Dec 102012

Old Susannah casts her beady eye once more on the goings-on of the great, the good and the downright ugly! By Suzanne Kelly.

The chill in the air, a few days of snow, children behaving better than usual; this can only mean one thing.
Yes, it’s Christmas shopping time again. Seasonal goodwill is evidenced in every fight over a shopping mall parking space. The bon accord is clearly evident as women fight over the last sweater in the sale in the Bon Accord Mall.

Peace on earth is demonstrated as people elbow each other out of the way in each crowded shopping mall, or the strong nudge the weak away from the Apple Store’s latest product display, which will of course be replaced by a newer product the following week.

Christmas cheer is not very much on display for the residents of Hillside near Portlethen. It seems there will be no communal Christmas tree, as getting electricity to the site is beyond the technical nous of the local builder, one Mr S Milne.

The local authority, not at all resembling small-minded control freaks, have a policy where normally only one tree is permitted per area.

This year though, in a magnanimous gesture, they graciously allowed Hillside to have a tree as well as Porlethen! It is far too technically difficult to get electricity to the Hillside tree, however. Likewise there will be no lighting on the Hillside street lamps.

The lamps are made of a material which simply breaks up if hit by a car or truck – a safety feature, so I’m told (although how shattering lamp posts would stop a car careening into a house or person, or stop the streetlight itself from crashing down and injuring someone is a mystery to me).  So – no lights and no tree.

This tale reminds me how Common Good Aberdeen ensured their jubilee garden party in Union Terrace Gardens would have a thing called a generator to run the show, in case they had any electricity problems.

I guess Hillside residents have bigger things to think about than the tree, such as the infrastructure initially promised which hasn’t exactly been made manifest yet, either. Despite early promises and assurances, the unlit Christmas tree would have increased amenities available to residents by 100%. As Councillor Mollison put it back in September:

“I know residents are eager to get started so that there can be a social heart to Hillside, something that is missing at present. At the moment there are houses, houses and more houses.”

We shall see if many new amenities spring up with alongside the new developments coming our way in city and shire; I am sure the developers will continue their joined-up, philanthropic, community-focused, environmentally sound philosophies in all things they do. The worst part, of course, is seeing the hopes dashed of all the children who dreamed of seeing Stewart throw the switch on their Christmas tree.

Old Susannah had a pleasant week with Christmas drinks and dinner parties starting a bit earlier than usual. Perhaps most fun was an event held by Shelagh at Torry’s Oil and Glass art and craft business.

Children of all ages were able to make either a glass Christmas star or glass ornament for a £5 donation; a pound from each ornament or star went to the VSA. Shelagh raised over £50 for this worthwhile charity (well done, and thanks for the mince pie as well).

It must be time for some seasonal definitions.

Pantomime (noun) ancient entertainment form normally adhering to certain formulas, such as telling a fairy tale, having a heroine, a hero, a villain and a pantomime ‘dame,’ commonly held close to Christmas time.

His Majesty’s Theatre will hold its annual pantomime this year but it may be outshone by a bigger pantomime taking place over on Twitter: two comic characters slugging it out in traditional Punch and Judy form, rivalling anything ever done by the ugly sisters.

Donald Trump and Alan Sugar are having their own little show with an enthralled audience laughing along. Donald tweets that a grateful Alan Sugar should ‘drop to his knees’ (‘oh myyy!’) and thank him. Sugar says Scotland doesn’t want Trump – how cruel! (Accurate, but cruel).

Without a trace of irony, Trump demanded Sugar tell the public his real financial worth. No doubt The Donald will make a similar disclosure. Things escalated, and surely Sugar was worried when no less a figure of moral probity than Piers Morgan has sided with The Donald.Sugar has some wild idea that wind farms are not necessarily a bad thing.

Let’s just hope Sir Alan doesn’t mention the Glenfiddich, or things could get even uglier (although that is hard to imagine).

Glenfiddich (proper noun) a brand name of whisky, originating with the Scottish Grant family.

One Christmas day back in 1887 a terrible tragedy-in-waiting occurred, and the first ever Glenfiddich whisky came forth from the still. No doubt if its distillers realised this brand would one day be an affront to Scotland’s main benefactor Donald Trump, the still would have been smashed and the project scuppered.

