Apr 132017

An award-winning Aberdonian film-maker is celebrating the success of her crowdfunding campaign after receiving an endorsement from BBC wildlife personality Chris Packham. With thanks to Lisa Marley Press.

Filmmaker Lisa Marley’s film Project Wolf will follow an experimental ‘human wolf pack’ through the Scottish Highlands.

Lisa Marley (26), from Westhill, Aberdeenshire, is crowdfunding the film – Project Wolf – which will follow charity Trees for Life’s experimental ‘human wolf pack’ through the Scottish Highlands as it examines how mimicking the disturbance effects of missing large predators would affect red deer populations in the Caledonian Forest, in an effort to limit their impact on new growth while grazing.

BBC personality Chris Packham, who is vocal in his support for conservation projects, is a fan of Lisa’s last film – Red Sky on the Black Isle – and has leant his support to her new venture.

He says,

“These grass roots, real and reactive films come straight from the hearts of creatives who not only care but motivate their skills to take action; action at a time when we are desperate for people to stop musing and moaning and actually stand up and be counted.

“It’s time to shout above the noise – Red Sky on the Black Isle did this – so please help Lisa turn her talents onto the exciting subject of rewilding.”

Passing her initial target after just two weeks and ensuring the film will be made, Lisa is now working towards her second goal which will allow for an extended shoot in the Highlands. Wildlife and conservation enthusiasts who wish to donate to Lisa’s campaign can do so at www.indiegogo.com/at/projectwolf until April 19, in exchange for perks ranging from guide books and gift cards to production credits and invitations to film festivals.

Lisa says,

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the support for Project Wolf. Now that I have passed my first funding goal, the film will definitely be made.

“But there is still some way to go – I’ve now set a second target which will allow me to spend longer in the Highlands with the ‘human wolf pack’ and with my interview subjects. I’ll also be able to use more advanced equipment to better tell the story of rewilding in Scotland.

“When I first heard about Trees for Life’s work, I was instantly hooked. It’s an incredible project that has the potential to make a real impact on the regeneration of the Caledonian Forest, and I can’t wait to get out into the wilderness to experience it for myself.”

Alan Watson Featherstone, founder of Trees for Life, adds,

“This film will give vital and significant publicity to our Project Wolf, which seeks to demonstrate an innovative approach to helping a new generation of native trees to grow in the Caledonian Forest. By using volunteers to patrol the edge of existing woodlands at unpredictable hours in the night we will be replicating the natural disturbance effect of missing top predators such as the wolf, thereby enabling young trees to grow successfully without being overgrazed by deer.

“The project has potential significance for many other areas in Scotland, and Lisa’s film will be an essential means of communicating this message to a wide audience. I urge everyone to support this very worthy project – your donation will make a real difference to the restoration of the Caledonian Forest in the Highlands. “

Lisa’s last film, Red Sky on the Black Isle, also continues to make waves both in the film and wildlife communities. Translated into multiple languages and screened around the world, it picked up the Little Audience Prize at the Raptor Filmz Short Scottish Film Festival last year. It will be shown at the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York this October.

The Project Wolf campaign runs on Indiegogo until April 19. For more information, and to donate, visit www.indiegogo.com/at/projectwolf

To follow Lisa’s progress, follow Project Wolf on Facebook at www.facebook.com/projectwolffilm or follow Lisa on Twitter @procuriosity

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Jun 302016

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

mark beaumont2

Record breaking cyclist Mark Beaumont with David Pitt of Wildfox Events. Credit © EdSmith.

Record-breaking cyclist Mark Beaumont is gearing up to promote the benefits of cycling at the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale and the Royal Deeside Family Cycling Festival.

The long-distance cyclist, who is known for completing an 18,000 mile round-the-world cycling challenge and who has tested the 100 mile route of the Etape Royale on a Penny Farthing, is supporting the

The Royal Deeside Family Cycling Festival is the latest addition to an exciting summer of events for the Ballater area.

It takes places from 16 -18 September to complement the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale – one of Scotland’s most scenic and challenging closed route cycle sportives, starting and finishing in Ballater which aims to promote the benefits of cycling to people of all ages.

The 100-mile circular route of the Quliter Cheviot Etape Royale takes participants on a traffic-free journey through historic Royal Deeside and Aberdeenshire, Moray’s Whisky Country, and back along the banks of the picturesque River Dee, allowing cyclists to take in the breathtaking scenery present throughout the region. For those who don’t feel quite up to the full distance, there are also 45 and 65 mile routes available.

A series of family-friendly events and activities are on offer over the course of the weekend, such as a mountain bike skills circuit and a bike roadshow featuring weird, wonderful and wacky bikes from the past and the present. Those participating in Etape Royale are being encouraged to bring their families along to enjoy the festivities and the rest of what Ballater has to offer.

Many local businesses are getting involved by organising activities for the weekend of the Festival. Both Cycle Highlands and The Bike Station will be offering bike rental and providing mechanical support to cyclists. Whilst the cafes in Ballater are extending their opening hours and will also be transformed into European street-style cafes, enabling customers to enjoy their food and drinks outside.

David Wright of Aberdeenshire Council, says,

“The whole of Ballater is looking forward to welcoming cyclists and their families to this year’s Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale and the Royal Deeside Family Cycling Festival.

“Mark Beaumont is such a well-known name in the world of cycling and we’re confident that he will do a brilliant job in encouraging more people to take an interest in cycling, either as a hobby or as an alternative method of transport.

“The entire weekend will be a celebration of all things cycling and there are plenty of activities for all the family to get involved in. For those who aren’t interested in bikes, there will be a farmer’s market on the Saturday, a climbing wall, and zorbing. A ceilidh has also been organised to welcome visitors to the area at the Victoria & Albert Halls on the evening of Saturday 17 September.

