Sep 162016

With thanks to Clare Scott, Communications Consultant, CJS Communication & Marketing.

01/06/15 Open day at new HOME START offices

Home-Start Aberdeen’s chairperson, Roberta Eunson, reads a book with young Jack Evans

Family support charity Home-Start Aberdeen is appealing for donations of children’s books towards its 2016 book advent. Introduced by the charity in 2014, the initiative encourages parents to read a book with their children in the 24 days leading up to Christmas and on Christmas day itself.
It is believed that reading together encourages families to bond, as well as helping with literacy, communication and imaginative skills.

This year’s book advent is set to be the charity’s biggest yet and represents a mammoth challenge in terms of collecting, wrapping and distributing book parcels.

Home-Start Aberdeen currently provides over 180 city-based families with emotional and practical support via its trained home-visiting volunteers. The team are therefore urging people to get behind the campaign by donating both excellent-quality children’s books and rolls of Christmas wrapping paper.

“The feedback from previous years indicates that our book advent is an extremely worthwhile initiative that is greatly appreciated by the families we support,” says Georgette Cobban, scheme manager, Home-Start Aberdeen.

“We require significant additional quantities of books and wrapping paper this year, so we are launching our campaign early in the hope that people will remember us – particularly if they are having their own pre-Christmas clear-out.

“Last year some local playgroups and other organisations organised their own mini-collections for us, which was very helpful.  We would love others to follow suit this time.  We have also introduced some additional drop-off points to make it easier for groups and individuals to get their donations to us.”

Children’s books, which should be in excellent condition, and donations of wrapping paper can be dropped off at Home-Start Aberdeen’s headquarters at 1A Alford Place or at its charity shop at 101 George Street, opposite John Lewis.

The charity’s corporate partner, Peter Vardy Vauxhall, is accepting donations at its premises on Lang Stracht. The appeal is also supported by Kirsty Blackman MP, whose constituency office at 46 John Street is a further drop-off point.  All donations should be made by Friday, 4 November.

Home-Start Aberdeen provides vulnerable local families with emotional and practical support in their own homes. The charity has been working with communities in the city for 29 years. Its team of trained home visiting volunteers work with referred families to help them access relevant health and welfare services, manage family budgets and nutrition, engage with their own communities and enjoy family life again.

Further information is available at

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Feb 192016

Her Sisters giftDavid Innes reviews Her Sister’s Gift, Isabel Jackson’s debut novel.

Sunday Mail Fiction Prize winner Isabel Jackson’s debut novel is rooted in her grandparents’ experiences and developed by estimable creative skills into Her Sister’s Gift. It resonates with industrial Scotland’s working class pride, and its resilience in the face of hardships, as the twentieth century gave way to The Great War and daily struggles to survive.
Strong women and flawed but brave, hard-working men populate Her Sister’s Gift, and the author captures well the conflicts and anxieties that result from this accepted dichotomy, the engine of the novel.

Scarred emotionally by an early harrowing double tragedy, Isa Dick is an admirable heroine, who plots her own destiny, limited by the class system and gender inequalities of the time.

She is inspirational in her family circle and beyond, and is credible in finding inner strength to thwart, for the most part, the cruelties visited on her and those she learns to protect.

She is all our mothers or grandmothers. Yet those early psychological wounds never heal fully, with the obsessive protection of her own children and nagging guilt repressed since childhood, bringing their own traumas.

Where Her Sister’s Gift does fall down a little is when some passages feel over-written or over-detailed and in plot incidentals introduced, but not followed through. It would be interesting to have the effect of Isa’s out-of-the-blue religious conversion, or any outcome from the discovery of her father’s knuckleduster explored, for example. Some of the conversational exchanges too, could do with sharpening.

It’s a story well told, however, an excellent and evocative series of mini-dramas, psychological conflict and near-cinematic scenes of early twentieth century working class life. With more disciplined editing, further Isabel Jackson tales have the potential to be very worthwhile chronicles of lives and trials wherever and whenever set.

Her Sister’s Gift
Isabel Jackson
Black & White Publishing

ISBN 978-1-78530-010-3

Dec 082015

The University of Aberdeen’s Elphinstone Institute has launched the 2016 Toulmin Prize, with a cash prize of £500 for the winning entry. Courtesy of Leopard Magazine.

David_Toulmin2The competition, now in its eighth year, commemorates the work of one of the North-East’s finest exponents of the short story. John Reid (1913-1998) was an Aberdeenshire farm labourer from Rathen, near Fraserburgh, who spent most of his life working long hours for very small rewards.

