The Greeks May Have Had a Word For It – But We Don’t

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Feb 182011

The Greeks May Have Had a Word For It, But as George Anderson points out, We Don’t.

There are more words in the Oxford English Dictionary than a hyperactive auctioneer could get through in a lifetime – half a million to be precise. Yet there are thousands of circumstances that have no words to describe them at all. This simply isn’t fair.

Take the occasionally errant behaviour of the toes for example.

Who has not made a futile attempt to climb into our underpants of a morning, still half asleep?  Only to find that no matter how wide the leg hole, nor how well aimed the foot, your little toe and its next-door neighbour will conjure themselves open like repelling magnets to grip the waistband of the pant with the ferocity of a Barbary Coast lobster?

Nine times out of ten this will result in falling backwards over the edge of the bed into the laundry basket to the accompaniment of your favourite oath. There is a ten percent chance of course, that you will miss the laundry basket altogether, and end up testing the integrity of your cranium on the radiator housing.

Now surely something as life threatening as this should have a word to describe it. So, may I humbly propose to the OED word number 500,001:

Tobermory (noun);
The near supernatural ability of one’s toes to conspire against the wearing of their owner’s underpants.

If only there was some way to forecast when your toes might take against you in this way you could save yourself a lot of stress – not to mention a nasty skull fracture – by just going commando for the day.

Jan 212011

Old Susannah has been constantly on the go the past week. Here’s her travelogue…

On Friday I attended most of the public hearing on the Loirston Loch proposal at the Town House. Admittedly, I left before the full meeting ended, so missing Kate Dean’s concluding remarks, but I would have lost the will to live altogether, and I had to be at Peacock for 6pm.

Sorry I only lasted 8 hours at the hearing, but seeing as Kate was doing a great job of being impartial as convener, I left, in the knowledge that the stadium was in safe hands. See the article elsewhere in this edition of Voice.

Next day, the P&J printed an article favouring the stadium development which ignored all the practical problems and local objections, alongside a piece on Cove Rangers being allowed to move to new premises. Of course, these two developments in the Aberdeen footballing world are completely unrelated. Old Susannah must have wandered into a completely different public hearing from the one the P&J wrote about, as I missed the parts that proved how this stadium will not only make us all rich, but also make us the envy of the northern hemisphere. I came away with the subtle feeling that one or two of the residents might not be onside with putting a 21,000 seat stadium on their greenbelt.

The Peacock exhibition features Alicia Bruce’s photographic portraits of the residents facing potential eviction through compulsory purchase, so that Mr Trump can have the world’s most kitsch – sorry – most excellent, perfect, wonderful, swell, expensive golf course. A review and photos of the exhibition is elsewhere in Voice.

Finally, George Galloway and his moustache are in the news this week. He seems to be saying he will end his political career in Scotland. Has no one told him that his political career well and truly ended when he was on Big Brother pretending to be Rula Lenska’s cat?  Respect….?

..and she shares the week’s defining moments in her Dictionary, Part 21


(Verb) To embezzle is to appropriate goods, property or money fraudulently when in a position of power, rather like when we pay Council Tax to local government with the false promise we’ll get something of value in return. Now it looks as if a City Council employee has been taking his work home with him literally – to the tune of somewhere between £300,000 and £400,000. It is understood the person and his wife are now ‘helping police with their enquiries’.

there is no fraud to worry about really, except the odd half million pound case like this one

Yes, it’s hard to understand how our well-run, efficient, properly audited and controlled City could have allowed such a thing to happen; ‘financial impropriety’ and ‘Aberdeen City Council’ are words you’d never expect to hear in the same sentence, I know.

Stringent controls are in place to prevent, for instance, property being sold below market value, property being sold to private developers when the City thinks it is really selling property to the NHS, or building work contract values escalating out of control, and the like. In fact there are ‘Investigation Managers’ and ‘Budget Analysts’ on the City’s efficient payroll.

But relax –  there is no fraud to worry about really, except the odd half million pound case like this one, which clearly is a one-off and will never happen again.