“The weekend will help to highlight the excellent selection of cycling routes available in Ballater and Royal Deeside. The entire area is a cyclist’s dream, as there are scenic roads and recreational routes, plus plenty of mountain ranges for the adrenaline seekers to enjoy.”

Richard Watts, owner of Cycle Highland and chairman of Ballater Business Association, says,

“The Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale and the Royal Deeside Cycling Festival combines cycling and family fun into one weekend. Family members of the participants will be able cheer them on as start and finish Etape Royale in Ballater. Whilst the cyclists are away, visitors to the Festival can enjoy the wide range of activities, food and music events on offer.

“It’s very inspiring to see local businesses getting behind the Festival by organising events which will enhance the overall experience for both visitors and residents of Ballater. This is the first year that the Royal Deeside Family Cycling Festival is being held and the whole community is getting involved, so the atmosphere in the village over the weekend is certainly not to be missed.”

The Royal Deeside Family Cycling Festival takes place from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 September in Ballater. Supported by EventScotland and official charity sponsor Marie Curie, the Quilter Cheviot Etape Royale gets underway on Sunday 18 September, the cycle sportive covers 100-miles and an ascent of 2,996m. For more information, visit: www.etaperoyale.com

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Feb 252016

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

!cid_09815cd1948a4527a96e35e13ba3e785@Open-XchangeFred the Aberdeen Voice editor is furious that we didn’t win a single award at the North Press ball thingy that Sarah Malone went to earlier this month, and he’s making some changes around here. We’re going to follow Aberdeen Journals Ltd’s lead, and start having a smart, successful newpaper. In that spirit, before we get to this week’s definitions, just a few words.

I am pleased to announce the Old Susannah column now has an official spokesperson. Buff McCracker, pictured, is our newest hiring. He is last year’s winner of the ‘Face of Moneymusk’ competition.

Buff has a high school diploma (nearly) and has worked as a personal fitness trainer at ‘Fancy a Kip?’ Lodge. Personal trainers from Kip Lodge have gone on to get into all sorts of fascinating positions, and I am sure Buff will do the same.

I am sure you will welcome him to the column, and in his role as spokesperson, you will look forward to hearing his in-depth analysis of local, national and world socio-political issues of the day.

Reader Offer: 

Bottle OpenerThis splendid bottle opener is perfect for those bottles of expensive wine you drink after a hard day editing the paper.

Sprinting home in your Mazarati, no doubt you want to see your delightful wife greet you at the door with glasses, a bottle, and this exclusive bottle opener.

Not sold in stores.


CRW_0279Reader Travel Offer: 

7 night tour of Mintlaw’s finest combine harvesters

Join like-minded readers on this breathtaking tour of tractors in Mintlaw.

We start our trip on the A96 in a bus, and will stop at some of the finest B&Bs in the area, while looking at fields of rapeseed, and what kinds of farm vehicles we can spot from the bus.

Meals not included.

£1,999 per person.

Showbiz Exclusive!  Local sleaze merchant shares lift for 2 minutes in Los Angeles with Rock god David Grohl.

Tony Cockroach says he’s met every A-List celebrity there is, possibly even Sarah Malone. Gosh I’m jealous. He’s been in the same lift as David Grohl! Result!!!! Did they have a conversation? No, but. Did they have anything in common? No, but. Was Grohl impressed that the man in the lift was from Aberdeen AND owned strip joints? No.

Singha SteveBut he was from Aberdeen, and he was in the same lift as David Grohl.

Full story and pictures on pages 2,3,4,5 and 27.

(Old Susannah was formally introduced to Mr Grohl on the occasion of the first ever Foo Fighters UK show, at the Brixton Academy, quite a while ago. He was cool. Old Susannah was – until now – being cool by not making a big deal of it. But we did briefly speak. In today’s modern newsroom, clearly this is big stuff by EE standards. So now you know. And no, I wasn’t so crass as to start photographing or filming the man).

Read more about it here! Really! Tally ho!

Send us your story – sheep on the road?

Did your daughter come in 7th place in a spelling competition? Did you get your heid stuck in a bin? Did you find the image of Kate Dean in your buttery? Anything like that with pictures – call us and we’ll put it in the next paper. Up to £2 per story paid.

RowiesRollsPancakesthmCompetition! Aberdeen’s Prettiest Rowie!

Send in your Rowie photos, and the most beautiful Rowie will be bronzed, and kept forever as a beautiful keepsake! Your photo with your Rowie will appear in the next issue!

You can vote for your favourite Rowie by calling our special hotline – calls charged £0.99 per minute!

And with that, one or two definitions

Pro Lifers:

Who’s against life? Why no one I know, except for some zombie films, it’s safe to say many people are in favour of living. But the pro-lifers have some ideas they want the rest of us to sign up to, and I thought I’d best get their unbiased, professional advice.

I looked for them at the anti-war demonstration. But they weren’t there.

I tried to find them protesting the nuclear weaponry we’ve stockpiled which would wipe out half the planet. But they weren’t there.

I thought I’d find them helping to save the refugees drowning in the Med, but there was no sign of them there.

I thought they must surely be protesting the death sentences carried out in some countries, but there was no trace.

I thought they would be in the drought-stricken countries trying to feed the starving, but they were not there.

They were at the abortion clinic. They were at the family planning centres. They were at the chemists where women can get the morning after pill.

It’s not the living they want to save. They want to tell women not to have sex. They want to tell people not to use contraception. They want women to bear children whether or not the women are able to look after these children, can afford them, are adult enough to be responsible for new lives. They want the raped women to carry their children.