In odd moments, he jotted down short stories, character studies and bothy tales.

Eventually, as David Toulmin, he had a few articles printed in local newspapers. The first of his ten books was published when he was 59.

The books consist mostly of short stories and reminiscences, with his one novel, Blown Seed, painting a harsh picture of farm life.

In the later years of his life, Reid moved to Pittodrie Place, Aberdeen, and later to Westhill. He was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Aberdeen in 1986.

The Toulmin Prize is open to all amateur writers over the age of 16. The short story, up to 4000 words in length, should be concerned with some aspect of life in North-East Scotland and may be written in Scots, including Doric, or English, or a mixture of the two. Previous prize-winners cannot submit an entry.

In addition to the cash prize, the winning entry will be published in Leopard Magazine and subsequently featured on the website of the Scots Language Centre.

The award for the best entry will be made at the University of Aberdeen’s May Festival 2016, when the winning story will be read aloud by the well-known North-East writer, Sheena Blackhall.

Emeritus Professor Ian Russell, former director of the Elphinstone Institute at  the University of Aberdeen, says:

“We’re proud to be able to honour John Reid and his work in this way. His writing is powerful, evocative and witty, and he is one of the finest exponents of writing in the North-East. We have had a terrific response to the previous competitions and the standard of entries has been superb.”

The closing date for entries is the 31st  March 2016. For entry details and a form, please visit:

Text and photo courtesy of Leopard Magazine.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Oct 172014

Jenny Hartley bookBy David Innes.

Aberdeen Dickens Fellowship was honoured to have Professor Jenny Harley as guest speaker at its October 2014 meeting. Jenny is President of the International Dickens Fellowship and Scholar in Residence at the Charles Dickens Museum.

She is well-known to Dickensians for her publications The Selected Letters of Charles Dickens (OUP) and Charles Dickens and the House of Fallen Women (Methuen). The latter topic was the Fellowship’s focus for the evening.

Angela Burdett-Coutts, a woman of considerable means, being the heiress to Coutts Bank fortune, was a significant philanthropist, funding Ragged Schools and concerned about the plight of homeless and other unfortunate women in London Piccadilly.

She turned to Dickens to assist in creating a refuge for such women, some who would have been sacked servants without references, others prostitutes and not a few ex-prisoners.

The relish with which Dickens took aboard the project in 1846 is remarkable. He planned the refuge to replicate a familial environment, drew up a behavioural code, based on Maconnochie’s reward scheme, micro-managing the establishment of the house, Urania Cottage, in London’s Shepherd’s Bush.

It aimed to educate its unfortunate residents with a view to helping them to become ‘good domestic servants’, the type that would be attractive to employers. Yet the agreement was that those who had passed through Urania Cottage’s rehabilitation would need to be cut off from former immoral associates for fear of backsliding into former ways.

Transportation to the colonies to begin new lives was seen as the solution to this potential issue. Unfortunately for history, Dickens’s Case Book in which he recorded personal interviews with Urania Cottage hopefuls has been lost. He was notorious for fits of consigning personal records to bonfires.

The focus then shifted to the portal of ‘fallen women’ in Dickens’s writing. Oliver Twist (1837) had already shown Nancy in semi-sympathetic light, but in the novels which followed the establishment of Urania Cottage, Little Emily and Martha (David Copperfield 1849), Charley and Esther (Bleak House 1852), Sissy Jupe (Hard Times 1854) and Little Dorrit and Maggie (Little Dorrit 1855) are each examples of women suffering misfortune, saved by education, altruism or personal effort.

In the case of the Peggoty family in David Copperfield, there is even a successful and prosperous migration to Australia.


It is reasonable to suppose, our guest commented, that character and outcome in these works were in some way influenced by Dickens’s Urania Cottage experiences.

In researching Charles Dickens and the House of Fallen Women, Jenny Hartley was painstaking. She described how her efforts eventually took her to Adelaide and Melbourne – “that was the fun bit” – to try to conclude whether or not the experiences of Urania Cottage had enhanced former residents’ lives.

Dickens himself made some comment. In Household Words, he wrote of seven successful marriages of Urania House women, but tracing those who had passed through its doors was difficult for Professor Harley, in no small way due to the reluctance of Antipodeans, in decades past, to acknowledge transportees in their family history.