Incandescent (Adjective) Incandescent is the ‘condition of glowing or emitting heat and light’. Indeed, it is often associated with lightbulbs but presumably less so with the new mercury-filled ones which don’t give out quite enough light for my taste. John Major famously took the word ‘incandescent’ and coupled it with his anger, coming up with the phrase, ‘not inconsiderably incandescent with rage’ to describe how he usually felt. This may have been his greatest contribution as Prime Minister, although we might want to ask Mrs Edwina Currie her opinion.

This adjective is still being used by the brightest stars in the political firmament, as no less a luminary than our own Kate Dean has told the press she is incandescent. No, not just her natural glow of warmth, charm and beauty; she is incandescent with anger.

Who’s upset Kate? The Scottish Government transport authorities have had the gall to criticise Aberdeen’s public transport management – the nerve!

outsiders might mistakenly think we have problems. I hope that an apology to Kate is on the way

As if there was anything to criticise. Kate’s main problem is that she didn’t have a chance to defend the City’s sterling record on public transport. The frequent bus services, the low prices, the potholes, the bus lanes.Apparently we’ve created one million pounds worth of bus lanes recently, part of the reason traffic moves so swiftly.

The well thought-out transport arrangements for Union Square and the bus and railway stations are greatly appreciated by people with mobility problems as well as car drivers and bus passengers, who, in rush hour or late night shopping days, can spend ages window-shopping at Union Square from the comfort of their own cars. Building the new AFC stadium is going to add 80 buses at current estimate and 1400 cars to the mix on Wellington Road, pollution levels on which can be higher than national recommended levels, but with the new bus lanes, well, it will be fine.

Part of Ms Dean’s problem is that Aberdeen wasn’t invited to the particular meeting where the criticism was levelled, so she could not defend our excellent system. Clearly a system as perfect as ours would not be able to stand on its own merits for others to marvel at – outsiders might mistakenly think we have problems. I hope that an apology to Kate is on the way.

Joined-up government.

How do things in the public sector work so well?

How do our governors manage to accomplish so much good with our tax money so efficiently?

The answer is that we have ‘joined-up government’.

The term ‘joined-up government’ is defined as ‘a method of governing wherein all departments and branches communicate efficiently with each other and act together purposefully and effectively towards well-defined objectives – but you don’t need me to tell you that’s what you’ve got in the ‘deen.

It is little wonder that international property developers want to come here when they see how ‘joined up’ we are.

It’s hard to pick out just one example pertaining to our government in terms of its ‘joined-up’ thinking, so I’ll take the most recent one. In the P&J on 19 January, there’s a story of how Scottish Enterprise and Aberdeen City Council work in harmony to our benefit.

Peacock Art Gallery, you may recall, had managed to secure a large grant from the Arts Council to build new premises. Like vultures smelling blood, the City and Scottish Enterprise moved in to offer assistance. They assisted Peacock right out of its plans for the Union Terrace Gardens arts centre it had proposed.

But what becomes of the grant from the Arts Council? It’s now probably lost forever, and we have the amusing spectacle of Aberdeen City v Scottish Enterprise. The blame game is on.  Who did what and when is being argued over in the press as these two entities try to blame each other for the loss. Strangely enough, many years back, the Arts Council had ring-fenced a few million for an arts centre in the Castlegate. This money too was lost forever. A deadline approached, and the City Council seems not to have known anything about it, despite having a Council representative attending the relevant meetings. It is little wonder that international property developers want to come here when they see how ‘joined up’ we are. They know when they see examples like the latest drama over Peacock funding unfold, that we are people to be reckoned with – smart, astute business minds working in conjunction. There is no way we will be fooled or taken advantage of when great minds are in control. Not here.

On a serious note

Spare a thought for Sandy Ingram, the 79 year-old man found severely beaten in June of last year. He will now need full-time care, and can never return to the home he knew. Apparently he had seen two men on his property before he was assaulted. Whilst the residents in his area of Newmachar are now more vigilant regarding strangers, and are reporting suspicious behaviour to police, it comes too late for the Ingram family.

Someone out there knows what happened to him which is still a mystery to the rest of us. If you don’t come forward you are as guilty as if you’d hurt this elderly man yourself. And the next time someone else gets permanently injured or worse, you’ll have to live knowing you could have prevented it.