They don’t want you to do anything that doesn’t adhere to the moral codes they have signed up to, and they want to make you bend to their will. They don’t acknowledge that each and every single pregnancy is life-threatening to the mother. They don’t want you to know that women from prehistory to the current day engaged in family planning by taking herbal medicines to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

Pro life? Absolutely! Some might think this lot are a bunch of would be controlling, nosy, women-hating dictators who were not interested in the living whatsoever and hated sex and didn’t want anyone to have any. But they’re just telling us what the right thing to do is, and I’m sure you’ll give their message all the attention it is due. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14210094.display/

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

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

Nov 122015

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Fiona Kennedyfeat

Fiona Kennedy is a patron of NESMS.

Much loved Scottish entertainer Fiona Kennedy and influential actor and director John Bett, a founding member of the 7:84 theatre company, will lead the 40th birthday celebrations of the North East of Scotland Music School (NESMS) in November.

NESMS is the longest running independent music school in the area and has been the spring board for internationally renowned musicians such as Lisa Milne who has had lead roles in productions by both Scottish Opera and English National Opera and David Ferguson, the only Scot chosen by Gareth Malone for his Voices Choir.

The school’s major celebration will take place at its annual Keynotes Lunch which will be held at Norwood Hall in Aberdeen on Sunday 15th November.

Fiona Kennedy, long term patron of NESMS and John Bett are creating a musical tableau which will reflect NESMS’ history and contribution to cultural life in the north east since its inception. Current pupils of the school will perform in the tableau.

NESMS was founded in 1975 by the late Dorothy Hately who was awarded an MBE for services to music in 1987. Ms Hately, along with Lady Aberdeen, wanted to give young people who had musical promise the opportunity to have tuition which was not available to them through other pathways.

Dorothy encouraged the then director of education in Aberdeen to allow NESMS to begin classes in a part of the old Aberdeen Academy (now the Academy Shopping Centre) in Belmont Street.

NESMS opened offering teaching in four disciplines to just forty students. When work began on the transformation of the building into a retail centre, NESMS found a temporary home in the Methodist Church in the city’s Crown Terrace. Dorothy Hately’s tireless work on behalf of NESMS led to the awarding of a grant from the Scottish Arts Council Lottery Fund and from the Foundation for Sports and the Arts, to enable NESMS to purchase a permanent home.

In 1998, the school officially opened the door to its new premises and the Huntly Street centre was named the Dorothy Hately Music Centre in memory of its leading light who sadly died in 1996, never seeing the centre which she had worked so hard to achieve on behalf of the area’s musically talented youngsters.

From its early beginnings of four disciplines and 40 students, today NESMS offers 15 disciplines, taught by 20 tutors, to more than 250 students at its Huntly Street base with four teaching studios, a library and a lounge. And it’s not just students from the Granite City alone – talented musicians from the whole of the north of Scotland including the Highlands and Islands are pupils at the school … and they are not just youngsters!

The school welcomes enquiries from anyone who has reached a suitable level of attainment whatever their circumstances, age or musical background.

Potential students audition for entry to NESMS. Instrumentalists generally speaking should have attained Grade 5. Criteria for vocalists relate to voice maturity or experience of singing solo or in groups.

The range of instrumental tuition on offer is wide and includes brass (horn, trumpet), strings (violin, viola, cello, double bass) and woodwind (flute, recorder, clarinet, oboe, bassoon) and of course piano, with tuition in jazz as well as classical styles available. Students who wish to develop their ability to deal confidently with an audience are offered opportunities for both solo and ensemble public performances.

Students pay fees which are kept to a minimum through an active volunteer fundraising programme and the generosity of trusts, foundations, companies such as Aberdeen Asset Management and Mattioli Woods Plc as well as private individuals. There are scholarships which can be applied for annually. These are awarded on merit. Through assistance provided by the John Gordon Foundation and Aberdeen City Council a fund is available to pay lesson fees for students in financial hardship.

Barbara McFarlane, Chairman of NESMS, says that it is remarkable what the school has accomplished over the past 40 years.

Barbara says,

“Since Dorothy Hately founded the school in 1975 we have more than trebled the number of music disciplines that we offer. The number of students we teach has also increased by over six times since the school started.

“We are immensely proud to have reached this 40 year milestone and it’s a time to celebrate the fact that many of our students have gone on to become extremely successful musical composers, teachers and musicians.

“NESMS is also extremely fortunate to have such exceptional ties with the most distinguished music tutors in their field, many of whom are former NESMS students themselves, and also with our patrons who are all extremely passionate about dedicating their knowledge and expertise to the musical development of our students.

“Fiona Kennedy is a faithful NESMS patron and we are honoured that she and John Bett have both devoted their time to creating a musical portrayal of NESMS and all the effort it has contributed to Scottish music over the years.”

To book tickets for the NESMS Keynotes Auction Lunch, or for more information on how to enrol for lessons, phone North East of Scotland Music School on 01224 649685 or email nesms@dsl.pipex.com

Past and Present Notable NESMS Students:

The past 40 years have seen an abundance of notable and influential Scottish musicians begin their musical careers at NESMS.

Lisa Milne

Renowned Scottish Soprano Lisa Milne is one of the best known of NESMS’s alumni after a successful and extensive career in opera and classical music. Lisa was only 14 when she first started singing lessons at NESMS. After securing leading roles for world-famous operas such as The English National Opera, Metropolitan, New York and Scottish Opera, Lisa was awarded an MBE from the Queen in 2005 for her services to opera and music. She is now a vocal coach at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Ian Wilson

Ian Wilson began his exceptional career in music as a woodwind student at NESMS. Ian now shares his expertise with his very own NESMS protégés’ as he is a visiting recorder specialist at his former music school. After winning multiple music prizes during his time studying at Guildhall School of Music and Drama he is now the Principle Recorder Professor at Guildhall and Head of Woodwind at Eton College.

Ian has also spent time performing as a soloist with a variety of Europe’s period instrument orchestras and as a chamber musician in many European festivals.

