Dec 192013

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

DictionarySeason’s Greetings!  No doubt you’ve bought your presents, decked your halls with boughs of holly, sent all your Christmas cards, planned your Boxing Day television viewing, and ordered your turkey.

The holidays are upon us, the pre- pre-Christmas Black Friday sales have turned to pre-Christmas sales which will in turn morph into Boxing Day sales. Hoards of shoppers will claw and elbow each other to get the last Size 14 Per Una black lace dress or the last Barbie’s Dream House from the shelf, all in the spirit of the season of good will.

Happy bargain hunting. No need then for any further lines from me on the true meaning of Christmas.

Of course there are local shops with handmade / unique / different gifts that could be bought to support local traders, but then again, selecting gifts from ma and pa shops requires a bit more time, thought, and sometimes a bit more money.

If you ever worry about who’s made the trainers or clothes you’ve just bought (or how animals were treated in the process), I wouldn’t bother. No less than an RGU lecturer I had some years back explained to his eager class how much better off third world workers are now.

In the old days, they would work for free. Now they can live and work in factory dormitories miles from their families 24/7 and earn a pound or two a week – which is more money than they were used to. Result!

This particular lecturer’s idea seemed to be that this is progress, and we’re doing our bit to help the third world. I was pretty much the only person in the class who asked the question ‘but what about ethics’? It’s best not to question people in a position of power (a lesson that is somewhat lost on me), and much better still to agree with them completely if they have the power of giving you a good grade.

If you’re lucky enough to get rewarded for putting your principles aside during these ‘Business 101’ type lectures from an early age, pretty soon you’ll have lots of good grades, and you won’t be troubled by any nagging doubts about what’s right and wrong, making it easier for those in power to get you to agree to more and more business-friendly, ethic-free dogma.

You’re not allowed to make fois gras in the UK for cruelty reasons

Anyway, back to your Christmas shopping. If your fur trimmed coat was made from cats and dogs kept in unspeakable conditions and skinned alive by veritable slave workers, or if the fur was pulled from a suffering rabbit to make you a nice pink sweater, well, you’re just helping to create a more competitive, capitalist world.

Well done you.  (At least I didn’t mention fois gras production.  But since you ask)

Fois Gras is produced by force-feeding mature male geese by shoving tubes filled with food down their throats as they spend their last weeks in tiny cages so they can’t even stretch their wings, let alone fly. Their livers and stomachs sometimes burst; they are traumatised beyond words.

You’re not allowed to make fois gras in the UK for cruelty reasons, which is bad for capitalism. Still, a few places still persist in importing the stuff and tout it to the would-be elite.

While you put your presents under the tree, none of which were probably made in the UK let alone locally, you might do well to wonder if there is some connection to you buying £4 jeans and the guy next door losing his job to a foreign company that can produce goods cheaper. It’s almost as if there was a connection of some sort.

The question of ethical goods, working conditions and animal treatment are, of course, the sort of spurious concerns of those who would slow the free market economy. As mentioned, an RGU professor was keen to tell his students how buying cheap Chinese goods was canny, and ethics had nothing to do with it.

Old Susannah recently had a conversation with someone about our entrepreneurial hero, Donald Trump.

I wanted to make sure the business woman in question knew about a few minor details which unfairly make The Don look a bit tarnished. There is the BBC proving his links in the US to organised crime figures. There are the lawsuits, the investors who have lost millions, and of course the small matter of the Trump University leading to charges of racketeering against DT.

The Trumps of this world don’t get where they are just on their good looks alone

I was wondering whether local companies might not look good allying themselves to the Trump course or hotel, if they wanted to stay free of any association to what unkind people are calling sleaze and corruption.

The shocked reaction I got from this woman was:

“well, that’s just how business works. I’ve had to do many things that were not strictly speaking legal, but that’s just how it is”  

I wonder if she’d had the same RGU lecturer as I had?

