Dec 162018
 

Every Christmas for the last seven years Suzanne Kelly aka Old Susannah has written a topical satire based on events whether in Aberdeen or the larger world, based on a traditional Christmas story, panto or fairytale.
This year’s offering is a bit different; it’s a video – deliberately low tech.

The idea came to me while watching the late, great David Bowie introduce The Snowman on YouTube, and I wondered what he’d make of the mess we’re being led into, and that things were better for everyone back then.

Lyrics are printed below should you all want to sing along. Enjoy.

The Abominable Snowman.

1. We’re walking in the air…
we’re floating in the moonlit sky…
The people far below are sleeping as we fly…

2. You’re poisoning the air
And polluting all our minds with lies
And money seems to be the only reason why

3. All across the world
the villages go up in flames…
You’ve exploited all the rivers
The forests and the streams…

Children gaze, open-mouthed
Confused and horrified
To see their parents led away
By a force known as ICE

4. Nobody wants to die
they only want to go to school
But guns are everywhere
Cos of the NRA and you

Children gaze, open-mouthed
Confused and Terrified
All because some think it best
To close their eyes

5. My parents vote for you
Just the way their parents did before
But I will never vote
For fear and hate and war

Here’s to a brighter, saner, happier, freer, cleaner 2019.
– Old Susannah.

May 232018
 

Duncan Harley reviews Fat Friends the Musical @ HMT Aberdeen

This slick-mix of classic sit-com slap-stick musicality descends at points into the vast realms of morality-tale-land but on the whole offers a humongous slice of sugary sweet entertainment.
As the title strongly suggests, fat is to the fore in this production and fans of the original Kay Mellor TV comedy drama will not be disappointed with this portrayal of positive body imagery.

Originally aired on prime-time TV some fifteen years ago as the sit-com Fat Friends, the musical story-line follows the fortunes of Kevin and Kelly as they approach their wedding day.

With a mere six weeks to go, the supersized Kelly sets her sights on shedding a good few pounds in a determined effort to fit into the wedding dress of her dreams.

Not for her a tale of ‘does my bum look big in this’. More like ‘can you zip me up sometime during the next few weeks please’. But, its all in the best possible taste of course.

However, shades of Shylock’s pound of flesh in the form of slimming guru Julia Fleshman – menacingly played by Atomic Kitten Brit-pop girl Natasha Hamilton – cast a dark shadow on proceedings when, in pursuit of her dream day, Kelly unwisely binges on the slimming pills.

Inuendo, some profanity and a good measure of double entendre litter this production with classic lines such as clumsy Kevin’s ‘I thought rats were going to come and eat my tadger’ and Kelly’s verbose ‘Diets are shite’.

Heroes of the piece include the formidable Elaine C. Smith who, alongside letting rip with a superbly well-timed panto-style trouser cough early on, uncharacteristically utters the immortal lines:
“I’m a bit frightened that they’ll ask me a question and I’ll get all lost for words.”

The songs in the main are quite bearable. Most memorable of the bunch are Chocolate and Beautiful. Chocolate parodies those raunchy Cadburys Flake ads from the 1980’s and pulls no punches.

Jodie Prenger’s powerfully delivered end of Act One solo Beautiful ‘For just one day I want to be beautiful’ is truly heart-warming. Ms Prenger can sing, and dance and enthral. Indeed, she punches high.

Although perhaps not in the slimmer of the year category, Fat Friends the Musical, delivers a good measure of lively and at times hilarious entertainment and, despite some flaws, the musical will no doubt delight fans of the original TV show plus a good few of the uninitiated amongst us.

Directed by Kay Mellor with music by Nick Lloyd Webber, Fat Friends the Musical plays at HMT Aberdeen until Saturday May 26th 2018

Tickets from Aberdeen Performing Arts Tel: 01224- 641122

Words © Duncan Harley and Images © APA

Oct 222017
 

Duncan Harley reflects on Life, the Universe and Everything. A sideways look at the world and its foibles.

Nephrostomies work reasonably well but are, if truth be told, never particularly good. I mean, who in their right mind wants to wear a bag full of warm urine around their waist in summer. Not that anyone might know of course.
In the best possible taste, all is pretty well hidden apart from the drainage tube sticking out of one’s back.

In fact, the consultant, or at least one of them, cautioned that, although it all looks bleak – and I can tell you that this is true – no-one would really know that you are wearing one.

Really? I think not. Pissing, showering and anything to do with having sex are on the table as being difficult.

Having a shower involves a set routine.

First wash your hands. Then empty the urine bag. Ensure that a dry waist belt is available and then, and only then, take a shower. On emerging, dry off before changing belts. Make sure that you towel underneath the bag – otherwise you will need to suffer wet pants and worse. Above all, never sleep on your back and avoid turning in bed lest you put pressure on the bag. And, whenever it feels right, keep on with the hand-washing.

It’s a habit learned from the warnings on the wards – hospital acquired infections are rife. Hand-washing may defray death.

Simple really.

That’s an aside of course. Mainly, and apart from not being able to sleep on my back for the last 12 weeks, life is good.

The health-break has allowed a final edit to the new book. Taking it easy is fine if the head is allowed to engage after all.

The first post-surgical days were, to coin a phrase, a bit mad. An elder son had gifted a biography of a certain Bukowski as a birthday gift and I read it on the ward. Between bouts of surgically induced pain, the life and times of the man who variously wrote ‘Some people never go crazy, what truly horrible lives they must lead’ and ‘We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us’ made complete sense. All down to the morphine perhaps.

So, there we have it. There is nothing like a good nephrostomy really.

At least, in the big picture, I have had a chance to do a final edit to the new book. I had, until now, no idea how much work a book involved. As I sit recovering aside a pile of other people’s books I and my cat Lucy take heart that in a few weeks or so, I will become famous. Or infamous, depending on your stance, as the author of the A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire.

After all everyone should write a book at least once in their lifetime and I count myself one of the lucky few who have finally made it into print. Lucy is not so sure.

Muchalls, David Toulmin and the doomed Marquis of Montrose all get a good mention alongside Inkson McConnachie, Victoria’s ‘brown Brown’ and of course Jock o’ Bennachie.

Here’s a wee extract:

“When John Reid wrote about his native North-east in his guise as David Toulmin,

he penned some memorable stories. His tale ‘Snowfire’ springs to mind. Hitler’s

armies are at the very gates of Moscow and the Russians are fighting for their

lives in the siege of Leningrad. It is 1942 and he records that the folk of Buchan

were getting the ‘tail-end’ of the Russian winter ‘so you dug the snow from the

turnip drills … and all you’d get for an afternoon’s work was enough to fill a horse

cart.’ During a fierce blizzard, the farm’s water supply freezes, leaving the drinking

troughs empty. When the beasts are finally let onto the frozen river to drink from a

hole in the ice, a German bomber appears overhead and the aircraft gunner sprays

the ice with bullets, sending the thirst-crazed animals to a watery doom.

