May 222015

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


Tally ho! It’s been quite a week in the Granite City and wider world. Well done all you who voted Conservative!

The SNP is now on the move; not since the Covenanters has Scotland been so unanimous. A new Independence Referendum can’t be far off, so I hope you’ve all saved your ‘YES’ banners and Saltires.

Perhaps the best news is that nice Mr Farage tried to resign but they wouldn’t let him. Who else indeed could lead UKIP? Mr Fromage is indeed the man for the job, although I think they were considering a gay Romanian immigrant at one point.

That nice Mr Trump’s coyness and modesty were on display at the end of April. Well, on display in two obscure small legal notices in the back of the Evening Express.

I can’t imagine why, but the pre-application public consultations for a second golf course, 850 houses and 1900 leisure units, whatever they are, came and went with no publicity from the Press & Journal or the Evening Express. I suppose with stories vying for space, some minor issues like Trump building on the Menie Estate have to be overlooked.

‘Cow found in Field’, ‘Man wins Inverurie Rowie baking award’ and ‘three clothing stores may or may not open in Aberdeen’ trumped the Trump news. When alerted to these ads, I wrote to the contact address given for information. Sadly, the nice man hadn’t the time to get back to me. In fact he was too busy to get back to at least six other people who also wanted information in advance of the deadline in order to praise the scheme.

A cynic might think that the Trump organisation, spearheaded at Menie by the planning supremo, golf expert and beauty queen Mrs Sarah Malone Bates, were trying to sneak one over on us. But I’m sure it was just a case of not wanting to brag about these exciting plans that kept any news of them off the pages of AJL papers, except for those ads on the back of the EE.

I guess it’s now too late to get in your notes of praise for the scheme; it would be a pity if the Shire’s planning people thought that this lack of information were sufficient grounds to throw the exercise on the scrap heap. That would be just awful.

Despite having to re-write my original column ‘Hooray for the Liberal Democrat Landslide’, it’s been a great week. I’ve been part of the Aberdonian contingent at the Westworld Weekend in Crewe; the bands were Spear of Destiny, Theatre of Hate, Kirk Brandon acoustic, Folk Grinder and the Death Valley Surfers. The beer was just as impressive: bottles of Punk IPA AND BrewDog Abstracts Nos. 15, 16, 17 and 18. For some strange reason the bar ran out of Punk, I can’t imagine why.

Old Susannah extended her weekend with a night of Julian Cope at the Lemon Tree, where BrewDog also flowed. Cope’s a bit madcap and a bit behind the times. He joked that it would be good if those in power tried LSD. I’m pretty convinced most of them are tripping as it is.

When you’re having a great weekend, you want to prolong it. Therefore my sincere thanks to the guy who decided to have a cigarette in his plane’s toilet when my and other planes should have been landing at Aberdeen.

clearly he was a genius of some sort

What good sport it was to circle for an extra 30 or so minutes, to be told that a plane on the runway had smoke coming out of it, and that we might have to divert.

I had the great pleasure of seeing the suspect explaining himself to the six or so police who surrounded him as my flight finally filed through the airport. A woman PC was saying:

“You have been identified as the man who was smoking in your plane’s toilet.”

I wondered whether he were a famous movie star, international scholar, or perhaps even an ACSEF member. He must have been someone very important indeed who simply needed a smoke. His slightly dirty clothes, his stubbly chin, his knuckles dragging on the floor and his simian posture were just too good a cover; clearly he was a genius of some sort, disguised as a posturing, swaggering self-centred ignorant chav.

Then he spoke and in an instant I knew I was listening to an Einstein. He answered the woman PC thus:

“You’re kidding right?”

Old Susannah is only an amateur student of psychology and human behaviour, but I am reasonably certain the police weren’t kidding. They almost seemed angry for some reason, and they didn’t at all seem the Laughing Policeman kind.

She continued:

“I am not going to search you”

I suppose he must have previously baulked at that prospect,

“but one of my colleagues may want to. Empty your pockets.”

