Oct 212016
 

trump sticks fingers upWith thanks to Suzanne Kelly.

Suzanne Kelly, who launched a petition to ban Trump from the UK for hate speech, ridiculed spokesperson Sarah Malone’s recent defence of his reputation.
Kelly commented: “It’s risible. We are expected to take the word of a former beauty contest winner working for Trump that he’s not a sexist.  The evidence is out there that he is a sexist and worse. He is damned by women coming forward and by his own words, whatever Malone might expect us to swallow.”

Kelly was responding to a Sunday Times piece on the topic of his sexism, in which Sarah Malone Bates defended Presidential Hopeful Trump, saying:

“That’s not the man I know,

“It’s not the Trump I’ve dealt with.” 

Malone was curator of a local museum until Trump hired her for a post she had no real previous experience for; she admitted at the time to know very little about golf.

Kelly says:

“Jumping from a museum to being Vice-President at a multi-million pound golf resort and housing building project is a leap and a half.  Please do not try to tell me she has any idea of what constitutes sexism, feminism or fair play or is qualified to tell us what to make of Trump’s own words.”

Malone is married to Damian Bates, the editor of the Aberdeen Press & Journal. The paper often features pro-Trump advertorial material and Bates decided not to include any material from local protest group, Tripping Up Trump.

Kelly added:

“Malone-Bates had better think again before defending a man who admits to grabbing women by their genitals and kissing unsuspecting women out of the blue.  She’s certainly not been a sister to the women who live on the Menie Estate she presides over.  Photographer Alicia Bruce was threatened by a security guard who was going to smash her camera. 

“Local residents had male security guards demand identification from them, and according to one woman, guards would jump out at her late at night demanding ID and to know where she was going – when they must have known full-well she was a resident.

“This self-proclaimed icon of feminist doctrine did nothing to help Sheila and Molly Forbes when Trump cut their water supply – accidentally – and left it like that for years.  She let a woman in her late 80s carry water from a stream. Very sisterly.

“There are plenty of people who would look askance at a woman being plucked from a small local museum with no knowledge of golf to be involved in the controversial Trump. When that woman, who entered a beauty contest, tries to tell us her employer Trump is not a sexist, well – why would we listen? 

“Any credibility she might have had ended when she went for a beauty crown, took a job she had no relevant experience for, and when she sat by when women were getting mistreated by the security guards she employed.”

Kelly’s petition to ban Donald Trump from the UK under its existing hate speech laws attracted 580,000 signatures. She has reported extensively on developments at the estate, including severe storm damage to part of the course, and revealed the marriage of Sarah Malone to Damian Bates, editor of local newspaper Aberdeen Press & Journal, where Donald Trump had an ‘exclusive’ column.

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Jan 302015
 

Suzanne Kelly aka Old Susannah gets to grips with Grampian’s great and good, and with St Valentine’s Day just around the corner, her soft and sympathetic side is coming to the fore. Or maybe not. Can’t you just feel the love?

DictionaryWell, it’s official now: Aberdeen City and Shire ARE ON THE MAP! This is for several reasons. It’s not because we’re home to BrewDog, the UK’s fastest-growing drinks company (and arguably the most fun drinks company anywhere). It’s not even because we might set the tone and build a granite web (keep dreaming Messrs Wood, Smith and Crosby, you never know).

We got on the map mainly because Donald Trump came to our humble backwater. But the latest developments are even more exciting than that! Alex Salmond is writing a column for the Press & Journal AND famous people came here the other weekend! Result!

As to this new column, it’s riveting stuff. Did you know he loved his mum? He’s written a column about it.

It’s in no way reminiscent of when an X Factor contestant seeks sympathy with a sad story before singing badly. He’s also sharing a few likes and dislikes. I’m sure the honourable member will one of these days come and visit the people in his constituency at the Menie Estate – it’s just a matter of priorities.

Columns don’t write themselves you know; it’s hard work for a budding writer on his own to make it in the journalism world. It’s awfully good of the P&J to give this novice a break; I wonder if it was just the goodness of the collective Aberdeen Journals Ltd’s hearts – or if there were any other factors involved in signing young Alex up to pen his thoughts? I wonder.

But that’s only the half the reason we’re on the world’s radar now: did you know someone from Oasis and a fashion model actually came to Aberdeenshire for a party?

Well, if not, where have you been? It’s the story everyone’s talking about (well, after fracking, Muse at Marischal College, pollution and other boring subjects). Apparently someone threw a party and… people came up north from down south. To hear Aberdeen Journals tell it it’s the best thing since bunting:

“Kate Moss and Nick Grimshaw party in Craigellachie… That’s right, you read it correctly!”

Yes, that’s right: you DID read it correctly! Well done! I hope you’ve not fainted with the excitement of this revelation if you’re only reading it here for the first time. Apologies. (And if one of you could be so kind as to send me a message and let me know who Nick Grimshaw is and what he does, thanks in advance).