Toulmin is nowadays internationally recognised as one of Aberdeenshire’s finest

exponents of the short story. Born on a farm at Rathen in Aberdeenshire, he

worked as a farm labourer and spent most of his life working long hours on

the land for very small rewards. In odd moments he jotted down short stories,

character studies and bothy tales. Eventually, he had a few articles printed in local

newspapers. The first of his ten books was published when he was 59. His literary

output consisted mostly of short stories and reminiscences, his one novel, Blown

Seed, painting a vivid and harsh picture of farm life as an indentured labourer.”

Wish me luck is all I can say.

Grumpy Jack

PS: the book is on pre-order at http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/publication/the-a-z-of-curious-aberdeenshire/9780750983792/

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Oct 132017
 

The final curtain at ARI.

Duncan Harley reflects on Life, the Universe and Everything. A sideways look at the world and its foibles.

That’s me back from ARI. It’s a fine place if you are just visiting if truth be told. If you are an inmate, then maybe that’s quite a different story.

I went in with an open mind. After all the nice admission nurse only asked me stuff about the months of the year and my CHI Number. Seemingly if you are old and ill, they need to check that you are not mad.

What the feck is a CHI, I wondered while reciting the months backwards from D to J.

“Who is the Queen?” she said. I reflected on the various times I have almost met the monarch and still had no answer.

How should I know? After all she – that is if she is a she and not an ageing robot – only asked me what a spurtle was. Or was that her dead sister Margaret?

Fortunately, she refrained on this occasion from asking the dates of the beginning and end of the first war. I had that in my sights. Well it really depends on whether you think that the war ended on Armistice Day in 1918, or on Peace Day in 1919 or in 1946 after the surrender of Japan. Revisionist historians all around the globe have been arguing the point for decades and who am I to disagree.

Whatever, I doubt if Royals eat porridge anyway. And, if they did, they would probably deny it.

The folk in hospital-land were mainly really nice.

When the queen came to open the Chelsea Roof Garden, they served cake on a red tray complete with a bowl of Royal soup and something called Balmoral Chicken.

The folk on the ward ate it if they could apart from the man in bed four who was on a fast – before a procedure.

Like in Ramadan, we all – apart from the man in bed 2 – tried to eat unsuspiciously lest bed four became jealous.

In the end it came down to the keeping of the Royal menus. Bed 4 donated his meal to newly arrived bed 1 on condition that the Royal menu was kept for him as a souvenir.

More fool him. The kitchen staff, who normally issued copies of the food order, had that day decided to keep the food trays pristine.

Not for us the usual check-list of what we had – often in a morphine-induced dream state – ordered. For today there would be no auditing of food and no chance of complaining about a mis-order.

In my case, I ordered Glamorgan Cheese something or other from the Duchy of Cornwall plus a bowl of Royal Game Soup.

What arrived was Balmoral Hen complete with a stuffing of Game Haggis.

It was fine. And I can’t really complain. In fact, in all of my ARI days – the food was fab.

The company was generally good and there was a fine view of the new Wood multi-story car park from the window of the day room.

The dark side of the coin …

Well, there was the blood man.

Sad and a relic of a former self, he made me feel humbled as he stumbled around the ward.

Here is his tale. Read it if you dare and reflect quietly that it could be you or yours in a future year:

‘After the bloodbath of the night before, all seemed quiet in the ward. The blond bigmouth in the corner lay curled up beneath his hospital blanket and the sun streamed in through the blinds at the far end. An occasional phone went and the buzzers summoned the bustling staff.

Us of us patients who could, slept or read. And, just above the hum of the air-conditioning, an occasional snore could be heard.

The blood-man, for that is what we called him after the night before, had quietened down and was brought back into the ward. Bigmouth continued to complain to anyone who walked past. Seemingly he had been a victim of the night before and had had to have his bed changed due to spilt blood-soaked urine. Shamefully he told the night’s tale to the relatives next day despite ample warning from bed four that all that happens in the ward, stays in the ward. Such abominable patients can be a pain.

Naked and full of good intentions, the blood-man had – in the best possible taste – become unpopular. But what he had done must remain secret, for if revealed then heads might roll and his unpopularity might become infamy amongst his peers. And, we shouldn’t countenance that at any cost.

Suffice it to say that he had lost both his Press and Journal newspaper plus a full three pages from the Daily Telegraph. The loss of the P and J was easily solved. They say they sell 60 thousand of the bloody things each day in Aberdeen alone and the man in bed two happily donated a copy to compensate the blood-man’s loss.

As for the Telegraph, we were all at two’s and three’s. After all, the blood-man’s wife had seemingly taken the missing pages.

“I can’t find three of the pages of my Telegraph” he had said.

“My wife has probably taken them. It’s exactly the sort of thing she might do” he concluded.

We, apart from the blond bigmouth – who was by that time AWOL and possibly meeting a friend with vodka at the lift on level three – remained sceptical. But, of course you never really know what’s going through a man’s mind.

Maybe Mrs Blood-man had it in for the man. Or maybe she was simply looking out for him. Or maybe it was all in his imaginary world of pain, urine and shit.’

Grumpy Jack.

P.S. A huge thanks to the folk on 209. You do it well.

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Dec 162016
 

Melancolia meets the hideous nutcracker named Donald J Drumpf whose odd shaped mouth and repellent hair don’t put her off, neither does the fact he’s actually loaded.  After waging a battle it seems unlikely the nutcracker can possibly win, they are miraculously victorious. Together they go on a journey around the world visiting wondrous lands etc etc. Now read on.

IT WAS A cosy Christmas eve at young Melancolia’s photoshoot; photographers, stylists, other nude models and various reptilian types were gathering for a
Christmas themed girl-on-girl shoot – but a tasteful one.

Melancolia was one of the top glamour models ever to share a full page spread with another woman and guns.
Her sparkly eyes, perfect teeth, chiselled cheekbones and enviable physique were only matched by her perfect pout.

And all her features were perfectly natural, with only a few boob jobs, teeth work, nose re-sculpting, tummy tucking to tweak her natural beauty a wee bit.

Some of the girls had their reservations about the current shoot, but the stylists said ‘this will make your career; it will be very artful – just think of Hannah Montana and the sexualized giant teddy bears only nude – now put on these tassels. What a cracker!’.

