flying around for PR to BiG last year hasn’t had any part to play in this unhappy scenario.

Before getting on with some definitions, I just want to set the record straight on something.  There is part of the city which is a dank, dark unwelcoming place.  Over the years it became out of control and dangerous.  Criminals operated from it, and the dodgier elements in society were there as well, intimidating others was part and parcel of the goings-on.

There was often a smell of alcohol and urine.  It was no place for children, even though a few did go in, they were tainted by being  exposed to the rough crowd that hung around, shying from work.  Even though it is definitely improved in the last year, there is still some way to go.

Lastly, it is definitely not on the level.  But yes, Aberdeen City Council is now on the up, thanks to getting a good sweeping out not long ago.  Let’s continue to try and fix it, for even though it is better, there are still some dodgy elements there.

There are many ways to fix problems with the city council, there are ways for people to protest, and ways for people to make a difference.  With that thought in mind, it’s time for some definitions.

Grafitti: (from Latin – writing).   Artwork, words or painting applied to urban features, used to mark territory or make statements.

Result!  Rejoice!  We have a visionary revolutionary (at least one) in our midst who is solving all our problems of government.  It’s almost too good to be true, but some brave (yet strangely, modestly anonymous) person out there has sprayed their message on Marischal College and the Town House.

And all this time the rest of us have been wasting time and energy lobbying, campaigning, running for office, making peaceful protests, making documentaries and even writing about problems to get things solved.  Why didn’t we think of it sooner – the answer is just to deface our public buildings.

Of course if the taxpayer has to pay a mere few thousand pounds to get one of the world’s most important granite buildings cleaned by experts to ensure there is no discoloration, then it’s just a price each and every one of us is more than happy to pay.  I’m sure the artist in question knew he had a personal mandate from each and every person in Aberdeen to go ahead and spray our buildings.

I’m feeling better already.  What a positive contribution to intelligent debate.  What a means of solving problems.  What a great grasp our artist has of how things actually work.   Clearly the councillors hold all of the power of change, and it’s nothing at all to do with the heads of department or the higher up mandarins, or those who write reports the councillors must accept or reject.

‘Ye have not yet done what ye ought’

There have been some  positive changes; the new government has already done some of what it promised (like saving Union Terrace Gardens from the developers).  But that’s clearly not enough speed and progress for our spray-painting hero.

His message, which no doubt will start appearing on t-shirts was: ‘Ye have not yet done what ye ought’ – Well, whoever thou art who sprayest our building, I thinkest thou should gettest thyself a good lawyer, go public with your great deed, and get ready for the thanks of a grateful city.

Oh, and considering your Town House graffiti was something about the ‘weilders’ of power’, gettest thou a dictionary as well.

So, if a bit of graffiti can change the world and make everything better for Aberdeen Citizens, then so can other forms of heroics such as…

Vandalism: (noun; Eng – after Germanic tribe Vandals implicated in the fall of Rome) to deliberately deface, deform or destroy property or art.

Vandalism is the art of defacing art for social change.  Or at least that is what a member of ‘Fathers for Justice’ is trying to tell us.  First a painting was damaged in Westminster Abbey; nice one.  And this past week, in order to win sympathy for the cause, it was time to glue photos onto Constable’s famous painting The Hay Wain.  Well done!

First, the long-dead painter Constable certainly needs to have his artwork damaged to teach him and us all a lesson in what is fair for fathers.

The connection between Constable, his painting of a wagon of hay, and injustice for this dad couldn’t be clearer.  Now that someone’s attacked this painting, which obviously was doing a great deal of harm to wronged dads throughout the UK, the world will immediately cave in to the logical, well-made point, which of course is in no way tantamount to a  temper tantrum or a blackmail attempt.

According to Yahoo! News:- (my comments in square brackets)

 “Fathers4Justice named the man arrested as Paul Manning, who claims he recently lost a legal battle involving his son, and said he had carried out “a final act of desperation”. [excellent – isn’t ‘a final act of desperation’ what half of the shooting spree gunmen usually use as their excuse?]