The jewel in the crown, however, is Rhena Pollard, one of the more feisty and assertive of Urania Cottage residents, and on whom, Jenny mused, Tattycoram (Little Dorrit 1855) may have been based.

It was to audience delight that we were informed that Rhena was traced to Canada, married successfully in Ontario, bearing eight children to Oris Coles. Pictures of the prosperous-looking Mr and Mrs Coles and of a plaque commemorating Rhena’s story were a happy conclusion to a fascinating and highly-informative talk from a dedicated and genial Dickensian.

The local Fellowship’s next meeting is on Tuesday 11 November.

Our good friend Grahame Smith of the University of Stirling will kick off our series of meetings studying this session’s featured volume The Old Curiosity Shop, with a seminar, ‘Youth and Age in The Old Curiosity Shop: Nell as an Abused Child’.

We will meet at Grampian Housing Association, at the crossroads of Huntly Street and Summer Street, Aberdeen, from 1900-2100. Annual membership costs £20 and includes admission to all meetings. Entry to individual meetings costs £3. We are a welcoming and convivial collective.

Jun 012014

The Bookshop Band were formed in their local bookshop – Mr Bs Emporium of Reading Delights, Bath.

With thanks to Eoin Smith.

An evening of literary entertainment is set to take place in a popular Aberdeen bookshop on June 3, blending writing with world-class music and magic.
Bath musicians The Bookshop Band will headline the event at Waterstones on Union Bridge, which will also feature a reading from acclaimed author Alan Spence and a performance by local magician Eoin Smith.

Playing original songs inspired by the books they have read, The Bookshop Band play their unique brand of acoustic folk in bookshops around the UK and internationally.

Formed in their local bookshop – Mr Bs Emporium of Reading Delights – their repertoire now includes almost 100 songs inspired by an incredibly diverse range of books – from Booker Prize nominee Ruth Ozeki to Ian Rankin’s Rebus.

Alan Spence, whose latest novel Night Boat was published in 2013, has strong ties with Aberdeen as Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen. Also a prolific writer of poetry and short stories, he has become one of Scotland’s most respected writers since the publication of his first collection, Its Colours They Are Fine, in 1977.

Over the past three years, magician Eoin Smith has become a regular face at variety and comedy nights in and around Aberdeen. Blending humour with jaw-dropping illusions, he is guaranteed to leave the audience spellbound and will also compere the show.

Eoin said:

“I studied English Literature at university, so performing at an event like this is a dream come true. I have a lot of time and respect for The Bookshop Band and Alan Spence, so to be appearing alongside them is sure to be a fantastic experience.

“I hope book lovers around Aberdeen jump on the opportunity to attend such an unusual show, and hope that music and magic fans will also come down to check out what promises to be a really unique evening.”

For more information, please visit

The Bookshop Band | Alan Spence | Eoin Smith
Waterstones, Union Bridge, Aberdeen
Tues 3 June 2014
Doors open 7pm

Tickets £8 – available in store and at

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Apr 112014

Charles-Dickens-438x438With thanks to David Innes.

Aberdeen has been selected to host the 2016 conference of the international Dickens Fellowship.

Held last year in France and scheduled for Chicago in July of this year, this annual five day celebration of the life and work of Charles Dickens will be held in Aberdeen in July 2016.

Dr Paul Schlicke, a leading Dickens scholar and retired senior lecturer in English at Aberdeen University, formally presented the bid from the Granite City at a meeting of the Council of the Fellowship in London.

Charles Dickens (1812-70) came to Aberdeen on two occasions, in 1858 and 1866, when he gave public readings in what were then the County Rooms (now the Music Hall), and in 1849 he declined an invitation to stand as rector of Marischal College.

The Dickens Fellowship, founded in 1902, is the biggest fan club of a dead author in the world and has branches all over the world. Aberdeen’s group, started up in 2012, the bicentenary of Dickens’s birth, and affiliated with the international organisation this past autumn. It is not only one of the newest branches but also the only one in all of Scotland.

In the early days of the Fellowship’s existence Edinburgh hosted a branch, but it folded some fifty years ago. The international Conference has been held in Scotland only twice before, in 1929 and 1994, both times in Edinburgh. The decision to come to Aberdeen is therefore a tribute to the dynamism of the Aberdeen Dickensians and recognition of the city’s commercial and cultural importance.