Even if you just suspect something, make an anonymous call. Do the right thing.

Jan 072011

Voice’s Old Susannah tackles more tricky terms with a locally topical taste ( but do bear with her …. I believe some lengthy, yet justified aeriation may preclude ).

Congratulations to Ms Valerie Watts, formerly of Chief Executive of Derry; she will become the third Aberdeen City Chief Executive in as many years.  Readers who can remember back as far as 2008 will recall Douglas Paterson taking early retirement.  This was coincidentally just before Audit Scotland came to call, and just after he said he would not leave his post over the little matter of being at the helm when the City sold off various properties for a fraction of their market value.

Nothing to do with him.  The auditors were unable to conclude whether these sales – some £5 million less than conservative market value – were a great idea, incompetence, or possibly even shady.  For instance, the City claimed to believe it was selling property to the NHS, but sold it to a private developer.  If only there had been someone who was invovled with both the City Council and the NHS.  Granted Kate Dean would have been one of the most senior people Old Susannah can think of involved with both these entities, but she would have been too busy to notice a deal worth a mere few millon.

Next in the Chief Executive office was Ms Bruce, who  left us for Edinburgh, claiming she brought us to a £9 million budget surplus.  It actually looks like we need to make about £90 million budget savings immediately, but all the best to her.

Ms Watts may have to get a part-time job to make ends meet; the post of Chief Exec of our fair city only pays £141, 834, with 5% based on how well they perform.  Then again, she will want to take a 5% pay cut (that’s about £22K) to show solidarity with the City Council workers who have happily agreed to such a cut themselves.  While it may be true that the UK Prime Minster  and his cabinet ministers all earn less than our City Chief Exec, they won’t have nearly as much responsibility as Ms Watts, who will need to meet heads of state, tell the Queen what to say in her speech, and build shopping malls and community stadiums.

A person could make a few comparisons between Aberdeen and Derry.  For a start the population figures are similar – Derry c. 237,000 and per an Aberdeen report “In the period up to 2031, the population of Aberdeen City is forecast to rise to a peak of 215,000.  Both cities have airports as well as countryside areas.  Derry had a budget surplus of just over £1 million in 2008, and, well Aberdeen was in the red by tens of millions for the same period.  Derry however has a biodiversity policy which has seen it take important ecological steps, and financially speaking it reported an income from its services of £9,140,000 and rates earned it 38,717,000 circa 2008.  Obviously Ms Watts has a lot to learn about local developers and what should be done with greenbelt land.

This is most impressive, but clearly can’t work in Aberdeen – we have builders to look after

If anyone can penetrate the Aberdeen City Council finances and find out more than Old Susannah can as to how we compare to Derry financially, I would love to hear from you.

Clearly they have skimped on hospitality, new office furniture, travel, and clothing to make its Lord Provost (actually mayor in Derry) look good. We managed to write off about £11 million in bad debts in a similar period, sold real estate to developers for a fraction of its actual value, and continued to have a discrepancy in pay women earned compared to their male counterparts.

Ms Watts won’t be used to such creativity.   Rumour has it that Derry’s schoolchildren still have things like small classes and music lessons – but this is unconfirmed.

Looking again at the two cities and how they regard the environment, Derry has something called a ‘Local Biodiversity Plan’, which reads in part:

“Derry City Council is further meeting its corporate objectives by protecting and enhancing biodiversity in rural and urban areas, and thus providing a clean, diverse, accessible and sustainable environment for people to enjoy while also looking after the health and well being of its communities.

“Natural habitats are being compromised as development progresses in Northern Ireland and in the Northwest. Many species are now living in much smaller fragmented pockets of their previous habitat range. These islands of good habitat are more vulnerable to population decline. Developments of new housing schemes, industrial estates, commercial premises and office space in urban and rural areas, new transportation infrastructure, infilling… are all contributing to habitat loss and fragmentation in the area.  Construction projects alongside or close to waterways are particularly sensitive and potentially damaging to flora and fauna”.

This is most impressive, but clearly can’t work in Aberdeen – we have builders to look after, don’t you know?

