May 092014

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

DictionaryBefore I get down to the usual business, at the time of writing, the fire in Crovie is foremost on many people’s minds. The homeowner  is still unaccounted for (as is a household pet), but remains have been found.

I’ve personally had a great week of travel and adventure, but that all seems a long time ago. Whoever you are, and whether you like or loathe my 150 political satire columns, I’ll ask you one thing – please get and maintain a smoke detector.

People who know me may think I go overboard in my zeal about fire issues; maybe I do.

However, I’ve had friends and relatives who are fire fighters, and all of them will tell you how very quickly a small fire turns into a room filled with fatally toxic smoke. They’d tell you to have a fire alarm and test it, have a fire blanket and/or extinguisher – and to have a fire plan.

No one cares about these details when they’re at home, comfortable surrounded by friends, family and possessions. Everyone who has lost friends, family and possessions because of a fire will tell you they wish they had cared about these details before a fire struck. I’d beg you to get an alarm if I thought it would make you do it.

A childhood friend of mine might still be around today for that matter. They couldn’t find their way out of a smoke filled room which quickly became toxic. (Mind that chip pan in particular; that’s the regional main cause of house fires).

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On the lighter side of things, The UK Subs came to town, shook things up at the Moorings Bar, and my ears are still ringing (despite wearing earplugs). It was also  Aberdeen Voice editor and founder, Fred Wilkinson’s birthday. Happy Birthday Fred.

I’ve been lucky enough this week to be in Nice on the Cote d’Azur and in Monaco. Nice has a large outdoor square – but guess what? The weather is warm and dry enough for it to be used for all manner of things year round. Amazingly, there are beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers everywhere – and no one picks the flowers or uproots the plants to be cool on their way home from a drunken night out.

No one seems to litter at all either, and I don’t think they’ve painted their pavements gray to be cool, either like we just did. Along Nice’s waterfront you won’t find giant, windowless movie theatres, shopping malls, sewerage plants or a massive industrial harbour.

It’s almost as if creating elegant, relaxing, plant-filled open spaces were more important than money. And the money pours in as the tourists can’t get enough of walking up and down the waterfront on the Promenade des Anglais. Aberdeen still has some wildlife tourists, but let’s see how long we can completely industrialise/commercialise our remaining coastline.

do not let your pets drink from the East Tullos Burn

Funnily enough, Nice has far cleaner air than we do as well. Could this be because they’ve set aside green spaces, arranged very frequent and affordable public transport, have a bicycle rental scheme, and encourage pedestrians? Funny people, the French.

One of my flights was delayed due to a minor engine fault. Some of the passengers were very cross about the captain’s decision not to fly (he seemed to think that not risking our lives instead of flying with a small engine leak was a good idea).

Quite rightly the more important passengers started grilling a young stewardess about the engine’s technical problem, demanded to know precisely when the plane would be flying, what the captain was doing to solve the problem, and other things she’d clearly have known all about. I’m surprised the poor girl didn’t put down her drinks tray, whip a spare part out of her pocket, and just fix the engine there and then.

In the end, BA were great at solving the problems and getting us all going. Thanks BA.

Despite my trying to have a proper vacation, some news stories arose in the Deen that caught my imagination.  A word of caution: do not let your pets drink from the East Tullos Burn. It may look prettier now than it did – but the water doesn’t seem to have been cleaned at all.

SEPA have insisted in the past that it’s too hard for them to find out where the pollution is coming from. And still, its American counterpart the Environmental Protection Agency manages to find out who pollutes similar little streams – like the Mississippi for instance. If only SEPA were closer to where the problem was in East Tullos. But they’d have to leave their offices and walk for 10 minutes to get to the burn.

Here then are some definitions defining the week’s news.

Pest Control: (mod English compound noun) to manage, contain and destroy vermin.