Again confirming my assessment of the man’s undeniable wit, and reaffirming my belief in his complete innocence he said:

“You’re kidding right?”

My own acting skills are little better than novice; but surely no one could have looked as perfectly innocent as this poor man. I’m sure he was set up. The faint whiff of cigarette smoke that was in the area surely had come from one of those policemen.

Then again, if someone as important as this man obviously is, needed a cigarette, then who are the Civil Aviation Authority, the police, Aberdeen Airport, several hundred people wanting to land, and a hundred people on his plane needing to travel to get in his way? I’d feel guilty if I’d inconvenienced our man.

Besides, imagine what a good adventure it must have been for those on his flight: to be airborne and smell smoke, and see it coming out of the plane’s toilet, just like it must have been for the doomed Canadian flight several years ago that started this unfair no-smoking on planes backlash.

It’s not as if anyone circling around was getting nervous with every new announcement that we might have to be diverted elsewhere, that a plane on the runway had to be evacuated and fire was involved.

No worries. It’s not as if anything terrible ever happens to planes or at airports. There weren’t any older people getting worried or upset; there were no stressed out ground crew. Just you and your smoke. Some people just can’t take a joke though, and as a second thought, maybe next time, if they let you fly again, you might want to look into this nicotine patch business.

And so, my sincere thanks to the as-yet unnamed 31-year-old man for giving me the thrill of a lifetime. Really, if I ever get the chance to repay your kindness, I’ll do so. A mention in my humble column will have to do for now. However, if I can find out who your employers are, I’ll be delighted to drop them a suitable commendation for all the fun you provided.

Also in the news there was an election. England wants five more years of David Cameron, and somehow failed to appreciate all that Nick Clegg’s done for them. Scotland wants the SNP.

The voting public has spoken. Some people are puzzled by some of the election outcomes and how votes metamorphose into fair, democratic representation in Parliament. As I’m one of those people, herewith some timely terms for those baffled by ballot box bamboozlement.

First Past The Post: (Modern Conservative compound Noun) A system of counting election results to allocate seats in the English Parliament.

I’m sure you’re as happy as I am at how the elections throughout the UK turned out. This is down to the exciting, but fair ‘first past the post’ voting system. It’s no more complicated than understanding how the Hadron Supercollider’s quest for the God Particle demonstrates that anti-matter underpins the known universe, why you never get all your socks back after doing a load of laundry, or the arbitrary nature of the offside rule, depending on who the ref is.

For those of you slower of wit, here is a bit of number crunching:a_fair_election_result_indeed

The sad thing is that there are some sore losers out there, who would change this system. Take for instance Electoral Reform UK. This band of brigands should be rounded up, and probably will be once that nice Mr Gove gets rid of this Human Rights nonsense, see below. Here is a quote from their radical website:

“[Most] people’s votes were essentially wasted. Of the almost 31 million people who voted on the 7th, 15.4 million voted for losing candidates. That’s 50% of voters who backed a candidate that didn’t win, making the vast majority of voters feel unrepresented. That doesn’t sound like democracy to most people.”

Talk about sour grapes. I’m sure we all feel well represented. If you want to contact Electoral Reform and tell them to leave well enough alone, you can do so here, which is also where you can sign their petition asking for electoral reform. But just ignore that bit.

Still, a system that would leave the beloved Liberal Democrats out in the cold can’t be fair. Old  Susannah is every bit as upset at the defenestration of the LibDems as you might think. Once the equal partners of Dave Cameron’s Conservatives, the chargers of tuition fees, and the slayers of the vermin roe deer, it’s sad to think these noble animals have been metaphorically shot between the eyes, just as they rightfully insisted was done to some 46 Tullos Hill Deer.

If I can stop sobbing into my LibDem logo-embroidered handkerchief long enough, I’ll send a consolatory email to Aileen HoMalone and ask her for a few words on this sad defeat. But back to the fairness of the system.