A civic reception will greet delegates, and the conference will be a showcase for all the attractions of Aberdeen and the North-east of Scotland generally. It will be an opportunity to show off the city’s museums and art gallery and to provide excursions to regional castles and distilleries, to the Lewis Grassic Gibbon Centre at Arbuthnott, and to Hospitalfield House, the arts centre in Arbroath, at which a cache of Dickens’s letters has recently been discovered.

The University of Aberdeen will have a central role to play, providing accommodation, dining, and lecture and seminar facilities. An exhibition is planned in the magnificent new Sir Duncan Rice library, which holds one of the richest collections of Dickens materials in the world .

Renowned Dickens actors Simon Callow and Miriam Margolyes hope to perform at Aberdeen’s conference. The broadcaster, Aberdeen’s own James Naughtie, has agreed to speak at the conference banquet.

For more information about the conference including enquires regarding  sponsorship, participation and membership of the Aberdeen branch of the Dickens Fellowship, see the website or contact Dr Paul Schlicke at, or tel 07864945213 (moble) or 01467643337.

The University of Aberdeen is a charity registered in Scotland, No SC013683.

Dec 132013

Lucy and Pot - Duncan HarleyBy Duncan Harley.

The story so far:

Cody’s gran, Señora McLaughlin, has died in far off Santa Cruz at an undisclosed old age and her family have gathered round to say goodbye.
At some expense the old woman’s ashes are brought home after a family whip round.

Following the graveside ceremony, the mourners take time to reflect on her legacy in a clan gathering at the local pub. When the tab runs out, only Danny and Rob are left.

All of a sudden the bar door flies open and a white hoodied figure marches quickly in. Pistol in hand, he walks straight up to Danny and raises his hand in line with Danny’s head.

“This is from McAllister” he says, then pulls the trigger.

Danny had known a few dementia sufferers in his time. We all do really. The longer we live, the more likely it is that it will happen either to us or to one whom we know or love or even hate. Vascular, late onset, mid onset and that slightly uncertain early stage of the illness are all slightly unsettling. Especially for the ones left behind of course.

The onset can be insidious however.

–          Shall I have salt on my porridge Dave? Or maybe some honey?

–          Who are you talking to dear?

–          Dave of course.

–          Erm, Dave died at Normandy. He stepped on one of those landmines and bled to death. Don’t you recall? His obituary was in the local squeak. They said he was a sad loss, a hero as I recall.

–          Don’t be silly, he’s right here at the breakfast table. Can’t you see him?

–          Now, as I was saying Dave …

Best perhaps to have a wee defining heart issue or even one of those “he was sorting out the washing one minute then I heard a thud” episodes maybe.

Danny’s uncle Martin was largely undiagnosed until he reached the rank old age of fifty nine, at which point life became unusually interesting for Danny’s auntie.

Off Martin went to work each day to a job which had certainly been his some 20 years before.
The local GP was supportive in the extreme but, with no real diagnosis or indeed cure what could she suggest. Hide the car keys and consider a divorce before it’s too late was the best she could do between the administering of day centres and pills.

The tomato growers in the Clyde Valley had been Martins customers.

The company he had worked for had been out of business for a good few years. Nobody wanted Scottish grown tomatoes any more, the Spanish imports were just as red but much cheaper. Plus of course there were those lax custom regulations. The chance to import some mind enhancing substances was on the agenda.

The big growers had of course diversified into those Garden Centres. Some were of course quite legitimate, others were just money funnels for the Glasgow boys.

Not those Glasgow boys of painting fame of course, just “those” boys.

You know the routine.

–          Bring granny for a wee cup of tea and while you’re at it buy some stuff.
What stuff? No matter, anything will suffice.

–          Can we tempt Sir with a wee umbrella perhaps, black or brown?
Maybe a tartan umbrella or one with that Scottish Saltire emblazoned upon it? No worries Sir, we also have jigsaw puzzles and bird feeders for the back garden. Not that birds can solve the puzzles you understand, but just a suggestion. Always like to help and all that. Milk in that granny tea? A wee biscuit perhaps or just a bill?

–          We have Airfix kits galore, fun wellies replete with frog motifs and golf clothing for the buying. Fancy some nice brown brogues or some bargain publications?

–          We have books about most Scottish subjects. Wallace, Burns and tartan. Clans, Glencoe and tartan. Highland walks, those big mountains and tartan Victoria.

–          If Sir would like to view our paintings.

–          If Sir can take some leisure time to view the original and mainly manly complete toss, mainly manly unhealthy quality, mainly manly  stuff no-one  really needs much, teddy bears and pictures of those nostalgic Lancaster Bombers.