I can think of nothing that would succeed more than a luxury goods store on Vicky Road

Necessity: Necessity is defined as experiencing a lack of a desired or essential commodity.  As anyone in genuine need can tell you, necessity is also a mother.

Aberdeen suffers from need; we identified the necessity of an £80 million pound re-fit for Marischal College for Council offices, and we met that need with new furniture – also necessary.  Some things are luxuries, or can be described as ‘nice to have’.

In our City these include road surfaces, services for the disabled, help for the elderly, sports facilities, reasonably-sized classes for students, parks and music lessons.

And as our high-street stores close one by one, there is another thing we need….

Retail Rocks! Retail Rocks is a private company that will bring new life back to Torry’s boarded up shops as well as a few other closed business premises here and there.  Clearly the closed down toy store and art materials shop near Bon Accord, ‘Globally Sweet’ on Union Street, and a dozen shops on Holburn closed as the owners were just too lazy or were bad managers.  After all, Scottish Enterprise was always on hand to help, and at a cost to the taxpayer of £700 million a year – that is a lot of help. However, there is only so much that a small, unelected quango can accomplish, and Retail Rocks has stepped in to help enterprise in Scotland where Scottish Enterprise could not.

How hard in those conditions can it be to compete with international chain stores

It was not as if the rates in Aberdeen are astronomically high, or that there are not enough police to stop robberies (I can only think of two knife attacks in Torry stores in the last year or two, so that’s not so bad is it?) or to stop the occasional drunk breaking shop windows.

Theft is certainly not an issue – unless you count the dozens of stories in the press each month (and my favourite, the ‘hoodie’ who robbed the Torry PDSA charity shop last Christmas).  Seeing as the citizens of Aberdeen have so much expendable income, I can think of nothing that would succeed more than a luxury goods store on Vicky Road.  It’s only laziness that stops the family corner shop from completing the one or two bits of paperwork needed for tax, insurance, sales, licensing, transport and so on.

How hard in those conditions can it be to compete with international chain stores, one or two of which you may notice dotted around our town?  Aside from their centralised administration, bulk buying power, brand recognition, control of suppliers and use of enterprising children in Asia to produce cheap goods, they really don’t have much of a competitive edge.

Soon the streets will be wholly regenerated with a dozen or so new shops for the ‘Retail is Rocky’ – I mean the ‘Retail Rocks’ competition winners.  Get your groundbreaking idea in now.  You could wind up a shopkeeper.  With the recession in full bloom, there is only one way to go and that is up, and with VAT at 20%, it is easier to calculate it when it was 17.5%.  Good luck to all of you – and remember to install security cameras and metal shutters.

Next week:  more of the City Council’s committees, ‘conflict of interest’, and ethics

Nov 122010

Voice’s Old Susannah tackles more tricky terms with a locally topical taste.

Surfboard, Boogieboard, Waterboard.
All just harmless fun really.  No less a person than the former US President, George ‘Dubya’ Bush has explained in his new book that without waterboarding (which really isn’t so bad apparently – it can’t kill you – usually), lives would have been lost*.  Sometimes little things like the Geneva Convention, the Bill of Rights, the EU Convention, etc. have to be put to one side.  A little torture can be a good thing; and after all, there is a long history supporting its use.

If we hadn’t tortured people in the past, how would we have know for certain that witches flew on broomsticks to meet Satan at black masses, ruined crops and turned people into newts?  After just a little torture, thousands confessed to the truth of devil worship.  Of course whether or not torture is OK all depends on who is doing the torture:  Western torturers good; Eastern ones bad.  Glad to have cleared that up.  Two mysteries remain:  How come no one cracked under (judicious and necessary) torture and said where all those Weapons of Mass Destruction were hidden?  Secondly, I’d love to find out how Dubya, who from most accounts can barely read, managed to write a book.  This is the man who complained in a speech that more and more of America’s imports were coming from abroad.

*I wonder how else lives could have been saved in this situation.  Give the UK troops equipment that worked and matched the conditions?  Not go to war in the first place?  No, can’t think of a thing but torture.

