Aug 302019

With thanks to Charlie Abel.

Aberdonians have an unfair reputation for being cold and tight-fisted.
Those of us who live here know that is a false stereotype. We are kind and quietly confident. We don’t need to brag and show off. We already know what’s what.  

The bonds of friendship between Aberdeen and Japan have long been in the making. 

However, shared connections like Thomas Blake Glover ( the Scottish Samurai), long celebrated in Japan, are only now being recognised in Scotland after a century of history has passed.  

Ronnie Watt OBE, ORS has been one of the most robust links with our city and Japan since the days of Glover. A link verified by the Japanese when they awarded him the Order of the Rising Sun, an award previously bestowed on Glover, making Ronnie the 2nd Scottish Samurai.  

Ronnie is a 9th Dan Karate master who has taught Karate in Aberdeen and around Scotland and abroad for over 50 years.  25 years ago, Ronnie also founded and organised the prestigious Scottish Samurai Awards to recognise the often unnoticed efforts and achievements of people from all walks of life.

The self-funding awards are supported by his Karate, donations and the hard work of the awards committee. 

Last weekend, 15 school-children from Nagasaki, Japan. visited Aberdeen

Ronnie organised home-stays for them in Aberdeen with many of his friends and karate-ka.  These children experienced a fantastic jam-packed weekend of Scottish culture and history.  

The weekend began with the Lord Provost welcoming the children and their host families with a Civic Reception in the Aberdeen Town House.  

They then visited the town centre, Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Drum Castle and Crathes.  On Saturday they spent the day at the Lonach Gathering – an extraordinary experience, especially if you are from Japan.

The children and families were accompanied by Ronnie and the Consul General of Japan and Lord Charles Bruce. They were welcomed into the arena by the master of ceremonies Robert Lovie and introduced to the Lonach audience with the pipes resounding in the background.  

On Sunday night the tour ended with a private party hosted by Pauline Dreelan. 

The party began with Ronnie’s Aberdeen children giving a demonstration of Karate.  The Japanese then joined in a bit of ceilidh dancing with Charlie Abel from Iron Broo Ceilidh Band providing the music on his accordion. The children loved the Scottish music and dancing and took to it like a duck to water.

One parent of the families commented on how much she enjoyed the company of the Japanese children during the stay.  

“They were so polite, and I will miss them.  I was in tears when they left.  It was very emotional.  One of them was so fascinated by everything here, and they even took photos of what was in my fridge!”

It is not our differences that define us.  It’s our humanity that unites us.

On Monday morning the groups met up for a tearful goodbye at Aberdeen Airport.

This is the second such visit that Ronnie has organised for the Japanese in Aberdeen. The visits have become a pilgrimage recreating the historic trips of the Japanese students organised by Glover.

The students who visited Scotland over a century ago on Glover’s behalf, went on to modernise Japan and transformed it into one of the worlds most important economies. Glover and his students are celebrated and credited in Japan as the fathers of the new age of industry. 

Who knows what might come of these modern-day trips, a century later?

Dec 082017

By Fred Wilkinson.

“Aaaah Grasshopper, you still have much to learn … you must first try to listen … and feeeel!”

Once upon a time there was a young man who fancied himself as the rebranded Anarcho Dennis The Menace.

Unfortunately, he did not have the means to put enough calories into his person in order to avoid being laughed and sneered at by the bespectacled Walter and his crew of ‘softies’.

So he developed a defiant, unflinching pose in order to look hard.

He got a punk band together and generally scared the crap out of folk … his relatives mostly,

Then he got a wee job doing sound for a band called Mabel Meldrums Ceilidh Band.

Working alongside his chum, and punk band colleague Frank Benzie, nephew of Mabels’ guitarist and vocalist, Ian F Benzie, the young man in question came to know and refer to the Benzies as ‘Frunk an’ Unc’ – which neither ever objected to.

But their influence on the stoic, stripey one was not only significant, but equal and opposite!

This brought about much confusion. Whilst Frunk would lead young Dennisesque astray, and goad him into strange and perilous situations, Unc would be much more a source of a calm and enlightenment – particularly with regard to the realm of music. 

Words of wisdom were dispensed freely:

“If the music is ‘at loud ye canna hear yersel think, then how d’ye ken yer actually listenin tae music?”