Watch and download the Craigellachie video here, for your and your grand children’s future viewing pleasure:

Anyway, moving on…It’s not Valentine’s day just yet; but as the supermarkets are already piling the Easter eggs on the shelves, there’s no time to lose. Tally ho!

Perhaps love and romance deserve a few definitions at time of year. A cynic might think that St Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a marketing ploy. Let’s look to our betters and see if we can learn anything about affection, admiration, and maybe even love.

To Reconcile: (English verb) Renew a friendship or a love; to recover lost affection and love.

There is one power couple that I hope will soon reconcile. These are two people, meant for each other, sharing the same loves, dreams and ambitions. It would be a huge loss if they can’t rekindle what they once had. So Alex Salmond, in case you missed it: Donald Trump ‘Still Likes and Respects You.’ Or so says the Press & Journal – and if ever The Donald will be quoted accurately, rest assured it will be in the paper his Scottish Vice President’s husband edits.

In mid 2014, Trump said of Alex:

“I disagree with him on one element, I’ve had moments in life when I’ve been very friendly with him and I do respect him, but I disagree with him on wind. [Old Susannah wonders if they got this wind from all the champagne they drank with their steak dinners in New York]

I think there are other great forms of energy but wind is becoming obsolete. I disagreed with him on that, other than that, I like him. I told that to someone the other day, I actually like Alex Salmond but I have to fight him. I’ve created a masterpiece and I don’t want to see it hurt by a very, very foolish technology that’s obsolete.” 
https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeenshire/274163/donald-trump-still-likes-respects-alex-salmond/

Presumably the very foolish technology that’s obsolete is not the printed newspaper.

I suppose when two people are deeply involved – what with wining and dining in the finest hotels either side of the Atlantic – their passions will sometimes lead to heated arguments. However, now that Alex is writing a column for the Press & Journal, he’ll have lots more opportunities to let people connected to Trump know that he likewise wants and needs to get back together.

Let’s wish the couple a happy reconciliation. Trump did go on in the P&J article about taking a position on Salmond’s independence drive, and what would or would not be appropriate for Trump to do about it – but lest the imagery be too heady for some readers, I’ll not dwell on the idea of Trump taking a position on Alex.

Perhaps the taxpayer should step in – again – and send the two flying off to a 5 star hotel in New York or elsewhere where they can enjoy yet another evening of drink and fine food. Perhaps there’s some other SSSI site we can give Trump on a silver platter as well.

Anniversary Gifts: (Modern English compound noun) A list of gifts couples are meant to exchange on different wedding anniversaries.

In January 2013 the power couple of the year tied the knot. Yes, Damian Bates married 2007 Face of Aberdeen Sarah Malone. Why the two didn’t have their nuptuals announced in Aberdeen Journals Ltd – and why Sarah didn’t make the Bride of the Week page – is a mystery. But then love works in mysterious ways. I personally think they didn’t want us mere mortals to be jealous of their union.

Last year by tradition they would have exchanged anniversary gifts made of paper – but I guess Damian had already given Sarah a gift in the form of paper – the Evening Express and P&J to be specific. The modern gift would have been made of plastic for that first anniversary; but no doubt there was already enough plastic in the mix as it was.

The alternative gift for a first year of wedded bliss is to exchange clocks. However, at Sarah’s day job at Trump’s Menie Estate, there are already some small, discrete, tasteful clocks on the landscape. Even better, they all seem to tell different times – doubtless the couple count the hours until the next Trump advertising revenue comes in and the next pro Trump advertorial is put to bed. Isn’t love grand?

This year the happy couple are meant to exchange cotton. Again, that ship has sailed, for they have both cottoned on a number of years back.

Online Dating: (Modern English noun) means of using electronic communications and computing to find a potential partner based on compatibility.

Do pity us poor single people; I spend all my time crying in my Hagen daas, wondering what to do with myself, fearing I’ll wither away as a wallflower spinster. Some singles join church groups, some take tango lessons, some take out classified ads. All are desperate to find that certain someone to go to Union Square with on a Saturday, then to stroll hand in hand through the paint thinner section of B&Q with on a Sunday. Let’s face it – you have to be in a couple to be anybody.

Single or married, if we were to be honest with ourselves, men and women are looking for some very basic, important things from a relationship. Money and looks.

You can exchange Tinder feelings to complete strangers and meet up in a back booth of the Chester Hotel to compare bank balances and plastic surgery results. But those who are in the know and in the dough cut to the chase and visit website ‘Seeking Arrangements’.

This is a dignified, personal site that pairs up rich men with poor, good-looking (and for some reason usually younger) women. The women in question, while working nights to put themselves through medical school and supporting their sick mothers no doubt, need a little financial assistance. Girls dating rich men is of course nothing like girls selling themselves for money.