Alas!  All is not well in the Cults/Bieldside/Miltimber area.  Pesky vermin are sticking their heads into private gardens, trampling things underfoot, stumbling cluelessly around, and ignorantly destroying anything in their path.  While I definitely feel for these poor, dumb creatures, it is clear that there are just too many of them in our area.

I had hoped that measures taken in May 2012 would have lessened this particular problem, but it seems to be creeping back. I am of course for a humane solution. But something must be done about Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrats.

You may not be able to believe it, but none other than Aileen ‘HoMalone’ wants to do something about deer population.

they trampled on their own pledge not to charge for university education

Expect HoMalone 2 in the Cults area soon. Based on the popularity, efficiency and economic success of her destruction of the Tullos Hill deer (to plant trees on a windswept rubbish heap with little soil), I’m sure the residents of her Bieldside/Miltimber ward will be overjoyed.

Well, apparently ‘several’ of them will. Here’s what HoMalone wrote recently:

“Several residents in the Cults area have contacted me about the presence of Roe Deer whose [sic*] numbers are growing across Scotland. Aberdeen is well ahead of most authorities in the careful, sensitive, management of the situation. A Council team is working on a plan for managing the growing deer population. Over-population is a problem for the deer since the natural environment can only feed a certain number of deer. In the meantime please be extra vigilant when driving at dusk in the Inchgarth area.”

In large numbers, the LibDems ate their way through the city council’s funds, forcing other species, such as people in need, with health problems and the elderly to suffer.  Then in a symbiotic relationship at the UK level, they trampled on their own pledge not to charge for university education. The 2012 ballot box cull saw only five of them going; the chief doe, known as ‘Kate’ was humanely put down.

A lone stag known as ‘Martin’ looks increasingly uncomfortable, and may be leaving the old deer (‘Aileen’) for a more successful herd soon.

Don’t let this menace grow back to its pre 2012 levels. If you are in Bieldside, Cults and Miltimber, you may want to think about feeding these pests by giving them pound notes, votes or attention, even if they seem relatively harmless and innocent to you. I can assure you, the LibDems are not.

*It’s interesting  HoMalone’s written ‘…the presence of Roe Deer whose numbers… ‘  perhaps she is more sensitive than we believe and thinks the animals are people?  If you are describing things, you use words such as ‘which’; if you describe people, you use words such as ‘whose’. Perhaps she secretly isn’t an animal destroying poison dwarf ready to have any life form she finds inconvenient snuffed out?

Or is it more likely she’s just a bit ignorant of some language fundamentals?

Propaganda: (Latin origin, noun) – to deliberately spread lies, exaggerations in order to sway opinion, or further a political cause.

Old Susannah is staying out of the referendum debate.  I’m not endorsing either side.  But a poster purporting to show Labour joining up with those nice BNP lads and others like those winsome UKIP chaps found its way into my news feed.

Poster from Alistair Davidson purporting Labour in bed with unsavoury orgs.Somehow, among the tiny trickle of honest, calm, factual referendum information out there, this therefore stuck out as being a little suspicious. It had attracted a few disgusted comments already; after all – if it’s in print or if it’s a picture, it has to be real, doesn’t it?

Some people are looking at it, assuming it is legitimate, and are therefore very angry indeed at Labour.

Alas! A swift email to a Labour politician confirmed that this poster is a complete fabrication.

Labour are not in any deal with the BNP. It is almost as if whoever created this wanted Labour to be discredited; I wondered if this had anything to do with Labour’s ‘no’ stance on independence.

I’ve asked the oldest source of the poster what they could tell me about it, and this is what they wrote:

“I don’t think the poster was used in any poster campaign. It was created as an illustrative means of showing people that all these parties are grouped by a common cause and that is to keep the union.“

Funny though – the person who put the poster on Facebook didn’t let viewers know that it was an ‘illustrative means of showing people that all these parties are grouped by a common cause…’. I wonder how they got permission to use so many logos in their little ‘illustration’ for that matter?