“The words ‘I love you’ should be spoken close up, and whispered ….. if ye scream them oot til there’s snotters comin oot yer mou’, yer likely tae get a blind date wi fower or six coppers wi big sticks in the back o’ a van”

“It’s nae jist the notes min, it’s the space in atween”

And ither such hippy stuff and fluff.

However, it sunk in eventually, to the point that young hardened cynic began to appreciate the understated and the subtle alongside the “in yer face wi a big slab ya ****” aspects of music and art.

But then, not long after, Ian F Benzie, along with Mabels’ bassist/banjo plucker Buzzby McMillan parted company with Sandie Wyles (fiddle/mando/vocs), Andrew MacDonald (keys/concertina/caller) and Ian Wilson (Bodhran/ percussion/whistle), and went on to form the notorious Old Blind Dogs.

Sandie continued playing with a new Mabel Meldrums line up with a very different approach and sound.

As for that defiant, unflinching, skinny, stoic, cynical, spikey, stripey, cartoon character wannabe, tribute act? Well that was me (still is I suppose) …. your Aberdeen Voice editor.

Which brings me to the purpose of this one off spontaneous and unusual Aberdeen Voice article.

In the last few hours, I discovered a forgotten, presumed lost (or borrowed and not returned) cassette tape which was recorded by myself and Frunkie B from the mixing desk we were charged with the task of operating … or at least, preventing teuchters from plonking/spilling their beer, or stubbing their fags out on.

And so, 30 odd years later, I decided, if I had gone to sleep when I should have … like about an hour before I found that ‘lost’ tape … it might become ‘lost’ again ….. maybe forever!

And so, instead, I lashed a load of wires and boxes together, and now have a digital copy of the whole gig, which I hope to share soon.

However, I felt, when listening to one particular track, which was not part of the band’s set, but performed ‘off the cuff’ while some technical problem was resolved, that there was a wee bit of magic which transcended the background noise and the tape hiss.

Therefore, I felt compelled to ‘splice’ it out, and with the bare minimum of processing, offer it here without any further delay. 

Westlin Winds by Ian F Benzie. Live at Premnay Hall, 86/7 … as part of Mabel Meldrums’ (ceilidh band) show.

Sep 072017

Popular Aberdeen based ceilidh band Iron Broo will provide the music for the World’s Largest Strip The Willow. Photo credit: Janie Barclay.

With thanks to National Trust for Scotland.

Do you want to be a Guinness World Record Breaker? On Saturday 9th of September we will be attempting the Largest Strip the Willow at Castle Fraser and we need YOU.

In the year 2000 Edinburgh broke the record with 1,914 people during their Hogmanay. We are ready to bring the record to Aberdeenshire.

So save the date and get your dancing shoes at the ready!

Organiser Paula Swan said:

“I can’t wait to see it. It was a little idea we had last year and only last week we got confirmation from Guinness World Records to say we could do it.

“Now it’s a reality and we’re really excited about pulling it together, and the responses we’ve had so far have been fantastic.”

She added:

“The great thing about Castle Fraser is you can stand on the tower, so we’re planning on filming it.

“We’re also going to fly drones across the field to really capture all the people having fun.”

By signing up for a ticket you are signing to take part in our attempt. You will still have to register on the day to collect your band. Tickets are free to attend however, there is a £2 parking fee.

Due to the nature of this record attempt participants must be 10 years and over. If you are a business or group and would like to register a team to take part please get in contact with

Registration: Opens at 12:00pm and closes at 1:30pm for a 2:00pm record breaking kick off.

There will be catering vans and activities to help you to warm up and stay limber. Please keep in mind that we do live in Scotland so dress for the weather. We will be going ahead with our attempt regardless of the weather, so please bring suitable clothing and footwear as you will be dancing on grass. Ponchos will be available to buy on the day if you do require one.

Tickets are limited, booking essential.

The event would not be possible without the hard work and contribution of the following people;

– Iron Broo; who are performing the lovely ceilidh music that will help us strip that willow
– STV’s Andrea Brymer; who will be hosting the event
– Deeside Caledonia will be performing before we kick off the attempt
– Gordon School of Dancing will be showing us all how it’s done before the attempt
– A-line will be providing all AV and Tech support to make this event possible
– Mike Gall Transport for providing the staging required
– Fennel Media who will be filming the amazing attempt

Let’s do this Aberdeenshire!

