Nov 172016
 

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

michelle-ferguson-charity-manager-cash-for-kids-launching-mission-christmasA North-east charity has launched its annual festive gift appeal as it aims to ensure thousands of local underprivileged children receive a present this Christmas.
Cash for Kids has launched its Mission Christmas gift appeal which is once again being supported by The Wood Foundation, the philanthropic organisation founded by Sir Ian Wood.

Last year, Mission Christmas guaranteed that over 6,800 children living in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire had a present to open on Christmas morning.

With recent estimates suggesting that 18% of children in Aberdeen and 13% of children in Aberdeenshire live in poverty, Cash for Kids anticipates a similar volume of applications this year.

The children’s charity is calling on north-east residents to purchase one extra child’s gift when shopping this Christmas and donate it to the Mission Christmas appeal or donate money which the charity will use to fill any gift gaps. Buying shopping centre vouchers is also recommended as this can provide teenagers with the freedom to choose items they prefer.

Over 120 donation points have been set up across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire where people can drop off new, unwrapped gifts. The deadline for donating items is Friday, 16 December, however the public are encouraged to donate items prior to this to ensure all gift applications are fulfilled in time.

In order to cope with the anticipated volume of donations and number of applications, the appeal is being coordinated from a new warehouse this year. The modern facility has been donated free of charge by Knight Property Group and M&G Real Estate for the duration of the appeal.

For a sixth consecutive year, Aberdeen-based haulier Colin Lawson Transport is supporting the appeal. The firm is providing a dedicated driver and vehicle to collect the gifts from donation points across the north-east.

An army of volunteers will be giving their time to sort through donations and allocate them against applications to provide each child with three gifts with a combined value of approximately £50. With at least 20,000 items expected to be required to meet demand, the scale of the task ahead for Mission Christmas 2017 is clear.

To help raise funds for the appeal Cash for Kids is holding its Christmas Jumper Day on Friday, 09 December. The day encourages local businesses and schools to persuade their employees and pupils to don their favourite festive knits and donate £1 per person to Mission Christmas.

Michelle Ferguson, Cash for Kids charity manager (pictured), said:

“Mission Christmas generates a huge response each year and we are extremely grateful to everyone who donates a gift, time or resources. We are very pleased to have The Wood Foundation supporting the appeal once more, helping to highlight the issue and causes of child poverty in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

“Gift and voucher donations are fantastic, but monetary donations can also make a huge difference. They allow us to purchase items for age groups where there are gaps.  A monetary donation of £10 is equivalent to foregoing two extra tubs of chocolates this Christmas or a week’s worth of take-away coffee and would help to ensure no child in the north-east goes without this Christmas. Every little help, really does help.”

Sir Ian Wood, chairman of The Wood Foundation, said:

“To know that there are children right now, living in the north-east of Scotland who may not experience the excitement of receiving a special gift on Christmas morning is incredibly sad. In Aberdeen city and Aberdeenshire, poverty is often not as apparent as in other parts of Scotland, with the result that it often goes unrecognised and unaddressed.

“By supporting the work Cash for Kids does with the Mission Christmas appeal for the second year, The Wood Foundation hopes that every child across the north-east will feel the magic of Christmas this year.”

More information on the appeal, including a full list of donation points and information on the Christmas jumper day, can be found at www.northsound1.com/missionchristmas.

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Nov 172016
 

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

Aberdeen-Inspired1Aberdeen Inspired has secured three year deals with both Aberdeen City Council and Codona’s to manage the Aberdeen Christmas Village up to 2018.

The leading business organisation introduced the festive wonderland last year in partnership with the council and the family amusement firm, and has now committed to further delivery of the Yuletide event.

The Aberdeen Christmas Village will open to the public from November 25 to January 08.

The hugely popular ice-rink will make a return to the pocket park as part of the Christmas offering and has been doubled in size. Other attractions will include funfair rides, food vendors and an entertainment marquee as well as double the amount of market stalls offering a wide selection of goods.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We are thrilled to be bringing back the Aberdeen Christmas Village this month, which will be even bigger and better than last year.

“Codona’s did a fantastic job in managing the event last year and we are pleased to have now secured a three year commitment up to 2018. Now this has been finalised we are looking forward to working with them and Aberdeen City Council to deliver a fantastic Christmas experience for Aberdeen.

“Work has now begun on the build and we can’t wait to see the festive heart of the city centre start to take shape. We have worked hard to offer something fun for the people of Aberdeen and create something they will really enjoy. As well as building on the offering of last year, we will be introducing some new aspects to the village in association with local groups and look forward to sharing details on that in the near future.

“Part of Aberdeen Inspired’s remit is to increase footfall within the city centre and the Aberdeen Christmas Village will help towards that, with the hopeful knock-on effect of bringing in benefits to local shops, restaurants and businesses. To achieve this aim, we need to support of the public and visitors to Aberdeen, so I would urge everyone to enjoy what is being offered on their doorstep and support their city centre.”