Brief maths quiz:
If you start with a deficit of 52 million pounds, then fail to collect over £15 million owed to you, then start a project for £80 million pounds and contemplate a £140 million pound car park, don’t pay staff correctly by £X million, and announce you want to go into the concert business by buying an exhibition centre which you’ve already spent a minimun of £36 million on,  while cutting millions formerly used to support vulnerable, schools and parks then what is the result?  The answer, according to a recent Aberdeen City Council is a £9 million pound surplus.  That is according to outgoing Sue Bruce in a recent ACC press release.

Press Release.
A press release is a piece of writing sent to newspapers and television, used to call attention to what a wonderful job you are doing.  Press Releases are sent in the hope that the media will run your story.  Of course accuracy in Press releases is managed by seasoned professionals who take great care to get the facts correct.

The Aberdeen City Council writes press releases religiously – and quite rightly so, with the calibre of their accomplishments.  Sadly, the Press and Journal printed (per standard practice) one of the City’s  releases which concerned the amount of unpaid council tax.  There was a City press release which claimed around £43 million was unclaimed and that one in three households had to be taken to court over unpaid council tax.

The P&J printed these figures, relying on the accuracy of the press release.  Naturally, this was a mistake.  The higher-ups in the Council read the figures in the news, went ballistic, and went into action.  Instead of issuing a new press release stating their mistake, they decided to publicly blame the P&J for getting its sums wrong.  This resulted in an editorial by the P&J accusing the Council of being less than generous with the truth.  It ended with words along the lines of “… we (the P&J) will accept the blame for our mistakes – Brazen attempts to shift the blame (by the City) we can’t.”  Thankfully, it is only about £30 million that the City is owed in Council tax.  Easy to misplace the odd £14 million or so; Old Susannah does it all the time.  But then again, expect this figure to change in a day or two.

Budget Cuts.
Even though we are rich, everyone needs budget cuts.   A budget cut is what you to to preserve what is essential, or in Council-speak, what is a ‘core service’.  Core services include running concerts at a loss, making Olympic swimmers, and taking trips.

We all have to budget – how many tens of thousands of pounds do you spend on outfits to wear to important events per year, how much to spend on travel, how much to spend on propping up white elephants (like the AECC).  In order to meet our budgets, hard choices must be made.  Do you cut grandma’s care support?  Junior’s school?  Close the backyard swimming pool?  Stop giving to the poor?  Stop feeding the birds?  Of course you do.  And our Council budgets wisely as well.

You will be very happy to hear that Sue Bruce announced a £9 million surplus.  No doubt this money will be earmarked for the vitally- important Olympic pool:  what could be more important than Aberdeen winning an Olympic medal for swimming ?  – which seems an absolute certainty.  Millions will be saved by closing all the regional swimming pools (particularly the ones which have recently beeen refurbished).  One giant Olympic pool is all you and the family need.  You’ll also get your exercise just by getting to it – now that the bus fares have risen above inflation rates.

But don’t expect to exercise in the parks any longer – they are getting the axe – possibly literally.  All that money spent in the past on blue skies, green grass, clean air, biodiversity, play areas has been done away with.  If the parks can’t make money as they are, the sooner they are turned into something profitable the better.

We will not, however face the loss of a single pounds worth of our real estate portfolio, which we cherish and which is the envy of the civilised world.  All those boarded up buildings are safe.  Rest easy.

Thankfully there is money towards a regional ‘super prison’ – presumably for those who can’t – or won’t pay their council tax.  The level of tax has been frozen for a few years – so have many people’s salaries.  However, our services such as police, libraries, teachers, services for people with special needs and the elderly have halved.  I wonder if we should all apply for a refund, as we’re not getting one half of what we   paid for to start with.  Just a thought.

At least at the end of it, we have preserved Marischal College.  Since its entire interior has been scrapped (including books seen thrown into skips), our brand of ‘preservation’ is akin to the preservation of the taxidermist.

Next week:

No mention of the 9-0 Celtic/Aberdeen Result – that would be unkind.  Some people believe the management (S Milne, proprietor) is not investing in the club sufficiently.  However, once we have a football/community stadium twice the size of the present AFC home, the crowds will fill it up completely, and the club’s morale will be so boosted it wins lots of silverware.