There are those who think that corruption only applies to cases where envelopes of unmarked bills are changing hands.  That kind of corruption is largely a thing of the past, except of course in cricket and football.  There are far more subtle, inventive ways to operate.

So, is it OK to bend the rules, ignore dishonesty, engage in a bit of friendly racketeering or animal cruelty if there is money to be made? Absolutely. The Trumps of this world don’t get where they are just on their good looks alone. And so, to help the budding entrepreneur, shopper, or business student, here are a few definitions from Christmases past, present and yet to come.

Cronyism: (Eng. Noun) To show favouritism based on relationships such as family, friends, work colleagues.

Cronyism charges were levelled against the BBC; the National Audit Office believes something may be amiss with some of its latest payouts to the most senior departing BEEB execs.

Some of these poor overworked execs have had a tough time; one only lasting a matter of months before going.  As you pay your licence fee this month, you might be forgiven for wondering how much of it is going on the £25 million or so in payouts for 150 leaving executives.

Some people were given more than their contracts said they should receive by their colleagues, but that is probably just generosity, not cronyism. Oddly, former Barclays bank supremo Marcus Agius came into the spotlight as well for his role within the BBC doling out taxpayers money.

I guess banks are used to doing what they wish with public funds, since we decided to give them all of our money not so long ago, and that was money well spent.

Obviously this cronyism thing is something that only goes on with left-wing media types

Former BBC deputy director Mark Byford was so traumatised by leaving that he had to be given a token sum of £300k to keep him ‘fully focused’ on his work before he left; his package was worth a million or so. What a brave guy to soldier on.

The Times reports on 16/12 that ‘BBC executives were paid millions of pounds in ‘sweeteners’ because of leadership failures at the highest level and a culture of cronyism’. Well, if friends can’t help each other, what are they for?

Obviously this cronyism thing is something that only goes on with left-wing media types. Thankfully here in the Deen we have the well-balanced ACSEF to be our business and moral compass.

For instance, I’m sure all the work it did to promote the granite web, spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer pounds in the process, were committed only after completely fair, anonymous tendering processes had taken place, even if they channelled many of the invoices through the Chamber of Commerce which refuses to let us know who did the well-paid work.

It’s not as if, say, a PR company that had ACSEF presence and clients interested in the web going forward would just be given work by ACSEF without any full tender process.

It’s not as if disgraced ex-policeman Ian Paterson was known as ‘patting Patterson’ in the circles he moved in without anyone doing anything to dissuade their colleague from his inappropriate behaviour.

In the bigger Scottish picture, it’s not as if a friendship with the First Ministers past or present would lead to any favouritism.  Where would we be, for instance, if the rich and powerful could just befriend and dine with our ministers, and get a little help with planning permission, or get appointments to government posts?

Thank goodness for our transparent, fair, unbiased government on the local and national stages, without a whiff of cronyism.

Amnesia: (Eng. noun) A form of illness, causing temporary or permanent loss of short- and/or long-term memory.

Police Scotland are suffering from a bout of amnesia; they can’t remember where they left a report they wrote on the City Council’s interesting finances.

The police surely didn’t find anything criminal going on

Back in 2008, Audit Scotland looked at how our then city administration seemed unable to make any profit out of selling real estate; we the taxpayer lost out on a few million pounds here and  there as Kate Dean and Co. approved sales of land / buildings for a fraction of their real value.

Then Chief Executive Paterson (not to be confused with ex, disgraced policeman Patting Paterson, who is now convicted of sex offences) vowed he would not to resign over the property sales crisis.  The next week he suffered a bout of amnesia, and promptly resigned, taking with him only a modest home in Ferryhill, which the city, apparently, sold to him for less than market value.

At least they were consistent.

Audit Scotland investigated, but could not decide if it was incompetence or criminality at work as deal after deal involving the same people (cronyism?) lost thousands upon thousands.