“In a statement posted on its website he wrote that his heart, conscience and love “pushes me on to some sort of future action, some sort of path that will get me back to my dear son or it may not?” [sure.  makes perfect sense.]

“He added: ‘It will be an action that may lead to my incarceration possibly even to my own death. [I don’t think we’re quite ready to kill vandals just yet, but the melodrama is tugging on my heartstrings]

“’For I tell you this and take note: my own nation or government or some judge who knows little of my deep love for my child is NOT going to take my son from me or prevent me from seeing him!’ [no, but an unbalanced act of stupidity and vandalism isn’t going to impress the courts much either]

“It comes as Fathers4Justice~* said it was abandoning its five-year “attempted engagement with the political establishment” and called on fathers to take “independent weekly direct action” in the spirit of the Suffragettes 100 years ago.  [Seriously?  Really?  The Suffragettes wanted all women to get the vote.   Do Fathers 4Justice believe all fathers are good and deserve access in 100% of all cases?  There are good and bad parents of both sexes; how precisely F4J determines that all of its members should have visiting/custody rights would be most interesting to find out]”

Thank you Fathers4Justice;  I’m sure your move will have won you many more supporters.  Obviously our shared cultural history and irreplaceable art is as nothing compared to the pace of change you desire, and you not having your expectations met.  No doubt in a few years’ time, little Mr Manning junior will brag to his friends of the brave, selfless act his dad committed against a painting.

Fathers4Justice might do well to define exactly what constitutes direct action.  For those of you who saw the film ‘Just Do It’ you saw people going to banks and power stations and protesting to those they held responsible for social problems.  How very juvenile.   What protestors should of course do is act like Dads4Destruction and start vandalising works of art rather than confronting tax evaders, dodgy banks and polluters.  In addition to gaining more sympathisers, this new ploy by the dads just might be seen as an incitement to commit crime.

Next week – a round-up of the latest acts of vandalism, some bedroom tax bedtime stories, and more

*  Sarcasm aside, I know many fathers who were treated very badly in the past, whether being ordered to pay vast sums of money to partners (not all of which were honest by a long shot) and/or refused access to children.  Things have slowly started to change – change is usually a slow process – the CSA is still god-awful, but is perhaps not quite as draconian as in the past.  Still, is the best way to prove to the courts that you are a fit and proper person to be in charge of a child defacing paintings, climbing on buildings dressed as batman?

Possibly not.  While I very much sympathised in the past, if their new vision is to incite new weekly direct action events which are based on destroying our art heritage, then they’ve lost me, and a few other people I suspect.

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  12 Responses to “Old Susannah No. 125 – The Writing’s On The Wall”

  1. Correction: Aberdeenshire Council in house team will take on the ACSEF PR contract, not the City Council.

    • Absolutely – thank you for correcting! Error fixed now. (NB Aberdeen Voice used to receive a large number of press releases from BiG; I understand we would be happy to be kept in the loop by the in-house team as well)

  2. Willie Young today announced all plans to pedestrianise Union Street are now off the table, wasn’t this the master plan after the CGP was not carried though despite the wishes of the people.

    So instead of a new vibrant City centre we have…..NOTHING!

    Yeah thanks folks, well done, you turned down a £50 Million donation for political reasons and have left the citizens of Aberdeen with a decaying centre.

    The mind of the Councillor playing at being a politician and those of the socialist activists truly is remarkable.

    I could provide a real newsworthy story, I know one of the Councillors who voted against the CGP, his garden is a shambles and is overgrown with 4 foot weeds, its not been touched in years, this man got a vote on what should be done with a garden project that the people voted for, I can provide address details if anyone wants to get a picture of his garden.