Today’s smart successful girls are free to seek out sugar daddies and ask them to contribute a wee bit to keep them in Jimmy Choos and Tiffany bracelets. In return the men get the satisfaction of working closely with younger people and helping out the next generation – they wouldn’t want anything else for their money from beautiful young women, would they?

I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a romantic way to find the bank account of your dreams if you’re a liberated woman (who looks good of course). And if you’re a rich, hard-working man, it’s likely the wife doesn’t appreciate you, and for a bit of money and jewellery, you can get in a few hours of appreciation on the side. Someone to listen how the wife doesn’t understand, to take walks in the park with, perhaps to do the crossword together.

Or something.

For whatever reason, some people object to sexually objectifying men or women. They even nearly stopped the Sun’s Page 3 models for a day or two!

And that would have been bad for the circulation. Such people are called Feminists. They are almost always unattractive and old. Some of the former Sun models took time out from their busy careers to make witty tweets about those who object to Page 3. Rhian Sugden said:

“It’s only a matter of time before everything we do will be dictated by comfy shoe wearing… No bra wearing… man haters.”

But I digress.

Back to the subject of ‘Seeking Arrangements’ I hope no ‘bra-wearing, men-haters’ think there is anything wrong with such a set-up. It’s not as if it objectifies women, glorifies youth and beauty and commodifies these traits.

One final word on the subject. There are some taboos that should not and must not be broken. It’s acceptable for a rich old man to buy – sorry to help out a poorer, beautiful girl. That’s one of the things we like so much about Mr Trump for that matter. They’re called ‘sugar daddies’ – such a cute nickname, with nothing remotely unpleasant about the ‘daddies’ bit.

But we can all agree that an older woman, however rich, has no business around younger men. Cougars are just unacceptable. Happy to have cleared that up.

It’s so refreshing we had a women’s rights movement, even if it was a long time ago and it’s largely forgotten. For the life of me I can’t think what people like Emma Watson are getting so worked up about. Men may earn more than women, but as websites like Seeking Arrangements show, we’re all really just looking for that person out there who shares our values.

Good luck girls – but be warned: you may have to at some point hold your sugar daddy’s hand. Or something. Still, think of the money.

Cultural Speed Dating: (Modern Aberdonian quango phrase) A matchmaking service for rich patrons and poor artists and makers to get together.

In the same way that the idea of ‘Seeking Arrangements’ gives us a warm feeling, the concept of Cultural Speed Dating is nearly as heart-warming. I wonder what clever person came up with this marvellous idea?

Poor impoverished artists can come and throw themselves at people with money in a bid to get funding. It’s a speed dating set up which gives artists the respect they deserve – a chance to beg for money from the rich in a small space of time.

Culturally speaking, the marriage between the rich, the government, and those artists who either are desperate for success/money – or who are keen to get into bed (as it were) with the powerful is as moving as when Romeo and Juliet first spoke. And that turned out just fine.

Aside from money and fame, any real artist worth their salt wants to be guided by the patronising hand of the people with money.

What can be more important for a visionary than learning to be more commercially acceptable? The people in government who hand out grants know what art they want, and if you want their money, you’ll give them what they want. The wealthy private patron has their own ideas as well too, and the ideas of the rich trump the ideas of the talented. What’s a little compromise now and then if you’re a creative?

Old Susannah was told of a foolish portrait painter who some years back took a commission from a retired wealthy man for a group painting. When the painting was nearly done, the man’s wife told the artist to leave the painting unsigned, so that she could sign it herself later.

What do you think the ungrateful artist did? He said no.

Only with slightly different words. The painter lost out on money. If you’re an artist, I hope you’ll learn something from this little anecdote before the next Cultural Speed dating comes along. I’m sure 5 to 10 minutes is enough time to explain your artistic vision to someone with a chequebook – and if not – just let them do the talking instead.

We can’t just have people going around creating art or literature that the rich folks won’t enjoy, can we?

Next week: I’ll tell you that I love my family, and what tragedies I’ve been through. Or I may update you on what Police Scotland’s been up to (or not been up to for that matter).

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Jul 122013
 

By Bob Smith.

The Donald wis on Panorama
Spikkin tae BBC’s John Sweeney
Aboot aa the gyaans  on
At his placie ower at Menie
.
The Sweeney hints tae Mr Trump
6000 jobs hinna cum tae fruition
The Trumpie lot war fair pit oot
An treated aa iss wi derision
.
Donald roared – Git rid o aat hoose
Tae the “P&J” editor’s wife
Says she it micht cause a stir
An reap ye lots o strife
.
Faa cares the mannie gabbit
A sure can dee fit a wint
It’s on ma lan quoth Donald
Tae the puir dementit bint
.
The hoose belangs tae David Milne
A chiel Trump disna much like
Bit David stuck twa fingers up
An said Trumpie tak a hike
A billie fae the Royal Toon Plannin
Thocht Trumpie’s case it wis unique
In aa his ‘ears in the plannin game
He’d seen nithing tae cause sic pique
.
Oor First Minister an The Donald
War eence on spikkin terms
They’ve hid a bit o a faa oot
Ower the plans aboot winfairms
.
Trump wis qizzed aboot his dealins
Wi a mannie fae the Mafia mob
Syne he up’s an leaves the interview
Hintin The Sweeney didna ken his job
.
Noo in the pages o “P&J” we read
Business pallies tae his rescue hiv rode
Eence mair tryin tae kid us aa
In the Nor’east the mannie is loed.
.
Birds o a feather flock tigither
A mynd aboot iss  auld sayin
Bit maist o us chiels ken they’re aa feels
Faa dunce tae the tune Trumpie’s playin

Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2013
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Jun 142013
 

Tally Ho! instead of the usual news round up, diary, and definitions, I wanted to cheer everyone up with a little fairy tale. Definitions and normal services to resume shortly. By Suzanne Kelly.

The Beautiful Princess

There once was a beautiful princess; all around her marvelled at her great beauty. Was she as kind, good and honest as her looks implied? Alas! Not so much.

Proud of her great beauty, she entered a beauty pageant to find the fairest face in the land, and naturally, she won, for she was the most beautiful maid in all the highlands. The fame this brought her went straight to her head.

A rich and powerful tyrant saw her beauty and decided she might be of use to him. One of his sons had heard of her great beauty too, and said “Dad can you get me one of those?”

Now all the kingdoms of the earth knew the tyrant loved and coveted money, but he also loved the thing he could not buy – beauty. Cursed (by many), he had about him the look and manners of an angry, podgy, balding ogre. In hushed tones the people hinted that he was indeed descended from an ogress. A long, long time ago, he married a beautiful woman, but as she aged, he cast her off.

He then married a younger, prettier maiden, and when she too aged, he likewise cast her out, only to marry a younger maiden still. (His children were thought of as being part ogre as well; their lusts for shooting the rare wild beasts was unbridled and terrifying to see). Thus, the tyrant had serious image problems, and something had to be done.

“Come and work for me,” the tyrant wrote to the princess; “It does not matter that you have no work experience, I could still find your talents very useful indeed.” He whisked her off to his far away kingdom, where in his palace of pink marble he plied her with gold and jewels. She was truly enchanted, for the thing she loved nearly as much as her dear face was wealth.

And so the princess went to work for the tyrant.

The tyrant was most pleased, and thought to himself:

“As the princess is loved – not only by the townsfolk, but also by a local storyteller prince, so shall these facts benefit my purse as I build my empire. With her in the mix, I am verily quids in.”

Now the princess knew all about the tyrant, but the lure of a job which would give her money to buy pretty things proved too strong to resist. She did like shiny, new pretty things.  She also had found a new love in the arms of the handsome storyteller prince.

unbeknownst to her, a small wrinkle appeared on her perfect brow

Now her storyteller prince had previously found love as she herself had, but alas, things change. The prince found the lustre had worn off his old bride, and seeing the lovely princess, he cast off his wife. For the beautiful princess and her prince to be joined, she had to do a bit of casting off as well, and she sent her ex a packin’.

Fearing the peasants would think her less lovely, she wed her storyteller prince in secret, for her handsome prince was none other than the very storyteller who the tyrant wanted to sing his praises. This was some coincidence indeedy.

“Alas – the people who now love me for my great beauty and modesty might not understand my marrying my prince. They might – wrongly of course – think that we are in it for the money, and his storytelling skills, so useful to my tyrant benefactor combined with my earnings  from the tyrant are bang out of order.”

As she worried for a second, unbeknownst to her, a small wrinkle appeared on her perfect brow.

She worked hard to keep her lovely looks; she consulted a wizard, who made odd potions out of deadly botchulism poison, and administered these to the fair princess’ face. She had mud wraps and beauty treatments. All was well with her world.

All was not so well where the tyrant king was building.

At his bidding, the lovely princess had the trees and plants swept aside. The animals were chased out of their homes (if they were lucky), and a great course of golf was laid on the seashore. The older folks shook their heads in dismay and disbelief. Those people who lived close to this course of golf were treated poorly as well.

Warlocks disguised as house-hunters appeared on the peasant’s cottage doors, asking to buy their homes for a pittance. The tyrant’s men hounded and persecuted them, halting the resident peasants as they went about their business. A , honest storyteller visiting the peasants was clapped in irons and thrown in a dungeon – all at the say-so of the tyrant’s forces.

Walls of earth were built around the poor cottager-dwellers’ homes.

The only happy people were those who sought to suck up to the tyrant, and verily the princess was first in the line of these.

“Tear down that house on the hill, for it is ugly!” he roared

Whether she was too self-involved to care about the animals and people, or whether she was too thick to know what the cruel realities of the course of golf were was the subject of debate in the taverns. Either way, the princess was not coming out of it in a good light at all. But she was oblivious.

The princess found herself happy and contented. She had her shiny things, and pretty clothes. She had her new clubhouse by the sea too, where she reigned. But somehow – it all seemed temporary.