They turned the matter over to the police to investigate, and very little was ever said on the matter again. The police surely didn’t find anything criminal going on (cronyism?) or they would have arrested some of the city mandarins that they would have known from being on different committees and working groups with.

And in a classic case of amnesia, only a few years later, the police can’t find any record of the report they created. Or so they told me.

No wonder the police found no wrong doing. They can’t even find the report.

They might have the prints and DNA of children, people accused but acquitted of crimes, a few dangerous journalists such as Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney (creators of ‘You’ve Been Trumped’) on file forever;  but they cannot find a report into city council transactions worth millions of pounds.

Old Susannah isn’t getting any younger, and can be forgetful sometimes, too. But I have this ingenious method of looking for documents I’ve created on my computer: It’s called ‘search’.  If I type details of information I’m looking for from anything I wrote, the computer finds it for me in moments.

The Royal Bank of Scotland has been found guilty of turning healthy businesses into bankruptcies

I wonder if the police are clued up to this amazing way to look for infomation? Are they still writing their reports on vellum with ink? I can even look for items in my email, and some of you out there may be aware of this amazing technological development from the 1980s, too.

So, corruption according to some is only when you have envelopes of money flying around; I guess a little amnesia, washing of hands, selling taxpayer property for less than the real value, be it Aberdeen land or the Royal Mail, can’t be corrupt then.  Anyway, I’m sure it’s just one of those things, and no cause for concern.

Words such as ‘scandal,’ ‘coverup’ and incompetence would never occur to me when I think of how the former council sold land. But still, I wonder what the market value was of the house Doug ‘I will not resign over this’ Paterson bought from us when he retired, after presiding over these little property sales.

Fraud: (English noun) The act of committing dishonest acts for personal gain

With professors, like my old RGU don, striving to indoctrinate young (and in this case old) minds that all’s fair in business, perhaps it’s no wonder we have one or two instances of fraud around us locally and nationally.

From Carly Fallon passing off other people’s writing as her own, to restaurants offering bribes to those who give them good Trip Advisor write-ups (you know who you are), from companies using offshore tax dodges, fraud is definitely the new rock and roll.

The Royal Bank of Scotland has been found guilty of turning healthy businesses into bankruptcies, and then magically buying such businesses for a pittance and making profit, while the original owners have lost everything. Again, all’s fair in love, war and business.

More on Christmas next week, but if Father Christmas is making a list of who’s naughty or nice, one or two people in Aberdeen may find themselves on the naughty list.

Right, well it’s Christmas again.

I think by now we’ve established that not everyone looks like a supermodel, can afford hundreds of pounds of food and presents, and not everyone will be having dozens of close, equally-beautiful friends dashing to their homes in open sleighs to sing around 12’ tall, perfectly decked trees.

Don’t buy into a picture that doesn’t exist. But do, if you’re feeling stressed or unhappy about anything at all at this time of year, talk to a friend.

If you can’t talk to a friend or a family member, talk to one of the many services out there that will listen to you without judging you. Stress is particularly bad for people at this time of year, and it’s important to remember that worrying about things outside of your control will never solve anything, but will make you anxious or ill.

If there are things you can change and want to change about your work, life, home, then stop, figure out what you need to do, and start to make a plan for change. Don’t let your problems grow out of all proportion.

If you need a little bit of perspective, do some volunteering, fund-raising, join a group – do something new. You’ll be glad you did. There are people out there far worse off than you or I; be glad for what you’ve got, and don’t be tricked into thinking you need more material things to keep up with some imaginary Jones.