Oct 012010

Old Susannah gets to grips with more tricky terms.

A Quick Word on Willows Animal Sanctuary
Aberdeen City Council can find £200K for public relations firms to find out why people don’t want to get rid of Union Terrace Gardens.  Ian Wood can offer £50 Million to the City if it spends twice as much in getting rid of Union Terrace Gardens.  While the rest of us can’t hope to do anything as grand or important, Old Susannah would ask if anyone out there can please make a donation to Willows Animal Sanctuary in Fraserburgh which is in desperate need of money and animal feed (feed is being collected for all kinds of animals for Willows at Love and Roses, South Crown Street, Aberdeen).

Please visit to see what good work they do, and how you can help them survive.

The unfortunate reality is that when we are in hard, uncertain economic times, two things go wrong for animals.  Firstly, people cannot always afford to keep making donations to charities, and funding for many good causes from the private sector falls (which is why we are lucky to have such a compassionate, caring local government).  The second is that in hard times animals get cruelly dumped as people can’t afford food or veterinary care.  Willows is a major player in helping animals in the North East – please help if you can.

Property Maintenance
This may come as a surprise, but if you are a homeowner, then you should maintain your property.  Yes, really.  If you were unsure whether you should let your roof leak or your stairwells collapse, then Aberdeen City Council has come to your rescue.

Inspectors are visiting your streets as I write, looking at your gutters, stairs and slates, and if anything’s amiss, then a  dedicated team of inspectors will send you a glossy colour brochure and a letter telling you what you should do.  The keener inspector will ask to be let into your building, garden or home with no prior appointment.  (The phrase ‘Just say no’ springs to mind).

Old Susannah has received such a letter, advising that her building’s occupants ‘might want to look at their guttering’.  The letter helpfully says that the Council cannot force us to make any repairs – AT THE MOMENT.  Strangely enough, there is nothing to advise where the extra money will be coming from to make the suggested repairs.  It is gratifying to know that the Council can free up money and resources to tell private property owners what they should do.  Over the past few years I have seen people trip and injure themselves on the City’s hazardous, uneven pavements, and I know people who have waited months in Council flats for serious repairs including leaks.

A few years ago a woman was injured when her council flat ceiling fell in on her.  A certain local builder whose kitchen floors are prone to give way if too many people are on them,  may or may not have heard from the Council.  But as we all know kitchens are dangerous places, and only a few people should ever be in one at any given time.  I also understand from reliable sources  that there may be a slow-down on Council flat refurbishments and workers are being temporarily (?) laid off.  ‘Practice what you preach’ will appear in a forthcoming definition.

Project Management
Project management should be simple:  a project needs three things:  a budget, a timescale, and a ‘scope’ of exactly what the project should be, make, or accomplish.  About this time last year, NESTRANS (our friendly North East transportation quango/board) told an Aberdeen Civic Forum that it did not know how much the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route would cost or where the money was coming from.  It also could not say where the route would be going exactly.  Other than such trivialities, the AWPR will no doubt be a triumph.  The speaker did assure us however, that the project would happen in 2012.  Watch this space.

Bad Debts
The City Council HAS shown signs of improvement lately.  This year we are only (?) writing off £2.8 million pounds of ‘bad debt’ this year.  This is a vast improvement on the £11 million it wrote off a few years back.  It seems it’s just too hard to get money from some people who owe tax, parking fines, other fees – so we just declare it ‘bad debt’ and that’s that.  An affluent, economically sound city like Aberdeen can afford to do so.  Especially now that it has found some way to borrow £200 million worth of taxpayer’s money from the central government – which somehow is not going to cost us anything.  Well, unless you are a taxpayer.  Then you are loaning the City Council money.  No prizes for guessing that they want to put most of this into getting rid of  Union Terrace Gardens (sorry, building a prosperous civic square with parking and shops) – and have no interest in reinstating the many services it  has cut .

Sep 242010

Old Susannah gets to grips with those difficult to understand terms.

Old Susannah thanks readers who wrote in with money-saving ideas for Aberdeen City Council.  Many of you suggest money could be saved by sending Kate Dean and Kevin Stewart to the upcoming oil event in Houston.  On one-way tickets.