    • Dearie me George. You’re still obsessed with CGP. It’s done, dusted and buried my friend. Very noticeable that the proponents weren’t prepared to compromise and just cover the road and railway, thereby providing all that additional green space which was so vaunted. Could it be that darker forces were present, perhaps proposing a 5 star hotel or additional shopping mall in the fullness of time? Be an ideal use for a crumbling concrete edifice don’t you think, and highly profitable to no doubt.

      Union Terrace Gardens could be brought back up to it’s previous, well liked, standard by the injection of, perhaps £15m, not £140/£240 that could have been the final cost of the dubious CGP. No dodgy funding packages needed either.

      In regard to pedestrianisation: Regretably, it’s a non starter in Aberdeen as there’s simply no alternative route for the high volumes of traffic that would be displaced from Union Street.

      Could the reason for so many vacant properties on Union Street be businesses locating to Union Square and the various other malls in the immediate vicinity of The Granite Mile?

    • Oh, and George, 20% of the population voted in the well dodgy referendum. Hardly the will of the people.

      • Thank you Ron. And here’s me thinking I’d written a column not covering UTG, but I seem to have upset Mr Smith again.

      • It’s called democracy, most votes win.

      • Suzanne,

        Would you rather the same half dozen people patted your back every week (no doubt people you know) or would you rather you got some feedback from your average man in the street, my opinion on most things is shared by work mates and friends.

        I’ll easily leave you in your brewdog socialist bubble if that’s what you’d prefer.

        I know you have scant regard for the majority of people living in the City, your way or the highway, I like to think I’m better than that and listen to all so will stop posting my opinion if you want, it is your paper at the end of the day.

        PS You not interested in the garden shambles story, the pictures would be great, it really is the worst garden in Aberdeen, I never even knew weeds could grow so high, granted he’s on your side of the fence but as a journo i’d have thought the story would be bigger than your own agenda.

      • hello George, Thanks for your story idea; you are welcome to write about it; although taking photos of someone’s private property might not be appropriate. I appreciate the insight as to your priorities.

        I’m trying to encourage people to leave at least one corner of their gardens unmanicured to encourage/help wildlife. Not really up to me how people wish to keep their gardens. If you truly believe it is newsowrthy, I’ll put it on the list. I currently have half a dozen live FOI requests to pursue, am dealing with the Standards Commission, the Information Commissioner, Police Complaints, City and Shire councils on 10 different issues such as ATOS assessments, Trump’s locked gates, police perhaps straying from due process, dodgy councillors, environmental damage and so on. I’ve happily been doing ad hoc research since early March for the BBC on request for the upcoming Panorama programme, and am pleased to have been one of the people who helped feed info on request to the BBC team (out Monday at 8.30 – hope everyone watches). i’ve got a full-time job, cats, an arts practice, and I write this little opinion column when time permits. So in the scheme of things, I’ll either get to the scandal of the unkempt councillor’s garden after dealing with these few minor little issues, or leave it to you. You’re probably the more prolific writer of the two of us anyway.

        Tally ho,

        Old Susannah

      • You have no problem with taking pictures of Mr Trumps private property!

        I’d have thought that a councillors garden would have been well within your remit, it is a council property as well. And if you have time to harass Camra and talk them down for the sake of a few quid then I’m sure you’d have time to cover the story.

  3. I hope the graffiti artist remains anonymous, and I admire anyone who stands up against the bullying, devious scum that is Aberdeen City Council.

  4. George.
    Democracy? That went out the window the day Aberdeenshire Council sacked Martin Ford. Mr Ford followed the normal procedure as chairman of the Infrastructure Committee in that he voted for the status quo when the vote was tied at 7-7. The man was doing his job correctly according to the rules yet he was sacked.
    Where’s the democracy in that.? Maybe of course the council was swayed by the very ” undemocratic” headline of “You Traitors” which appeared in the “Evening Express” which was followed by the equally undemocratic act by its sister paper the “Press and Journal” of refusing to publish any material from the “Tripping Up Trump” organisation.

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