Sorry if this all sounds a bit obvious/preachy/oversimplified – but at the end of the day, it is definitely within your power to take stock, realise what you do have to be thankful for, and to fix what needs fixing. Please be happy, be safe, and have a Happy Christmas or whatever you might be celebrating. – OS

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Aug 302013

By Bob Smith. Wi apologies tae the unknown composer o Bonnie Lass O Fyvie

There eence wis a group
o Trumpie’s baboons
Cam mairchin doon throwe Menie O
A heid yin’s name wis Dod
Shoutin oot Trump he’s a god
Lang live the Great Dunes O Scatland O
Noo ither Menie fowk
thocht Trump he wis a gowk
Fer connachin the bonnie dunes o Menie O
He’s buggered an SSSI
Iss wis the rallyin cry
He’s deen fer the shiftin sands o Menie O
Donald says ye’ve nivver seen
the likes in Aiberdeen
Ma course is the best in iss warld O
Bit if yer nae weel aff
We’ll class ye as a nyaff
Ye’ll pey throwe the nose tae hit a ba O
Oh bugger damn an blast
a villain I am cast
Fer screwin some lives ower in Menie O
Weel aats jist their bad luck
An a dinna gie a f—k
Am “King” Donald, Thane o aathing O
Aat mannie caed Wee Eck
shud git it in the neck
Fer darin tae spike aa ma guns O
Iss winfairm a declare
A jist fin hard tae bear
An a’ll nae feenish fit a’v stairted O
O Trumpie gyaang tae hell
mony fowk div yell
Yer jist a pain in the ersie O
Yer cunnels nae sae bricht
An yer hair’s a bliddy sicht
Lang mey the faimilies bide in Menie O

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2013

Jul 062012

By Bob Smith.

Bunkers noo are in the shit
Some fair div tak the mick
Is yer bunker a couthie chiel
Or jist anither greedy prick
Parliament nae langer kens fit’s fit
Tap bunkers noo rule the roost
Weel o coorse we aa div ken
Their bunk balances aa git a boost
Lots o siller as a bonus is gien
Ti cyards faa appruved the cheatin
Time ti kick them faar it hurts
Nivver myn their bliddy greetin
Time we hid mair local bunks
Faar ye tauk ti a human face
Nae aye hingin on the phone
Ti be telt yer in seventh place
Shut doon the stock exchange
Gie investors back their cash
Crooked traders in “the City”
Wid see their empires crash
Stop the swickin aa ower the lan
It’s time tae git aff oor hunkers
An tell the bobbies far ti pit
Thae bunch o bad, mad bunkers

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2012
Image Credit: HOLIDAY WITH MONEY© Andy Brown |

Nov 142011

Old Susannah pays her respects, but is unable to maintain her silence as she takes a look around what has been happening in our vibrant and dynamic city and beyond.

Things continue to be vibrant and dynamic this week in the Granite City.  On Friday 11 November some 4o-plus people gathered for a minute’s silence to mark those who fell in war.  Robert Martin who works nearby in Golden Square told me he first started coming to Union Terrace Gardens for the traditional minute of silence a few years back.
“What better, more peaceful place is there in the heart of the City to have the minute of silence,” he commented.

A gardener tried to tell the group they should be at the war memorial instead – he could not understand that we were all happier in the Denburn Valley.

For the record, this was not a celebration of nationalism, or glorification of war; it was a gesture of respect for those who lost their lives in war.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just stop killing each other, and sort out economic and social problems another way?  Maybe that day will still come.

Then there was the enjoyable opening night at Peacock for its winter exhibition.  The 400 or so works are on show until 23 December and  are all for sale.  Alicia Bruce is offering small prints of her iconic photo portraits from the Menie Estate which had such a good reception when she exhibited at Peacock.  There are abstracts, portraits, beautiful drawings, and even one or two offerings of mine.

A quick word about litter.

During the week I asked an older man who’d dropped litter to please pick it up.  He explained (with some interesting vocabulary words which I must look up) that ‘he didn’t know me’, ‘he didn’t have to’ and ‘I could not make him.’  It was a very impressive display indeed.

Days later I was at Sainsbury’s Berryden, and groups of students (probably just over 20 people in total) had stopped by the store to get their lunch.  They had wrappers, bags, papers, serviettes, bottles and so on.  And as I waited for a bus, I saw each and every student put their trash in the trashcan near the bus stop.