This upstart brand of whisky insulted the Donald by allowing the Scottish people to pick their Top Scot of the year – and no doubt by a hoax or an ‘orchestrated campaign’, this year’s winner is someone Donald doesn’t like. Glenfiddich hasn’t been reasonable on this point at all. Firstly, letting the people decide what they want isn’t something you’d catch our local or national governments doing.

Secondly, the award surely should have gone to Donald himself, for all the good he’s done to our area by creating millions of jobs, stabilising our movable sand dune system, and bringing us much-needed popularity and publicity we wouldn’t have otherwise.

Previous Top Scot winner J K Rowling was once a Lone Parent, and we remember what a bad bunch these can be, according to a former government in Downing Street. Thankfully, David Cameron will be harking back to that earlier appraisal of lone parents. He’s sticking it to these feckless individuals in the new budget, quite right, too.

It also looks like that nice Mr Osborne will open up Scotland for business – by allowing gas companies to search for gas on the mainland. Why waste time with renewable energy when we can pump chemicals, untold reserves of water, and even explosives into our countryside. What are a few earthquakes or contaminated water compared to being ‘open for business?’

Anyway, the Scottish public were told by Trump not to buy Glenfiddich, and that he was banning it from his classy golf courses and hotels forthwith. The makers of the single malt tried to shirk their responsibility by saying that people choose the award winner, but clearly that’s just not good enough. The people of Scotland have since rallied to Trump’s call. They are buying Glenfiddich and Grant whiskies as fast as they can.

Old Susannah has no doubt the motivation for these sales is not to drink a toast to Forbes with Glenfiddich, but rather so people can empty the alcohol down the drains, showing their esteem for the poor, slighted Trump. And so it should be.

If you see me leaving the shops with bags full of Grants and Glenfiddich, it will be so I can dispose of them, not so that I can enjoy one of the most delicious single malts our area has to offer, created in a lovely distillery which still uses water power in production in a very environmentally sound manner. Heaven forbid.

Many people contacted Trump’s golf course to offer to take the offending booze off Trump’s hands, but alas – all such philanthropic requests were turned down.

Practical Joke (compound noun) a gag or hoax designed to embarrass or otherwise humiliate the object of the exercise.

We all love a good practical joke, don’t we? What could be nicer, particularly at this time of year, than making a fool of another person? Where’s the harm in setting up someone for, let’s say, a telephone prank? It’s not really illegal, so that means there are no problems (unless you let something like ethics get in the way).

A nurse committed suicide over such a prank lately. The ladies receiving the hilarious joke phone call probably panicked, thinking that they were going to get in a lot of trouble if they didn’t do what the pranksters wanted, believing for some reason that no one would call a hospital for laughs, thereby deterring nurses from taking care of people.

Then, realising they were made to look idiots, probably fearing for their future careers and dreading the onslaught of inevitable media intrusion, one of those involved took their own life.

But let’s remember, the radio station involved ran all this through their legal department, which didn’t see any legal reason not to interrupt nurses from hospital work (work which is probably usually kind of dull, and not at all of life and death importance like being a DJ), impersonate the most powerful people in the country, and in the process intimidate an immigrant to the UK.

The two DJs involved said they couldn’t have foreseen anything like this. I’m sure they spent lots of time working out the possible outcomes and permutations of their actions, as all practical jokers do in advance. It’s also fine because after the fact, the radio station in question is going to review some of its procedures – can’t say fairer than that.

Our laws might have something different to say about the situation, but as long as the station manager and station legal team are fine, who are we to nit-pick?

Finally, the DJs are each receiving counselling and medical care. Let’s hope no one calls their doctors or nurses with innocent, cute prank calls, now.

Next week: perhaps a story on Stewart Milne saving the day at Hillside and springing for a generator? Or, more likely, more local and national definitions.

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Oct 112012

The vice chair of Aberdeen City Youth Council (ACYC), the official voice of young people in Aberdeen, has condemned city centre clubs where underage drinking has allegedly taken place and is to write to local politicians encouraging discussion over current age limit policies.  With thanks to Kenneth Watt.

The Pearl Lounge and other premises in Aberdeen city centre have had their licences suspended this week due to allegations of underage drinking.

