Dec 172013

With thanks to TENACITY PR.

big_country_press 2“When taking a journey, it’s not about the getting there, it’s enjoying the view on the way” – Stuart Adamson

A comment from the late, much missed co-founder (along with Bruce Watson), recently recalled by drummer, Mark Brzezicki – these words hit home as hard and true now, as they ever did, as Big Country continue their particular journey, ever forwards.

Steeped in a stunning catalogue of proud and stirring hit songs such as ‘Fields of Fire’, ‘Chance’, ‘In A Big Country’ (which sold 2 million), ‘East Of Eden’ and their biggest UK hit ‘Look Away’, along with massive albums such ‘The Seer’, ‘Steeltown’, ‘Peace In Our Time’ and the triple Grammy –nominated, ‘The Crossing’, Big Country continue to look beyond the next horizon, as they turn the page from 2013 to 2014.

As they bid farewell after three years to Mike Peters, the band – Bruce Watson (guitars/vocals); Mark Brzezicki (drums, vocals); Jamie Watson (guitars/vocals) and former Simple Minds’ bassist/vocalist , Derek Forbes – begin a new chapter with December shows in Aberdeen, Dundee , Edinburgh, Glasgow (on New Year’s Eve) and Dumfries, on Burns Night 2014.

Big Country are immensely proud and excited to be introducing three very special friends as guests for these shows; Stevie Agnew (another one of Dunfermline’s finest – and son of Pete Agnew of Nazareth); Dave Sharp (Formerly of The Alarm) and Simon Hough ex-front man for Denny Laine (Wings), Eric Bell (Thin Lizzy) etc.

FRI 27th DEC. Aberdeen: Lemon Tree, 5 W North St, Aberdeen, AB24 5AT 01224 641122 7.30pm £27.50

More Scottish dates:

SAT 28TH DEC. Dundee:  Non Zeros, 24 Castle Street, Dundee, DD1 3AF 07873 637413  7.30pm £27.50

MON 30TH DEC. Edinburgh: The Liquid Room, 9C Victoria St, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 2HE 0131 225 2564 £25 7pm

TUES 31ST DEC. Glasgow: Òran Mór,  Byres Rd, Glasgow,G12 8QX 0141 357 6200 6.30pm 14+ £29

SUN 26TH JAN 2014  – Dumfries:  The Big Burns Supper (Spiegeltent) 01387 271820

For further info:

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Aug 232013

Something for the Weekend Sir? Duncan Harley comments on the newspapers you might like to read if you had the time, the money and the inclination. This week he looks at the Sunday Post, the paper many Scots buy but choose to send to the relatives abroad rather than read.

Sunday Post: Image credit: Duncan HarleyI have a confession to make. I had not bought this paper, ever, until today.
My parents, God rest their souls, ordered it from the local newsagent in Hamilton, and as a child I read with relish the adventures of The Broons and that spiky-haired pre-punk manny, “Oor Wullie”. A double entendre indeed, but an awfa’ good one!

In the centre pages “The Doc” advised those bemused haemorrhoids sufferers amongst us how to anoint their nether regions with helpful ointments, while on other pages, “The Vet” suggested how to revive a dead budgie.

I purchased my first copy today from an “Eight Till Late” corner shop in Keith’s Reidhaven Square. It’s a wonderful local shop full of handy things that you might run out of, such as biros, lard and morning rolls. Open from 6am till quite late, it defies its name by some two hours and sells, amongst other Scottish icons, The Sunday Post.

My heart sank when the pound in my pocket was not enough to purchase the paper. The assistant quietly whispered that it went up to £1.30 a few years ago. Her comment somehow reminded me of my dad’s faux pas in 1962 when he asked the conductress on the Number 53 from Hamilton to Bellshill for a tuppeny return ticket, little realising that fares had risen tenfold since his last bus journey all those years previously.

Nothing, however, could prepare me for the new format Sunday Post.