I am pretty sure they were from St Machar.  My appreciation to them and the other people who do the right thing.  It’s not difficult, it’s not brain surgery.  It does however make a huge difference.

But whatever you were doing this week, everyone’s thoughts were with one brave man who is fighting a valiant struggle of his own.  Yes, Stewart Milne’s case went to the Supreme Court on Thursday.

The Press & Journal had no room for this story on the day, due to the breaking news that geothermal energy exists.  This astonishing front page special even had a picture of a volcano to illustrate it.  I had personally expected a story about a cow with a ladder on its neck, but the geothermal story did the trick, and between it and the massive ads for Milne Homes, no room remained for the little matter of our City being called to the Supreme Court.

Then, Friday, the P&J did run with a story on Milne, which leads neatly to a little definition or two.

Negotiate: (verb, Eng) to settle a conflict or disagreement by compromise.

Those of us who read the Press & Journal story will have felt sorry for Stewart Milne.  He claimed the matter could have been settled had Aberdeen City council accepted his offer of negotiation.

According to the P&J, Stewart Milne Group claimed:

“We have offered to go to independent arbitration on several occasions over a long period of time,”

Usually negotiations happen when both sides have a valid argument or case to make.  To refresh everyone’s memory, the City sold land at Westhill to Mr M for far less than it was worth – the City’s clever business plan was not to sell the land on the open market, but sell directly to Milne (I am sure there was a great reason).

He got a great price on the understanding the City would eventually get any sale profit.  In a really clever and not at all dodgy-looking business manoeuvre, the land moved from one arm of the vast Milne empire to the next, at a cost around £500k –apparently more than what the 11 acres cost in the first place.  This was perfectly normal, and could have happened to anyone.  Quite truthfully, Milne then indicated that there was no profit to share.

This giant poster in no way looks like a desperate advertising ploy, but it does paper over some cracks nicely.

The City and subsequent courts have disagreed with Mr Milne’s logic (shocking!), and rather than enter ‘negotiation’ over the £1.7 million under dispute, the City decided to see the case all the way through.  Milne could have accepted the last court’s verdict, but he appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.  If you’ve only got £60 million, then you’ve got to hold onto every penny these days.

The trial was televised, and although Old Susannah is no legal expert, it didn’t look all that great for Stew.

Now we just have to wait for the outcome – at which point no doubt everyone’s favourite football club owner will immediately give Aberdeen the £1.7 million it is owed, plus court costs.  I think an apology is also due, and hope the City are drafting one to Mr Milne for taking things this far.

This expensive litigation obviously in no way impacts on the role Mr Milne plays in ACSEF, the City and Shire’s invention which is helping us out of economic chaos.  Aside from the bang-up job ACSEF has done so far for our city’s shops, it’s created a brilliant logo for itself, and now has a great big vibrant, dynamic mural at McCombie Court.  This giant poster in no way looks like a desperate advertising ploy, but it does paper over some cracks nicely.

In light of Stewart’s logic concerning negotiation, the next time you get mugged or have your wallet snatched, don’t go to the law.  Just find out who’s got your money and negotiate to get some of it back.  Sorted.

Reading this story about how Stew wanted to negotiate, I wonder if I’m not having déjà vu.  This sense comes from the P&J article some time back, when Milne and everyone’s favourite forum, ACSEF, were taking over Peacock Visual Art’s project and turning it into the great City Garden Scheme.

Just before the final, decisive and divisive voting on the project took place, ACSEF / Milne said that Peacock had been offered some kind of 11th hour alternative, but were unwilling to strike a deal.  Of course if you read the full story, you would have eventually discovered Peacock said ‘we were never contacted about any deal.’

I hope in future any Peacock person, Aberdeen City legal rep, etc. will just ‘negotiate’ when Stewart wants something – it will save the taxpayer lots of money to just go along with him from the start.

In fact, when I think of Loirston Loch, the Triple Kirks glass box scheme, Pittodrie and so on, I wonder if we haven’t just started to say yes to him already.