Commenting that these recent cases of underage drinking in city centre premises show why youngsters need to be better educated on responsible drinking Struan King (pictured), who was appointed vice-chair of ACYC last month, said:

“Underage drinking is a serious issue, and the legal drinking age is there for a reason.  We need to look at what is happening in society and how decision-makers are catering for cultural changes. “

Mr King, who is also writing to politicians in the north-east urging them to consider better alcohol and drugs education following the problems with youngsters being exposed, went on to say:

“Decision makers need to think seriously about the message young people are receiving and how to further responsible drinking education.  Many see getting in to clubs and bars underage as a challenge and, unfortunately, some are succeeding.  With little experience or knowledge of their limits of the substance it’s very dangerous as we saw last week with a group of girls – some aged 14 – being allowed in to Prohibition Bar and then being taken to hospital.”

“It’s disgraceful that premises are failing to ID customers and that they are exploiting vulnerable teenagers, many of whom have only just started secondary school.  This needs to stop and I praise the licensing committee for revoking licences this week.”

“As vice-chair of the youth council I hear frequently of people drinking underage and it upsets me that firms are being irresponsible and allowing children in to their pubs and clubs.”

Barry Black, chair of the youth council and Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, who released survey results on underage drinking in the north east in April of this year, said:

“I support Struan in his call for change and am keen to investigate new methods of alcohol education in schools. This is an area of discussion I will continue to encourage within the organisation, especially after the shocking results from my survey were released earlier this year. Youngsters going out underage do not know their limits and are incredibly vulnerable.”

Youth councillor Kenneth Watt added:

“You only need to look at the clubs’ Facebook photos to see how many under-agers are drinking there frequently.”

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May 312012

By Bob Smith. 

Binge drinkin quines – there’s nithing worse
They  faa aboot an sweir an curse
Wi hurdies keekin oot their draars
They stumble oot o clubs an bars

Oh bonnie quine fit are ye deein
Squattin in some shop door peein
Syne styterin oot  on ti the street
Yer knickers danglin roon yer feet

Ye try ti hail a passin taxi
Bit only lan up on yer jaxie
Ye  wanner hame  intae yer bed
And waakin up aside some ned

Puir quine ye’re still a wee bit foo
As ye struggle ti  the nearest loo
Ye look in  the mirror—oh fit a sicht!
An ye canna myn a thing aboot last nicht

 ©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2012
Image Credit: BEER MUG© Melinda Nagy |

Mar 152012

By Stephen Davy-Osborne. 

Following a sell-out performance at Aberdeen’s AECC last month, the students of some of Aberdeen’s secondary schools are set to receive a boost to their fundraising for next year’s Rock Challenge, after an Aberdeen singer announced the proceeds of his latest single will all be donated to the cause.
Myke Black tells Aberdeen Voice all about it.

Myke Black, 25, is an acoustic singer/songwriter based in Aberdeen, and released his debut album, ‘Nice Little Earner’, at the end of 2010.

Speaking of his decision to donate the proceeds of his latest single Do What You Want to Rock Challenge, Myke said:

“I was very impressed by what the charity aims to do, and achieves, for young kids every single year. I am always happy to do my bit for charity, plus the last time I released anything was at the end of 2010, with my debut album Nice Little Earner. So this was an opportunity for me to do something worthwhile for a good cause, and an incentive to record and release a brand new track”.

“I have to admit that I knew nothing about the charity when they first approached me. But once I was told about what they do and the scale they do it on, I was more than keen to get involved!”

Rock Challenge is a worldwide performing arts competition for children aged 12-18, which sees young people express themselves through a piece of dance or drama with their school.

Underlying the event is a message encouraging young people not to get involved with drugs or alcohol; to be their best without the need for stimulants.

Myke was invited to perform the charity single at the AECC as part of the Aberdeen heat of Rock Challenge back in February.  He said:

 “I performed the song live in front of 3000 people and it was very well received. I also watched all the performances by the 7 schools that were taking part that night and I was blown away by their efforts.”

Myke added:

“I feel privileged to be a part of Rock Challenge UK and The Be Your Best Foundation and I would be more than happy to continue to with my involvement in the future, providing they feel the same way!”

The single Do What You Want is available for download from iTunes now.

Nov 042011

Old Susannah takes a look at the events of the past week.