The paper leads on a story about some drug smugglers arrested in Peru’s Lima airport. Now, I have been there a couple of times and it is not a good place to be, if smuggling drugs is your forte. Scanners abound in the departure area and folk with very big guns are all around. Even the traffic cops sport AK47s, plus some very serious attitude.

It seems though that the dad of one of the arrested pair’s flatmate is a murderer, according to the Post’s headline. “Melissa’s flatmate is daughter of Gangster” screams the front page. I for one won’t be hiring the paper as a defence lawyer, ever.

A piece entitled “Banged up abroad” leads on page 5. It seems that around a thousand UK citizens are imprisoned in foreign jails. The Post suggests that drug smugglers might be “coerced” into breaking the law in foreign lands. The paper may be right.

I failed to find Oor Wullie amongst the detritus

Never one to publish naked women in order to boost sales, The Post delivers a Page Three warning about a sharp rise in “attacks by lethal snakes”.

It seems that NHS Direct advise that all snakes can strike, and that all victims should keep still and seek medical help. I guess that’s my pet adder for the chop, then.

“Ambulance Staff in Sick Rate Shock” and “Klinsmann celebration ruined my life” take up pages 8 and 9. Then some centre page articles about “Corrie’s Cast”, and a man holding a Parrot are featured, complete with photos.

I failed to find Oor Wullie amongst the detritus which is “Newspaper of the Year”; and the Broons were thankfully similarly hard to find.

Page 54 of this week’s edition headlines on “The shows rubbish and it could be in a shed”. I have no idea what this may mean, and have no intention of reading the article. Perhaps it is a review of the paper, via insiders who know the full truth but need to express it in metaphorical terms.

A hard hitting read indeed. On a scale of nought to ten The Sunday Post rates a three. It’s a poor advert for Scotland I think, and a major reason why folk all around the globe consider us Scots to be primitive beings that live in caves and eat haggis twice each week with extra helpings on a Sunday.

Next week on “Something for the Weekend Sir?” I will be taking a look at the Express on Sunday or whatever it’s called right now.

“Something for the Weekend Sir” is of course what local barbers used to ask customers in the days before discrete prophylactic services became available via the internet.

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Jun 142013

With thanks to Claire McBain.

Aberdeen Lord Provost, George Adam, has officially inaugurated Scottish singer and producer Fiona Kennedy as Honorary President of VSA in recognition of 30 years of incredible enthusiasm, dedication and fundraising.
Fiona’s career has been diverse and includes singing, acting, public speaking and performing at international events, as well as producing the vibrant and hugely successful production The Kist.

Kenneth Simpson, chief executive at VSA, said:

“Fiona has given an enormous amount of support and done a tremendous amount of profile-raising for the charity.  We’re so grateful and can’t wait for the next steps.

“Fiona has a long history with us, having been a Trustee, Convenor of the Carers Committee, Vice Chair and Chair of VSA Board.  She has shown endless passion and tenacity, working hard for causes close to her heart. 

“The team at VSA, past and present, are incredibly grateful for Fiona’s hard work in publicising and supporting campaigns, particularly for older peoples’ services Broomhill Park and Broomhill Activity Centre.”

On accepting the honour Fiona, who began her involvement when asked to accept a cheque on VSA’s behalf and has been an ambassador and an active fundraiser for the charity over the last 30 years, said:

“I’m completely thrilled and delighted to become VSA’s Honorary President. 

“I love being part of the VSA family and will continue to do whatever I can to support the organisation.  VSA is doing a brilliant job and I’m proud to be part of it.”

“I went to see the range of work VSA is involved with and was just so impressed.  The work VSA continues to do is really inspiring. 

“I felt this amazing organisation was not blowing its own trumpet enough, so I was very glad roll my sleeves up.

“My main priorities were to raise awareness and fundraise.  What’s really impressive is the fact that 96p of every pound raised goes directly to charitable expenditure.”

A particular highlight for Fiona was spearheading and chairing the campaign for the £4million Broomhill Park, that she and her committee helped raise significant funds for, of which she went on to say:

“I’m never afraid to knock on doors to champion causes I believe in and was so delighted to attract supporters like Sir Alex Ferguson to help fundraise for the new Broomhill Park.”  