Geography: (noun) study of terrain, locations, types of environments and areas.

If you are out there, Pete Leonard, Director of Housing, perhaps you might consider a geography lesson or two.  Pete insists Tullos Hill is ‘urban’.  The hill is next to all the lovely industrial estates which have helped make Aberdeen the profitable centre of the universe it is, but the hill just isn’t all that ‘urban’.  It’s covered with plants, grasses, wildlife, pre-historic cairns and so on.

Here in Aberdeen, there is a complete separation of contractors and councillors

On the word of Mr Leonard, I went to Tullos Hill the other day assuming it had been urbanised.   I looked for fast food, a coffee or a monorail ride, but there was nothing of the kind to be found.

It struck me that Ms Malone (who has lately been very, very quiet) might want to look for a new initiative to push. Perhaps if she abandoned the ‘tree for every citizen’ scheme and maybe had ‘a monolith for every citizen’ and/or ‘monorail for every citizen’ scheme, it might increase her popularity.  As I hear it, an improvement in her popularity stakes is currently the only possible direction.

Aside from Tullos, other urban areas in our city are easy to recognise by the well-maintained roads and footpaths, the general cleanliness, the complete lack of any crime, and all the many open local shops.

Corruption: (noun, English) a state of dishonesty, lack of integrity, self-interested behaviour of a person or body in a position of trust.

Edinburgh has faced accusations of council corruption. (“At least it couldn’t happen in Aberdeen!” I can practically hear you say.)

For openers, according to the BBC, the hospitality records are incomplete. ( This contrasts with our city’s up-to-date, perfectly set out, fully inclusive records which seem to indicate some councillors went to absolutely no events whatsoever in 2009 and or 2010).  But that’s the least of Edinburgh’s problems.

Edinburgh’s councillors are in the firing line for ‘possible fraud and serious wrongdoing’ with regard to building works and property.

Audit Scotland could not decide if the city was just a wee bit disorganised, or if there was a whiff of corruption

It also looks like a city councillor had a holiday paid for by a contractor.  Here in Aberdeen, there is a complete separation of contractors and councillors.  In those rare occasions when a councillor is somehow connected to a contractor, then they stay well out of any possible conflict situations.

Some years ago we had our own little trouble with Audit Scotland, you may remember.

They had a few uncertainties after a detailed investigation of our city’s property selling activities.  There were questions as to why so many properties were being sold below value.  Audit Scotland did tell the city to stop selling property at knock-down prices, and otherwise pay attention to details – like who is actually buying your property and what it should sell for.  In the end, Audit Scotland could not decide if the city was just a wee bit disorganised, or if there was a whiff of corruption.  In the end, they invited our local police to look into the issues.

After a completely thorough, detailed investigation, the police found nothing untoward.  Old Susannah is not sure when the investigation was conducted.  Then again, I’m not sure when exactly Stewart Milne Group started advertising on police cars, either.

Next week hopefully a Milne court and FOI case update; a fond look back at the careers of John Stewart and Neil Fletcher, who are not going to run for re-election in May.

Stop press Christmas Gift Solution:  Tired of the usual old boring gifts – the handbag-sized bottle of vodka, the city council carriage clock or branded pen?  Look no further for your gift requirements:  The City is selling photo prints of its greatest moments.  Rather than taking a picture of St Nicholas House or the ACSEF logo yourself to make a welcome gift for a loved one, just go to the City’s website.

What is the most popular subject on sale?  Why the Lord Provost of course!  There are only about 750 photos of him in action this year but fret not: there are two other years of Lord Provost photos as well.  Make a lovely print on canvas, or can be sent to an artist to create a portrait in oils.  I just might buy a photo of the Lord Provost handing over a gift and turn it into a mug, a mug for some reasons being the first thing that springs to mind.

Stop press 2:  there will be a further extension for getting your entries in for the Union Terrace Gardens art competition  – more news soon!