Special thanks should go to the 33% of UK residents eligible to vote who didn’t do so. It’s not as if getting the opinion of a third of the country’s voters could have made any real difference, not under First Past The Post anyway.

Thank you for staying home to watch the Heartbeat Omnibus, reruns of Neighbours, playing Grand Theft Auto 27 or whatever it was that kept you from spending ten minutes to pick the UK’s future direction. I’m sure those who didn’t bother to join in had very important reasons. Just like the reasons the important man had on that aircraft to smoke in the bathroom.

Human Rights Act: (Modern European Union compound noun) A declaration of inalienable freedoms each person should be entitled to, but never is.

As far as I can work out, this is some kind of wishy-washy left-wing Liberal law from 1998 that brought in the EU’s Human Rights declaration and enshrined it in UK law. It’s even supposed to make the NHS and the Police treat people as if they had rights, even people suspected of crime, just like that guy who smelled of smoke who came out of the plane’s toilet seen by many, who could only comment ‘You’re kidding right?’.

This has been problematic and a nuisance. It’s been implemented fully, as we can see in practice all around us.

We’ve got a war on drugs, a war on terror

The parents of Ashya King were arrested for taking their son for the successful medical treatment he had abroad, because the NHS swore out an arrest warrant.

The police officers who cleverly infiltrated various legal protest groups, sleeping with and impregnating women they pretended to love were only doing their job of course, but under Human Rights law, these women, who were probably criminals anyway, seem to be able to claim damages and child support.

There’s only so much a Conservative government can stand. They’re sending top gun Michael Gove in to correct this over-application of human rights. Any day now, all these freedoms we’re enjoying, like the right to protest the elections in London free from police harassment, may be a distant memory. Too right, too. We’ve got a war on drugs, a war on terror… there’s no room for sentimentality when it comes to breaking a few bones – sorry – breaking a few criminal gangs.

These rights include:

“These rights are: Right to life, right not to be tortured or subjected to inhumane treatment, right not to be held as a slave, right to liberty and security of the person, right to a fair trial, right not be retrospectively convicted for a crime, right to a private and family life, right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, right to freedom of expression, right to freedom of assembly and association, right to marriage, right to an effective remedy, right not to be discriminated against, the right to the peaceful enjoyment of one’s property, and the right to an education. The Act also imposes a duty upon governments to provide free and fair elections.”

If you want to see how hard it is to be a police officer, and the kinds of things they have to put up with from protesters, here’s a little story. It may look like the police are harming citizens who are on the ground at a protest against the Tories, but I’m sure it’s just some form of massage therapy I’m not familiar with.

As if anyone would want to protest against the Tories: we’ve just elected them by a landslide. Apparently.

I get why our rulers want to get rid of this education nonsense and privacy stuff, but since we’ve already got a completely free and fair election system, surely they’ve no complaint on that score. So for those renegades and anarchists who enjoy these so-called rights, enjoy them while you can.

Next week: That’ll depend on whether or not the Conservatives continue to allow political satire.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Apr 062012

Old Susannah comments on UK Government proposals to access emails between all citizens in the name of preventing Terrorism.

There will be dancing in the streets, celebrations at public squares (as long as they are vibrant, dynamic and have connectivity), and rejoicing all ‘round: the government has found the way to stop terrorism! Result! Yes, the government is getting rid of terrorism. And your basic right to privacy.

Why didn’t we think of it earlier, we are all wondering. Yes, the Government has decided it has the right to record each and every email you receive and send. And that is how terrorism will be stopped once and for all.

I’m happy to give up my private life forever in order for government snoops to be able to catch the bad guys. I’m thrilled to be treated like a new prison inmate every time I want to get on a plane. I’m sure you are as well.

So what if there are the occasional cases of disabled and/or elderly people being strip searched for having mobility aids. If the occasional frightened child is separated from its parents to be frisked, then so be it. It’s the price we pay for having the fantastic safe and secure lifestyles we have.