Kenneth Simpson, chief executive at VSA, also presented local businessman James Stevenson with the title of Honorary Vice President at Tuesday’s event.

Making the presentation to James, Kenneth said:

“James too has done so much for VSA during his time as a Trustee, Vice Chair and Chair of the VSA board. 

“He has terrific business expertise, which VSA values greatly and has given many years of extremely generous support.”

Sep 262012

Voice’s Old Susannah takes a look over the past week’s event’s in the ‘Deen and beyond in her quest to expose the uncovered even at risk of getting under the skin. By Suzanne Kelly. 

Footdee was transformed into an Ibiza foam party this week. Trees and bits of tree were trashed by the wind. Old Susannah wonders how those 89,000 trees planted on Tullos hill are doing.

They may be too small to be toppled by the wind just yet, but that was exactly the kind of weather that will be strong enough to knock them over in a few years’ time. The soil matrix is poor, according to the Forestry Commission’s soil report.

Thankfully it doesn’t rain or get windy in Aberdeen very often, so I’m sure the trees won’t have any problem at all.

The gusts this week knocked over trees and battered cars, but fear not, they weren’t severe enough to spoil Aileen Malone’s hairstyle, which was fetchingly lacquered in place.

Last Saturday she was adding glamour to the 45-minute demo, in a fetching off-white suit. I’d have thought she’d be in a hunting outfit.

They say that ‘size isn’t everything’ and that ‘length doesn’t matter’. Clearly the few at Saturday’s protest against Aberdeen City Council concurred. There were around 70 (I’m being generous) people protesting against Aberdeen City Council for 45 minutes.

You might have thought it was an outdoor rave: ex-councillor Kate Dean was trendily dressed in fetching leggings and a Cove Bay Rangers supporters’ top. I guess this further illustrates that she has no ties to the club which might have remotely prejudiced her handling of the Loirston Loch planning hearing.

Financially or otherwise, someone who might be biased towards one side or another of a hearing isn’t supposed to be the convener, as previously detailed. Anyway, Old Susannah showed up to watch the demo, with a friend and a doggie, and had a chat to some media acquaintances. They were most amused that they’d shown up in the middle of a weekend to cover a demo supposedly by four or five hundred, to find instead between sixty to eighty people, including infants and toddlers.

I learnt a few new vocabulary words from some of these hacked off hacks, but best we don’t define those.

Aileen Malone, councillor, protesting against the council.  Hmm.  Presumably she was protesting against the amiable Martin Greig, Lib Dem, who voted against borrowing £90 million or so for granite walkways. It will be interesting to find out how this move by HoMalone will be viewed by her current party members and by other sitting councillors.  And we shall.

Tom Smith wrote a heart-wrenching, or perhaps ‘stomach-wrenching’, letter to the P&J in response to a letter by one Dr. Howard Gemmell.  Dr Gemmell was disappointed that the city has been split over the UTG situation, and the lack of Wood’s/ACSEF’s willingness to compromise.

There are some absolutely charming comments on the petition which Wood might enjoy

Smith doesn’t seem to agree that there was unwillingness to compromise. I guess he missed all of Sir Ian’s statements to the effect that it was his way or no way, it was the Web or nothing, and if he couldn’t have his Web he’d send the £50 million to help Africans.

Old Susannah started a petition, now with about 175 signatories, asking Wood to honour his February pledge and send the money to do good in Africa instead of getting rid of the city’s lungs.  There are some absolutely charming comments on the petition which Wood might enjoy; it can be found at

Smith goes on to say ‘there is no strident political campaign by business or Aberdeen City Garden Trust.’  So before getting on to this week’s themes, here is one non-related definition first:

Strident: (Eng. adjective) Characterised by harsh, loud, aggressive noise or commotion.

ACSEF?  Aberdeen City Gardens Trust?  Big Partnership and 300-plus radio adverts?  The letter signed by a hundred businessmen complaining that without a Web we’re doomed?  Strident, these guys?  Never!  I’ve never seen a more refined, elegant polite request to hand control of public, Common Good land over to a private company before.