One day the tyrant came to ask her to do some work.

“Tear down that house on the hill, for it is ugly!” he roared. “Build a wall of earth so I need not look at that ugly peasant’s cottage when I am here by the sea! he decreed! 

“Plant the youngest, fairest trees on the sandy bund so that I may nevermore see the peasants, and they may nevermore see the sea!”

Verily, even the muted colours of the shore, sand and gentle grasses and plants were not to his liking.

“Paint each blade of grass a turquoise blue, for that pleases my eye more than the colour that Mother Nature has given them.”

The princess dutifully obeyed –some say she obeyed with a bit too much pleasure.

The trees were planted. Alas! They could not thrive in sand, as any fool knows. But the princess merely saw their ageing, ill condition and had the woodsman cut them down, and replace them with new ones.

Mother Nature had watched all of these activities with waxing wrath. And she wasn’t having it:

“As you have profited from the ageing of another maiden, as you have treated the peasants, the landscape and even these poor trees, which never had a chance to live – all for your own profit and vanity, so it shall be with you one of these days, you b”£$(UT 2!”

Mother Nature was well and truly pissed off.

Verily, the towns folk did talk amongst themselves:

“Is she really the fairest in the land if she is fair of face, but not of deed?”

They asked such questions in whispers. Then one day it came to pass that the jig was up.

There was just a touch more harshness in the tyrant’s voice than usual

Despite marrying in secret, the story was now out – and all the folk knew the princess married the very man who could keep the tyrant sweet, and whose stories the tyrant relied on to boost his ego and profits, which of course helped keep the princess on a nice little earner too.

Time went past.

The ugly tyrant would visit now and then. One such day he said to the princess:

“What the F*!£$%!!!@?? are those F*)($%&^ing ugly trees doing on that bund? They look old and tired, and are in serious need of replacing!”

There was just a touch more harshness in the tyrant’s voice than usual. Smiling outwardly to the tyrant, the princess heaved a sigh as he finally flew away on his great silver jet.

When he left, a twitch struck her eye, and the wrinkle on her fair brow appeared once more. Despite several layers of St Tropez tanning spray, she seemed somehow pale.

As time passed, the storyteller prince started going to balls without the princess; he started to work a little later at the office.

Came the day the princess was buying more designer clothes. “Madame will need another size up, I fear”, said the shopkeeper “but don’t worry, this designer just cuts the sizes very small”, the shopkeeper lied, fingers crossed behind her back.

As the princess looked at her reflection in the glass, she paused for a moment. Was that a shadow or a wrinkle on her brow? Was that extra build of up tanning spray under her eyes, or dark circles? Was that a touch of silver in her hair peeping through? Had the lines on her lovely throat deepened? “I’ll need a fortnight at Champney’s at least”, the worried princess thought.

For a second, she thought – which in itself was notable.

She thought of the wives of the tyrant, cast aside once they bloom of youth had departed them. She thought of the previous consort to her own prince, now consigned to the scrap heap. She thought of the peasants, walled behind mounds of earth to conceal their poverty from the tyrant.

She thought of the scores and scores of trees she ordered planted, knowing they would not live, and after drying in the hostile climate would be thrown aside, their lives inconsequential. All these had to be replaced or hidden to hide their lack of beauty and youth.

The thought never reached a conclusion, for her mobile phone had started to ring. She could see it was the tyrant calling her. She took another look at her reflection.

She was not smiling now.

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Jun 072013
 

The press had been invited to a press conference by Trump Golf Scotland. They will have heard what he has to say about his golf course, the proposed windfarm, plans for his second golf course, the popularity of his golf course, how much money he is pulling in ‘for Scotland’…. and just how wonderful he thinks he is. Sue Edwards writes.

Trump says he has the greatest golf course in the world.  No, he has a golf course on what are some of the greatest sand dunes in the world.

He has torn the heart out of a rare, dynamic dune system so important that part of it had the designation ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’, the rest designated a SINS – a Site of Interest to Natural Science.

What was once a wild and untamed area is now constricted by the tarmac roads, the vast turfed and seeded greens and fairways, fertilised to a bright vivid green in comparison with the gentle soft green of the original marram grass. 

Perhaps it is a good golf course, but it is definitely in the wrong place.  Nature is fighting back – strong winter winds from the beach blow sand over the whole area as they have for centuries.  Trump will find he has a real fight on his hands!

What you won’t hear from Trump is the lengths he has gone to make life difficult for some of the residents.

From the start he tried to purchase some of the homes using subterfuge – first by sending a minion with a false name to say how much he would love to live in their home and offering a paltry sum, then he himself came clean, pretended to be a friend and made insulting offers.  Things turned sinister when he tried to persuade Aberdeenshire Council to obtain these homes for him by compulsory purchase.

Eventually all his attempts failed, but then he turned nasty.