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May 162016

White Wood ForumWith thanks to Kate Sargent.

For millennia, storytellers, musicians, artists and indigenous thinkers have engaged with the sensitive nature of our planet, exploring the complex relationship ecologies, economies and cosmologies have with people and all matter.

At the core of all this is a concern for the environment and obtaining peace.

The White Wood Forum is a continuation of thinking about art and ecology began by Joseph Beuys, whose practice both literally, with acorns from his 7000 Oaks, and conceptually sowed the seeds for The White Wood.

As a living monument to peace, created by the people of Huntly, the wood will grow and change as the oaks mature over the next 300 years. Working as an artist, pacifist and environmentalist, Beuys’ work acts as a confluence between social and cultural perspectives of sustainability: local and global understandings and lived practices around the world.

Our current eco-political system is designed by and for the very few, resulting in unending conflict and ecological decay. What world can we dream of for future generations? And what contributions can art and community make?

Focusing on the nexus between art, peace and ecology the White Wood Forum will ask how art can be in harmony with the key principles of sustainability, including next to ecology – social justice, grass roots democracy and non-violence.

By bringing together people from arts, anthropology, ecology, politics, peacemaking and locality, The White Wood Forum will ask how we can foster a culture of complexity, an art and a community that impacts the future, to the benefit of generations to come.

White Wood Forum

Thurs 26 May 7pm: Ex-Servicemen’s Club, Huntly.

Prof Tim Ingold: The Sustainability of Everything
Screening of 7000 Oaks with Q&A

Fri 27 May 9am-7pm, Stewarts Hall, Huntly.

Chair: Deirdre Heddon, Prof. Contemporary Practice, University of Glasgow;

Keynote: Satish Kumar, long-term peace and environmental activist;  Loïc Fel, Philosopher and Cofounder of The Coalition for art and sustainable development; Tim IngoldChair of Social Anthropology, University of Aberdeen; Robin McAlpine,Director of Common Weal; Shelley Sacks, Prof. Social Sculpture, Oxford Brooks University; Georges Thierry HandjaMapping Coordinator at the Rainforest Foundation UK; Rhea Thoenges-Stringaris, 7000 Oaks Society/Kassel; Caroline Wendling, White Wood artist; and others….

7pm Peacemakers’ Ceilidh with the Strathspey Fiddlers, Gordon Arms Hotel

Sat 28 May White Wood Opening Ceremony and Gala day. More info here.


White Wood Froum: £25 Early Bird/£35 regular; £10 Students/AB54 Citizens/White Wood planters (includes ceilidh)

Peacemaker’s Ceildh only: £5

White Wood Gala: free event

Dec 242015
Iron Broo5

Iron Broo earlier the same day at the Winter Wonderland Festival on Union Terrace.

With thanks to Charlie Abel.

It really was a brilliant night. The 2015 Iron Broo Christmas ceilidh went with a swing at St. Margaret of Scotland’s Church hall at the Gallowgate, Aberdeen on Saturday the 19th of December.
Keen ceilidh goers traded their winter blues for their dancing shoes in preparation for the Christmas holidays.

As promised it was a good old-fashioned Scottish evening where guests were invited to bring their own beverage and snacks and enjoy a ‘reel’ ceilidh.

Families and friends came and took part in the dancing, which knew no barriers to age with children, young people and the more experienced taking part. All the dances were called and everyone was invited to join in.

Nobody was left a stranger by the end of the night.

The raffle and a ‘throw coins at the whisky’ game were held to raise money for ‘Charlie House’ a local Aberdeen children’s charity.

Iron Broo would like to thank The Devenick Dairy who donated a ‘Big Beast’ Christmas hamper, full of cheeses and goodies and Makro Aberdeen for donating a bottle of malt whisky for our whisky game. A respectable £173 was raised for Charlie House.

Congratulations to Lydia Van Beers for winning the Devenick Dairy ‘Big Beast’ hamper and to Jonathan Scott for winning the Makro Whisky game with a bottle of 12 year old Old Pulteney.

“Everyone who came tonight had a fantastic time. You can’t beat a ceilidh in a wee hall for a friendly welcoming atmosphere. It’s a really great low-cost night out for anyone. Especially welcome at this time of year. Everyone is smiling,” said Charlie Abel, Iron Broo’s accordionist and band leader.