Union Terrace will be closed from November 18 in the evening to January 15 to accommodate the village, while the slip road between His Majesty’s Theatre and Union Terrace was closed from November 12 to allow construction of the open air ice rink to begin in the pocket park.

Deputy council leader Councillor Marie Boulton said:

“The Christmas Village was a major attraction last year and will be a popular part of the Winter Festival again. With work beginning on construction, we look forward to the opening of the village and are pleased to be working with our partners to deliver what is a fantastic addition to Aberdeen’s festive offering. For Aberdeen City Council the Christmas Village is part of a clear focus on ensuring a wide and varied programme of high quality events and attractions, both for the people of the city and with the aim of attracting visitors from at home and abroad.”

Alfred Codona, director of Aberdeen-based family amusement firm Codona’s, said: “We are delighted to have secured a deal with Aberdeen Inspired to deliver the Aberdeen Christmas Village, which was popular with locals and visitors alike to the city centre last year.

“At Codona’s we take great pride in ensuring fun and excitement for visitors to our attractions and we are looking forward to revealing more about our plans for the Village. This three-year deal will allow us to keep building on the event each year and we are looking forward to working with Aberdeen Inspired and other partners to bring together a festive experience on Union Terrace.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute. Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district and driving footfall to the zone.

For further information on the work of Aberdeen Inspired visit www.aberdeeninspired.com

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Jan 142016
 

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

The world's largest mobile thrill ride, Bomber Mac 2, reaches speads of up to 60 miles and hour at 55 metres tall at The Hoppings, Newcastle's legendary fair on the Town Moor. PHOTOGRAPH: Dirk van der Werff / AQphotos.com

Standing at 50m high, one of the biggest thrill rides in Europe, ‘the Bomber’ was a focal attraction at Aberdeen’s Christmas Village.

Organisers have hailed the Aberdeen Christmas Village a success after more than half a million people enjoyed the spectacular attraction. Spearheaded by Aberdeen Inspired in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and Codona’s, the winter wonderland proved incredibly popular, attracting 515,972 people throughout the festive period. The village was open for a total of 37 days.

The organisation’s aim was to create an attraction bigger and better than Aberdeen has ever had before and they are thrilled by the high number of visitors to the village.

They also unveiled the world renowned art installation Intrude, which consisted of large illuminated rabbits at Union Terrace Gardens in December, adding an extra dimension to the crowd pleasing attractions.

The first term of Aberdeen Inspired, the banner under which the BID has operated since 2012, is now drawing to a close and the organisation hopes to use the positive response to the village as a springboard for future projects if it achieves renewal ballot success.

Between February 4 and March 17 levy-payers will vote in a re-ballot to determine whether or not the business-led initiative within the city centre returns for another five-year term.

Gary Craig, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We were absolutely delighted with the public’s response to the Aberdeen Christmas Village, which was way beyond our expectations and proves there is appetite for events on this scale in the Granite City.

“The footfall figures for the village are incredible, with over half a million people enjoying everything it had to offer. It was fantastic to see everyone get into the festive spirit in the heart of the city centre and we are determined to carry this positive momentum forward as we continue preparations for our renewal ballot.”

Aberdeen City Council Deputy Leader Councillor Marie Boulton said:

“2015 was Aberdeen’s biggest winter festival and the Christmas Village helped to make it a huge success. We would like to thank everyone who visited and enjoyed the Village, the stallholders, musicians and comedians for their contribution and our staff and partners for all their hard work.”

Gary Craig added:

“In order to build on initiatives like the Aberdeen Christmas Village we need the support of our levy players in the upcoming ballot. As a close knit team we are dedicated to the work we deliver throughout the city centre and we know that passion for Aberdeen is mirrored by our electorate – the businesses we represent.

“Our hard-working and talented team wants to continue to bring forward projects to enhance the city centre and are hugely excited about our current project plans. Our ultimate aim is to drive footfall and improve the area for our members, with the Christmas Village a great example of that.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute.

Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district. Further information on the work of Aberdeen Inspired is available at www.aberdeeninspired.com

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Dec 172015
 

Xmas_mask__c__Duncan_HarleyBy Duncan Harley.

As support for Trump hits a new high, the discontents of Xmas are upon us. Dances with Santa under the mistletoe and brandy-laced puddings are on the cusp, as the traditional festival drops from on high.
Personally I have a particular hatred of Xmas.

Family fights and feuds blighted my enjoyment of the season to be joyful, and many a festive turkey witnessed huffy uncles sniffing at wicked aunties who had caused uproar by omitting to knit fitting pressies last year or the year before.

I prefer funerals to be honest. Amongst the eulogies and the wee burnt up sausage rolls there is a least a common theme of how to bury the dead.