Sand and earth bunds were built in front of homes so that they couldn’t be seen from his precious golf course. Trees were planted to further screen their properties.  Security vehicles were set to watch homes at all times of the day and night. The residents and their friends and family were stopped and questioned by Trump security – and worse.

As a neighbour Trump should be handed an ASBO. He submits planning applications, gets planning consent, then builds just whatever he wants.

the owners now look onto the back of a weed-laden sand and earth bank, imprisoned by Trump’s arrogance

The car park, for example, bears absolutely no resemblance to the planning consent he was given by the council.  He has submitted at least six retrospective planning applications for work he has carried out but has no consent for, and there are further examples of development carried out without planning consent even being sought.

If you want to see examples of this, go behind the big wooden gate at the end of the clubhouse car park. Squeeze round the gate (as residents with long-standing access rights now have to do) and see how Leyton Cottage has just been blanked off.

From having glorious long views across the dunes and farmland as far as the eye can see for decades, the owners now look onto the back of a weed-laden sand and earth bank, imprisoned by Trump’s arrogance.

Sand blows off the bund into their house, water is channeled by the bank down their track to settle around their low-lying property, and lights shine into their property from the car park lights built far too close to their home. Trump staff strim the grass on the golf course side of the bund close to Leyton Cottage, but they do this on Sundays causing a noise nuisance.

The bund was never on any planning application but he went ahead and built it and now the council has caved in and will allow it to stay. Just think for a moment how you would like it if this had happened to you.

Trump once stated that he was a great environmentalist. How would he explain the rubbish heaps he has lying hidden about the estate?

Piles of rubbish are burnt regularly, and heaps of grass cuttings have plastic chemical containers buried in them. Attempts have been made to cover the evidence with sand.

Fertilisers appear to have been spread around water courses causing wild plants and weeds to spring up and thrive further downstream.

The water then carries on out to sea possibly having an effect plants and animals in the marine environment.

The local newspapers – the Press and Journal and the Evening Express – won’t say a word against Trump and his development. Could the fact that the P&J editor is married to Trump’s office manager here at Menie have some bearing on this?  

Nevertheless, many folk locally have the measure of Trump and know about the way he deals with things. Yet, so many are still blinded by his ‘celebrity’ and accept just what he says as gospel truth.

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May 242013
 

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

Another busy week flies past in our future Capital of Culture: this weekend sees some great artistic talent on show.  The Aberdeen Artists’ Society exhibition is a great, enjoyable, eclectic collection of contemporary art, currently running at the Art Gallery.

There were some interesting interactive works (bring your smart phone), a few very striking works (one by Mr Florence particularly caught my eye), and some intricate glass etching.

Keith Byres was one of the exhibitors, and I will be stopping by at Under The Hammer on Saturday to see some of his other new work.

The River Don Project is a collection of photographic images reflecting the River Don area. The opening for this show is on Saturday 1st June from 5pm to 7 pm in St Machar’s Cathedral, and all are welcome.

Local photographers spent time with Alicia Bruce documenting the river. In particular there are some amazing wildlife images which caught my eye, of birds, seals and beautiful plants along the river. We have a great many artist-led cultural initiatives; please do show your support by visiting some if not all their shows.

The creative arts are assuredly flourishing, but perhaps it is in creative writing that our area truly excels. Never mind the likes of authors John Aberdein, Fiona-Jane Brown, Graeme Milne and Stuart MacBride; it’s the civil servants, planning officials, newspaper execs and ATOS which have provided some amazing prose this week.

People have sent me replies that they’ve had from ATOS and the Press & Journal. I think you’ll enjoy these. I’ve read the recent report by Anne Ramsay of Aberdeenshire Planning Office, recommending a green light for Trump, despite deviation from the approved plan. He got his way, which is of course a huge surprise.

He couldn’t have done it without Ms Ramsay’s report-writing skills. With a few strokes of the pen, a giant, unapproved bund of earth plonked in front of Susan Munro’s cottage, which brought many problems has been transformed into a landscape feature. The pen is mightier than the sword, or indeed than the truth in this case.

In fact, the pieces of writing I’m referring to are amazingly convincing, so much so that I want to share them.

You too will realise that the Trump course is the greatest spot on the planet, that the P&J is the champion of truth and accuracy, that ATOS really cares deeply about everyone it deals with, and that there are no drawbacks whatsoever to building an industrial marina in Nigg Bay.

It is time for some truth-related definitions and more importantly, some of the greatest examples of creative writing you’re likely to come across outside of a Jeffrey Archer novel. Diogenes was a figure in Greek mythology who searched high and low for an honest man. He clearly should have stopped into our Shire council offices and newspaper’s newsrooms.

Universalism: (noun) A school of thought in which truths are unchanging black-and-white facts acknowledged and recognised.

A Universalist believes that some truths are fixed and unchanging. ‘A Site of Special Scientific Interest’ means a legally-binding designation which protects areas from damage or development.  This would once have been an example of Universalism. In this school of thought, facts are respected and held to be true unless proved otherwise.