But young Melancolia had no such qualms. Rather, she was transfixed by something in the room. It looked like a bloated, oversized animated – overly-animated – nutcracker.

To be clear, this was one of the most repellent looking things at the shoot. It seemed wooden for a start. But it was grossly misshapen – where there might have been a chin, the oversized potato-esque head joined to its body directly, and there were so many chins Melancolia couldn’t count them all.

And the hair! Revolting! Thin wisps of straw like grey material – ‘Squirrel fur?’ Melancolia wondered – were in places dyed a primary shade of yellow. These few strands were probably several feet in length and would have hung down like a balding Rapunzel. Rather, they were seemingly wound into a shape not seen since the days of Douglas Hird and were lacquered into a shape such as to accentuate, rather than disguise the nutcracker’s bald pate.

The eyes were beady; the outfit gaudy. The thing wore a little red cap which only exaggerated the size of its head. The hat said ‘Make America Bigly Again’ – while a little label sticking out of the back of the tacky headpiece proclaimed ‘Made In Mexico’.

The mouth. The mouth was revolting and never, never stopped moving. Was the thing having some kind of asthmatic attack? The mouth seemed to gasp like a basking shark gulping down plankton one moment, and the next it wore a leering smile like a Cheshire cat.

“Melancolia, what are you looking at?” asked one of the models, adjusting a leather sleigh harness and fixing her antlers to her head.

“Zat thing over there – vat is it?” Melancolia said pointing with her chin towards the nutcracker and her glossy mane flew round her perfect features.

“That guy’s a nut – a real whitebread cracker who owns a model agency. Gives me the creeps myself; I try and stay clear. Calls himself Herr Drumpf or something.”

“Sank you” Melancolia said, and turning now to the creature, who was wildly waving its arms and yelling at one minion or other, mouth quivering like the maw of a giant squid, she smiled. The nutcracker smiled back, or at least she thought so.

“Hey baby, you’re wanted on set, and bring the gun and handcuffs, gonna be real classy. People will be talking about this shoot for years to come” the director said to Melancolia.

How right he was. Yugely right.

*                                             *                                             *

What happened that night was all a big blur for Melancolia; the traditional after shoot party was in full swing. Someone had decided to play Christmas music, and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite was emanating from a wireless. Naturally this being an after-shoot Christmas party, there was lots and lots and lots and lots of ‘snow’.  It seemed to be everywhere. People had all sorts of other candy as well.

The Nutcracker – I mean Drumpf – made its way over to Melancolia; they both pouted. Right then and there, they seemed destined to be together.

“Hey I’m Donald Drumpf, nice to meet me I know. You’re not from Central America I hope?” The Nutcracker drawled,

“Nice shoot baby – loved what they did with the sleigh bells.”

“Zank you, you handsome man.”

“Yes, I know I’m handsome, but thanks for saying it. Wanna go for a ride in my Drumpf jet after the party? The toilets are solid gold.”

“Ven do ve go?” pouted Melancolia

“I can get into some clothes in a minute or two.”

“Never mind the clothes honey, just bring that gun, the handcuffs, and that photographer.”

“Okey dokey as you Americans say.”

From the other side of the room, the random chatter, snorts of amusement (or snorts of something) from the models echoed, and the wireless continued:

“… and the ugly Nutcracker transforms into a rich, handsome prince; he and Clara defeat their enemies, and take off in a magical flying sleigh to the world of candy and fantasy…”

Melancolia listened as Drumpf continued listing his accomplishments; but she was feeling a bit woozy by now.

“… and Drumpf Model Agency, and Drumpf whisky, Drumpf Golf links Scotland, Drumpf…” Drumpf continued without pause.

The wireless competed for Melancolia’s attentions too; the announcer’s voice rising:

“… and The Nutcracker and Clara visit exotic faraway lands such as China and Japan…”

The snow dazzled the East European beauty as large flakes of it fell on her tongue. The more the snow raged, the better looking the nutcracker (and his wallet) became. The room was humming harder as the ceiling flew away. Melancolia fell into a vision – giant mounds of snow appeared, she saw fairies dancing, mice with seven heads, and all sorts. Her head swam.

‘Not bad party’ she thought as Drumpf droned on – “…Drumpf offshore holdings, Drumpf casinos..” and she fell into a reverie (obviously not fuelled by any illicit substances, because nude models don’t go near that scene, nor do their photographers).

*                                             *                                             *

Melancolia closed her eyes for a moment.

Woosh! the happy couple were suddenly flying off to Drumpf’s kingdom on 5th Avenue, and all the little people – black, Jewish, Mexican and even gay ones rejoiced and worshipped their undoubted king and queen Donald and Melancolia. Everyone wanted to buy Drumpf brand clothing; everyone wanted to play golf at Drumpf golf courses, or gamble away all their money at Drumpf casinos.

The whole world watched The Nutcracker – or rather Drumpf – on television telling people they were fired; and all the women contestants on his fantastic television show were in love with the him, which goes without saying. The burgermeisters turned a blind eye to some of The Donald’s colourful antics.

Black people were turned away from Drumpf apartments and Drumpf job openings – but that’s just how you do business. Women were grabbed by their tutus as they competed to be Miss Nutcracker – but of course as they were dressed provocatively, they deserved it and if you’re famous, you can grab all the tutu you like.

Illegal immigrants got beaten up – but in the land of freedom, justice and liberty for all, you have to expect that kind of thing. All was well.

What more could the happy couple have wanted? – they had their own son, and Melancolia might not have been as young as Drumpf’s daughter from another marriage, but she was just as sexy – Drumpf himself often said as much. Melancolia had all the clothes a woman could want, and after all those years without wearing any clothes, this made a nice change.

But somehow for her beloved husband Donald, this wasn’t enough. New York, New York – if he could make it there, he could make it anywhere – so where next for the Drumpfs?

*                                             *                                             *

“Hey Melancolia, ya know” said Donald Drumpf, smiling widely like a crocodile with gas,

“I think I’m gonna go be president. Whaddya think of that?”

He was reclining on a gold lame cushion on the gold divan, sitting on the marble floors inlaid with the Drumpf logo.

“Okey dokey honey – you do that. You win. You big winner. You always telling me that.” 

Melancolia was admiring her face in one of the gilt mirrors.

“Lots of pictures get taken when you campaign in America no? I buy dresses. First Lady dresses. I be traditional First Lady like Mrs Ford or Jackie O. Jackie vas pretty. I prettier.” 

She came and put her arms around The Nutcracker, though they barely reached around the space where a neck should have been.