When my children were young, Xmas had some attraction. Hiding the truth about Santa ranked with being wakened up at some god-forsaken hour to be told,

“Santa’s been, look what I got!”

The trashing of carefully wrapped presents ranked equally with the cleaning of chocolate covered faces prior to the granny visit. Happy faces all round usually led to cries of “When can we go home”, and the desperate playing of Monopoly. The only winners were Waddingtons.

The very best festive season I ever had was in Glasgow.

I’d read some of Charles Bukowski’s work prior to taking a seasonal job in the local sorting office … sic … it was Xmas nineteen-something-or-other and I was charged with sorting out postal packets in Dixon’s Blazes.

A former ironworks, the place was built by one William Dixon (1788-1859). In days long past the industrialist’s furnaces lit up the night sky on the south side of the River Clyde and earned the ironworks the nickname “Dixon’s Blazes”.

When the furnaces died down the Royal Mail set up a sorting office in the old red-bricked factory buildings.

After the job interview, I signed the Official Secrets Act. The exact detail escapes me to this day; but I remain convinced that the paperwork specified that I should not divulge state-secrets to any foreign power including Wales or St Kilda. It was the time of the Cold War and the postal authorities were decidedly edgy, and on the lookout for left-wing infiltrators.

Burnhervie_edited-1Despite the long hair, I must have come across as a nice young right-wing non-activist and the very next day, I began work as a sorter-out of the nation’s Xmas parcels.

In those far off days parcels were sorted out by chucking them into mailbags hung on metal posts and labelled by destination. My postal station had around 30 of these bags and featured towns such as Cambridge, Carnoustie and Coventry alongside Dundee, Dundonald and Dunkeld. The procedure was to stand well back, pick a parcel from the line and chuck it into the appropriate destination mailbag.

In those far-off days, only Aberdeen featured post-codes, and the Postal Authorities in Glasgow were a bit sniffy about the new technology.

Needless to say, my aim was poor and my knowledge of geography was even worse.

A man by the name of Dutch Hendry took me under his wing and informed me that the name of the game was smashing up the mail. A full-time sorting-office employee he had plenty of tips.

“Chuck it into the bags, who cares where the stuff’s meant for.”

“What about the children?”

“The children? Just smash the toys.”

Dutch was of course both permanently drunk and permanently childless. His only claim to being from Holland was his liking for Dutch courage.

During the night shift some other drunks drove a red ‘by Royal Appointment’ Post Office van through the sorting office doors and got suspended for 24 hours. No-one seemingly cared about the wrecked van. Things were desperate at the sorting office.

One colleague had been fired last year for sticking it in big time. He had met a supervisor in the canteen and beat him with a loaded mail bag. You just never know who you’re associating with. They took him on again. Unbelievable.

Anyway, in nineteen-something-or-other, we all felt privileged to be looking after the Royal Mail despite the obvious blemishes.

In his classic American bestseller “Post Office” Bukowski describes the delivering of mail as a menial job worthy only of low life absurdly governed and powerless drones.

“You got any mail for me?”

“How the F… ck should I know … I’m only the mailman.”

“You got any mail for me?”

“How the F… ck should I know … I’m only the mailman.”

“You got any mail for me?”

“Who the F…ck are you and why should I even care?”

“You got any mail for me?”

Bukowski throws you over the place. After all, he’s dead and even when he wasn’t he didn’t give a shi …………

Apologies to Post Office Workers everywhere … you do a great job folks!

Merry Xmas everyone … unless you’re a Donald.

Words and images © Duncan Harley

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Dec 142015
 

An Aberdeen Nativity by Suzanne Kelly.

Author’s note: Due to some recent developments, it seems the audience for Aberdeen Voice has widened; this is very welcome.

Every year I write an irreverent satirical piece summing up some of the year’s local, occasionally national, issues. Most of this won’t make the blindest bit of sense to those outside our little hamlet; apologies to anyone who invests time reading this, only to wind up scratching their head at the end.

Before recent developments, I had started to write this piece. All previous pieces had steered clear of the religious element of the traditional Christmas story. There were pieces based on Dickens A Christmas Carol, Dr Seuss’ wonderful Grinch, and so on. I hope it doesn’t need to be said I don’t mock anyone’s belief – but I think I’d best go on record as saying such. The story of the Nativity seemed very apt to a country where penniless travellers in need have come seeking shelter; I hope that is clear.

I could have pulled the piece; I could have taken a safer slant for this satire. But as I am determined that recent developments should not change me or what I do, I’m going to keep doing the things I do. Thank you for bearing with me, and even if this won’t be the best piece of satire you’ve ever read (and it certainly won’t be), thank you for understanding the important role satire has in standing up for what’s right, and mocking what is wrong.

Happy holidays, whatever you celebrate.
– Suzanne.

#                                  #                                  #

Aberdeen21NativityAnd lo, forsooth, result! – It came to pass that travellers from afar came to Aberdeen, a man named Joseph and a woman, Mary.