This school of thought has no business in the city or shire today. We are happy to compromise on inconvenient facts and truths concerning planning law, environmental protection, anything really, just to prove that we are ‘open for business’. What we need for the ‘smart successful Scotland’ we’ve been promised is a little less Universalism and a whole lot more Particularism.

Particularism: (noun) A school of thought in which ‘truth’ is subject to change, depending on circumstances, depending on relationships between people and groups, and other factors.

‘A Site of Special Scientific Interest’ means a flexible designation which may or may not matter depending on who wants the designation removed. This is an example of Particularism. And we certainly do have our own Particular brand of truth in the Deen.

Let me share some examples of this convenient form of truth to illustrate the point.

Letter from ATOS

You may remember a recent Aberdeen Voice article on the experiences of David Brazendale with ATOS. He was ordered out of his post-op bed to go and get a work assessment.

Arriving at the Aberdeen ATOS centre, he was told he’d have a two hour minimum wait. Any other person who’d just been under the knife would have been happy to sit on a hard chair in an empty waiting room for two hours or more.

I guess David was just being difficult, but for some reason, he wasn’t happy. To be fair to ATOS, there was a crowd of one other person in the waiting room. David really shouldn’t have bothered the terribly busy receptionist, but he asked if he could come back in two hours rather than hanging around. Obviously, this was not possible.

For some reason or other, David wasn’t satisfied with this state of affairs.

The written ATOS policy statement says people will be telephoned if there are cancellations or delays. Of course, people have no excuse, surgery included, for missing an ATOS appointment, and rescheduling is not an option given to the ‘clients’, as ATOS chooses to call people.

Mr Brazendale wrote a letter of complaint, and got a wonderful, warm, helpful reply:-

“I have obtained comments from the Service Delivery Manager responsible for Atos Healthcare in Edinburgh… I was very sorry to read of the upset and inconvenience caused by the waiting times….On this occasion the reason for Atos Healthcare not being able to conduct an assessment was because more customers attended appointments than anticipated and the assessments took longer than anticipated to complete, which caused a delay and in some cases, customers had to be sent home unseen …the receptionist did not call you beforehand to advise you of this, as she had no indication of how many customers would arrive for their appointment or how long each assessment would take.   I do sincerely apologise for the upset and inconvenience you have experienced…”

Some people might think the above is just a bunch of meaningless drivel with little application to the actual truth of the matter. But we know better, poor ATOS.

Not only do they seem to have no manager in Aberdeen, they have absolutely no way of telling who will come to an appointment or how long an appointment will last. Amazing. I pity the poor receptionist who has no idea who’s coming or how long they might be. Perhaps they are using crystal balls and tarot cards?

The way my medical practice operates is this. They have this thing called a ‘schedule’. They know how many doctors will be in each day, and they make these things called ‘appointments’ for patients.

They limit the number of ‘appointments’ and ‘patients’ so that there aren’t any long waits. If for instance a morning appointment was running very, very late, they would actually use a ‘telephone’ and call the next ‘appointment’ to let them know about the lateness. It is complicated, but I think ATOS should be told.

The worst part is that because of David’s selfish complaint, the poor, overworked ATOS manager had to look into the situation all the way from Edinburgh and issue a sincere apology. The ATOS manager is now probably very very upset and worried about causing someone an inconvenience, as they’ve never done this before.

David should be ashamed, and the manager should take some time off work to recuperate from stress, much like ATOS lets others recover from stress and illness.

Fabrication: (noun) An invention or creation; an untruth.

While I was trying to think of examples of fabrication, I coincidentally came across the web page for Trip Advisor.

I had been looking for reviews of the Trump course and clubhouse following a harsh Press & Journal review of the clubhouse restaurant. They’d only given it 27 out of 30 points, which just goes to show how fair and impartial the P&J is. While trying to find other reviews for this excellent restaurant, I wound up on Trip Advisor. Well, I was not sure whether I was on Trip Advisor or Confused.com…

Having read the superlative review by a Press & Journal writer of the Press & Journal Editor’s wife’s company restaurant, I expected that others would also adore the course and the food. From the polarised reviews of the course and the food, I felt sure there must be two Trump International premises in Scotland. To some reviewers one seems to be the best golf course ever invented.

To others, the Trump complex is an expensive waste of time and money. I suspect there is some fabrication going on.

Apparently there are people who actually place fake reviews on Trip Advisor! These people fabricate reviews to endorse or condemn hotels and resorts.

Clearly, it is a wonderful course with great food, all affordably priced and perfect.

Worse, these people often hide behind pseudonyms and/or don’t disclose whether they have a connection to the place they’re reviewing. I can hardly believe someone would conceal an interest in a place while writing about it, it’s enough to make a bride blush.