Coincidentally, the person who seems to have first posted the poster on Facebook (as far as I can find) has one or two friends who are SNP councillors. These  include Liz MacDonald, Ken Gowans, David Turner, Shab Jaffri , Peter Johnston, Peter Grant (no relation to legendary manager of Led Zeppelin I assume), Graham Ledbitter, and MSP David Torrance.  I’m sure these people have had nothing to do with a poster campaign which was just a tad dishonest.

I’m equally sure they will be quick to have it stopped and will come forward to denounce this kind of propaganda.

If only we could keep the healthy, honest, open, respectful level of referendum debate going on for another year, I’m sure we’d all be very well informed indeed.

Botch: (modern English slang; verb) – to make a bad job of something; to fumble a task or operation.

America has so little crime because it has capital punishment; ie. a jury of your peers (well you hope they will be your peers) can convict you on the evidence (which you hope won’t have been tainted or fabricated, like the poster described above), and after a fair trial (hopefully) you can find yourself hung, shot, gassed or given a lethal injection.

Seems fair. If you don’t get a fair trial (say you are of sub normal intelligence, get a bad or disinterested legal representative, get tried by a jury who are all of a different race from you, had the police mess up, lose or ignore evidence – accidentally of course), then you can always either hire an expensive lawyer for an appeal.

America will punish criminals by death, but killing them is not supposed to be ‘cruel or unusual’

If you don’t have lots of money or haven’t really understood what was happening, then then you can hope for a pardon from the state governor (but for those who really do have lots and  lots of money, you may never have to get to trial at all).

Of course when George W Bush was governor of Texas, he didn’t pardon a single one of the hundreds of people the state executed. In fact, he mocked one of them (a woman who had finally snapped at her chronically abusive spouse and killed him).

Still, if you were innocent but had no fair trial, no appeal, no governor to save you – you might always luck out and get a posthumous pardon. So that’s all right then.

Unfortunately, sometimes an execution is ‘botched’, as happened this week to one Clayton Lockett  in Oklahoma.

America will punish criminals by death, but killing them is not supposed to be ‘cruel or unusual’ – something Old Susannah hasn’t quite got her heard around in all these years. Anyway, you’re supposed to die a nice fast death – with a room full of spectators gawping at your last moments (nothing cruel or unusual there, then).  Unfortunately, this man died in agony over the course of several hours.

It became so distasteful to the audience that the curtains had to be drawn so they didn’t see an unpleasant state execution as compared to your socially-acceptable state execution.

Yes, this was a man convicted of a serious capital crime. I guess it was just divine intervention that tortured his last hours, and not the blatant incompetence of those who didn’t know how to find a vein or how to see the lethal cocktail of chemicals was going into his tissues and not into his blood stream. Could have happened to anyone. We all botch things up now and then.

Finally, for some reason European pharmaceutical companies that make the relevant drugs (why make them in the first place some might ask) are now reluctant to sell them to the States to kill people. I guess some companies just don’t want to make money.

Next week:  more definitions

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Well, it’s been a long, fun, eventful, educational and somewhat strange 3 years and 150 Old Susannah columns for me and I just want to say thanks for those of you who read it, thanks for those who have sent information (and the occasional kind email) over time, and for those who support Aberdeen Voice. The Voice runs on donations; any amount however small is welcome; here’s a link.

All the best,


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  13 Responses to “Old Susannah No. 150 – HoMalone 2: The Sequel”

  1. Hi – I did enjoy your ‘usual business’ this week, although your preliminary note about the Crovie fire was a sad and salutory warning.

    Also sadly, your note under ‘Propaganda’ about the ‘Unionist Alliance’ poster on Facebook is only too true. I found a similar effort through Twitter as long ago as September 2013. The passage of time has allowed the anonymous author(s?) of this sort of thing to expand the list of scary supporters of the UK from BNP and UKIP to include a few more organisations off most people’s radar. That first time round the title was more pointed – people minded to vote no in the referendum were ‘Saying NO to Scotland.’ That older version of the same poster is here –

    I’m sure you’re right to stay away from the subject. The best thing I’ve seen so far about how people should conduct themselves in the debate is from a group valled Collaborative Scotland (I have nothing to do with them) who have come up with a ‘Commitment to Respectful Dialogue’ – Unfortunately, many (on both sides) seem unable to approach anything near these standards of respect.