–          Spitfire’s and cuddly cats. Mind those you used to hang off the bedroom ceiling by a thread, the old ones are the best eh? Nostalgia and those Krays.

The keywords.

Tartan whisky, Munro kilts, malt grouse, highland games and those cabers. Highland dancing, that bagpipe lilt and men in kilts. White heather, Jimmy  Shand and Granny’s Heilan Hame.

The money of course often came from dubious sources. The accountants lived in big mansions just off the Bothwell Road.

Right next to those footballers wives spread legs they shovelled it into bank accounts well hidden and well contrived.

–          Fancy some shit, legitimate … honest.

–          I right pal. Think I just embarked from a banana boat or something.

–          Question mark.

–          Honest injuns.

–          I ok. How much?

When the gun went off, Danny had wondered if all was well. A last chance saloon, maybe a delusion or perhaps a good few too many.

–          Who the fuck are you came very much to mind.

–          Is this for real?


–          Happy birthday ya big gobshite.  Meant to send you a wee card but at 50P a pop for that Post Office stamp stuff, never quite got round to it. Had a few I see, not a problem.

–          Mc Allister says hello and Happy Birthday.

–          Way hey, look at the state of you.

–          Only a wee joke, lighten up.

Danny had of course imbibed.

Not best pleased he reflected that Señora McLaughlin was still dead. He reasoned that her ashes were back in that Trinity Cemetery and the  family had grieved appropriately.

The bill for the cremation had been paid, the flight costs had been met and the bar bill had been covered. Well at least until 5pm. So no problem then. No unresolved issues whatsoever.

The gun to the head had been tempered by the drink but in the scheme way of things, the birthday message was unwelcome, very unwelcome in fact.

–          Mc Allister and Happy Birthday seemed an unhealthy combination somehow.

Another wee sniff might just make all the difference.

Mind you …

(to be continued)

Jun 142013

By Duncan Harley.

I never really read Ian Banks. I mean, he was an Edinburgh man after all.
‘The Wasp Factory’ was published in 1984. My heroes then were Blair and Mandela.

Not the Labour Blair of course, but ‘Homage to Catalonia’ Eric Blair, and that Nelson Mandela man who was awarded the Freedom of the City of Glasgow.

My sons met him outside Glasgow City Chambers, just after the ceremony, but were then too young to recall the smiling eyes of the man and the air of peace and gentle power he generated.

Before his presidency, Mandela was of course an anti-apartheid activist and high ranking leader of the African National Congress, and its armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe, which translates as “Spear of the Nation.”

Following his 27 years in prison on convictions for various crimes including sabotage but not murder, Nelson’s switch to a policy of reconciliation and negotiation led the transition to multiracial democracy in South Africa. Since the end of apartheid, he has been widely praised, even by former opponents.

Somewhat like Ian Banks however, Mandela will soon be out of this place except in our collective memories.

It was moving indeed to view the tributes to Ian’s passing. In particular I was struck by the fact that both Sky News and the BBC carried lengthy interviews with his writing and drinking pals. Also, the outpouring of dismay and affection by readers on the announcement by Ian regarding his imminent demise, spoke volumes about the impact the man made.

Comments such as “Ian Banks was a very sad loss, as for Mandela who can say anything but a working class hero” from Ruby Finnie, and Helena Petre’s “I’m sorry to hear about Ian Banks, loved his book about Whisky, and the TV dramatisations of his novels, though I did not read any of them”, say it all.

I may just buy the Wasp Factory on the strength of it.

The British National Party’s leader, Nick Griffin, has sparked some outrage

Then of course there are the detractors. As far as I am aware, the BNP have no issues with Scottish science fiction writers but it seems that in their view Nelson Mandela is a different matter.

The British National Party’s leader, Nick Griffin, has sparked some outrage with a series of tweets branding Nelson Mandela a “murdering old terrorist”.

Mr Griffin, who has been often been called a far-right politician, and who is of course NOT an MP, seemingly mocked the 94-year-old former South African president’s lung condition. He apparently wrote on Twitter that

“Nelson Mandela on last legs it seems. Make sure to avoid BBC when the murdering old terrorist croaks. It’ll be nauseating”; and

“‘Statesmen’ must be judged on results not rhetoric. Before Mandela, South Africa was safe economic powerhouse. Now crime ridden basket case.” Plus

“No surprise Mandela’s lungs are shot – all those burning tyres. Smoking necklaces very bad for the health.”