Oliver Searle

Former NESMS piano student Oliver Searle was tutored at the school whilst studying for a degree in Music Education at Aberdeen University, he then went on to gain a distinction in his Masters degree from The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Oliver frequently collaborates with music charities, most recently with Drake Music Scotland for the London cultural Olympiad, he also regularly produces music for theatre and has been involved in a number of music projects for people with cochlear implants. He is currently Creative & Contextual Studies and Composition Lecturer at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow.

Joseph Long

Accomplished composer and concert pianist Joseph Long studied piano at NESMS. He has vast concert experience in a number of world famous venues including The Grand Hall of the Moscow State Conservatory, The Calcutta School of Music and The University of Almeria in Spain. After leaving Aberdeen to study at Cambridge he is now back in his native city and teaches advanced piano at NESMS and Aberdeen University.

Donald Gillan

Aberdeen-born Donald Gillan was a cello student at NESMS, he later won scholarships to the Royal College of Music and the Royal Northern College. He has since toured with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra performing in countries including Japan, Spain and Germany. Donald also freelances for the BBC Scottish Sympathy Orchestra, Scottish Opera Orchestra, plays in duos and quartets and performed at three prom concerts at the Royal Albert Hall.

Sally Garden

Sally Garden is a musicologist, mezzo-soprano, and a former NESMS vocal student who has trained with distinguished Italian soprano Laura Sarti. She was also a finalist in the Mary Garden International prize and was later appointed Historical Musician in Residence at the Wighton Heritage Centre, Dundee. During her time there she was responsible for directing a three year programme of music events to unfold one of Scotland’s finest music archives.

She is now an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Scandinavian Studies at the University of Aberdeen and has been able to dedicate her time towards recital work.

David Ferguson

Current NESMS student David Ferguson has been tipped for musical success after being handpicked by celebrity choirmaster Gareth Malone OBE after a nationwide search for a 17 strong choir. Before joining Gareth Malone’s Voices in 2013, David had been singing as a choirboy since the age of eight and had performed with a variety of different choirs throughout the UK.

After a CD release and a UK tour David joined up with four members of Gareth Malone’s Voices to form their own band, which they named The Harbour. David travels frequently to London to attend recording sessions and performances, as well as receiving voice tuition at NESMS.

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


Mar 202015

Plebgate may be over for now, but Clarksongate is just on a cusp. By Duncan Harley.

the_car_is_the_star2Sickipedia comments such as “I would like to point out to Jeremy Clarkson that not all lorry drivers murder prostitutes. Some of us are too busy mowing down Pakis” and “Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended. He must have done something that even the BBC find inexcusable. So that rules out child abuse then” now haunt the internet.

What can the man have been thinking? Even if the press comments about him striking a fellow worker turn out to be untrue, his comment about going to the Job Centre is unlikely to gain much sympathy amongst the unemployed of Woking.

He is after all a multi-millionaire.

Marina Hyde’s piece about Clarksonia in this weeks Guardian resonates. In fact it rings bells if truth be tolled.

“Peter Morgan, screenwriter of The Queen” she says is “already working on a dramatisation.”

Rumours abound that US president Barack Obama is on a watching brief as is Cobra, the nation’s emergency response committee.

The BBC is of course, yet again, verging on being completely out of public control.

The dated Corporation has funding issues and sells the likes of Top Gear globally. Sometimes, cash makes more sense than ideological values. Money, to fund the next round of payoff payments, is king. A long-drawn-out Savile enquiry looks unlikely, but Clarkson-wise a shortly to-be-announced reinstatement might be in view, lest the man attract the likes of Channel 4 or Sky.

Despite the proposed digital licence fee ‘poll tax’ designed to ensnare anyone with a tablet, the accountants, producers and bankers at Auntie Beeb are running scared and in fear of their jobs, and who could blame them. They have families to feed and careers to protect after all. Hitler’s Germany was built on such foundations.

Even the Fat Controller has this week appeared powerless in the face of a public petition signed by half a million TV fans to bring Jeremy Clarkson back on stream.

An old star in a car brings Beeb-corp to its knees, and the nation votes to have him reinstated. Savile is no doubt laughing from the grave.

The scandal-ridden national broadcasting resource has of course funded some brilliant entertainment. Fawlty Towers and those Likely Lads spring immediately to mind. That popular Corrie drama and those two old scrap merchants with a knackered horse come a close second.

As for Clarkson, he is of course the butt of many jokes up and down the land.

Prime Minister David Cameron joked:

“I don’t know exactly what happened. He’s a constituent of mine, a friend of mine. He’s a huge talent.”

BBC Director-General Tony Hall quipped that an investigation was going on to “gather the facts” about the incident.

“We do not have the facts at the moment,” he said. “I am a fan of Jeremy Clarkson but this is a serious thing that is alleged to have taken place.”

“I think he’s been involved in a bit of a dust-up and I don’t think it’s that serious” joked co-presenter James May.

Hedging his bets, former BBC Trust chairman Michael Lyons said:

“I think the BBC’s learnt that actually it can replace even the biggest names, even if needs to, and I’m not saying it needs to.”

Joking aside, Top Gear is one of the BBC’s most popular and profitable TV shows, with Clarkson appearing on it since 1988. The programme has an estimated global audience of 350 million; except, of course, in Argentina.

A lawyer for Mr Tymon, the workmate who Mr Clarkson allegedly assaulted following a possible but so far unfounded allegation of a food dispute, said his client:

“intends to await the outcome of the BBC investigation and will make no comment until that investigation is complete”.

In the Savile days, Auntie Beeb made a complete fool of us all. Let’s not allow it to happen again.

By Duncan Harley ©, Images Duncan Harley ©

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

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

Oct 172014

Elaine C Smith and Beast 13By Duncan Harley

Pantomime season arrived early this week as one of Scotland’s most talented performers, Elaine C Smith, made an impromptu appearance at Aberdeen’s Bon Accord Centre.