After another event-packed week in Aberdeen, Wednesday’s Press & Journal surprised on two counts.  The cover tells me that the Scottish Government, previously strapped for cash, will give us £70 million to make our city garden project dreams come true.
All we have to do is show that we’re all behind Wood/Milne/Craw/Brough and all.  Should be easy enough.

But, the surprising thing was that the story was illustrated with not one but two photographs taken inside the hallowed temple of design which is the Pier, and they clearly showed the exhibitions.

I was chased by security guards for taking a photo of the lovely stripy poster when I stood on Belmont Street, and several of the protestors were told in no uncertain terms that photographs of the great designs were absolutely forbidden. 

I fully expect that Gerry Brough (or Sasha M maybe) will send the security guards straight over to P&J offices and demand that the photos be deleted.  After all, a rule for one should be a rule for everyone.  Otherwise people will get the wrong impression that rules are not uniformly enforced in our fair city.

The other item which surprised me pleasantly was an account of the recent Housing & Environment Committee meeting:  Neil Cooney brought up some of the many reasons why the deer cull and tree planting on Tullos are not as popular with the public as they might be.

One other teeny omission that Ho Malone and other proponents of the bullets for trees scheme forgot to mention in their reports and consultations is the fact we’ll have to spray weedkiller on Tullos for 2-3 years.  Result!  This is jobs creation at its best, although you might not want junior riding his moped any time soon after the spraying has occurred.

One other minor detail – after all this fuss over the deer and press releases saying that everything is in readiness for the saplings – the city has not actually put in its formal bid for the tree scheme.   This makes people like Pete and Ho look just a little foolish for saying that the scheme is cost-neutral. 

I’m no accountant, but if you’ve not got any funding for a plan that failed before to the tune of £44,000, you might be just a little bit premature to announce that the great plan is ‘cost neutral.’  Neil also has this wild idea that the wildlife we already have on Tullos should be kept, and the hill be designated a meadowland / grassland – possibly deer park.  Watch this space.  (Thank you Neil from a great number of people).

The best events of the week save the Housing Committee meeting were the Pumpkin Procession and the Mooring’s Alternative Design Competition Award night.

At the Pumpkin Procession in UTG, a great selection of pumpkins were on display in the near darkness.

A particularly frightening carving of a witch disturbed the group greatly; this was of a famous witch named Margaret Thatcher.

Over two dozen bright, vibrant, dynamic, forward-looking, connectivity-rich, level-access, city-saving schemes for boring Union Terrace Gardens were on display at the Moorings on the night.  These are still available for viewing on that Facebook thing the kids are using today.
See: Alternative-City-Gardens-Design-Contest

Believe it or not, I was allowed to take photos without security accusing me of any felony offence.

And I got to drink some nice beer called ‘Alhambra’ – named after a rather boring bit of architecture in Spain which has far too much garden space incorporated, and actually no parking or shops.  Shocking.  No one will ever go to the Alhambra just for a visit (unlike our forthcoming glass worm).  The Moorings winner didn’t get £135,000 (which is what I believe you get if you were shortlisted for your monolith or Teletubby habitat), but got a bottle of drink instead.

All things considered, I think the finalists at the Moorings should have been given great wads of money and the official designers should have been told to stay off the drink when working.

The winner’s design had suggested putting AFC’s stadium in UTG, but this leaves the problem of what then to build in Loirston, which has for far too long just been a meadow.

But at this rate there won’t be any definitions, so here goes.


(noun) an uncontrolled, sudden verbal attack, usually unsuspected.

Dear oh dear.  The credit crunch is having a devastating effect on so many of us.  I can’t even get to BrewDog as often as I’d like for openers.  But spare a thought for those less fortunate than us who are really feeling the strain at this difficult time.

Do you know someone who’s having to sub an unprofitable football team?  Someone who’s year-end profit wasn’t all that big (although whether or not that’s true outside of the UK is anyone’s guess)?  Someone perhaps who is facing a big legal action over a land purchase deal?  And you thought you had problems!

Some of us are down to our last 60 mill or so.  Such strains could easily make you tear your hair out.  Or be grumpy.  Or even have a wee outburst.  Before you make fun of such a person because they seem like a child who’s thrown his toys out of the playpen, just think : it could be you who’s lost your temper/grip.  The last thing we should do is call attention to such a temporary lapse of reason/class/reserve.