The ceilidh at St. Margaret’s was the second performance for Iron Broo on this particular day having entertained an appreciative lunchtime crowd at the winter wonderland festival on Union Terrace. The next public ceilidhs from Iron Broo are being planned already.

Keep an eye out on their Facebook page and website

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Dec 112015

With thanks to Charlie Abel.


Ceilidh away the start of the holidays with friends and family at the Iron Broo Christmas Ceilidh 2015.

Popular local ceilidh band Iron Broo will be playing at the St. Margaret’s of Scotland Church hall on the Gallowgate, Aberdeen (opposite the Blue Lamp) on Saturday 19 December.

It’s bring your own bottle as there is no public bar and there will be no food, so if you need a snack or some energy for the dancing bring your own treats. But remember, Santa could be watching so be on your best behaviour!

Open to the public, doors open 6.30pm starting around 7pm, Finishing at 11pm.
Space is limited.
Tickets available in advance £10

Call Charlie on 07802 861390 or 01224 874570

Feb 042014

Julie Thompson continues her series on photographing bands in Aberdeen taking in Terry McDermott & The Bonfires, Amy Sawers, Craig John Davidson & Innes Cardno at The Lemon Tree, Toxik Ephex at The Moorings, and Iron Broo at The Beach Ballroom.

Craig John Davidson - Credit: Julie Thompson

Craig John Davidson – Credit: Julie Thompson

The last of my three Lemon Tree events between Christmas and New Year was to shoot Terry McDermott and the Bonfires, along with his supports Amy Sawers and Craig John Davidson with Innes Cardno.

A queue had formed outside The Lemon Tree when I arrived. Some had come over from the USA especially for this gig – they were big Terry McDermott fans.

I also bumped into Matt Jolly’s dad – who is also a big Craig John Davidson fan.

Craig John Davidson took to the stage to start the evening, along with Innes Cardno. Craig was excellent as ever but Innes was new to me and what a revelation the two of them together was – quite amazing. Craig alone is an incredible guitarist, but the two together were musical manna with Innes weaving lovely melodies around Craigs vocals and guitar.

amy1Amy Sawers was the next act on stage.

This was my first time seeing her on stage (previously I’ve only seen her in one of the Old Granite Whistle Test sets in HMV). She has a fantastic, powerful voice and big dark eyes.

Her eyes were usually open as she played and she looked around and made eye contact with the photographers (well, their cameras).

So many guitarist look down at their hands, which can make catching an open eyed shot a challenge.

I’ve found that eye contact from a performer can often lead to intense images that can make the back of the neck tingle.

Aberdonian Terry McDermott – who was runner up on Season 3 of The Voice, a US talent show and has become a big name over there – was back in his home city to coincide with his new single release; ‘Lose this Feeling’, and to Headline at the New Year’s ‘Gig at the Brig 2013’ in Ellon.

Terry was previously with the Aberdeen band, Driveblind. Today he was singing with his band, The Bonfires – a mixture of American and British musicians.

terry2By the time Terry & his band took to the stage, the place was pretty packed, with the Americans fans front and center against the pit wall.

Also along to shoot this gig were Matt Jolly, George Mackie, Dod Morrison and Andy Thorn.

I had a quick word with Captain Tom before Terry came on, as I wanted to see if I could shoot some images from the crowd later on, after the pit session was over.

Terry was actually quite good to shoot – he was active and made good eye contact with those there to take the photos.

I enjoyed the shoot and his performance and the crowd loved the show, his new single going down very well with them.

I had a stupid novice problem later on, outside the pit. When I was taking my camera out of my bag I must have knocked the autofocus switch to off.

I didn’t notice at first; I just thought my eyes were tired. Anyway I missed a few, but luckily not too many, good photo opportunities due to that mistake, so mental note to self – take more care and always check the autofocus switch is on!

innes1Terry and his band had a busy night planned, as it happens – during his set he announced that they were playing again a little later that evening.

After the signings and chatting at the Lemon Tree, they were off to play an acoustic gig at Korova on Bridge Street.

At the end, I managed to swipe a set list that Terry was kind enough to sign, as an addition to my memento drawer.

I remember, some time ago, asking George Mackie if he’d photographed anyone well known – Iron Maiden, Paul Weller & Katy Perry were some of the names he mentioned.