A member of the royal family playing games in the nude.  A member of the royal family sunbathing in private.  Another royal, Lady Gaga, accused of being ‘fat’.  The naked rambler’s naked ambition.  Kylie’s bottom, again.  A host of issues have made the nude, sorry, news this week.  Here are some relevant definitions to get to the bottom of things.

Right to Privacy: (mod. Eng.; law) The right of an individual not to endure surveillance, be harassed, photographed, recorded, etcetera, as guaranteed by EU Human Rights law, unless there is a legal reason or a journalistic need to expose truth in the public interest.

Apparently, Individuals’ right to privacy is guaranteed in the European Convention on Human Rights.  Journalists however are able to collect and reveal information if it is in the public interest to do so. Smash criminal gangs? Expose illegal activities? These are the kind of things the old-fashioned investigative reporter used to get up to.

But why risk danger, spend ages researching topics, and wind up with a story buried deep in a newspaper if it’s printed at all? After all, not all papers are interested in exposing truths. I wish I could think of an example or two of this.. All you need is a long, long telephoto lens, a decent camera, some recording equipment, and you’ll be in the tabloids earning lots of dosh with little effort. Result.

A newspaper can print a story if it has not been illegally obtained, and if it is definitely in the public interest to print it. This obviously means we need nude photos of the royal family. What could be more in the public interest than that? Perhaps a certain young man was foolish in the extreme to have had a wild US holiday captured in snapshots.

It’s a pity there weren’t any older, wiser professional people around him to stop photos being taken without spoiling the fun, or at least to ensure that the young man was fully aware of the consequences.  If there had been any such experienced, sober professionals around, this particular upset could easily have been avoided. Good on the Sun for printing the photos.

It’s not as if the Sun is in any way an opportunistic paper that will do anything for money.  Beloved of those caught up in Hillsborough, and celebrities and politicians who may have been hacked, thank goodness we’ve got the Sun.

However, a female member of the Royal family was sunbathing at a private French chateau when she was photographed topless. Who could I be referring to? She was photographed by someone with a long lens who was apparently standing nearly half a mile away. She had a reasonable expectation of privacy, and it was taken away from her. Result!  More public interest photos!

Whether or not you are a fan of the royal family, celebrities, sports people, politicians, all these groups of people are contributing by helping our kindly, intrepid newshounds to make a dignified living.  But the stories wouldn’t be as much fun without photos…

Paparazzi(Italian, plural noun) Packs of journalists and photographers who follow famous people around, looking for photo opportunities and stories to sell to tabloids and cheap magazines.

The paparazzi have done a great job so far, and they couldn’t keep it up without people buying magazines.

Whether it’s a drunk singer getting out of a car showing underwear or skin, whether it’s an ageing Peter Falk aka Colombo in California being literally chased by a pack of news hounds (the poor man was old; he was upset and confused when cornered and photographed), or a celebrity’s child going to school, all are fair game for the paparazzi.

After all, everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame, or so I am told, and ‘all publicity is good publicity’. The famous should be grateful that the ever-attentive photographers trail their every move, spying on them, their family and friends.

If you’re famous enough, your accidental death may likewise get a good set of photographers recording it. You’ll be most grateful I’m sure. Old Susannah thought that there was a law and a code or two stopping the exploitation and hounding of celebrities, but apparently there aren’t.

So, keep on buying those mags. Find out who’s been seen cheating on whom, who got drunk, what colour underwear they had on. Most importantly, keep buying these worthy news periodicals to find out crucial things like who looks too fat or too skinny.

Body Image(Mod. Eng. psychological term) The mental picture we have of what we look like to ourselves and the rest of the world.

Anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders were once a comparative rarity confined to teenage girls. However, people of all sexes and ages are suffering these days in increasing numbers.  The problem? Who knows. It’s certainly nothing to do with paparazzi and the celebrity mag. It is mere coincidence that any star in a bikini or ‘revealing outfit’ is immediately deemed to be too thin or more likely too fat by the press.