In full costume and accompanied by Prince Sebastion, perhaps better known as the Beast, Elaine mingled with shoppers and posed for the cameras as a prelude to her star role as Mrs Potty in HM Theatre’s 2014 Christmas panto production of “Beauty and the Beast.”

This is Elaine’s sixth year starring in pantomime at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen.

“Some folk think that when you do panto it’s a sign that your stage career is over,” said Elaine “in reality it’s quite the opposite, this is Aberdeen’s very own panto not just a touring show … it’s a real pleasure to appear here.”

Now grandmother to new baby Stella, ‘Granny Smith’ has arrived to a warm welcome from the Granite City and she’ll not be leaving until the Beast is once again transformed into a handsome prince.

Produced by Michael Harrison, this years production has been written by Alan McHugh will don his frock for the 11th year running to delight audiences as Dame Kitty Brewster while Jordan Young will no doubt be up to some extreme mischief in his role as Boabby Brewster.

The Beast is played by Luke Newton while Anne Smith, of Madam JoJo’s West End Club fame, will play the Wicked Witch. Dundee born Maggie Lynne plays the role of the beautiful Belle and Paul Luebke, of Taggart fame, is cast as Harris McTweed.

Rehearsals begin soon and the theatre doors open on Saturday 29th November with performances up to and including Sunday January 4th.

Tickets are available from Aberdeen Box Office on 01224 641122 and on line at www.boxofficeaberdeen.com

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Sep 262014

willows auction necklace by Alex Penter of Bead PopBy Suzanne Kelly.

Artists, shops, craftspeople and supporters have created a Facebook auction page for the Willows Animal Sanctuary. The auction will start on the 30th September, and end one week later.

A wide variety of items are available: from jewellery to cosmetics, perfume bottles and quilts.

Willows Patron Paul Rodgers of Free, Bad Company and the Firm, to name just a few of his many vehicles, is offering autographed goods as well.

Paul and his wife Cynthia Kereluk have been very generous with their time and financial support. Paul will be performing with Deborah Bonham at the Royal Albert Hall in November, with proceeds going to the Willows.  Deborah Bonham and her band are likewise supporting Willows.

bath setCosts continue to spiral upwards, and animal abandonment goes hand in hand with increased food and veterinary care costs.

If you need help with an animal, do not abandon it.  Please call the Scottish SPCA for help and advice; they are on 03000 999 999.

The auction will start at 7 p.m. on Tuesday 30th September.

If you want to bid or donate, please get in touch now.

Vikky McDonald who works with animals at Willows said:

“The auction is to raise funds toward our enormous winter feed bill! Any support would be gladly received.”

The Willows Animal Shelter is near New Pitsligo in Aberdeenshire. They never put down a healthy animal, and are reliant on donations to feed, care for and home over 300 animals, farm, domestic and wild, that have been abandoned, hurt and neglected.

More on the Willows and its animal assisted therapy programme can be found here:  http://www.willowsanimals.com/

Aug 292014

When news spread that Jeremy Paxman was to do a one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe, expectations varied widely as to what would be on offer. Scathing diatribes? Career retrospective? Tap dancing? No one agreed what on what his show would be like – but everyone agreed they wanted a ticket. The show sold out instantly. After weeks of chasing a ticket, Suzanne Kelly was lucky enough to get a seat for an added show. Was it worth hours on the train and an expensive B&B stay? Absolutely. Suzanne Kelly reviews.

PAXO 2 - Credit: Theo Davies (Pleasance Edinburgh Picture show) Jeremy Paxman, recently liberated from the BBC, has delivered the most highly-anticipated Edinburgh Fringe show in years, and it was a triumph.

If you managed to get a ticket to this sold out show, you’ll remember it for some time to come.

Let’s hope some enterprising production company turns this show into a television series, or that some nights were taped and will be broadcast; it would be a great pity if Paxman’s pronouncements on issues from malarkey to World War I were not shared more widely.

The Form

The Pleasance is arguably one of the major hearts of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with its many intimate performance spaces and enjoyable beer garden atmosphere. We are led into the cabaret bar; the stage holds a giant wheel, a la ‘Wheel of Fortune’; each spoke contains a word or a symbol. Jeremy Paxman’s ‘Spitting Image’ head lies on the mixing desk to one side of the stage.

Then Paxo comes out. I wonder whether he’s somewhat surprised at the demand for this show, and the affectionate, appreciative audience tonight; he looks more astonished than anything else.

He welcomes us, and explained that each spin of the wheel will result in him discussing the subject selected for up to 5 minutes. Wildcards will lead to audience interactions. ‘Language’, ‘malarky’, ‘World War I’, ‘Impertinence’, ‘Pogonophobia’, ‘Trout’ ‘X-ray’ and a few wild cards come up this evening; here is what he does with them.

On language he manages to take a swipe at the staid, fixed Academie Francais’ feeble attempts to control the evolution of the French language. On the other hand, the English language is, he notes, about to lose the distinction between the two words ‘disinterested’ and ‘uninterested’. Disinterested has its specific meaning; those who are not concerned with a particular matter or incident.

This is different to uninterested – a person having no curiosity or enthusiasm in a topic or event. There was certainly neither a disinterested nor an uninterested person in the Cabaret Bar, and had someone dropped a pin, we’d have heard it.

Term after term gave way to further impromptu forays varying from the humorous (pogonophobia – fear of beards) to poignant. A 5 minute overview of World War I focused on the men whose faces had been badly disfigured by enemy fire during trench warfare, what reconstruction methods of the time could do for them, and how their lives went after the war to end all wars.

We saw harrowing photos of these poor men, whose faces had been reconstructed to a degree, but whose lives had not. One badly disfigured man had said how children were merely curious about his injuries, and they displayed none of the revulsion or disgust he saw in adults’ reactions.