  2. Your description of pollution in the East Tullos Burn is spurning me on to confession time. Way back in the mid 1970’s is was employed by a major oil service company who’s name begins in H (they were heavily involved in the Gulf wars). As a lowly technician I was frequently instructed to dispose of large quantities of trichlorethane solvent. How did we do it? By the simple method of tipping it out on the ground where I was told it would evaporate. As an older and much wiser person I know that this was bollocks and the bulk of the solvent almost certainly ended up down at the water table.

    In total I must have dumped 50-100 gallons of solvent somewhere in the oil service yard between York Street and the beach esplanade where I am sure it sits to this day contaminating the land. The point of my story? Pollution can have occurred many years ago and unless someone ‘fesses-up, it may be impossible to determine the source years down the line.

    I now feel hugely guilty but then I didn’t know better. I am sure that company “H” did, but preferred the quick and cheap disposal method that they instructed me in.

    • Thanks Geomannie – this is very helpful indeed!

    • Common practise within all service companies at the time as the waste disposal companies didn’t exist as they do now, people just didn’t have the know how or experience back then.

      These days everything is done by the book and the environment is up there with safety as far as the oil service companies go, no expense is spared when it comes to chemical disposal.

      • So that’s that’s alright then?

        Even as a daft laddy I inherently knew that tipping chemicals on the ground was wrong, even though I did as instructed. “H” must have known it was wrong too. I left the job in 1978. I wonder when they stopped dumping trichlorethane?

  3. The chap who was given the death penalty actually died within 45 minutes, imo he didn’t suffer enough in his death, this was someone who had raped his victim and actually buried her alive, i’m sure this took way longer than 45 minutes.

    The next person to die by execution raped and killed an 11 Month old girl, how he dies and in what manner is of little importance imo, what’s sure is he doesn’t deserve to live, the man’s a monster.

    • ” imo he didn’t suffer enough in his death” Hey, don’t hold back, tell us what you really think.

      Do you really think it was good thing that someone underwent a botched, intensely painful execution, one that was almost certainly illegal under any international law? Maybe you should reread what you just wrote and reflect a little bit? You might do yourself some good.

      • You reap what you sow in this World son, don’t want to die strapped to a chair with a needle in your arm then don’t murder another person.

        I think he got what he deserved, dying in the same manner as his victim would have been more apt however.

  4. As ever Suzanne your article has certainly given rise to much debate, especially about pollution. My concern is about Cllr.Malone. She appears to wish Aberdeen to be a “Wildlife Free Zone”. Coming home by taxi one night, a fox crossed the path of my taxi at 2 a.m. Will she call the fox hounds out, do you think?

    • The driver should have sped up, foxes are vermin, a step away from a rat, the latter however don’t attack children in the manner urban foxes do.

  5. Dear All, in response to several queries, Bill Stephen is actually a real person who writes in with these comments. You might be forgiven for thinking he is some fictitious invention created to inflame commentary by making outlandish statements, kind of like that woman who crashed and burned from ‘The Apprentice’ [what that? Ed] – but no; Bill is out there. And I do mean out there.

    • In fairness to this “real person”, it is surely time something was done about these cunning man – eating foxes which are raping and pillaging around our fair city and threatening our civilisation. Perhaps we could make it mandatory for taxi drivers to be adequately equipped with assault rifles with which to disable this threat to our security. Or then again Bill might take it upon himself to patrol our streets of an evening ensuring that anyone suspected of committing a crime is executed in an appropriately sadistic manner. His apparent bloodlust might lead to him teaming up with Ms Malone to boost tourism by initiating a program of late night safaris to eradicate all forms of wildlife.

      It might even attract the odd billionaire or two?

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