For one thing, the camera adds ten pounds to us all, or at least that’s my excuse. For another, we’re saturated in images of people who are close to physical perfection, because they’ve been airbrushed. Somehow, when someone doesn’t look quite as tall and thin in real life as in their movie poster, the press is free to speculate whether they have ‘cellulite’.  And ageing is definitely a no-no. Botox to that.

There is obviously no link between the media obsessing over every inch of a celeb’s body and other people wondering if they are beautiful or not. Any link between people binge eating or starving themselves has nothing to do with this tiny societal pressure to be perfect.

Lady Gaga, it is being claimed, has no right to any privacy. So her ex pa claims in a New York law suit. I think Gaga might beg to differ. She has recently posed in a bikini as a response to people saying she’d got fat. As a teenager she suffered eating disorders.

It is almost as if she thinks her music is somehow more important than what she looks like. But here’s the thing: just because someone poses for a photo when there is a photo call or an event on, does it mean they should be photographed in their private time? Of course it does!

Thankfully girls have many positive role models. There is Jordan for instance. Buying quantities of silicone, taking your clothes off, and having a ghost writer are what we want our young girls aspire to.

Exposure: (Eng; crime) exposing oneself wilfully, for instance to young children or in public.

In Aberdeen, a man was spared jail this week. He continues to go out in public and expose himself to young children. What a freedom fighter! Just like our friend, the Naked Rambler.

You might think Old Susannah would rush to defend the Naked Rambler’s right to be naked wherever and whenever he wants. Absolutely!

The thing is, other people’s rights not to be disturbed by the Rambler exposing himself aren’t as important as his right to be naked. He was recently asked to stay clear of a children’s play area when he was naked. He refused. What a hero!

There is a silly old saying ‘your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins’. Surely this doesn’t apply to our naked freedom fighter. So what if something like one in five women can expect to have some kind of sexual assault in their lifetime? Why shouldn’t this nude guy be free to make people wary of a potential attack? Why should anyone have the right to keep their child from seeing him?

An American criminal legal professional I know brought up the subject of crime and nudity once, it was one of those conversations. She said that in her years of court experience there were usually only two reasons a man shows up naked somewhere: one is because they intend a sexual assault; the other is because they are going to kill someone and don’t want to get blood on their clothes. But let’s just let everyone go around naked, shall we? How can that lead to any intimidation or discomfort?

Sadly, we don’t live in an innocent, nice world any more. Some say we never did. By the way, the Naked Rambler has two children by one of his ex-partners. She asked him to keep his clothes on to visit his young children and he refused point blank. Now that’s truly heroic, sacrificing your children’s right to a father so that you can get naked.

Confidential to ‘Forgetful of Bucksburn’:  Sorry you forgot about all the charming posts you put on Facebook extolling the various good points of the EDL. If you need any reminders of what you wrote, just let Old Susannah know. I’ve got screenshots saved and backed up, and I’ll be  happy to refresh your memory.

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May 242012

By Suzanne Kelly.

Some months back I had a chance to take a full day course at the Nick Nairn Cookery School, but I never got my schedule straightened out in time to sign up.

Instead, I found time for ‘Quick Cook: Classic Crepes’ – a two hour lunchtime course.

I am not the most easily pleased person, but I can truly say this course was everything it should have been – instructive, enjoyable, hands-on, perfectly structured, and the results were delicious.

I already knew how to make crepes decently – so I thought.  Louise’s techniques (different and clearly superior to my usual style) were demonstrated with enthusiasm and clarity.

We were all flipping crepes and turning out beautiful, perfect golden specimens by the time Louise was done with us.  The other students were clearly having fun, and one woman was profusely thanking her friend for taking her there as a gift.  And that was even before we tasted our handiwork.  The immaculate, state-of-the-art cooking area and dining bar were a joy to work and eat in.