I would be willing to say time flew far faster for the audience than it did for Jeremy Paxman. While he clearly knew his opinions on these topics and would have done some advance preparation, it was quite another thing to have to share these thoughts with a packed room knowing random wildcards would be coming.

Jeremy_Paxman_049 - credit to Chris Floyd (2)Soon it was time for words on his love of trout fishing and nature. I found this as interesting and insightful as Jan Moir of The Daily Mail found it boring. For instance, when Paxman described trout fishing and a recent visit to Scotland and his appreciation for wildlife, I found myself hoping he knows about the horrible things going on here: the over fishing of salmon, seal shooting in Gardenstown, crashing wildlife populations.

When he spoke of seeing an osprey, I thought of all the good work done by Raptor Persecution Scotland, and all the bad work done by those who kill these birds and persecute animals illegally. We seem unable to catch those involved; and if we do, the fines are so low they seem like a cost of doing business.

Sorry for the digression. But I came to find out more about Paxman and his thoughts, not to hear him recite jokes or be a comic. There Moir and I differed.

The subject of beards came up when the word ‘pogonophobia’ – fear of beards – was chosen by the wheel. “Well” he confides, “there is a feeling that people who are too lazy to shave are not to be trusted to tell the truth either” – and then Paxo issued a small brief apology to the bearded man in the front row, to further laughter.

With another spin of the wheel, Paxman was assigned the task of speaking for 5 minutes on the subject of the weather. This he did by discussing, while not exactly waxing lyrical, about being forced into the role of weather boy during his Newsnight career. He played some splendid clips from that time.

In these clips, a world-weary, slightly (?) annoyed Paxman describes the weather: ‘it’s April. What do you expect?’ Who but Paxman could introduce caustic sarcasm into weather reports? Some 630,000+ people continue to view his forecasts on YouTube. Perhaps he missed a great opportunity.

We also talked about altruism, egotism, Yeats, Russell Brand and voting. I say ‘talked’ for while it was clearly his show, it was driven by the chance of the wheel and the audience’s input, and it felt more conversant than not. It certainly bore no relation to a headmaster on speech day (despite what two critics may have felt).

What The Papers Say

Paxo has been met with critical acclaim by nearly all reviewers. The telegraph’s reviewer used words such as ‘fascinating’ and ‘appealingly humane’.

The BBC reports that “One Man Edinburgh Show Gains Warm Reviews.”

The Independent reviewed the show and seemed largely satisfied, albeit the 18 August Indy piece also suggested that ‘There are times during the hour when he has the intelligently rambling air of a headmaster pontificating at Speech Day’.

What One Of The Papers Said

While most of the critics gave favourable reviews to Paxman’s Edinburgh run, one of his critics, Jan Moir of The Daily Mail was scathing, and also claimed that production staff gave her a hard time. Moir, who also complained in her review of the ‘fetid air’ in the venue (which I clearly missed) wrote:

“For this was less of a comedy show, not much of a chat show and rather a lot like a dress-down headmaster giving a speech on the last day of term… (Paxman) liked showing a collection of all his greatest Newsnight moments to a captive audience… self-satisfied and complacent”

As she wrote the above on 20th August, either the ‘headmaster’ comparison used by the Independent is so extremely apt she couldn’t think of anything better, or more likely, the ‘headmaster’ comment just came to her in a flash of creative inspiration. You decide.

As to being unsure of himself, nervous, self-satisfied and complacent all in one hour —  if this were true, then Jeremy Paxman is a very confused individual indeed. There was on the night a touch of uncertainty, and absolutely no self-satisfaction or complacency. Perhaps we caught different shows.

To her review I can only say how unfortunate it is that she expected either a stand-up comedian instead of a seasoned journalist, or was seemingly disappointed not to find Paxman in permanent Rottweiler mode. If Paxman wasn’t quite as prickly and aggressive as he was on Newsnight, this was clearly understandable.

The persistent, impertinent, scathing sarcastic Paxo we enjoyed on Newsnight is not artifice; these traits seem to be brought out by those who are incompetent or who have something to hide. The Pleasance audience obviously didn’t have anything to hide and weren’t being interviewed; Paxman wasn’t trying to dig information out of them.

In fact, if Paxman had tried to be the things Moir suggested he should be, it would have been rather dire.

Imagine someone of Paxman’s intelligence trying to reinvent himself as a stand-up comedian, or relying solely on his trademark Newsnight persona as his raison d’etre. That would have been unacceptable artifice. I think Paxman was trying to have a conversant and entertaining show; if that was the intent, then he succeeded marvellously.

Perhaps Jan Moir thinks he should have been the same person when dealing with an obstinate, evasive Michael Howard as when entertaining his Fringe audience.

Image 1 (2)Perhaps Paxman is only ever supposed to be an abrasively aggressive interrogator. By extension of Moir’s logic, if we are all supposed to be the same one-dimensional person in all of our many roles, then I should hate to run into Jan Moir any time soon.

Moir finally complains of some run-in she had with the show’s producers. I see nothing of this. I let them know I was there to do a review, and that I had two extra tickets to sell (and wanted a donation to charity if possible in exchange).

I also exchanged a few pleasant words with them briefly after the show.

They could not have been nicer. They were clear from the start that no recording or photos were to be taken, and I wonder whether if la Moir obeyed these simple, virtually universal rules. Otherwise we are to believe that Moir was so well known that she was instantly seized upon and upbraided for no reason. As important and well-known as she is, I have my doubts.

Important Yet Earnest

The word that sums up Paxo’s performance best tonight is earnest. I think he was possibly a bit worried being out of his element doing something he’d not done before; other critics believe this to be the case. Whether this is a flaw or a side note is in the eye of the beholding critic.

However, any unease hardly mattered to the content or audience satisfaction. A slightly unsure Paxman is an interesting juxtaposition to the man we think we all know.