How can you tell which are genuine reviews and which are fake? Perhaps a clue can be found in how long the reviewer has been with Trip Advisor and how many other reviews they have submitted, I thought. You might for instance be suspicious of reviewers who have only reviewed one or two venues and who are brand new to Trip Advisor.

However, my theory didn’t stand up to the test, for many if not most of the pro-Trump reviews are from those who have only been to one other place and/or are brand new to Trip Advisor. Clearly, it is a wonderful course with great food, all affordably priced and perfect.

I suspect the people who said they didn’t like it are guilty of fabricating negative publicity, and the people who say it is great must be the honest ones with no possible self-interest. Here are some of the comments:-

Trip Advisor pro-Trump comments:  Obviously Genuine:

Tony M (1 review) “If you have one course to play in your lifetime, make it this one… facilities and staff are superb… (Trump) has done a fantastic job… only problem I can see in the future is if they stick this wind farm up….”

GolferKnowledge (1 review) “…the course is to-date in very good condition… extremely playable… not a course to miss if your [sic] serious about your golf.”

PHFJones (1 review) “(Trump) has created a wonderful addition to the top 20 courses in the world… if you like links golf, this is one that must be on your list…”

James B (2 reviews)  ”… if it is not listed as not just the best course in Scotland but the best course in the world in the next 5 years… then it is an absolute crime”.

It’s almost as if these people were reading from the same hymn sheet. Since they all agree, they have to be right. Now to the less favourable comments from people who think the greens are greener elsewhere.

Trip Advisor anti-Trump comments:  Obviously Fabrications:

Jack G (2 reviews)  “overpriced … must be to buy more grass seed as there is missing grass on the fairways, many more traditional links nearby for half the fee.”

StuckinAberdeen (5 reviews) “Half of the fairways looked like Roger Moore’s hairweave, acres of sandy soil crisscrossed by interlocking thin green lines of freshly planted grass that had failed to grow this season…. We were given no warning how poor the fairways were…The course should not be opened until it is in a playable condition.”

GeraintE (3 reviews) “the condition of this course is worse than any other I have played in Scotland. Staff are blaming the weather, but the fact is they have the wrong type of grass on the fairways!”

Poor Mr Trump! Poor Malone Bates! How anyone can complain about the marvellous course is unclear. I hope Trump will start issuing some more lawsuits to see off the fake reviewers, and that Trip Advisor will likewise have a look at the reviews on its website to see if there are any patterns indicating that fabrication is going on.

Disingenuous: (adjective) To knowingly feign ignorance or innocence; to distort the truth deliberately.

As you know, the happy union of Sarah Malone (VP Trump International, Face of Aberdeen) and Damian Bates (Press & Journal) is a fact – or Universal Truth, to use a previous definition. There is a marriage license.

Seeking more information on our favourite power couple, someone wrote to ask why the P&J didn’t make more of this happy event, which mysteriously got no press cover in Bates’ paper. I wonder why that could be. The letter writer asked why Malone, so often quoted in the P&J, Evening Express and more on behalf of Trump, and Bates getting married wasn’t front page news.

I am grateful to have been copied in on the wonderful response the P&J sent.  Here is what the P&J have to say on the matter:-

“Beware of using Private Eye as the sole basis for your assumptions about the Press and Journal! I would say their tone on this particular subject has been skewed in a certain mischievous direction. As a result, you have duff info, I fear: the Trump employee to whom you refer is not his “chief spin doctor” and neither has Press and Journal coverage been biased. Sorry to spoil the story!

“The integrity and fairness of the Press and Journal has always been one of our core strengths and remains so today. We actually check the accuracy of stories before publication, would you believe! If you were a regular reader, you would know this already. Perhaps I could interest you in taking a subscription!”

It may be tricky, but I suspect some Voice readers may spot one or two disingenuous sentiments in the above. And mischief making is going on as well! Never mind that the newlyweds have such mutually entwined interests, which no doubt adds to their marital bliss, the information is ‘duff’.

Sarah Malone, VP at Trump, might be the person in Scotland who makes the statements to the press, but clearly Private Eye’s description of her as ‘chief spin doctor’ is wildly inaccurate, and throws the whole story into disrepute. Alas! The story is spoiled, according to the email’s sender, David ‘whata’ Knight.

As to the Knight’s tale: the integrity and fairness of the P&J, and the accuracy of its stories, checked before publication, well, words fail me. I am certain Private Eye will now print a complete retraction and apology as soon as they are aware of Knight’s email.

Obviously our trusted officials, newspaper supremos, planning officers and ATOS managers  wouldn’t put pen to paper to say something which wasn’t true. The point is that truth is no longer straightforward.  I’m certainly not going to call any of the writers I’m talking about blatantly dishonest, self-serving, disingenuous liars, although I can see why some people might.

Next week:  Hopefully a reply from MEMAG:  they were asked questions about environmental protection at Menie as this is their remit.  I’ve been waiting since January, no doubt a detailed response to allay environmental concerns can’t be far off now.

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