Therefore, if someone sends you a link to a video where such an outburst is captured, best thing you can do is stay clear.  For purposes of illustration, I have just such a link here, wherein a normally lovely bloke has an uncharacteristic outburst and makes something of an exhibition of himself.  So pity such a creature.  They may have come from a broken home.
See:  Stewart_Milne_Outburst_Video_Article

Nanny State

(modern English phrase) a derogatory term to describe an overly interfering government, particularly from the UK’s past.

I am eternally grateful to those wiser heads than ours in government who want to protect everyone from the ills and evils of drink.  There are people who have problems with drink; and drink driving is a threat to everyone – I say without any sense of sarcasm; I’ve lost too many loved ones to drink drivers.  Rather than helping people with drink problems, the best thing to do is make drink more expensive for everyone.

The SNP previously tried to save us all from the great evils of Marks & Spencer’s ‘eat in for a tenner’ scheme (as I previously detailed).  This was a plot by the sinister M&S to give us affordable four-dish meals to eat at home with another person.

It’s clear to  see where this kind of thing could lead – one thing leads to another as you progress from a ‘herb’ salad to a rump steak with onion ‘rings’ on the side while sharing a bottle of red wine before moving on to dessert (I had profiteroles with my meal last week – it was delicious.  OOPS!)

Having been as successful at banning these society-destroying balanced meals as they were at making Scotland independent, the SNP have decided to raise the price of alcohol.

This will immediately result in alcoholics quitting booze cold turkey.  Kids will no longer wish to experiment with alcohol, and the world will be a better place.  Since Scotland doesn’t have much of a vibrant or dynamic alcohol presence in the world’s drinks market, there will be no economic repercussions at all.

Nanny Goats

(noun type of goat; female)

I don’t know where we would be without the ‘new-look’ Scottish Natural Heritage agency to make sure we have a perfect natural world with as few deer, foxes and goats as possible.  For the movers and shakers (or ‘empire builders’ and climbers if you will) of SNH want to destroy the Tullos Hill deer (and other deer), and they are making sure we don’t have too many goats on the remote Isle of Rum.

To ensure that we have a perfect balance of nature, it seems SNH had a nice quantity of the goats shot, as reported in the Sunday papers.

What intelligent method was used to get rid of the corpses?  Were they fed to birds of prey?  No, they were allegedly thrown off cliffs into the sea.  The SNH denies this, but it is their word against the word of observers.  Seeing as how the SNH wrote to Aberdeen City Council encouraging a sneaky approach to the Tullos Hill deer cull, I might not be inclined to believe them all the time. 

It is almost as if someone at SNH wanted to make a name for themselves and was running around getting as much media coverage as possible, and was using draconian, cruel animal slaughter to get press attention.  But remember, the world was a far less balanced, manicured, less managed place in the days before SNH got into the killing, sorry, culling or ‘managing’ game.

We now have targets as to how many animals a patch of land can hold.  This is of course not control-freakery.  If the animals don’t stick to the figures, well then, they become the targets for hunters. 

Of course if such a person existed, they would have quite a job of silencing other experts who clung to old-fashioned ideas about not shooting animals to maintain the new population figures.  This would never happen of course.

However, if you want to ask any questions to reassure yourselves that all is right and proper in the world of animal ‘management’ at the SNH, feel free to write to Jamie Hammond.  He really does have all the answers, and is in no way faddist or revisionist in his proposals for animal management.  Tally Ho!

Next week:  more definitions and an update on our poor stressed out friend.

Nov 042011

“Politics for beginners…with a green edge”. As a ‘young person’…this expression I always feel is a little condescending but nevertheless…as a ‘young person’ the world of politics can seem both inaccessible and unapproachable. So I was pleasantly surprised this weekend when I made the effort to go along to the Scottish Green Party conference which was held at the University of Aberdeen. Bex Holmes reports. 

So, what was this conference all about, you maybe asking?

Well every year like most political parties’, the Scottish Greens hold an annual conference in which members can get together and have a good old natter about the world’s pressing issues including those happening locally.

There is of course a bit more to it than that, such as getting your head around voting for new policy motions and various other in-house processes. Most of which baffled me, but I’m ‘young’ so I can get away with being a bit clueless now and again!

Aside from all these formalities however Patrick Harvie MSP gave a keynote speech which really made me stop and think. Everything he said reminded me of why I had not only sought to become more active in politics in the first place but why I choose to join to the Scottish Greens over all others.