It was said by an American founding father, Benjamin Franklin that ‘They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.’ How times have changed.

You could also wonder how secure your business secrets will be when they are intercepted by unknown government spooks. Do people ever mis-use information? Hardly ever. The slightly paranoid J Edgar Hoover kept files on American citizens, and would occasionally blackmail people into doing his bidding. Liberty and Justice for all, except if the FBI wanted you.

That would never happen here. Of course a senior police official was recently found guilty of accessing data on an ex-partner of his right here. I’m sure this was just a one-off, no need to trouble ourselves about it.

It’s also a very good thing that terrorists would never use the Royal Mail. Except for those charming people who sent bombs to Celtic’s manager, that is. No one would ever think of using the post for smuggling, planning terrorist attacks or anything else we should concern ourselves with. Phew!

It would be terrible if there were any civil disobedience over this great move. For instance nothing is stopping you from going to an internet cafe, and creating a free email account under the name of john smith. If enough people did this, and only sent or checked emails at internet cafes, then this little snooping plan of our kind government’s would be toast.

Old Susannah thinks this great scheme might run into a few wee problems anyway. For one thing, I keep getting all sorts of ‘spam’. Multiply all the emails selling you drugs or which try to get your personal details out of you by the country’s population, and you’ll need a bank of computer storage just to keep the spam.

Perhaps we should all go back to sending letters.

If anyone wanted to sign a petition against this great piece of legislation, although I can’t think why they would, the online petition is at

Celebrity Blog from Cattie the Millipede and Milly the Caterpillar

Greetings everyone from our safe house in Torry, where we were airlifted to after our beautiful meadow home on Tullos Hill was destroyed – for a LibDem election pledge. We are surviving the cold snap OK, because we have lots of dead leaves to hide under to keep warm. (gardeners should always leave some dead leaves or other mulch around to keep plants – and creatures like us – warm).

We are even more worried now about our old friends on Tullos Hill. The deer have nowhere near as much gorse to shelter in and it’s cold. The birds lost lots of their shelter too when the gorse was ripped out. We are fine – but we wish our friends were, too.

Election Notes

The Labour Party have announced they would – end the Granite Web in its tracks if elected! Rather than borrowing £140,000,000 to put concrete ramps over our garden, chop down 250 year-old trees to turn into wood chip, they seem to want to spend time and energy on helping people.

Gerry Brough, city employee who has generously volunteered to work on the project is said to be incandescent with rage. So no change there then.

Mar 152012

By Bob Smith.

A’ve aywis likit the kwintraside
Born an brocht up on a fairm
Faar as a bairn a cwid wanner
An nae cum ti ony hairm

Doon the wye fae oor hoose
Wis a burn fit’s ca’ed the Ord
Sittin on its bonnie banks
A nivver wid be bored

Twa railway sleepers war laid doon
As a crossin ti oor neebors parks
An on iss bittie slabs o widd
A sat listenin ti the larks

The Ord cam oot the nearbye dam
Faar twis rumoured pike war seen
Mony’s the time a wint fishin there
Wi string, wirms an bent peen

In warm simmer days a paddled
Some bandies in a jar a’d trap
Syne studyin them fer a fyle
Afore back in the burn they’d drap 

Sometimes I aet ma denner
Doon b’ the burn o Ord
Fine sandwiches an bannocks
Wi ale fae yon Bon Accord

Lyin on the grassy banks
Peerin up at cloods abeen
Watchin the odd antrin plane
Fleein ower b’ Aiberdeen

Noo an agin there wid be a splash
Fit slippit oot o its burnbank hole?
Maybe Kenneth Grahame’s “Ratty”
Better kent as a watter vole 

The Ord it jined the Leuchar Burn
Slowly wannerin its wye ti Culter
Faar the statue o Rob Roy stauns
Wis he a hero or jist a looter?

It wis on the banks o the Ord
A learnt fit naitur’s aboot
Ma love o the kwintraside cairries on
O aat there is nae doot 

© Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie”2011