“Sure honey, you buy all the dresses you want.” The Nutcracker/Drumpf said, its mouth throwing otherworldly shapes,

“Mind the hair Mel, just had it woven last week.”

And so it came to pass that the Nutcracker and his brood hit the campaign trail. Many wondrous sites did they see. All of a sudden wonderful worlds of opportunity appeared; the mood was jubilant. First of all, they could give all the Drumpf children official campaign jobs – that meant tax breaks, taking donation money and giving it to the family, and it was all legit – which made a yuge change.

Then they could hold parties at Drumpf hotels and resorts – and charge the campaign fund a fortune for them! Result! Never before had those fundraising dinners caused The Nutcracker to salivate so. The Donald was now so busy that understandably he forgot about a few million dollars he was going to give to some veterans, but it’s the thought that counts.

Then there was money from his charities – he could raise money for charity and look good, tell people how charitable he was (which is the real point of charitable works), get tax relief, and then keep the money. He should have run for president years ago.

At the rallies Drumpf would tell his euphoric fans what his great plans were.

“Donald J Drumpf will wall up Mexico!” – the crowds cheered

“Donald J Drumpf will punish women who have abortions” – the crowds were in a frenzy

“Donald J Drumpf will throw all the illegal aliens (and some legal ones) out of the country and monitor all those Muslim types!” – the crowds were euphoric

“Climate change is just a myth made by the Chinese!” – how could he fail to win the presidency?

For some reason, not everyone in America was delighted by his candidacy. Then again, these weren’t real Americans – some were even Muslims and a few Mexicans who’d snuck in.

There was one guy who pretended to be some kind of American war hero who objected to Drumpf too – but he was a big fraud who had been dumb enough to get caught, and we all like our heroes to be guys who don’t get caught.

Donald might have been a great war hero himself, but he had a tragic medical flaw – there was a bone spur on his foot. This was so bad, that he couldn’t always win all the college basketball games he played in while being too ill to be drafted. Playing ball with a bone spur must have hurt sometimes, so in a way a pretty heroic thing to play b-ball at all.

Occasionally undesirables would get into one of nutcracker Drumpf’s rallies and try to protest – as if there were anything to protest, and as if resistance wasn’t futile.

“That guy over there is a protestor, throw him out, throw him out. You know, when I was younger, this guy would have been roughed up.” Drumpf told the faithful– and thus he won the heart of the right wing.

Melancolia was not crazy about the arduous schedule this campaigning meant, but it was worth it for such a good cause. She had to sometimes get up early before 11 am when the stylists arrived, and she had to wear some pretty frumpy outfits – but at least they were eye-wateringly expensive. She had to stand around at the nutcracker’s side and smile for hours on end – it was gruelling work.

How hard it was to smile without throwing in a single pout! But the photographers were there, and that was all that mattered. However, things were about to get really tough.

One evening Drumpf told her:

“Honey, ya gotta give a speech next week.”

Melancolia was not used to doing anything more than pouting or smiling, this was going to be a challenge.

“You will have a speech written out, and then you say the words on the paper, and smile – all at the same time. We’ll get you a coach honey, gonna be fine. Gonna be the biggest, best, yugest speech anyone’s ever made – well except me of course.”

And the day arrived and Melancolia read her speech. It was really hard, but she managed. At least people took pictures, and she smiled.

Alas! The speech was copied by someone named Michelle! The nerve! This copying was even more annoying because Michelle did her speech before Melancolia could do hers! This campaigning was a hard business.

Anyway to make a long campaign short, Drumpf The Nutcracker won the nomination, and then went on to defeat the evil cheating lying dishonest Hillary, who should be really in prison. The next president of the United States would be a wooden figure, whose mouth was controlled by a lever in the back by unseen hands. Russian hands. Result!

*                                             *                                             *

A voice far, far away came into Melancolia’s head:

“…and so The Nutcracker and Clara defeat their enemies, and take off in a magical flying sleigh to the world of candy and fantasy…”

He’d won! He defeated all comers and had been elected!

“Dahling!” she purred into her nutcracker-husband’s fuzzy ear-hole,

“eet iz wonderful! I buy ballgowns now. But vat is this cabinet zey keep talking about? Do we need nother gold cabinet to put zings in?  How much money we get for being president?”

“Melancolia – it’s gonna be a really big cabinet. Yuge. The best cabinet ever. No one will have ever had a cabinet like my presidential cabinet’s gonna be. I’m really smart when it comes to cabinets.” Drumpf reassured her, arms flailing, mouth flapping

“Vat you put in zees cabinet?”

“Nuts. Lots and lots of nuts.”

*                                             *                                             *

“Honey, we’re going on a victory rally tour; got the idea from this great book I’m reading by some German guy, Adolph something or other. The media will love it. They love me.” Drumpf explained as the servants packed a few gold-plated essentials.

And off the couple flew, with some of the Drumpf children, a handful of secret servicemen and a press team.

The first stop on this tour was Japan.

Drumpf’s daughter Iwantitall and son Donny Jr had come along on the tour, and it was heart-warming to Melancolia how her Donald was letting his children learn the ropes for the new family president business.

“Iwantitall, why don’t you go to that Japanese meeting thing darling; I’ve got some really important Tweets to send.”

“Fer sher daddy; can I have an advance on my allowance?” Drumpf’s daughter drawled; she was wearing a tasteful mini dress (available from her QVC shopping channel for £499).

Perhaps it was sour grapes, but the Japanese and some embassy attaches (whatever those are Melancolia wondered) didn’t think it was proper that Iwantitall was at the meeting. But what did that matter? Drumpf was running the show – the TV show that is (he was hardly going to give up ‘The Apprentice’ and the chance to say ‘You’re Fired!’ on TV – that was pretty important stuff).

As to running the White House, there was some guy who would call up and give Drumpf pointers. He had a Russian accent, and was pretty knowledgeable about all this electric college and cabinet stuff – how good it was to have help.

And off the entourage flew to their next destination. Africa.

“Welcome to Africa! Hail to the Chief! You come shoot some more elephants and giraffes Mr Donny – we need the shoes and game meat your little visits supply! We’re so grateful! Anything you want, anything at all!”

Donny Jr said:

“Thanks thanks – but ya know, I’ve not bagged one of those ferocious giraffes in a couple of months, let’s go kill some and then you can show me some more gratitude.”

The African ambassadors threw glances at each other for a moment:

“We’ll get back to you on that soon, Donny.” 

For some reason, they all had to go really suddenly.

“That went yugely well” Drumpf said as they all got back on the plane, Donny sporting an elephant’s tail the grateful locals insisted he take with him.

And off they went to China.

“I’m gonna handle this one on my own” Drumpf told his fellow travellers.