The savoury crepe we were making was to be filled with a smoked haddock and cheddar sauce with herbs.  I decided to taste some of the herbs before adding – and I’ve never had better except perhaps from my garden.  Louise explained what to avoid when buying smoked haddock (ie artificially coloured fish which often has other additives) – what we had ingredient-wise was the best you’d be able to get – I wish I could remember where in Scotland the cheddar was from.

As we sat down to eat the crepes we’d created (garnished with rocket), Louise demonstrated how to do Crepe Suzette.  This dish may be retro to some, but I personally love it, and it is apparently gaining in popularity.

There was no time for us to make the dish ourselves – but with the skills we had learned and what was demonstrated, we will all be able to replicate it at home. Suffice it to say that the Crepe Suzette she served the students was better than any I’d ever made, or that I’d ever been served.  (I make my own variation which I call ‘Crepe Suzanne’ with Jack Daniel’s – and I’ll be trying that very soon with my new skills).
I’d learnt a better way to cut and dice, a faster and more successful way to make white sauce, and I’ve taken away a dozen other hints and tips.

Don’t bother trying to get on the next crepe course – it’s already sold out.  But whatever your level of cooking or your specific culinary interest, there is a course for you.  I’ll be on the next full day Nick Nairn course I can get on.

Eleven out of ten.  This is a win for Aberdeen, and I wish the school every success.

May 172012

By Suzanne Kelly.

Nick Nairn’s long-awaited Aberdeen Cook School, which opened its doors on 9th May, caters to a demand from would-be cooks from across the country.  The £500,000 project is providing further jobs and a tourism boost to the north-east of Scotland.
The new Aberdeen Cook School has been a passionate desire of Nick’s for several years and is located in a stunning listed building – formerly St Nicholas Kirk’s old church hall in the city centre – which has been transformed into two separate state-of-the-art foodie havens.

Work on the building has been carefully designed to enhance original features such as the carved mouldings and stained glass windows, alongside striking stainless steel and white kitchen areas, designed by Kitchens International.

The new cook school follows on from the success of the Nick Nairn Cook School in Port of Menteith, near Stirling, and Nick explains:

“We have a disproportionate number of people coming to our existing school from the north-east, so an Aberdeen school seemed a natural progression.  Also, the north-east is a farming community and some of the finest produce comes from here.

We have found that cooking enthusiasts from this area are passionate about developing their skills and particularly enjoy entertaining at home.  They can commit time to learning due to their working patterns and disposable incomes.”

Nick will also be trialling a brand new venture in the new cook school, with after-work and lunchtime classes at its Quick Cook Bar.  This is a new urban concept where participants can cook, learn and eat in two hours, picking up invaluable tuition from basic knife skills to creating culinary masterpieces.

Nick said:

“ It will be perfect for people who work during the day.  You can pop in after work or do it over a long lunch-break.  It’s also an affordable place for students to come along and learn to cook for themselves.”

The Aberdeen Cook School is employing 10 people, as well as two well-known chefs heading up Nick’s team.

Head chef Kenny Smart, who joins from the prestigious 1906 restaurant at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen, will run the large teaching kitchen upstairs.  The Quick Cook Bar area downstairs will be overseen by Louise Chapman, previously restaurant co-ordinator for the hugely successful Taste Festivals.

Nick will also teach classes on dedicated days, as well as the cook school’s established chef John Webber.  John brings more than three decades of knowledge and experience, having trained with Anton Eddelman and Anton Mossiman before being awarded his own Michelin accolades in the country house hotels he previously worked in prior to joining forces with Nick twelve years ago.

While full-day classes for 24 people will be held upstairs at the Aberdeen Cook School, the ground floor level will also feature a cook shop, selling essential kitchen kit from a £5 heatproof spatula to a £3,000 Falcon range cooker – and gadgets that gather absolutely no dust.

The new Nick Nairn Aberdeen Cook School also makes an exceptional private hire venue with bespoke options – including Nick himself – being available.  Various gift cards are available for classes as unique, thoughtful presents.

Aberdeen classes start from Sunday 20th May and can be booked now via or by calling 01877 389 900.