He highlighted the Scottish Government’s contradictory policies on energy and climate change. Yes, our climate change targets are awesome and a step in the right direction. But (and that’s a big but) they are completely undermined by our continued support of the fossil fuel industry. Simple as!

More eloquently put of course by Mr Harvie:

“Alex Salmond now has a very clear and simple choice – he must either fail on Scotland’s much-vaunted climate change targets, or he must drop his unconditional support for the fossil fuel industries…First, the new coal-fired power station at Hunterston must be blocked. Then he must rule out shale gas extraction, which his Energy Minister has refused to do.

“Then, because CCS can never be applied to most uses of oil anyway, he must drop his support for dangerous deepwater oil drilling in Scottish waters…The challenge with fossil fuels is not to burn all the reserves we already know about, let alone to go looking for more. The priority has to be energy efficiency and renewables.”

Basically, it’s a bit loony of the SNP to think that they can run a high-carbon and low-carbon economy at the same time. They have to choose.

You maybe thinking at this point…ah what does she know? She’s young and evidently a bit naive. Well, I maybe naive in the ins and outs of politics but I know enough as an Environmental Scientist that Scotland has a responsibility to curb our emissions. Both for the sake of those in developing countries who unfortunately will bare the brunt of climate change but also our children, and our children’s children.

We need to take action now which must be integrated into the whole of society including our financial system. This brings me onto another thing that reiterated my choice in the Scottish Greens. I was delighted that an emergency motion was passed supporting the Occupy movement.

Speaking at the conference and representing Edinburgh’s Green Councillors Cllr Steve Burgess said;

“Greens support Occupy Edinburgh in their call for a new economic system that will reduce inequality and protect the planet’s shared resources that we all depend on.  It’s early days for this movement but this up welling of dissatisfaction is a welcome indication that even people in democratic countries are feeling disenfranchised.”

Yes indeed, there are load of us ‘young people’ out there who are disenfranchised. I dare say maybe ‘young people’ have always been disenfranchised but with few job prospects and soaring higher education fees, is it any wonder that we tend to be a grumpy bunch?! So I was also glad there was a fringe event with the ‘young greens’ whose main aim is to support members between the ages of 13-30 and discuss their problems and concerns.

Having a network of ‘young people’ across the country will help enable us to raise the profile of issues which disproportionately effect young people, including social housing, jobs and education. As well as the dire state of our health as a nation…there’s that big ‘A’ word that just won’t go away…alcohol.

Other activities included workshops on canvassing, which basically means being very smiley, saying hello and actually talking to you out there…the voters.

To sum up my experience of the Scottish Greens conference as a ‘young person’ and political novice – it was fun!

I learnt a lot and more importantly it has motivated me to become even more involved with politics. To these ends I will endeavour to stop hiding behind my veil of cluelessness and get savvy about things because frankly, there’s a lot of stuff that affects me and my future which I think most politicians completely miss.

Not because they don’t care but because they are privileged having never come across these issues in their own lives.

So this is my small call to arms. ‘Young people’ we do actually need you! You can actually make a difference! Register to vote. Do a little reading on political parties…as a member of the Scottish Greens of course I will be biased here but seriously look at what the parties are actually saying in their manifestos. How will it affect you?

Most importantly, VOTE. And if one day you’re wondering what more you can do, why not join a political party and become actively involved? I took that leap and for me it was well worth the effort. 

 For further info, contact: Scottish Greens Aberdeen And Aberdeenshire Working Group

Oct 082010

Old Susannah gets to grips with more tricky terms.

Two bits of good news this week – it seems a possible New Best Friend has been identified for fox batterer Derek Forbe.  Enter Mervyn New, 45, operations director for Marine Subsea UK, reported to prosecutors for shooting baby seagull chicks (too young to fly) from his Aberdeen office window. One was killed, the other suffered in a wounded state until put down.  Perhaps like Forbes it was a case self-defence for New.