“But first, I got a little phone call to make to Taiwan. They’re gonna do some merchandising for me.”

Melancolia thought she saw a look of shock on the faces of some of the press team, but she put that down to their being awed that she and Donald knew Taiwan was a thing.

After completing a phone order for a hundred thousand ‘Make America Greatly Again’ baseball caps from the Taiwanese business delegation, it was off to China.

Stepping out of the plane, Drumpf was for some reason given a frosty reception. Putting on his best ‘O’ shaped mouth, he descended and told the Chinese government representatives:

“Yous guys gotta stop raping America – and why didn’t you ask my permission before you devalued your currency? You didn’t even respond to my tweets about that! You’d better learn who’s in charge – yeah, that’s right Vlad – I mean me. Now if only you’d have done the right thing, I wouldn’ta had to order my baseball caps from Taiwan. So you’d better stop thinking like losers and –“

For some reason at this point the secret servicemen pulled all the presidential party back up the plane steps, and prepared for a hasty departure.

“Get ready for take off!” the pilot announced over the tannoy of Air Farce One

“Ze dress first and leave the shoes on like usual?” Melancolia asked. But no one answered, and off they jetted.

“Geez, this thing doesn’t even have a gold plated can” Drumpf said, exiting the jet’s toilet.

“I’m gonna cancel that Boeing contract, that’ll show ‘em – and get a proper Presidential Plane”

“But- but sir” said one of the press party – and it was a woman to boot,

“there are thousands of American jobs at stake at Boeing, and if you make such an announcement, you’ll devalue the Boeing stock!”

“Who let this woman on the plane – are you a real reporter honey? – you don’t look very pretty. Who are you to be questioning me!” Drumpf thundered,

“and don’t go telling me about business. I know business really well. Dad lent me $6,000,000 – and I’ve only had eight bankruptcies. Go put on some makeup or something.” 

And with that the hapless hack was despatched.

“Ya know, we’re gonna go somewhere they really love me – not that they don’t love me everywhere that is – but in Scotchland they love me. Take us over there, that’s where my mother was from.”

And the Presidential jet touched down in Aberdeen. A police escort took Trump to his beloved golf course at Menie. All the staff were lined up and ready to meet him.

“Sarah Malone always good to see you – how’s that husband of yours doing – does he want another column for his newspaper yet, cause I got some great ideas.”

Drumpf addressed none other than the very Face of Aberdeen – a stunningly beautiful creature – obviously not as pretty as Iwantitall or Melancolia.

“We’re so glad to see you sir Mr Drumpf sir! If I can just -” she squealed.

“Just make sure I get plenty of clean towels honey.”

He dismissed her, and then proceeded to greet all the assembled Aberdeen city and shire councillors who lined up to kiss his ring.

Melancolia thought the Scotchland visit went much better than the China trip. It was freezing cold, the place was deserted, and part of the golf course had fallen into the sea. Still, there was the tasteful Drumpf clubhouse – with the Drumpf family crest – a two-headed monstrous bird – carved or printed on every surface within eyesight. Drumpf whisky was on sale at a mere £500 per bottle, signed by Drumpf (or truth be told, signed by Sarah Malone).

Soon this state visit had to end as well, and off the party flew back towards the States.

“One more stop, just to make sure everyone knows what a winner I am” the Drumpf/nutcracker said; its hinged mouth flapping wildly, its hair more frazzled than ever. “Mexico it is.”

The welcoming party at the airport seemed very festive; the peasants were all holding giant piñatas that looked just like Donald J Drumpf, and they were beating the s*it out of them. Drumpf opened his mouth to speak, but the cheering was so loud he couldn’t be heard. Melancolia was told that the waving of pitchforks and torches was a traditional Mexican greeting. Drumpf, his family and Melancolia were ushered quickly away and soon sat down to talk to the Mexican president.

“It’s very simple.” Donald said, his mouth in one of his widest smiles,

“You’re not giving us your best people. You’re giving us rapist and drug dealers. You gotta keep people in Mexico or I can’t get a good price on my Drumpf t-shirts that they make so cheaply here. So here’s what we’re gonna do. I’m gonna build a wall. It’s gonna be the biggest, bestest, smartest wall anyone ever built, and it’s gonna keep those bad Mexicans out of America.”

“Senor – this is not possible – think of the environment, the practicalities – the cost!” The Mexican president wiped his brow.

“Not my problem – you’re gonna pay for it pal!” Drumpf said, leering.

“This meeting’s over and I’ll send you the bill later.” 

And with that, he rose, the rest of his party rose, and off they went.

“Oh wait, there’s some other place we gotta go” Drumpf said to his weary pilot,

“What’s it called again, it’s somewhere they really, really need my smart thinking. Oh yeah, The Middle East – that’s it.”

Audible groans came from everyone but the first family, as the jet roared into the night.

“Time for your CIA briefing sir.” said a man in a black suit.

“Ya know, I’m not one of those dumb guys, I don’t need to be told the same thing day in day out.” said a bored Drumpf, who was tweeting about a television show called Saturday Night Live, which was not funny or fair at all.

“But Sir!” persisted the CIA officer,

“The Syrian problem is deepening, there is a rift in Turkmenistan, there is insurgency in Turkey, human rights violations in several countries, economic instability threatens several regions, and environmental disaster relief is threatening to outstrip spending on our other missions.”

“Eh?” said Drumpf

“Just do what ya gotta do; maybe I’ll get time for you next month; we’ll see. Don’t you know I still gotta television show I gotta produce?”

Drumpf had ordered all the region’s diplomats and leaders to meet his plane, which as usual was greeted by a classy red carpet, a couple of models, and some bagpipe players just in case anyone forgot his mother was from Scotchland.

“Darling you do know how to make ze entrance!” Melancolia purred.

“Here’s some money from one of the charities – why don’t you and Iwantitall go do some shopping.”

Needing no further encouragement, the women were off. Drumpf was ushered into an assembly room and led to a podium.

“Guys you got to know – Jews love me. Muslims love me. The blacks – they love me. Now the problem is that you’ve got too many Muslims here in the Middle East – I’d suggest you deport some of ‘em like I’m gonna do in the States – send ‘em back where they came from.

“But I gotta hand it to you, ya know how to do great wall building here, and if you play your cards right, you might get some building contract work from me on the Mexican border, maybe even some security guard work, unless my pal Vlad has that sewn up already… Now if you’ll form an orderly queue, I’ve brought a few dozen copies of my new book ‘Nuclear weapons – why have ‘em but not use ‘em?’ – a snip at only £49.99 each – £99.99 if I sign them.”