Verily things were not so good in the region they had come from. This was not far from what is called The Holy Land, where things are even less great, but I digresseth.

The great Caledonian cheiftans had decreed every child would be given a Person Named who would beneficently look into every child’s thoughts and life – for their own good of course.

Mary was heavy with child, and as is of course a good thing, as soon as the couple reached Caledonia, a Person Named was assigned to them. As was the Person Named’s wont, he stayed with them, beneficially watching their every move.

Joseph had come to seek respite from famine and war, which of course were all his personal fault. Perhaps he would landeth one of the many thousands of jobs created in the Shire of the Deen by Caesar Augustus Trumpus Maximus Racist, whose great pleasure palace would be the envy of the civilised world. Placed on the world’s largest dunes of sand, verily the wealthy multitudes would come here for a game of golf and leisure, although it was leagues north of Hadrian’s Wall, in the frozen land of the Picts and Celts. But I digresseth again.

The Person Named had managed to secure a temporary hotel lodging for the homeless couple, a beddeth and breakfasteth which the taxpayer would pay for. Now the taxpayer waxed wroth, for verily they had already paid for a massive number of social homes – some 400 of these were ready for use, but were sitting empty.

Peterus Leonardus Ruminant Vermin-Slayer Totallus Incompetentus, the head of the city’s housing, had decreed it was too complicated to give these homes a good use, and anyway, he was far too busy ridding the city of its roe deer menace. He claimed that a roe deer caused one chariot accident every week. This may in part have been because Leonardus had destroyed every bit of meadow the poor creatures had, but again, I digresseth.

The hotel was, according to the brochure the Person Named had acquired, supposed to be an iconic, smart, forward-looking building breathing new life into the heart of Aberdeen.

However, when Joseph, Mary and the Person Named arrived at their hotel, alas! It was still under construction, although it should have been finished months ago. A giant scraper of the sky, towering over the other buildings in Aberdeen, including some dusty old relic called the Provost’s House – it could not house them. The Person Named exclaimed:

“Behold what mighty works there are here in Aberdeenland. Great towers of glass and concerete so great as to block out the sky and light! Result!”

Joseph whispered to Mary:

“I wonder that the city’s senators would allow such ugly carbuncles to be erected amid the pleasant Granite buildings and suspected some shekels had traded hands. This Square of the Marischal looks like our blighted homeland. What maniacs are these we find ourselves among I wonder?”

Mary, Joseph and the Person Named followed street signs pointing to the tourist board, but verily these all led back to the place where the iron horses sped along tracks of metal, well, the trains did work when the copper wiring had not been stripped away by the Vandals and Ostragoths, or unless the wrong types of leaves lay on the rails – but again I digresseth.

Eventually finding the tourist board office, despite all the signs pointing to either the railway station or a giant bazaar, they spoke with the tourist board staff.

“Och noo, there are nae hotel rooms available, the whole o Scotland’s come to see yon Christmas Village, you see. However, I could get you either a single room in Peterheid, or the Britannia still seems to have lots of space for some reason.”

Joseph was tired and aggrieved:

“Verily I would sooner take my chances in the Sunken Gardens of the Terrace of Union with its murderers, miscreants and n’eer do wells, and Buckfast drinkers than take my wife and the Person Named to the Britannia.”

So off they went.

#                                  #                                  #                                  #

“This is going on your permanent record” saideth the Person Named. Mary was sore afraid.

They headed to the outskirts of town, and found a stable filled with horses, cattle, chickens and sheep – you getteth the idea.

And what kind of a farm was this?

It was a charity farm, one which rescued all kinds of farm animals (no dogs or cats).

Joseph was intrigued. Addressing the farmer he asked her:

“Lo, by what means do you pay for all the food, vet bills, insurance and regular horse-shoeing the horses and ponies need?”

“We’re 100% dependent on the public for donations.” the lady farmer replied, “I don’t have a computer, but I put up ads on fundraising websites with lovely pictures of horses and ponies and sheep, and people send us donations for the animals we rescue.”

“Verily” said the Person Named, “I can see a picture here of a sheep, and another of four little ponies – mind, these ponies look very much like some that I’ve seen in a photograph of yonder Shetlands – ponies which need no rescue.”

“Well!” said the farmer “we are a working farm, and I never said we weren’t. It’s like this: we show photos of fluffy lambs because our supporters want to see them. Then we sell the lambs at auction to people who will probably turn them into lamb chops, but it is none of our business what happens to the animals we raise as a business to support our business, and well all of our supporters know we save animals by raising other animals to get killed, if you know what I mean.”

She continued proudly:

“Sometimes, as I don’t have a camera or a computer, I have to download pictures of other people’s animals, and I’m sure no one minds too much. Anyway, that’ll be £30 for the night. In advance.”

Neither Joseph, Mary or the Person Named were sure they understood this business model.