It would have come as something of a surprise to find seabirds nesting near the Aberdeen coast, and hopefully Mr New won’t find the media attention too distressing.  After all, office workers are historically known to surf the web, hang around the water cooler and kill things.  No doubt New and Forbes can go ‘clubbing’ together sometime.  My other cheery news is that Donald Trump is considering running for presidency of the United States.  Break out the champagne (but drink responsibly – see below)


We wouldn’t have have our poor, hardworking executives falling foul (or is that ‘fowl’?) of silly wildlife laws if it weren’t for organisations like the SSPCA and the RSPB.  The RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) is an organisation that exists to stop people like Forbes and New having any fun.   It seems the RSPB has just issued a report saying that the situation is serious for wild birds in Scotland.  Apparently things called ‘loss of habitation’ (like when parks are turned into car parks) and fragmentation of habitation (like when parks are turned into football stadia) are bad for birds and other wildlife.  So there you have it – the less green space, the less wildlife.  Yes, that sounds like a very farfetched conclusion.  But if we keep going the way we are, then the world will be a safer place for Forbes and New.   Birds apparently pollinate wild plants and food crops, and feed off of insects, so they won’t be missed much.

Dine in for Two for £10
Loss of green space and loss of wildlife are as nothing compared to some social ills.  Sometimes a problem is so dreadful the temptation is to sweep it under the carpet.  Therefore we should give thanks to the SNP for its bravery and sense of priorities:  Is it going to tackle pollution?  Crime?  The economic crisis?  Decaying schools and hospitals?  Better:  it is going to stop supermarket offers such as ‘Dine in for Two for £10’ once and for all.  Old Susannah understands they have their best people on this full time (doing field research).  Their backbench MSP, Dr Ian McKee, is going to cure Scotland of its alcohol problems in one go by stopping these meal deals.  Once the deal is gone, we’ll all go teetotal.  There are some people who can handle alcohol, and some who cannot.  If we stop everyone from having a glass of wine with their shrimp cocktail, chicken casserole and profiteroles, we’ll have a better society.

You see them —  couples, pensioners, working people –  racing to grocery stores when these specials are on, behaving like wild animals, grabbing main courses, side dishes, desserts – and a bottle of wine (although non-alcoholic drinks are clearly offered as well).  Don’t be fooled into thinking these people are going to eat any of the food.  It’s the wine they want.  After ‘scoring’, they go home and ‘prepare’ – this ritual might involve plates, cutlery and glasses.  Delirious on the wine, they then go to the town centre, fight, commit crime, get sick in the streets, and so on.  Apparently a kidney charity says that such deals make taking alcohol seem socially acceptable.  You could be forgiven for thinking that 8,000 years’ worth of human civilisation had something to do with the concept that having wine was mainstream, but the SNP says otherwise.  Encouraging people to have a glass of wine alongside a three course meal is just wrong.


Freedom of Information Act
A law came into being some years ago giving the public the freedom to ask for information; this law was cleverly called the Freedom of Information Act.  Since then, many government agencies have worked tirelessly to evade complying with it.  Some suspicious people have the nerve not to trust their local governments, and write to request information.  Unfortunately this creates work for the Information Officers (who were put in place to deal with requests).  Kevin Stewart of Aberdeen City Council has said that many of these requests are ‘absurd’.  If anyone knows about absurdity, it may well be Mr Stewart.  Such crazy requests might include questions on what happening to the Common Good Fund, why old buildings are occasionally sold for less than market value, how much money is spent on outside consultants, why the previous promise to leave Loirston Park alone is being ignored and so on.  One question was asked about the Council taking over Marischal College and spending £80 million in the process.  What were the alternatives?  Who suggested this?  Were proper costing’s done and analysed?  After a bit more than the maximum time allowed, the Council replied that the financial data used to select Marischal College as the best way forward was Copyrighted by the consultants who did the study – and could not be released.  The word absurd springs to mind again.

A copyright is a form of protection which can be used to secure a creator’s rights over their creation.  The Harry Potter books and films are copyrighted; ‘Led Zepplin IV’ is copyrighted; ‘Gone with the Wind’ is copyrighted.  This stops unauthorised people passing the work off as their own, stealing parts of the work, or making unauthorised use of these creations, particularly for profit.  Old Susannah cannot find any form of copyright that would stop Aberdeen City Council from showing its figures for Marischal College expenditure and alternatives – unless the Council is planning a book or a film that is.  If anyone out there wants to ask the Council for the figures – or an explanation as to how such figures could possibly be copyrighted – please do send the Council a Freedom of Information Request.