Leaving the Middle East was all a bit of a blur to Melancolia, but the echoed shouts of thanks seemed to fill the streets.

“Donald Darling – Iwantitall and I have bought such darling new ball gowns – look – even titties mostly covered on mine! – we vant to go have dinner at Buckingham Palace.”

“Great idea Mel – let’s go do that. They love me there. The Queen – she loves me; she’ll want me to stop by. Prince Philip – he and I get along great – agree on almost everything. That Charles one – he loves me. Now don’t get jealous sweetie – but his ex-wife Diana – she couldn’t keep her hands off me. I had to tell her – Di – darling – I’ll send you a t-shirt and a cap, but you gotta get off me.”

Melancolia was not pleased to learn that the late princess had such a fixation on her Donald – but it was perfectly understandable of course. So off they all flew to Heathrow.

Soon they were ushered into a Buckingham Palace state room. A gaggle of courtiers surrounded the stately if diminutive Queen.

“Hey, hey Liz – this is my wife Melancolia – shake hands there you go – give me a big kiss.” 

Drumpf’s attempt to slobber all over HM were blocked by the courtiers. The Queen seemed to have turned a shade of red not dissimilar to the colour of a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat.

“Brought you something” Drumpf said, handing over a plastic bag with one of the coveted baseball caps.

A footman took the package, holding it in his gloved hands by two fingers, holding it an extreme distance away.

“Liz, there’s a guy here that wants to see you too – it’s my pal Nigel Farage. Nigel – Liz, Lizzie – Nigel. You’re gonna be fast friends I can tell. It will be yuge. I told Nigel he can be ambassador to the USA for your little country – that’s OK right? He’s got some great ideas – not as great as mine you understand – but he’s gonna make Great Britain Great Again. 

“Now about these immigrants like the Irish you got here….”

The Queen was speechless, not least because Drumpf’s wife and daughter were both trying to grab her tiara.

“This audience is at an end. Her Majesty thanks you and bids you good day.” a guard said, ushering the whole party out of the palace with bayonets drawn.

Soon they were back on their plane, flying for the States.

“Probably an old English custom. Nigel – leave some of that Drumpf whisky; we need to sell some later, that’s a good guy.” Donald said.

Melancolia was in a whirl from this whirlwind world tour. As they walked to their waiting limos to return to Air Farce One, it started to snow.

Donald was on the phone; she wasn’t sure to whom.

“Yes, Vlad, all good here – how’s Wendy? You must come over for some golf sometime soon. Thanks again for everything. What’s that? You want me to press that button thing now? OK – give you a half hour head start to get into that underground complex. 

“I’ll tell the Pentagon just like we agreed. I’ll tell those missiles myself ‘YOU’RE FIRED!’”

Everything was a blur of mushroom-shaped clouds, Drumpf shouting, and then everything went black. She closed her eyes for a second, and everything seemed to fade away.

The snow was swirling all about her face now, landing in huge crystals around her tongue and nose.

*                                             *                                             *

Melancolia was suddenly back at the Christmas Eve photoshoot – it had all been a dream.

“So honey, you wanna blow this party and come back to 5th Avenue with me on my big gold plated jet now?” Drumpf asked, a little drool spilling over his oily o-shaped lips.

His hair had loosened from its previously lacquered condition so that several single strands of oiliness and dye reached his chest, hitting his Drumpf necktie, which at the neck seemed nearly as wide as the spud-shaped head.

Some of the snow had stuck to his polylmer hair and a dash was on his nose.
Melancolia thought of all her imagined adventures which had seemed so real a moment ago.

Turning to Drumpf, moving closer to him, she turned her pout into a wide smile and said:

“Let’s get going big boy. Zees is going to be great.”

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Nov 102016
 

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

aberdeen-comedy-festival-2It involved more than 65 shows, over 250 comedians and 25 venues throughout the city centre – all aiming to bring a smile and some laughs to the Granite City.
23 days later, the first Aberdeen Comedy Festival, organised by Aberdeen Inspired in partnership with Breakneck Comedy, drew to a close, with organisers delighted with the fantastic response from the North-east public.

Night after night of the festival, which was kindly sponsored by local bar/pub McGinty’s Meal An’ Ale, has seen people pack out city centre venues and enjoy a huge array of comedic talent.

From the sold out launch event at the Tivoli Theatre on October 14 featuring Tom Stade, Billy Kirkwood, Liam Withnail and Gary Little to the final show at Park Inn by Radisson with John Scott, Pearse O’Haloran, The Reverend Obadiah Steppenwolfe III and Martin James Walmsley on November 5, more than 3,100 tickets have been sold during the laugh filled extravaganza, as well as over 1,500 tickets from APA and Beach Ballroom promoted events.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“The response from the public, local businesses and visitors to the Aberdeen Comedy Festival has been fantastic and we are delighted with the success of all the shows.

“It was ambitious to undertake to put on an event on this scale, which is already, in only its first year, Scotland’s third biggest event of its kind. We can’t thank our sponsors, all the venues that took part and the teams from Aberdeen Inspired and Breakneck Comedy that have worked so hard to make it a reality.

“The great feedback we have received from visitors to the festival proves there is a big appetite for events on this scale in the Granite City and at a time when Aberdeen is going through a difficult period, it was great to see people enjoying themselves so much in the city centre.

“We are determined to carry this positive momentum forward and are excited to bring the Aberdeen Comedy Festival back next year.”

Operations Director, Alan Aitken of McGinty’s Meal An’ Ale, said:

“It has been great to see what a success the Aberdeen Comedy Festival has been and as a local business, we were very proud to support it.

“The festival really has brought the city together and it is a great incentive to encourage the public to enjoy everything the city centre has to offer. We can’t wait to welcome the comedy lovers back to have some laughs next year.”

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. More information on the work of Aberdeen Inspired is available at www.aberdeeninspired.com

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Oct 152016
 

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

aberdeen-comedy-festivalA new comedy festival which boasts a host of stand-up talent is getting underway in the Granite City.

Comedy fans can choose from more than 65 shows from a fantastic line-up of comics during the 23 day Aberdeen Comedy Festival which will run until Saturday, November 5.

The laugh filled extravaganza, which is being sponsored by local bar/pub McGinty’s Meal An’ Ale, features more than 250 comedians performing at over 20 venues throughout the city centre.

These include Hardeep Sing Kholi, Phil Nicol, Junior Simpson, Carl Hutchison, Kate Smurthwaite and Carly Baker among many others.