“Well, it’s still better than staying in the Britannia” Mary said.

All agreed, and began settling down for the night.

“Joseph honey, I think I’m going into labour” said Mary.

“You sure it’s not just indigestion from that all you can eat Chinese on Union Street our Mary?” he asked

“No, it’s the realeth deal”

“Shall we get you to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary then?” asked the Person Named

Joseph and Mary looked at their clip-board bearing travel companion (who refused to give them their name as it happened) and exchanged a look.

“You mean that place where the cleaning staff, nurses and doctors are all on a pittance and toil all day and night, where germs have run rampant, where junior doctors are exhausted, and the ER is crammed on a weekend with people who have had too much wine and mead?” – Joseph was aghast.

“Well, that’s where we’re going, I’ll just call for an ambulance and call to let the midwives know we’re on the way. Then I’m going to find you two immigrants some permanent accommodation and some work. The council will have your home and work straightened out in no time.” said the Person Named.

Joseph and Mary again looked at each other and shook their heads.

#                                  #                                  #                                  #

Meaneth while, some shepherds were out in one of the few fields left, counting their sheep.

“It’s nae use Murray,” Shepherd A spake “Fit wi so many ear tags on each animal nowadays they can barely keep their head up.”

“Agreed,” saideth Shepherd B. “And god help you if your sheep should lose a tag; that’s you stuck with an unsellable sheep, and about a week’s worth of paperwork, and a hefty bill. Things ain’t what they used to be.”

“Perhaps we could do liketh those farmers up the road do, and start also keeping some animals, you know, and saying we’re rescuing them. We’ll still sell our sheep at market, but we’ll tell everyone how kind and loving we are, and we’ll tell them we’re saving farm animals.” Shepherd A was proud of this plan.

“Ach, you’ve been smoking that funny stuff they sell on the Q T down at the farm have ye?” Shepherd B said. “Still, if it turneth a quid, let’s put our heads together and go fer it.”

Just at this moment the heavens lit up.

“Heck’s this?” asked Shepherd A “Aurora Borealis was nae forecast on my Facebook feed tonight.”

Shepherd B said:

“Must be one of those funny light projection things that the city think are so clever and forward looking. They shine a pink or blue light on a tree trunk or on a building, and think they’re Manhattan or London.”

Just then, an angel descended from the heavens, flapping its wings. it spake unto the shepherds:

“Do not be afraid.”

“Am nae bothered me,” said Shepherd B

“Not fashed either; what’s up?” said A.

Somewhat flustered at the unanticipated interruption and lack of awe the pair of shepherds displayed, the angel continued:

“I shall starteth over: Do not be afraid, for I bring you glad tidings of great joy.”

“Oooh, are we getting a new shopping mall?” Asked Shepherd B, rubbing his hands together “We need more cheap goods from other parts of the empire, madeth by the slaves so that we need not spendeth all our pounds and drachma on UK made goods.”

“I know!” Shouted Shepherd A, “It’s a Krispy Kreme Donut shop! I heard on Twitter that we’re getting one in the Empire Square mall. I don’t half fancy a few dozen of those chocolate ones.”

The frustrated angel, his wings flapping furiously as he hovered over the shepherds, flew flusterdly.

“Hey mate, you have a permit for this? All drones have to obey FAA commands.” Said Shepherd A

“It’s not a drone, stupid. It’s what you call one of those genetically modified chickens. Let’s have him and get some tags on those wings.” Shepherd B said

The angel waxed wroth. He pointed at a nearby boulder and it exploded.

“Pretty sure you need a permit for that.” muttered Shepherd A.

“Right. Let’s try this again.” the Angel started. “Do not be afraid, for I bring you glad tidings of great joy. Behold, a child is born tonight in a manger; he will be king of kings. His parents have travelled from afar for this miracle of birth.”

“You what?” said Shepherd B. “Last thing we need are more immigrants round here. That’s more competition for jobs, innit?”

Shepherd A was not impressed.

“King of kings? Look mate, we’re trying to get rid of the monarchy. What did the monarchs ever do for us? Except Robert the Bruce of course; he gave us common good land, foreseeing a day when we’d want to turn it over to private hands to build a granite web on.”

“Right, when you said ‘glad tidings of great joy’ I thought you at least meant a peripheral ring road, more housing in the greenbelt, or jobs creation. I hoped that maybe we’d finally get that granite web everyone wants. Jeez.” Shephderd B was sore disappointed.

Shepherd A waived his hands and arms as if to shoo the Angel away.

“Bugger off, you, and take any foreigners with you.” 

The Angel, now veritably incandescent with rage, pointed his arm at the ground by the shepherds, and a vast chasm filled with fire and brimstone opened at their feet. Out popped three people in pinstripe suits armed with mobile phones and clipboards. A mountain of paperwork and forms appeared from the firey depths as well.