I found the entire show uplifting – but some of the things he said about journalism and accountability those in public office should have were particularly so. He is surprisingly optimistic; advising that that none of the politicians he’d met are inherently bad people. He has so great faith and confidence in young people, and discusses University Challenge.

He asked the audience a question – it took us some time to do this; he told us how quickly the University Challenge students could answer this and similar questions. The stage was then set; he showed clips from historic University Challenge shows which didn’t exactly back up his claim but had us laughing. Such clips from past programmes were used throughout to great effect.

The good news is that we lucky few saw sides of this iconic journalist we’d never have seen otherwise. The bad news is that Jeremy Paxman confirms he will not appear on ‘Celebrity Come Dancing’ (whatever that is).

On Journalism and Politics

As interesting as the rest of his comments were, whether on poetry or X-ray machines, I was there primarily for his insights into journalism. When Mr Paxman spoke about journalism he explained how passionately curious he is – he wants to know things, and that when he find things out he wants to share his discoveries with other people.

He said he’d make the world’s worst spy. I believe he said his curiosity is what keeps him going and gets him up in the morning. He also explained the popularity of programmes like University Challenge, and asserted that television doesn’t have to feed us mindless garbage.

PAXO 8 - Credit Theo Davies (Pleasance Edinburgh Picture show) (2)Anyone who dismisses Paxman for rudeness, sarcasm and impudence is missing the point. It is because he cares that he refuses to back down.
He spoke on ‘impertinence’ which led to his reminding us all that politicians are not celebrities and are not above us: they are our servants.

Servants who do not deserve bad treatment, but who must be held accountable and must openly explain their actions: and he’s going to make them do so.

He believes journalists must be persistent, and that humour has a role to play in journalism. At an early point in the show, an audience member yelled one of Paxman’s catchphrases ‘answer the question!’ – evoking the unforgettable Jeremy Paxman v Michael Howard verbal wrestling match of 1997.

If this is an indication of why getting tickets for the Edinburgh show was nigh on impossible, some 750,000 people have watched this journalistic massacre time and again on YouTube. “Did you threaten to over-rule him?” alas, remains an unanswered question despite being asked of Michael Howard 12 times in the one clip. So as to being named ‘26th rudest person’ by GQ, Paxo’s response is:

I’ll have to try harder.”

An unquestionably Entertaining Performance

Aptly, the Tom Petty song ‘I won’t back down’ was one of the tracks used during our all-to-brief performance.

We’ve slightly overstayed; no one can quite believe the hour’s passed (except perhaps Paxo himself; this might seem informal and the subjects are all well researched – but doing this series of shows will not be easy). Everyone leaving is chatting to friends, to strangers, saying how much they enjoyed it. We could have stayed for hours more.

If anyone has any sense, then a television programme with Paxman and this format or similar will be forthcoming. What is next for Jeremy Paxman? I can’t wait to find out.

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

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

Apr 182014

Aberdeen Voice’s ‘poetry mannie in residence’ Bob Smith revisits the land of Lear and returns with more topical limericks.

There is a mannie ca’ed Trump
Fa is a maist affa grump
Fin nae gettin his ain wye
Wid lit oot ess cry
Menie a micht hae ti dump
There is a chiel named Tucker
Ti some he wis a richt f- -ker
Ti “The Donald” aywis fawnin
Fin the Trump era wis dawnin
Some fowk he played fer a sucker
A lad doon in Glesga ca’ed Ally
His team wisna able ti rally
The Gers hidna a clue
Their fans war fair “blue”
Raith Rovers war haen a ball eh?
There wis a young loon ca’ed May
Fer St Johnstone he won the day
Aiberdeen fans were pissed
Fin chunces war missed
Nae Cup Final fer Dandies in May
There is a mannie fae Muse
Fa tries ti mak us swally a ruse
“Fowks views we did heed
Bit gless biggins we need
Gweed views ye’ll jist hae ti lose”
Scotland’s First Meenister “Wee Eck”
Micht he hae the poond or the maik
Wull “big business” pull oot
An doon ti England fair scoot
Leavin Scotia’s economy a wreck
There is an MP ca’ed Miller
Fa didna pye back a the siller
She bint a fyow rules
Took us aa fer richt fules
Her hans nae langer on tiller
There is a chiel Davie Moyes
Fa tried oot aa o his ploys
Yet Man Utd got beat
Fans stairtit ti bleat
An oot their prams cam the toys
There wis young fella named Leigh
Fa plays fitba fer Celtic FC.
Is Griffiths jist a daft loon
Wi nithing unner his croon?
Or a dyed in the wool racist “b”?
A politican mannie Farage
On TV he fair wis in charge
Nick Clegg wis ootfocht
As mair votes he socht
Wull UKIP noo mount a barrage
There is a leader named Putin
In Crimea he fair pit the boot in
Maist fowk in Ukraine
Think the bugger a pain
Hopin aat’s the eyn o the shootin
There is a Prime Meenister Cameron
In Hooses o Parlimint is aye yammerin
We’re aa in it thegither
Like sister an brither
Hame ess message he is noo hammerin
There is a chiel named Pistorius
In Sooth Africa his life’s nae harmonious
In sheetin his quine
Wis he oot o his myn
Wis the relationship a bit acrimonious
There wis a quine named Peaches
Eence hid trouble wi media leeches
Noo the puir quine is deid
Wull the “vultures” noo feed
Aboot society fit dis ess teach us
There wis a mannie John Muir
Throwe America he likit ti tour
Some progress he thocht blind
Hurtin mair than mankind
Some criticism he hid ti endure
Lord Myners a chief fae the Co-opie
His reforms some thocht a bit ropey
He resigned on the spot
Sayin aat’s noo yer lot
The power struggle it is a bit dopey
There is a young prince ca’ed Dod
Fa’s the latest royalty bod
Some wifies wint aa gooey
Prince Dod thocht—a phooey
A’m a fartin an riftin wee sod
There wis a rhymer ca’ed Burns
His love life it took a fyow turns
Mony lasses he lo’ed
He stood oot in a crood
Did aat plooman poet Rabbie Burns
There wis an auld chiel ca’ed Bob
Writin poetry fer AV wis his job
Some thocht it wis great
Yet ithers fair got irate
As “grenades” he sometimes did lob.
©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2014
  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Jan 242014

In a fit of pique Duncan Harley rages against the machine for what its worth.

bruce duncan harley4Big Brother, Corrie and now Benefits Street are at odds with much of normality in the UK.