He has also been at the X-Factor shows when they visit and was recently at the AECC for Boyzone.

I asked if there was anyone he applied for and was gutted when he got a refusal:

“I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of knowing. I still get rejections of photo pass applications, but not so many these days.”

His travels for music photography are somewhat limited by him being self employed – he single-handedly runs his football related business and can’t just take off for days on end whenever he wants – so he mainly reserves his trips for the summer when the festivals are on.

Wickerman is his favourite and was the first he got a pass for:

“My kind of music with my kind of people in attendance”

Belladrum is another favourite, mostly because there is so much going on. It’s a family friendly festival and great for candid/street style photography, another of his interests.

I asked if there anything he wished he’d known when he first started:

“Possibly to shoot in RAW, but fast action photography needs the best equipment to process the digital files. At the time I could capture sudden movement more precisely by pressing the shutter whilst saving as jpeg files. I’ve never been a fan of rapid shooting as you then lose the precision and control over what is captured.”

Last question, George, honest! Any tips you’d like to share?

“Start with small shows in dark rooms, you’ll learn the functions of your camera better.”

A couple of weeks on from the festive season and I was off to The Moorings to see Toxik Ephex.

toxik1Toxik (originally called The Abductors) are possibly one of Aberdeen’s longest surviving Punk bands going back, off and on, for some 35 years.
Having previously only caught the tail end of their last one in Downstairs @ The Malt Mill a few weeks back I was interested to see a full show.

Dod Morrison was, of course, there; in fact he was singing along in a mic at several points during the evening. Moorings house tog, Matt Jolly, was also

Tonight I had decided to try a new thing. I had an event coming up the following week which needed me to be familiar with flash and I thought this would be a suitable venue and subject to use as a testing ground.

I’d played around with various settings during the support act but wasn’t really happy with the results, a dark background and flash lit washed-out subjects.

During the gap between support and main act, I put my thinking cap on, eventually coming up with a theory where I could fill-light the subjects so they look natural but also keep the ambient lighting visible. Still, proof of the pudding is in the result – having a theory is all very well – and so, with some trepidation, I set my camera to those theoretical settings and prepared to give it a try.

Another issue with using flash is that you have to wait between shots for the flash to recharge. It slows you down and makes you pick your images more carefully, so in some ways it is no bad thing. However, here’s a little tip – always carry spare batteries because flash recharge time increases as the batteries are used. Swap them out for fresh ones well before they go flat. Keep the old ones for reuse – they’ll still last a long time in a tv remote.

toxik2Looking for that special moment can be engrossing – which is why I ended up getting my camera accidentally smacked back into my eye. People are closer than you think when you’re looking at them through a wide angle lens.

I eventually ended up standing on the edge of the stage for a while to grab some close-up photos of Dod, the frontman, interacting with the crowd. This was an excellent position for the shots I was looking for, but the crowd closed in beneath leaving me effectively stranded for a while.

I think everyone there had a great time, the crowd was well natured and I was pretty pleased with the results from my flash experiment. I had a great night, despite the bruises.

The last event I’ll briefly mention was something new to me.

iron_broo1There was live music, yes, but this was of a different sort to the music I’ve usually been

It was a Ceilidh – in this case a charity event to fundraise for ARCHIE – with Iron Broo and friends (Paul Anderson & Bob Knight) providing the music.

The event was a sell-out and the floor was so often packed that people had little room to dance.

It was fun to watch, a challenge to photograph and all for a great cause. I even learned a few new dances that night. Well done to all those involved in getting this event organised!

.paul_anderson2sq bob_knight1sq

I’ve picked my next music photographer to talk to – Dod Morrison. He’s been shooting gigs for some years now and should have some interesting tales to tell.

More Photos:

Terry McDermott & The Bonfires
Amy Sawers
Craig John Davidson & Innes Cardno
Toxik Ephex
Ceilidh for ARCHIE

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Jun 282012

Old Susannah watches the latest developments in the ‘Deen and the wider world and helps Voice readers to get their whites right. By Suzanne Kelly.

One of the best events in recent memory?  The Party in the Park held by Common Good Aberdeen last Saturday was fantastic, despite the rains.  Nearly 4,000 people visited over the course of the day, all of the thousands of home bakes Mrs B created over a course of weeks disappeared long before the day ended, and the shelter of the marquee made the rain a minor inconvenience rather than a show-stopper.