“I’m Smith from DEFRA, this is Higgins from EU Agriculture and Rural Development, this is your MEP, and there’s more coming. What’s this about one of your lambs missing one of its ear tags??”

Smith thrust a bale of forms at Shepherd A.

“We’ll start with this. Our call-out fee is £10,000, which we’ll take out of next year’s farm subsidy.”

The Angel said to Shepherd B:

“If you don’t want the same, go and get the three Wise Men, and tell them to get to the barn the star hangs over, and go greet the newborn king.”

“OK OK, whatever; don’t get in a flap” Said Shepherd B, and he was off.

Shepherd A was aghast:

“But we’ve not received this year’s subsidy yet!” 

Turning to the Angel, he said:

“Couldn’t you have just turned me into a pillar of salt or something instead?”

But the Angel was gone.

#                                              #                                              #                                              #

The Person Named had called a cab, and had gone off to a five star restaurant/hotel which he’d found on Trippeth Advisor. The cab took winding roads until gigantic signs proclaimed his arrival at ‘Trumpus Maximus Scota Golfus’. He figured he’d make some calls about Joseph and Mary, have a nice steak dinner and in the morning play a round of golf.

Of course, the grateful taxpayer would be happy to pay for the costs of a Person Named, and only the best would do. Making some calls from the club house of this magnificent resort, with its giant sundials and Trumpus crested furniture, he’d sorteth out the work and housing for this couple. The ambulance had never arrived though he waited hours, and then somehow Mary and Joseph didn’t seem to be around anyway.

“If only I could find some kind of jobs for these immigrants.” the Person named sighed aloud into his third martini.

“Hi there – did you say you need to find some housing and work for some immigrants? Well look no further!”

The speaker was a woman with giant hair, giant heels, and a lovely lovely face.

“We are building staff accommodation and I’m sure we can find them some work cleaning rooms and dishes. Shall we talk?” 

Verily, it was Sarah Malonia Bates Majora, Face of Aberdeen, Spokeswoman of Trumpus. The Person Named bowed before her.

And thus another successful outcome for the Person Named scheme came to be.

#                                              #                                              #                                              #

Shepherd B arrived at the mighty palace of Marischal College. Rushing to the head of the queue at Reception, he was jostled and jeered by those in line.

“Right.” he said breathlessly to the jaded receptionist,

“I’m looking for Three Wise Men”

“Are you sure you’re in the right place?” the receptionist asked.

“Well, for openers, there’s ACSEF.”

“No, not wiseguys, Wise MEN.” the Shepherd said. “Besides it’s ONE now, not ACSEF. It’s a whole different thing!”

“Sure it is, sure it is,” The receptionist laughed,

“A public/private quango paid for partly by taxes, headed by Sir Ian Wood and Jennifer Claw’s involved, and they want to build stuff in Union Terrace Gardens.  Yeah. completely different. Anyway, what do you want wise men for, and where do you expect to find them around here?”

“A baby’s been born that will be king of kings and straighten everything out!” cried the Shepherd,

“And an angel flew down from heaven and told me to get the word around, and find the wise men.”

“NEXT!” said the receptionist, and the shepherd was jostled along out of the line.

#                                  #                                  #                                  #

In the meaneth time, Mary had had her baby right there in the manger, and couldn’t be moved now. She thought the farmer was trying to take snaps of the babe in the manger, and would have sworn the farmer whispered:

“wait til I get this on Go Fundeth Me! I’ll be sheckels in!”

And lo, similar stories were being played out in Gaul, in Brittania, in the very Roman Empire too.

Tired, worn out people were fleeing the four horsemen: Famine had come to the formerly Fertile Crescent, wreaking havoc. He was followed closely by Plague, as the fleeing refugees spilled out from the now barren land. They streamed to their country’s cities where War had been waiting to meet them. As they fled from Famine, Plague and War, many fled straight into the arms of Death, who had also been waiting.

Those who escaped Death were a diverse band. The hugest part were simply people trying to stay alive and keep their wives, husbands, mothers, fathers and children alive. They did what you or I would do.  Their options were few, and Death waited everywhere.

A tiny fraction of the people on the move were the very agents of War and Death, who decided that rather than solving problems they would make more problems.

And a smaller number still are the ones who one day will, we hope, try to solve problems with peace, intelligence, kindness, and maybe even Love, who it is rumoured is making something of a comeback.

Mary slept; Joseph kept watch, and the baby smiled in its sleep.

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Dec 112015
 

With thanks to Charlie Abel.

Iron-Broo-christmas

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
Email charlieabel@ironbroo.scot.

Dec 112015
 
Breakfast with Santa

Breakfast with Santa

With thanks to Phil Moar, Account Manager, Citrus:Mix.

A Rosehearty primary school pupil has used her creative skills to win breakfast with a very special guest for her and her friends.