The festival, which is sponsored by McGinty’s Meal An’ Ale, kicked off in style with a gala launch event at the historic Tivoli Theatre on Friday with Australian funnyman Tom Stade setting the tone for the event, alongside Billy Kirkwood, Liam Withnail and Gary Little.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We are delighted to be launching the Aberdeen Comedy Festival, which we are sure we will be very well received by the public.

“Both Aberdeen Inspired and Breakneck Comedy have worked very hard to get to this point and it is fantastic to now be getting underway with events.

“At what continues to be a difficult time economically for the city, we are pleased to bringing some laughs to Aberdeen with the aim of also increasing footfall within the centre.

“It has always been an ambition of ours to organise an event on this scale. We also know we need the backing of the north-east public so hope people take this opportunity to enjoy the great variety of comedy that will be on offer.”

Operations Director, Alan Aitken of McGinty’s Meal An’ Ale, said:

“As a local business, we are delighted to support the first Aberdeen Comedy Festival. It is great to be involved in a new initiative for the North-east and hopefully this will encourage everyone to stay local in the city centre to enjoy what our great city has to offer.

“We look forward to welcoming all the comedy lovers to McGinty’s on Tuesday October 18 when Andrea Hubbert, Marc Jennings, Mark Nelson and Elaine Millar will be performing a free event from 8.30pm. We will also be serving the official festival ale ‘McGinty’s Barrel of Laughs’ throughout the festival.”

The festival programme has been put together by Naz Hussain of Breakneck Comedy. To buy tickets and for more information on the festival visit http://www.aberdeencomedyfestival.com/

Tickets can also be bought in person at the Lemon Tree or HMT Box Offices.

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.

Sep 162016
 

image1aBy Fin Hall aka The Man In Red.

Some time ago I wrote about the fanzine, The Red Final. First published in May 1996 on the opening of The Richard Donald Stand at Pittodrie.
Now as the club stands on the verge of moving to to Kingswells, and the new Kingsford Stadium, the fanzine, stands on the precipice of disappearing from existence.

The publication which has been run wholly on a voluntary and non profit basis for the whole of its lifespan has, in all that time, had only two editors. the first being Chris Gavin.

Known by many as Old Beach Ender, or OBE, Chris could always be seen sporting his well worn, brown leather jacket as he stood outside the football stadium, selling the latest issue of the fanzine he started, for only £1.

When he was offered a position as a non-executive director on the board of Aberdeen Football Club, and the fans’ representative therein, he relinquished his editorial position to a younger and very keen contributor, Chris Crighton – aka ‘Merkie’.

The moving of OBE onto the board was a sign that fanzines were valuable voices of the fans, and were to be taken into consideration.

Merkie has taken this acceptance a step closer. He has a column in Aberdeen’s award winning matchday programme, and writes a post match opinion piece in the Press and Journal also.

Some of the contributors have been with the Red Final since it’s early days, and even contributed to it’s predecessor, The Northern Light which is still fondly remembered by those of us of a certain vintage.

Twitter, Facebook, and online Blogs may have given the fans more options on voicing their opinions, but this has not had too much of an direct impact on sales. It still sells around 2,500 copies when it hits the streets, which in itself is reasonable enough readership.

It has also been available for years via subscription and, more recently, online as a download. After all these intervening years it still sells for the same price – £1.

No, the problem comes not with sales nor with articles, although the editor’s inbox is never as full as it used to be, or as he would like; but with actually getting it onto the streets and into the hands of the ever keen public.

As I stated previously, some of the contributors have been with it since the nineties, and are not getting any younger. Ill health as well as age keeps some of them off the street corners, although with this latest issue, number 125, some have come back out to lend a hand.

Not all of the writers live in the city. The Editor himself, who usually has much more than one item in, lives in the central belt. I know, I know, we feel sorry for him, but it’s his choice. One even lives in Germany. So it has been down to just two sellers in recent times.

Despite numerous, pleading requests from Merkie via the aforementioned online vehicles, no fresh blood has volunteered to get down Pittodrie way on match days to help sell it.

When the move to Kingswood comes about, it would seem the logistics of distribution may well be impossible. It’s difficult enough at times as it is.

It may well be that when the remaining copies go on sale at the St Johnstone cup game next week, and the first ever game against The Rangers on the 25th, (if there are any left) it will be for the last time ever.

The final decision has yet to be ascertained. It is Scotland’s longest running fanzine, and, as far as I am aware, the only one in the country still going – but not for long. I personally will mourn it’s loss, being one of the older writers on it.

Sad days indeed.

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May 162016
 

princess3 from clipartlordA modern day fairytale by Suzanne Kelly.

Once upon a time, well right now actually, there lives Donald Drumpf – a very rich, powerful handsome man that all the women adore, even black, Mexican, Muslim and Jewish ones. He bought a Scottish estate to the delight of the Scottish peasantry and the whole world, and then hired a very special person – a genuine princess – to run this new Scottish property and build hundreds of houses, a great club and golf courses.

This was Princess Sarah. She knew nothing about golf, planning, the environment, residential development – or anything at all, really.

It was said she’d not be able to organise a piss up in a brewery. Nevertheless, she was absolutely beautiful, and let’s face it – what else matters? And by a very happy coincidence she was married to the man who ran the local newspapers, who could say great things about Donald Drumpf.

Anyway, she had been crowned The Face of Aberdeen. Verily she was a princess.  In fact she was so delicate and sensitive, a tiny pee could throw her into a frenzy, and lo, so it came to pass.

By and by, Donald Drumpf was given permission to do with the estate and its wildlife whatever he pleased. The wildflowers and plants were scraped away by diggers.

Scores and scores of truckloads of sand were dumped, irrespective of wildlife habitat. Trees were dug up and buried in pits.

It was said that the burrowing animals were gassed. A golf course was laid out in a former wild place which had all its legal environmental protection removed. Scottish Natural Heritage which should have protected Scotland’s Natural Heritage did nothing but deliver some lame, unintelligible scientific jargon to the Reporters, who were told by Scottish Enterprise that this golf course was needed (although golf courses were closing nearby).

The resident peasants who wouldn’t sell to Drumpf were ridiculed, hassled by security guards and, interfered with by police. Elected officials who voted agains the destructive scheme were ridiculed by Princess Sarah’s husband’s newspapers as traitors – simply for applying the existing law to the land owned by The Donald as it would have applied to mere mortals.

One traitorous councillor was even punched on her doorstep by a Drumpf loving woman.

Residents had their water, electric and telephone lines ‘accidentally’ cut off by Drumpf’s construction crews at different points. A resident farmer who had gone salmon fishing for decades was told he’d be arrested if he tried to fish ever again. The rare, moving sand dune system was ‘stabilised’, altering forever a unique habitat once without equal.