Love them or hate them, the BNP are seemingly here to stay. Nick Griffin is currently holidaying in Syria “on a fact finding mission”.  He will shortly be meeting President Bashar Assad in Damascus.

With rhetoric such as “What he wants is to let people have a proper view of what is going on in Syria, because at the moment all we have is William Hague and his infantile war-mongering” and “He wants to ascertain just how many British citizens are fighting out there for the so-called Free Syrian Army and other elements opposed to Assad” from BNP spokesperson Mr Simon Darby, plus of course the infamous statement that “He”, presumably Nick, “ is sick and tired of seeing lads from Manchester and Liverpool coming back in body bags or with arms and legs missing because the Government got them involved in business that isn’t any concern of ours”.

What can the BNP spokesman mean? Body bags, arms and legs missing? Surely that is President Bashar Assad’s job.


Mr Griffin on Mandela, a comment:

Mail on Line:

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
May 272013

By David Innes.

The March and April meetings of the nascent Dickens Aberdeen group saw lively discussions of Hard Times Parts 1 and 2 take place, and the rest of that less well-known Dickens novel will be discussed at the group’s meeting on Wednesday 29 May.
The meeting will run from 1900-2100 at Grampian Housing Association, 74 Huntly Street, at its crossroads with Summer Street.

There is free parking adjacent to the building. Everyone is welcome.

Dr Paul Schlicke, a driving force behind the group, has also informed us of his delight that negotiations are well advanced for Dickens-related activities in July.

Professor John Drew of Buckingham University, project director of Dickens Journals Online, and Dr Tony Williams, past secretary of the Dickens Fellowship, will be in Aberdeen on Tuesday 9 July. They will be bringing for display the fabulous exhibition of 19th century journalism devised by Anthony Burton, emeritus curator of the collection of Dickens manuscripts in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

They will be giving talks that evening. Further details will be publicised as they come our way.

Keith O’Sullivan, Senior Rare Books Librarian of the University of Aberdeen’s Special Collections and Museums has been in touch to enthuse about the Wanderlust exhibition the Exhibitions Gallery. Details below are from the University’s website.

The exhibition at the Gallery of the Sir Duncan Rice Library features vivid writing contained in some of the travel journals and explorers’ notebooks held with the University’s Special Collections.

Wanderlust describes a yearning for distant places; an irrepressible compulsion to discover the unknown. Travel journals survive in many shapes and sizes. Spanning four centuries, not only do these writings give evidence of that compulsion to go beyond the horizon, but they also open an intimate window into lost worlds.

Gallery Opening Times

Monday to Friday: 10:00 – 16:30

Saturday 4 May – 1 June, inclusive: 10:00 – 16:00
Saturday 8 June – 7 September, inclusive: 10:00 – 12:30

Sunday: 12:00 – 16:00

May 172013

Last week, Voice offered two copies of Richard Gordon’s marvellous Glory In Gothenburg as prizes for answering the question, “Who tripped as he dashed from the dugout at the final whistle in the Ullevi Stadium and was trampled all over by his fellow occupants of the dug-out?”. By David Innes.

It was, of course, the man who couldn’t be kept out of the news last week as he announced his retirement, Sir Alex Ferguson.
Hang your heads Bryan Gunn, Stuart Kennedy, Doug Bell, Ian Angus, Eric Black, Archie Knox, Teddy Scott and Roland Arnott. You have no respect, but I bet you laughed like overflowing Ullevi drains at the time! The gaffer probably did too.

Our lucky winners are:

Richard Simpson of Aberdeen whose book I posted through his letterbox personally on Tuesday night and Richie Bisset of Queensferry, whose copy was put in the post the day after. Both Richards are probably devouring their namesake’s mellifluous prose at a single sitting as we go to press.

Enjoy the prizes, fellas, and thanks again to Black and White Publishing for their donation. Commiserations to the others who entered but were unsuccessful.

Further good news from Black and White.

Hidden Aberdeen, a fascinating look at the history of the Granite City. From Dr Fiona-Jane Brown, folklorist, educator, storyteller and founder of Hidden Aberdeen Tours, comes a book that will open your eyes to the hidden, the forgotten and the abandoned remnants of the past which lie under your feet as you walk round the city today”.

This is being published very soon and the author will be signing copies in WH Smiths on 8 June and Waterstones (we’ll find out which one) on 18 June. A review copy is on its way and we’ll do the honours, of course. With a bit of luck we’ll have a word with the author and run that in Voice too.