Jul 152011

By Bob Smith.

Abe Lincoln’s wirds we shud heed
They’re nae aat hard ti swalla
“Corporations hiv bin enthroned”
“Corruption in high places wull folla”

It’s noo weel ower a hunner ear
Sin  Mr Lincoln made iss quote
Bit in the modern warld o oors
His fine wirds are nae remote

Corporations hiv ruled the roost
Fer ower lang in oor bonnie city
Cooncils kowtowin ti their needs
They’ve nae backbeen -mair’s the pity

I’m nae sayin there’s corruption
Bit at times ye hiv ti winner
Some business plans in oor toon
Cooncillors dinna aye wint ti hinner

Bit iss is nae jist a local thingie
Seems rife aa throwe the nation
Fin fightin fer democracy
Fowk  suffer wi frustration

A question I’ve heard afen asked
An een fit’s nae aat funny
Are some o the toon cooncillors
In the hip pooch o them wi money?

The answer ti iss question is
As yet we’ve nae solid proof
Bit if there’s joukerie pawkery
We’ll  raise the bliddy roof

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011


Jun 102011

Voice’s Old Susannah casts her eye over recent events, stories, and terms and phrases familiar as well as freshly ‘spun’, which will be forever etched in the consciousness of the people of Aberdeen and the Northeast.

Summer in Aberdeen.  Lighting the barbeque (rain permitting) then standing around it (to warm your hands up) while someone inevitably insists on taking over the cooking, ensuring you get a burger burnt on the outside yet still frozen inside.

Old Susannah is off for a spray-tan tomorrow so she’ll be bright orange (or maybe not) for the season’s most important event – the Friends of Union Terrace Gardens picnic.  My picnic basket has been dusted off, a few brewdogs put in the deep freeze, and raingear laid out (just in case) for the big day Saturday.

If you think the City’s economic future doesn’t depend on putting a carpark where the verdant remnant of the Denburn Valley is, then I will see you there Saturday.

Old Susannah was at the RGU students’ fashion show last Thursday as a guest of one of the lecturers; the designs on show were impressively creative and individualistic.  It was a professional, enjoyable show, but I hope they do better on the drink front next time.  I guess it is possible to have clothing that’s not been sewn in the third world by children in sweatshops after all.

The mini bottle of unchilled white wine however was not to my group’s taste, and we made a break for it to Cafe 52 for some cold beer and wine.  Since then, I’ve had a wee bit of my time taken up looking into the deer cull.  It’s not too late (I hope) to stop this madness.

But now it’s time for a definition or two.

Mathematics: (noun) classical discipline encompassing algebra, geometry, trigonometry; numeracy.

Maths was never my strongpoint.  I still haven’t figured out how we can guarantee our economic future by getting a TIF loan for £100 million or more while being £50 million in debt to get rid of Union Terrace Gardens.

Thankfully, that’s what ACSEF and the Council tell me will happen, and I’m quite prepared to take their word for it.  I’m not even smart enough to figure out how a Stadium at Loirston Loch for 21,000 people can work on 1400 parking places (or how the stadium’s plan to have 80 buses reach Loirston from College Street in 15 minutes flat is feasible.  I personally can’t get a bus from Torry to Nigg when it’s busy that takes less than half an hour.  Obviously I’m doing something wrong.).

I’m working on my math skills in the hopes I too can see how black and white our city’s thinking must be.

I guess I also have to work on the mathematics behind the Haudagain Roundabout situation and the proposed Paper mill housing development.  It is good to know that Aberdeen is the best in the UK at something – and it’s official:  we are the best at roundabout traffic jams.  I’d always thought traffic moved just a wee bit slowly in the part of town as people stopped to admire the lovely roundabout itself.  However, as ever:  the City has a plan.