Following the revelations about Saville using Auntie Beeb’s dressing rooms to groom over one thousand vulnerable children for sexual purposes it’s really quite surprising that anyone even watches terrestrial TV in the land of Logie Baird.

With the advent of Roku and Netflix, who really wants to be confronted with folk at the front door demanding money with menace.

–          Hello sir or madam, I am a licensing authority enforcer. How are you tonight?

–          Mainly fine, why do you ask?

–          It’s just a courtesy really.

–          Good. I have corns due to my age and a problem with my eyes.

–          Yes, we have the power to destroy your credit rating.

–          Oh, is that good? I don’t watch TV much.

–          Why is that?

–          I am blind and deaf.

–          Can I come in to your house please to discus this delicate matter?

–          Actually, under the terms of my moral obligation to be disgusted by the BBC’s failure to safeguard my childhood fantasies regarding Top of the Pops, veteran broadcaster Stuart Hall and those Daleks who turned out to be just plastic studio props with toilet plunger’s sticking out the front, I think not.

– OK, that’s all right then. Good day sir or madam. We have the power to destroy your credit rating.

You pays your money and you get what you pay for though and at €170.28 a pop, the licence fee raises some £3.6bn per year for those such as Mark Byford, the former deputy director general of the BBC, who defended a controversial pay-off package that saw him leave the BBC with £949,000 in his bank account.

Byford left the BBC in 2011 after being made redundant as part of a drive to cut the number of highly-paid senior executives at the BBC. He told BBC Radio 5 live’s Victoria Derbyshire:

“I absolutely don’t think it was greed on my part at all”.

He said the pay-off was “properly approved” and added:

“I absolutely think I’ve done no wrong.”

A report by the National Audit Office released in July 2013 criticised the BBC for paying out £25m in severance pay to 150 outgoing senior BBC managers which was some £2m more than their contracts stipulated.

Mr Byford’s payment was revealed to be the highest at £949,000, after 32 years of service at the BBC. That’s around 65 thousand licence fees. Good money indeed!

In contrast the Albanian licence fee is 800 Lekë (€5.81) per year and in Bosnia and Herzegovina where the civil war and the associated collapse of infrastructure caused very high evasion rates it is around €46 per year. Seemingly the somewhat desperate Bosnian authorities collect the fee via telephone bills. BT with a vengeance perhaps?

Mind you Albanian State TV was until quite recently mainly showing Norman Wisdom movies from the 1960’s and Bosnia has yet to recover from the effects of the international outrage following the ethnic cleansing of the country during the Balkan genocide.

As for Coronation Strasse, lips may well be sealed until the result of an upcoming court case involving street TV star Bill Roach is settled.

According to the Guardian:

“a woman alleges she was led to men’s toilets and made to perform sex act during studio visit at the age of 14.”

“The court were told by two women that Coronation Street actor Bill Roach sexually assaulted them in the toilets at the programme’s television studios when they were teenagers. The now 63 year old complainant told Preston crown court that Mr Roach “pulled her into the men’s toilets and forced her to masturbate him.””

If indeed true, this is disturbing testimony.

Then there’s that case unfolding against Mr Rolf Harris of Tie Me Kangaroo down fame plus something about It’s a Knockout host Stuart Hall who is currently in jail after finally admitting 14 counts of indecent assault on girls as young as nine between 1967 and 1987

With Lord McAlpines untimely death the national press may wonder whether to publish and be damned or to stay silent and appear uncertain.

Somewhat famously, Lord McAlpine was completely and wrongly accused of sexual misconduct. Various bodies such as the BBC wrongly implied that the now dead peer was a paedophile. Some of his friends attribute his demise entirely to the completely unfounded allegations. Many will feel sorry for the peers sad last days.

The BBC will be plunged into a major crisis with the publication of a damning review, expected next month, that will reveal its staff turned a blind eye to the rape and sexual assault of up to 1,000 girls and boys by long time disc jockey Jimmy Savile in the corporation’s changing rooms and studios.

Dame Janet Smith, a former court of appeal judge, who previously led the inquiry into the mass murders by local GP Dr Harold Shipman will seemingly say in her final report that the true number of victims of Savile’s sexual proclivities may never be known but that his behaviour had been recognised by BBC executives who took no action.

Many in the UK currently wonder why they are paying a licence fee to fund a shameful publicly funded system which appears to ignore not only the law but also morality.

The UK requirement for a dog licence was abolished in 1987. Prior to this dog licences were mandatory but the requirement was widely ignored with only about fifty percent of owners having one. The final rate for a dog licence was a meagre 37 pence.

The TV licence should perhaps follow suit very soon.

A YouGov poll for The Telegraph recently found that almost two thirds of those surveyed agreed that the licence fee should be abolished because so many households had satellite or cable television.

The “Stop BBC Bias” campaign is encouraging “refuseniks” to register with it by phoning 09012 702 414 or by visiting its website – www.bbcbias.org although as of the time of writing the site is unavailable due to “technical problems.” It’s on error 404 seemingly.

A BBC spokesman recently said:

“Our policy is and always has been clear. If you don’t have a licence and are using televisual equipment, you’re breaking the law.”

There perhaps lies self interest.

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