And what a show it was.  Gerry Jablonsiki and the Electric Band opened the entertainment, and played an extraordinary set (I must say the solos Gerry comes out with are riveting, but you can’t play like that without a solid rhythm section.

The big surprise for many was the unique, creative duo ‘The Pounding’ whose electronic compositions went over a storm.

The final act of the day were the school choirs performing ‘Sing’.  The audience went wild as they danced to Danse MacCabre’s ceildh music.

I was honoured to have been asked to do a speech of thanks at the end; it was a privilege to thank the many volunteers who made the day a success, and Mrs B in particular, without whom this would not have been realised.  All around the gardens people commented ‘there should be more events like this’, ‘we don’t need to build anything here, just hold events’ and ‘get me some more of this delicious cake!’

Marie Boulton, Depute ACC Leader, made a brief but wonderful speech; many politicians came out to have fun and talk to their constituents.  Everyone was pleased in particular that Dame Anne Begg MP was there, proving that the gardens are accessible.  They could be made more accessible it is true – but access does exist, despite odd claims to the contrary.

I would like to apologise for not getting to have proper chats with a number of people, but I was charged with getting the acts on and off stage according to a strict timetable. Neale Bothwell and I did a fair job of it, I think.  Don’t wait for someone to throw another event, but when we next do get a dry, sunny day, use your gardens – they are common good land, and you own them.

Another event of this past week was Aberdeen Voice’s 2nd anniversary drinks held in Ma Cameron’s, where the idea for AV was launched.

Members of local band Toxik Ephex had been talking about the need for an independent  newspaper, and two years later Fred Wilkinson and a host of volunteers are keeping AV going.

People came and went over the course of the night; we were pleased to see some of the Aberdeen cyclists, a member of the Silver City Surfers, and in particular Anthony Baxter.   Baxter has a new version of ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ about to start a UK and North American tour (details elsewhere in Aberdeen Voice) with new footage of The Donald.

All of these positive developments are enough to sap a girl of any sarcasm.  Thankfully, there are always a few banking, tax, trident, deer cull scandals to keep me on track.  So, without further hesitation, here are a few definitions.

White Cliffs of Dover: (noun, Eng. geography) A steep, dramatic chalk cliff face on the South of England.

The iconic White Cliffs of Dover are in the news this past week; some NIMBYS are objecting to a proposed housing development near them.

The Cliffs also have some problems with erosion, but the main issue of course is that they are not accessible.  There is no access for the  able-bodied, let alone people with any mobility issues, and to be honest, the connectivity is just not there.

If the cliffs could just be raised (or would that be lowered?) to street level, and a bosque, theatre  and parking be thrown in, they might just be onto something there.  As to refusing a housing development, well, that would mean that England is not open for business.

Craig Whyte: (Proper Noun, possibly Improper noun) – a colourful character.

Oh dear, could it be that Craig Whyte is not whiter than white?  The would-be king of Rangers has had one or two previous problems in the boardroom.  This would-be white knight  sadly no longer looks set to take over Rangers.  Private Eye magazine unkindly suggests that someone with a failed directorship or two is not a fit person for the Rangers role.

Indeed they are correct; Whyte’s considerable talents would be used to best advantage in central government.

To add to this week’s colour theme, it would seem that Green owns the club, but Brown is trying to make the fans see  red, and opt for a buyout.  Will Rangers ever be in the black again?  It is currently a bit of grey area.

Whitewash: (verb, mod English) to cover up bad news, dilute the truth, gloss over facts for political, personal or monetary gain.

Aberdonians and UK taxpayers will be most unfamiliar with this term, and Old Susannah thought you might like to know more about it.  It will be difficult, but I shall try and find some examples.

On the national level, there have been one or two little Inquiries which have unjustly been described as being whitewashes.

There was the Hutton Inquiry into the small matter of how a bland dossier about Iraq was magically transformed into a document proving Sadam Hussein was about to use his Weapons of Mass Destruction on the UK, and would only need 45 minutes to wipe us  out.  This Inquiry found that changing a report into a justification for waging war was a bit naughty, but was fair enough.