And here is the mathematical sense behind it:

Take: 1 x congested roundabout

Subtract: 100 nearby Middlefield houses to be bulldozed

Add: 900 private dwellings (builder:  one Mr S Milne) near congested roundabout

Add: shops, offices, a medical centre, business units and riverside bistro (builder:  Mr Milne)

Equals = minimal impact on roundabout traffic.

That’s right.  There will be minimal impact on the roundabout per our Council.

Personally I would have thought that the massive number of people trying to get a table at the riverside bistro alone would have led to traffic standstill; I hope to have an invitation to the opening night.  The medical centre makes a nice addition to any housing scheme of this size; it is the Vaseline that lets these great housing plans slide through planning departments.  It will be an extremely useful medical centre, as all of the people stuck on the roundabout will need treatment for C02 inhalation and dehydration.

My other mathematical ignorance concerns the Tullos Hill deer:

Take: 30 deer (Council’s estimate) which normally live 5-7 years

Subtract: (I mean ‘kill’ – sorry, I mean ‘cull’) 9 male deer this year

Balance: 21 deer

Plant: 40,000 trees

Number of trees left for each deer to eat =  1,904

Old Susannah can eat and drink with the best of them, but had no idea how hungry these tiny little deer must be:  1,904 trees is a fair amount per deer.  If each deer ate only 5% of this figure, that’s still 95.2 saplings for each deer (of the remaining herd after we’ve ‘managed’ 9 males as the City wishes).  It is a complete mystery to me how these hungry critters manage to survive on Tullos at all given the lack of trees.  Alas, I have no degree in forestry, so it looks like I must take the experts’ advice:  deer are dangerous vermin which if left unchecked will eat.

Not in Crisis: (mod English phrase) – phrase used to reassure others that a given situation is under control or no cause for concern.

If you follow football (a game somewhat similar to what they do at Pittodrie), then you will know that FIFA is ‘not in crisis’.  For you or me allegations of corruption, vote-rigging, bribery and dishonesty might spell a bit of trouble.  For the Federation Internationale de Football Associations, such issues can be shrugged off.  It is because of FIFA’s high moral stance that footballers the world ‘round behave with such dignity, ethics and honesty.

Behind every great organisation there is a great man.

Milne Homes has Stewart; the Wood Group PSN has Sir Ian, and FIFA has President Blatter.  Mr Blatter is so very popular that no one ran against him in the latest FIFA presidential election.  Or something like that.  I guess the question is does a mere £100 million ‘inducement’ really amount to a bribe?  I think not.  FIFA does have a ‘Standards Statute’, which is a modern fiction classic.  It reads in part:

“The Standard Statues contain all the provisions that are intrinsic to any constitutive texts worthy of such description.  We are therefore calling upon the Associations to examine these statutes meticulously and incorporate all of the articles and principles covered into their own statutes – for their own benefit and for the Good of the Game” – Joseph S Blatter

I love a good read, and gave the Statues a once-over.  However, I did not find the proper etiquette for accepting brown envelopes filled with money.  Perhaps someone here in Aberdeen can help with that.  In any event, it is hoped that all the world’s football associations will soon behave as Mr Blatter wishes.  Heaven forbid anything happens to put the beautiful game into disrepute.

Quasi-serious note

Last Christmas I put in a serious note about the holidays not having to be the beautiful family and friend-filled affairs that the TV commercials present.

Not everyone had 20 friends round their tree drinking eggnog before a horse-drawn sleigh ride.  Summer is rather the same.  The media tells you that you must look fantastic in your bathing suit (if it ever gets warm enough to put it on).  You must play volleyball on a sandy sunny beach and drink orange soda the same colour as your skin.

Don’t for a moment assume that everyone will be having tropical holidays and drinking cocktails from coconut shells under palm trees.  The economy is not great (despite the best efforts of ACSEF and ACC).  You might have your worries.  Take a ‘staycation’.  Visit Scotland.  Visit Tullos Hill for that matter.

But don’t let some false media advertising imagery fool you.  And if you are like many people struggling with one thing and another, remember:  at least you’re not Ryan Giggs.