Public money was spent by Scottish Enterprise to helicopter Drumpf’s people around while he was wined and dined by the ‘impartial’ First Minister.

One nearby resident was frogmarched to the clubhouse

Two journalists were arrested and manhandled for ‘breach of the peace’. This was without precedent, and the machinations of the police were such that the two never got to have their day in court, which they very much wanted.

Drumpf operatives tried to trick people into selling their homes with blatant lies. Compulsory purchase orders were a threat hanging over the heads of those who refused to sell. A giant bund of sandy earth was deliberately put up between one person’s home and their former views of the sea. This caused dirt and sand to blow into the cottage owner’s house, gardens and car engines – ruining the engines and killing the plants in the gardens.

Trees were planted in this bund. They died, and others were planted in an attempt to further block the cottage. The wildlife visibly dwindled, while the clownish Professor Bill Ritchie, who had previously said the development was great, disappeared as his feeble wildlife monitoring programme was allowed to fizzle out.

One nearby resident was frogmarched to the clubhouse and held by security – he had merely been trying to visit a farm. A huge heap of mixed waste was piled high nearby. A respected photographer was threatened by security who screamed he’d smash her camera.

Then something terrible happened.

One day a woman was accused of doing something so horrifying it should only be spoken of in whispers. She had been walking on the dunes and the shore for hours, and it is alleged she – urinated. In the grasses of the sand dunes. Please forgive me for even alluding to this; I hope you haven’t hit your head when you fainted at the thought.

Now Princess Sarah had had to put up with lots of hardships up until this point. She had to read out press statements for the dozen or so wee planning permission deviations that occurred under her stewardship. Worse – she did not get permission for the 80 foot flagpole – and it certainly seems she really desired a big one, I do wonder why.

Flying a giant flag would have proved once and for all that Drumpf loved Scotland and everyone would be nice to him forever, forgetting his one or two small foibles. But the mean burgermeisters decided this was just too big. But I digress.

A peasant on Drumpf land was bad enough – Sarah was flushed with rage. But for someone to actually take the piss – the Princess decided enough was enough.

Now Princess Sarah was a very delicate, fragrant creature. Indeed, Princess Sarah was so very lovely and fragrant herself, it was widely held that she never needed to go to the bathroom at all. Indeed, the people for miles around said she was full of sh*t.

Late one evening, Police Scotland’s finest showed up

Princess Sarah had everyone who walked across the golf course spied upon – after all, hardly anyone went there in the first place, and you have to get your security guards to earn their bread somehow.

No one came near the place without some employee, security goon in a van or on foot intervening.

This spying, recording, filming and eavesdropping will in no way deter future golfers who might have wanted to play golf and/or talk business without being filmed and recorded – but I digress again.

To show her good taste, great judgment, empathy, public-friendly nature, kindness, and what a whizz she was, the clever princess made three of her lackeys film the woman on their mobile phones. Then she immediately called the police. As any right-thinking person would do. Conveniently her husband’s newspaper had a journalist on the spot before the allegedly urinating woman was able to leave.

The princess arranged for the police to track the peasant down, and of course they obliged.  Late one evening, Police Scotland’s finest showed up at the home of the allegedly peeing pensioner and sneered that ‘there was enough evidence’ to convict her of – peeing. “Urine Trouble Now!” they told the pensioner in her home that night.

The courageous, law-biding Princess issued a statement:

“Offensive behaviour such as this is a matter for the police… This disgusting and shameful act took place in broad daylight in full view of our staff and guests by an individual who has been disruptive in the past.”

Quite right. If she’d not called the police, then people would think Drumpf’s place was going down the pan.

Some people said that there was something immoral, pervy, weird and demeaning about the princess ordering her minions to film this alleged event, but there you go. As to the perpetrator – it’s bad enough to be accused of answering the call of nature – but to be disruptive with it – that’s going too far. If there ‘s one thing we can’t have on this golf course is any kind of disruption.

If we don’t move to stamp this kind of thing out, there is no telling where it might end. How would you feel if one evening for example you were in the Aberdeen town centre and drunk men (and women) were just urinating in the streets? Yes, if we don’t stamp out this menace, there is no telling what will happen. People might also start experimenting with disruption.

The police have been asked to tell us how many other such arrests there have been. I think they have found the subject far too unseemly to be able to respond. When they do, I’ll let you know. No doubt this information will eventually leak out.

 Police Scotland have been too busy doing real work

For my part, after all the wonderful things Drumpf, Princess Sarah and Master Bates have done for us, I think perhaps a statue of some sort might be appropriate. Maybe a parade, too.

Perhaps we should have a National ‘Face of Aberdeen Day’, or put Sarah’s face on a postage stamp or a fiver.

And as to the police who decided hounding a grandmother was a good way to spend their time and our tax money, perhaps they should also be rewarded with some public recognition. What about those brave guys who decided to whip out their mobile phones to film the alleged event? I’d love to thank them personally, and I’m sure others would too. Any one of us would film a pensioner allegedly squatting in a sand dune if ordered to by our bosses I’m sure.

People have in the past been turned away by the police when trying to report thefts, attempted thefts and other issues. Police Scotland have been too busy doing real work such as meeting Drumpf when he jets in than to find your stolen bike or car. In fact, it seems to be your fault your car is stolen if you keep your car keys locked in your house where anyone could break in and get them.

By the way, one cancelled visit from Herr Drumpf cost the taxpayer a few thousand pounds; I wonder what it costs when he does show up? I did ask, but it was far too difficult to calculate for our poor police to be able to answer.

Back to our story: before she left the golf course land, the alleged perpetrator was met by a black vehicle, out of which popped people including someone identifying themselves as a reporter. (Maybe someday I’ll become a professional reporter like that.

I can see it now – I’ll get that phone tip-off :

“Come to a golf course – a granny has possibly strained her greens- we think.”

A story like that might get me writing for Wikileaks. Alas! Putting my name to a by-line like that in newspaper sadly is something I can only dream of. I wondered what they meant by leaking a story to the press – now I know.

As to someone who would allegedly urinate in a sand dune, forcing others to film the episode, I’m thinking it’s a pity that we got rid of hanging. Perhaps just tarring and feathering would do the trick, and then banishment.

A card of condolence will be made available to Princess Sarah – we only hope she’s not had to look at the footage or the crime scene (I wonder if they dust for urine?). I hope that at this difficult, stressful, emotional time she can still continue to defend Mr Drumpf and his desire to wall up the rapist druggie Mexicans, to stop China raping the US, and to ban those pesky Muslims from going to the US.

Without the princess to tell us what’s disgusting or disruptive, where would we be indeed?

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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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