Madison Louise Stephen, a primary four pupil at Rosehearty School, came out top in Aberdeen shopping centre Bon Accord & St Nicholas’ Breakfast with Santa drawing competition.

Entrants were asked to draw a festive picture to adorn the walls of Santa’s Grotto which is currently present within the Bon Accord mall in the run-up to Christmas.

Madison’s picture was selected as the winner from over 100 entries from pupils throughout Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, with her Christmas time scene being praised by judges.

Her prize, along with a group of her friends, was breakfast with the man himself last Sunday (December 06) at Di Maggio’s Caffe in the Bon Accord mall before Santa started a busy shift meeting other children within the grotto.

Santa’s Grotto will be present within Bon Accord & St Nicholas on weekends December 5-6 and 12-13 from 10am to 4pm as well as each day from December 19 to Christmas Eve. All donations raised from the grotto itself will go to north-east charity CLAN Cancer Support.

Roselynn Birnie, head teacher at Rosehearty School, said:

“The entire school was delighted with Madison’s achievement and I’m sure that she, along with her friends, enjoyed their morning in Santa’s company.

“It’s fantastic that Madison has had her creative skills recognised in this way and she should be very proud of being selected as the winner from over 100 entries. It certainly is a bit of festive good news for everyone associated with Rosehearty School.”

Craig Stevenson, centre manager at Bon Accord & St Nicholas, said:

“I’d like to congratulate Madison for her lovely drawing and I hope she and her friends enjoyed their breakfast with Santa.

“I’d also like to thank all those who entered the competition; the response from pupils from all over Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire has really blown us away and they’ve all helped add something special to the grotto within the Bon Accord mall.

“We wanted to help create a bit of festive fun for our loyal shoppers this Christmas and our grotto is an integral part of our centre offering in December. It’s already proved popular with customers so far so I’d encourage you to pay Santa and visit and make sure your name is on his list for the big day itself later this month.”

Located in the upper mall on the Bon Accord centre, admission to Santa’s Grotto is £4.50 and includes a free gift for all those that attended. All proceeds are being donated to CLAN Cancer Support, Bon Accord & St Nicholas’ chosen charity for the year.

For more information and opening days, please visit www.bonaccordandstnicholas.com

Bon Accord & St Nicholas are at the heart of Aberdeen city centre’s retail sector, offering 840,000 sq ft of prime space and home to around 100 stores. Scotland’s largest Next, Aberdeen’s only Topshop and Topman standalone store as well as the City’s largest New Look and River Island are among the key retailers.

The centres, which attract an average of 275,000 visitors a week, are owned by BMO Real Estate Partners and managed by specialist retail agency Savills. For further on the centres visit www.bonaccordandstnicholas.com

Nov 262015
 

Glen Tanar Tower O’ Ess With thanks to Esther Green, Tricker PR.

A country estate on Royal Deeside is offering stressed out shoppers the perfect antidote to crowded shopping malls – a festive pop-up shop packed full of locally produced Christmas gifts. The store at Glen Tanar Estate, near Aboyne, is also selling Christmas trees and holly wreaths sourced from its very own nursery.

The cosy shop has been created in the Coats Room – a brand new multi-function meeting space within the main estate complex.

The shop opens on November 28 and will stay open until December 22.

It is the second year that Glen Tanar Estate has opened its festive pop-up shop. Estate owner Claire Bruce explains,

“For many years we sold our Christmas trees and holly wreaths down at the nursery, and we would get people making the trip to see us from quite a wide radius.

“When we opened the Coats Rooms late last year, we realised that we could actually use it to add to the festive retail experience and decided to launch the Christmas pop-up shop. It was a huge success and people have been asking for months if we would be opening again this year.

“The feedback we received was really positive, especially about the quality of the products on offer as they were all locally produced and not available anywhere else in the local area.

“We are continually striving to find new and interesting additions to what we offer here at Glen Tanar and we feel that the pop-up shop has been one of the most exciting yet. All we need is for the snow from the weekend to stay and we will be a real winter wonderland.”

This year there are even more local and Scottish gifts to choose from at the pop-up store. Shoppers can expect to find homemade jams, chutney and preserves from Glen Tanar’s own Liz’s Larder label, as well as small accessories and homeware in the estate tweed, including coasters, ties and purses.

There is a large selection of greetings cards, handmade jewellery, biscuits, fudge and Glen Tanar Estate’s own calendar, featuring images of the stunning landscape and wildlife that the glen is famous for.

The Glen Tanar Estate pop-up shop is open seven days a week 9am – 4pm.

Located on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park, Glen Tanar Estate is close to Aboyne and is under an hour’s drive from Aberdeen. In addition to walking and cycling trails, it offers outdoor pursuits, Land Rover  safaris, bird photography packages, pony trekking and fishing. For further information, visit www.glentanar.co.uk

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Nov 262015
 

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

SANTA_BONACCORDHe has made the long journey from the North Pole and is now ready to spread festive magic in Aberdeen.

