Nov 192010

By John Russell.

I had gone with a friend up to Durness for a day out, and decided to show her Balnakeil Bay, which, in my opinion, is the most beautiful beach in Scotland.

I had walked along here previously and my plan was to go to the army station at the end and watch the sea birds. Having seen the watch tower before I knew it was related to the Cape Wrath firing range, but never before had I seen it in use. However I noticed a red flag flying on top of the tower and there were people in attendance which presumably barred us from approaching the station.

Consequently, we decided to walk to the right to a cliff that was looking across to Cape Wrath. Bathed in sunshine, on approaching the cliff, we went down a small dip which brought us close to the cliff face.

As we arrived in the dip, there was a strange shock wave came over us, followed by the sound of an almighty bang. We reached the top of the cliff and saw smoke coming from a small island (Dulcis island) which was about a mile away from where we were and about five hundred yards off the Cape Wrath peninsula.

We realised that this was a jet doing target practise, Cape Wrath being the only place in Europe where armies or navies from all over Europe can fire live ammunition. What shocked me was that we could see all round us and in the distance an eye can see there were no jets within visual range.

Now, I have a limited knowledge of how it would be to be bombed, but from movies I would expect to hear the planes flying over which would give people time to run to the bomb shelter. However, this was just so scary, the missile was fired, hit the rock and exploded, and only then did we hear it. This was followed by a shock wave which I physically felt it going through my body.

Where we were sitting was approximately a mile away from where the bombs were exploding and it was nothing like the movies at all. I then tried to imagine what a family would feel if they were sitting at home with the building next to them being targeted – or even a house in the next street. Remember, we were about a mile away…and still felt the shock go through us. Overhead, an empty sky and no early warnings of noisy planes.

we could hear the rat-a-tat of the gun, then saw the bullets running in a line up the rock

After a few moments, three Tornado jets, (the ones you have no doubt seen on television programmes about the Lossiemouth base closures) flew past at a tremendous speed and quickly disappeared into the sky again.

As we settled back down to have a cup o tea and a sandwich, another round of explosions went off and once again there was the shock wave, black pillars of smoke rose to the air, then you heard it, then the shock wave again.

The jets then returned speeding past us and, looking across at the rock, we noticed that a machine gun was now being fired, we could hear the rat-a-tat of the gun, then saw the bullets running in a line up the rock, each mini explosion was, from our spot, about the size of a football – but bright enough to be noticed on a sunny day.

A single plane then flew over us, and when it was approaching the rock, there was a largish splash in the sea, which I assumed was something that had either missed its target, or failed to go off. Whichever it was, there is, I assume, now a live missile on the sea bed (look out any crab fishermen in the area). On my last visit to Cape Wrath, I met a group of people from the MOD who were going up to Cape Wrath to retrieve the unexploded ordinance, and detonate them.

The planes then flew past us for a final time then disappeared. This whole episode, although quite exciting at the time (Jake pointed out it was November the 5th), left me feeling really uneasy about the whole incident and again my mind went back to Iraq and Afghanistan and to people who are not really part of the whole war issue. Just people trying to get on with their lives and the only reason for being in danger is their proximity to some unsuspected target which could potentially have their families killed and their homes ruined.

After all the jets had gone there was a lingering smell of sulphur in the air, like the smell a match makes after it had been blown out… A strange day altogether

Johnny R

Oct 152010

Last week, as Donald Trump arrived in Aberdeen ahead of his controversial honorary doctorate award from RGU, Aberdeen Voice was already busy drip-feeding leaked details of the scheduled time and place of the ceremony.

As many individuals and organisations pondered how to act on the information, one former Gordon’s student wasted no time in laying the foundations for a course of action which would raise his profile beyond all- including his own- expectations.

If Andy Warhol is correct in that we will all have 15 minutes of fame in our lifetime, then we are pleased to extend John Russell’s remaining credit to tell his story to Aberdeen Voice;

“Friday 8th of October 2010. For myself, a mad and memorable day. It all began earlier with a slightly tongue in cheek conversation on Facebook. I had suggested that as I lived across from RGU, I should hang a banner to display my opposition to Trump’s award and his threat to evict families from their homes.

I attended RGU – or RGIT as it was then known – many years ago, and feel that, compared to myself and my fellow students, Donald had contributed very little of benefit to the citizens of Aberdeen. I was also ashamed that despite these dunes being a designated SSSI, Trump’s plan was allowed to proceed.

The raw material for 2 banners was acquired from a charity shop and delivered to my house on the Thursday afternoon. The phrase “Shame on you RGU” popped into my head. I then added “Dump Trump” on the bottom of the larger banner. Job done.

I hung it out of my window at about 7am thinking to catch the morning traffic, some of whom would be lecturers and students arriving at RGU.

By 8am a police land rover had parked outside my house and 4 officers were looking up at my banner. I was hit by the realisation that I had started something with no thought as to the possible outcome. Later still a sea of photographers were taking photos of my house while with each bus and car that passed people stared and pointed.

My nerves were on edge as Donald Trump appeared. I stood on a low wall and unfurled my banner

Around 11am I saw a fleet of 5 black Range Rovers pass by. I decided to wander across the road and see what was happening. Security was everywhere, and my immediate thought was; who was paying for this?

I stood opposite the fleet of Range Rovers, much to the annoyance of the Bruce Willis wannabes guarding them.

Regularly updating my Facebook page, I drew nervous looks from the security staff. I went back home to pick up a jacket and tucked the smaller banner inside so as not to draw attention to myself. Returning to the same spot, I updated my facebook page, hoping that by getting information out asap, this might benefit others. Eventually a security person came over and asked me to move.

When I asked why, he replied: “no reason”, but added that there was a space set aside for the press. I couldn’t help smiling at his assumption that I was from the press as I proceeded to the designated area – 15ft from where the now Doctor Donald would soon emerge.

My nerves were on edge as Donald Trump appeared; I stood on a low wall and unfurled my banner which read “shame on you RGU”.

Donald looked at me for a few moments.

I was approached by a member of his security team, who immediately ordered me to get off the wall, to which I replied in the negative. Again he asked and again he was given the same reply. Then in a much firmer voice, he said;

“Sir, I am telling you to get off the wall”

Who did he think he was talking to?

I told him I was not moving, and suggested if he dare put one finger on me…..
To my amusement he then turned and walked away to catch up with Doctor Donald and the car collection – Doctor Donald’s five Range Rovers, the 3 Bentleys with personalised registrations, a number of Jags including Sir Ian’s which took pride of place in the convoy.

Delighted with this unexpected response I shouted out, “nice one Donald!”, and added that Scotland was not for sale.

I was then asked to pose for the various photographers and stood for 5 minutes while a sea of flash bulbs went off in front of me. I was asked to give interviews, but felt this part was better left to others. I had played my part. “