Continue reading »

Sep 102010

Aberdeen Voice’s Old Susannah opens her heart and her dictionary to define more familiar but tricky terms.

Continuous Improvement.

Look around you:  look at your streets, your social services, your schools, your leisure facilities, hospitals and your libraries (if any).  Continuous Improvement is all around us.

The state of our services is not an accident, you know.  The Continuous Improvements we can see are the work of a Continuous Improvement Committee, which makes Continuous Improvement Reports, and publishes Continuous Improvement Audits.

The April 2009 CI Audit (available from Aberdeen City Council’s website at a mere 50 pages) gives a useful overview of the many areas in which our local administration continues to improve services for us in a simple, easy-to-understand, economical fashion.  Old Susannah is particularly impressed by the Corporate Communications section, which claims that £14K was saved by creating a summer brochure (although the cost of not creating a summer brochure was not immediately evident).  This particular document also delves into types of telephone communication areas, including ‘Homecheck’ and ‘Telephone calls for Trees’. ‘Telephone Calls for Trees’,  one imagines, must be something to do with trunk calls.  But personally, I am stumped.  The ‘Trees’ section promises careful monitoring, ‘allied integration’ , training materials and implementation plans.  Time and money would be saved by getting rid of trees (cutting out the dead wood, as it were), and getting in a few more parking spaces and shopping malls.  Happily, this is being considered.  Or so I heard on the grapevine.

Surely making staff double-up by being responsible for Transformation as well as Change represents good value for money

Taxpayers will be further reassured to know that the Community Plan and the Vibrant Dynamic & Forward Looking statement* are monitored through something called a performance reporting framework. How very far we have come from the days when a phone call was placed, a request or complaint made, and was acted upon.

How greatly improved are things from the time when, for instance, a school board had a budget, decided what it needed for its improvements, and just got on with it.

The above clearly explain Continuous Improvement, but doubtless the Continuous Improvement Committee will be only too happy to clarify any unfamiliar phrases which might appear in its reports.

Change Manager.

A letter was published some months back in something called the ‘Press & Journal’, asking what exactly a Change Manager was needed for in Aberdeen.  Old Susannah will be happy to try and answer that question, as no one from the Council seems to have had the chance as yet.

The cynical among us might suggest mankind has been coping with change since it first found fire.  But, in these modern times, a Change Manager is needed to steer a course through the dangerous waters of change and to reinvent management posts with new trendy names and create management jobs where there was no previous need (after all, job creation is always good).  Continuous Improvement means Change of course, and these two important areas of management go hand in hand. Thankfully, Aberdeen City’s Change personnel are well versed in managing change, some of them having suddenly changed from one highly paid government post to another (one such person reportedly left a Shire post abruptly with a five-figure payout and would end up in the City’s Change section.  Now that’s what I call good change management).

Areas of job classification falling under Change include ‘Transformation AND Change’ and Modernisation AND Innovation’  Surely making staff double-up by being responsible for Transformation as well as Change represents good value for money.

In the sad days to come, no doubt our Change Manager will help all of us cope with the departure of Sue Bruce from our City,  a change which we must try to manage…or does Ms Bruce’s departure fall under the heading of Continuous Improvement ?

*to be defined in a future Dictionary Corner.

Jul 302010

Aberdeen Voice’s Old Susannah opens her heart and her dictionary to define these tricky terms.

Consultation: to ask members of the public what they want, then to tell them what you had already decided they are going to get. Expensive brochures and infallible experts are used to steer people towards the desired conclusion during the consultation process. If the citizenry somehow does not come to the correct conclusion, it can later be told that it did not actually understand the consultation. Continue reading »

Jul 092010

By Suzanne Kelly.

Democratic Government

A western style of social organisation existing to ensure that shopping and car park complexes are built, and disadvantaged and misunderstood multi-millionaires have an opportunity to make their voices heard by the ignorant masses. To create a democratic government, ‘elections’ are held, and the citizenry choose upstanding, sober members of their communities to make laws and regulations and shopping and car park complexes on their behalf.

Continue reading »