Santa Claus and his helpers have set up their new home from home in the Bon Accord centre, and their winter wonderland grotto will be open to the public from tomorrow (Saturday November 21).

For the first time in the mall’s history, all proceeds from the winter grotto will be donated to charity partner CLAN Cancer Support, which has helped organise the festive event.

The shopping mall’s support of CLAN is the latest in a host of events and activities that it has completed on behalf of the charity after it selected it as its chosen cause for the year.

Santa will be in his grotto ready to meet children and their families between 10am and 4pm on Saturday (November 20) and Sunday (November 21), as well as November 27-29,December 5-6, 12-13 and 19-24.

Santa’s Grotto – located on the upper mall of the Bon Accord Centre – holds pride of place in a snow filled seasonal scene. Children are invited to visit the centre to meet Santa and receive a gift from the man in red.

Craig Stevenson, manager of Bon Accord & St Nicholas, said:

“The centre has a fantastic relationship with CLAN and we are delighted that proceeds from our Santa’s Grotto will go towards the invaluable work they carry out throughout the north-east.

“Santa and his elves have been very busy getting ready and are looking forward to meeting families in the run-up to Christmas. At Bon Accord & St Nicholas we work hard to make the festive period an enjoyable one for shoppers in our malls and what better way is there to get into the Yuletide spirit than by visiting Santa.

“Children are already getting involved with helping decorate the grotto’s walls through our festive picture drawing competition, which we have had a great response to. We are all looking forward to what is naturally our busiest time of the year – and we are sure Santa will be the star of the show.”

Colette Backwell, chief executive of CLAN, said:

“Bon Accord & St Nicholas have given us tremendous support this year and we are absolutely delighted to be working in partnership with them on Santa’s Grotto.

“The festive season is an exciting and busy time for all of us at CLAN, and we are looking forward to playing our part in helping out at the Santa’s Grotto. I am sure those visiting the grotto in the build-up to Christmas will thoroughly enjoy it.

“We are so grateful to the people of the north-east, who are supportive of our efforts throughout the year, and we hope they take the time to pop along, meet Santa and help us continue our crucial work by making a donation.”

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Nov 192015
 

ChristmasFestivalWith thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

Preparations are now underway to create a festive winter wonderland in the heart of the Granite City.

Led by Aberdeen Inspired in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and Codona’s, the Aberdeen Christmas Village will open to the public from November 26 to January 03.

Union Terrace will be closed from November 21 to January 8 to accommodate the village, while the slip road between His Majesty’s Theatre and Union Terrace was closed from November 16 to allow construction of the open air ice rink to begin in the pocket park.

The spectacular rink will provide the focal point among a variety of fantastic attractions, ranging from festive fairground rides and a German style market to an entertainment marquee and festive food and drink stands.

Gary Craig, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“The Aberdeen Christmas Village will be something unique and fantastic for Aberdeen and excitement is mounting as its opening draws nearer. Work will begin on Union Terrace on Saturday (November 21) and it will be great to see the village start to take shape. We believe that it will offer something different for residents and visitors to enjoy and create a wonderfully festive atmosphere in the heart of the city centre, enhancing Aberdeen’s Yuletide offering.

“Part of Aberdeen Inspired’s remit is to increase footfall within the city centre and we are sure that the Aberdeen Christmas Village will certainly help towards that. As well as building on the attractions we have put on in previous years, we wanted to create something that people would enjoy while also bringing in benefits to local businesses, restaurants and shops. It will be bigger and better than ever before.

“As with any major city centre event some traffic disruption will take place throughout the duration of its stay and plans are in place to minimise inconvenience to the public. We are looking forward to welcoming people to the village from November 26 and hope they enjoy the great variety of attractions and entertainment that will be on offer.”

Aberdeen City Council Deputy Leader Councillor Marie Boulton said:

“Excitement is really building now for the start of the Christmas Village with people from all over the city and further away having told us they’re thrilled about coming to see this unique event.

“The build for the ice rink is already taking shape and people will see a lot of work happening on the Union Terrace site to turn it into a winter wonderland. We look forward to welcoming people to our beautiful city with all the winter activities on offer.”

The line-up for the entertainment marquee has been organised by Breakneck Comedy and includes a host of talented comedians, bands, singers and choirs who have been booked to entertain the crowds. These include Best Girl Athlete, The Rock Choir, The Lorelei, Iron Broo and Dirty Shoes as well as Gary Meikle, Jordon Young and Jamie Dalgleigh among others.

The Aberdeen Christmas Village is part of the Winter Festival, which is being organised by Aberdeen City Council. A number of traffic measures will be in place for the duration of the village. Please ensure you plan ahead and for more information visit http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute. Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district and driving footfall to the zone.

For further information on the work of Aberdeen Inspired visit www.aberdeeninspired.com

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