No less a person than Alasdair Campbell said he defended ‘every word’ of the ‘sexed-up’ dossier.  Why bother to have an Inquiry at all I wonder?  If the man who wrote the thing for his boss Tony Blair says it’s above-board, then who are we to question it?

We’ve also had the Levenson Inquiry, a great spectacle for the whole family.  One frail little old pensioner, a Mr R Murdoch is cruelly being asked questions about newspaper reporters hacking into phonecalls and emails.  The poor Australian gent keeps telling the investigators he can’t remember anything, but they keep asking him questions.

Just because he and his family own the newspapers which carried out the illegal spying is no reason to think he’d know about it or be in any way responsible for it.

Are there any whitewashes going on here in the Deen?  Let’s think.  The city has been totally transparent over the Tullos Hill deer cull; they pride themselves on their transparency and consultation with the people; quite good of them really.

Freedom of Information requests are answered immediately and clearly.  It’s not as if the FOI officers are waiting until the last moment to supply information, or that the information they supply contradicts information they’ve previously released.   Surely they have nothing to hide?

Were the city in the right to have guns blazing on a hill used by families, motorcyclists, animals and indeed the occasional free-range arsonist without giving warning?  The mainstream press quoted a ‘council spokesperson’ as saying ‘there was no legal requirement’ for any warning signs.  Has this whitewash covered the matter sufficiently?  We shall see what the public and the authorities think.

White Collar Crime: (Modern English phrase)  to commit a non-violent, financial criminal offense.

WE must pause to think of those in our society who are being asked to go without, who are being forced to justify their dependence on State handouts.  Yes, I am worried about our banking sector.

We clearly did not give them enough of a bail-out, in fact, they can’t even afford decent IT systems, and some financial institutions are  experiencing problems with their electronic banking and cash machines.  I do hope none of the bankers will be terribly inconvenienced by people demanding money.

Sometimes however, when forced to the wall, a banker will have no alternative but to turn to crime.  It is because we do not have a caring mentality, and because we do not yet have ‘The Big Society’ (whatever that is) which Cameron wants that poor Barclays was forced to what certainly looks like white collar crime.

Unkind authorities are asking for £290,000,000 from the Barclays group for a wee matter of its fixing interest rates.  What’s the problem?  I thought we wanted fixed interest rates?  Unfortunately the bank seems to have given false information about rates it was borrowing money at.  Firstly, £290,000,000 is really small change, in fact, it would only get you two granite webs at today’s rates.  Secondly, how is a poor bank like Barclay’s going to get its hands on this kind of money?

I think the taxpayer should voluntarily help this poor bank out.  After all, if we don’t do so voluntarily, no doubt the treasury will just give them our money anyway.  I believe there used to be a commercial with Mr Bean with the repeating phrase ‘Well, thank you BARCLAYCARD!’.  Barclays, thank you indeed.

Old Susannah is going to have to cut it there, as she is in Edinburgh – and the sun is out.

Next week:  A look at some of the little arguments within Council Chambers.

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Dec 152011

With Christmas fast approaching and people hitting the city in droves this weekend – why not pop into our lovely city gardens in between the present hunting for a truly festive event.  Iain Richardson writes re. this Saturday’s Winter Festival at Union Terrace Gardens to celebrate prize art work by city children.

The winners of an art competition for children will receive their prizes at a Winter Festival in the centre of Aberdeen this Saturday, 17th December.

Christmas-themed artwork by Aberdeen school children will be on display at the event in Union Terrace Gardens on Saturday 17th December 2011, between 1pm and 3.30pm.

The Winter Festival will feature the Bon Accord Silver Band, carol singing, Yousedancin ceilidh band, Santa, Cairngorm reindeer, and free festive food and drink.

Dorothy Bothwell, retired Head Teacher and member of the Common Good Aberdeen group, who organised the event, said:

“We’re just thrilled at the response to the competition. The children’s art is stunning and we’ll be displaying as many of the 300 or so entries as we possibly can on Saturday, as well as handing out prizes to the winning children”.

The prizes for the winning Art Competition entries in each of three age groups will be presented to children at approximately 1.30pm on Saturday 17th December, at the Arches in Union Terrace Gardens.

Nearly 300 entries were received from primary schools and individual children in and around Aberdeen.

For further information, contact:

Dorothy Bothwell:      01224 583451

Iain Richardson:        07833 453961