With thanks to Gemma Setter, PR Account Executive, Frasermedia.
Lisa Thomson, owner of Hardy’s Chocolates
A new Aberdeen-based independent chocolate shop has invested a five-figure sum into the start up and renovation of a city centre premises.
Recently opened in the Rosemount area of the city, Hardy’s Chocolates was established by former IT operations director, Lisa Thomson, and specialises in bespoke and ‘free-from’ chocolates.
To coincide with its launch, Hardy’s has also agreed to become an exclusive stockist of chocolate from a Shetland-based chocolatier.
Hardy’s Chocolates is the only shop in the North-east to stock Mirrie Dancers chocolates from artisan chocolatier, Dave Williams. It also sells high-quality chocolates from Belgium, as well as bars, truffles, speciality chocolates and sweets from across the UK and Europe.
The deal between Mirrie Dancers and Hardy’s Chocolates resulted after Mrs Thomson, 44, noted the high demand for Scottish-made confectionery from her customers. After reaching out to the Lerwick-based company, it was agreed the shop would start exclusively stocking a variety of the brand’s luxury chocolate selection.
Launched in 2016 by former military chef, Mr Williams, Mirrie Dancers specialises in unique flavour combinations, including port and stilton and lime and prosecco, and has distributed its chocolate to countries as far as South Africa, Switzerland and Australia.
To celebrate the collaboration between the brand and Hardy’s Chocolates, a selection of Mirrie Dancers chocolates will be available for the public to sample from Friday, 19 to Saturday, 20 May.
Lisa Thomson, owner of Hardy’s Chocolates, said:
“After a very exciting first few months for Hardy’s Chocolates, I am thrilled that we are continuing to increase the shop’s selection of high-quality confectionery by stocking Mirrie Dancers chocolates.
“Dave is a master in his craft and we both share the same values when it comes to chocolate and how it is made. We believe that to truly appreciate the taste, chocolate needs to be of the highest quality.
“Working with Mirrie Dancers will also help us grow the business and what we can provide for our customers, as we are now able to offer an even wider made-to-order service for corporate gifts and events.”
Dave Williams, owner of Mirrie Dancers, said:
“Mirrie Dancers has come a long way since it first launched at the beginning of last year. I am absolutely thrilled that Hardy’s Chocolates will now be the sole stockist of our products in the North-east and I am looking forward to hearing the feedback from people within the region.
“I founded Mirrie Dancers with the support of local businesses and friends, since then it has grown to employ three others, so I am extremely supportive of small, independent businesses like Hardy’s Chocolates.”
For more information about Hardy’s Chocolates, visit:
We are delighted to announce that our new feature documentary – A Dangerous Game – opens in cinemas across Scotland on Friday 5 September and on Friday 12 September in other cities in the United Kingdom.
Specific venues are listed at the end of this message.
In many cinemas the film is scheduled for 7 days only, so please act quickly. In some cities the run may be extended if attendance is strong enough.
So tell your friends, colleagues and family (it is rated “PG”) and make a date to come out to see what we promise will be among the most powerful, entertaining and important films you’ll see this year.
Because Money and Power should not Cost the Earth.
“Unmissable” – Scotsman “Highly Recommended” – Guardian “Funny, penetrating and timely” – Herald “A Dangerous Game is a game changer. Do not miss!” – Britflicks
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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.]
Contact the Elderly, the charity solely dedicated to tackling loneliness and isolation among older people, is delighted to announce the launch of a new friendship group in Aberdeen.
The charity, which aims to relieve the acute loneliness and isolation of people over the age of 75, organises monthly Sunday tea parties for small groups and volunteers within their local community.
Each older person is collected from their home by a volunteer driver and taken to a volunteer host’s home for the afternoon. The group is warmly welcomed by a different host each month, but the drivers remain the same, that means that over the months and years, acquaintances turn into friends and loneliness is replaced by companionship.
The older members of the new Aberdeen group enjoyed their first tea party at new volunteer host Esther Milne’s home in Aberdeen on Sunday 27th March and volunteer group co-coordinator John Gall, hailed the outing to be a great success:
“The launch of this new group is not just a success – it is an amazingly wonderful success! I’m just not sure who got more out of it – the older guests or us volunteers!”
New research released earlier this year has highlighted the link between loneliness and ill health in later life, including depression, certain heart conditions and even Alzheimer’s disease. Contact the Elderly remains steadfast in its belief that its monthly Sunday tea parties, which offer a regular and vital friendship link every month, exist as one of the most effective preventative measures of tackling this growing issue.
Contact the Elderly’s Development Officer for East Scotland, Morna O’May, said:
“The new research out this month highlights just how damaging and depressing being lonely in later life can be, but happily the new tea party group in Aberdeen can go some way towards tackling this issue locally and on a practical level.
“Anyone interested in either volunteering for, or joining this new group, or one of the other 18 Contact the Elderly groups across the East of Scotland, please do get in touch with me.”
Aberdeen residents interested in volunteering for Contact the Elderly, or people over the age of 75 who would like to find out more about joining one of the charity’s local tea party groups, can contact Morna on 01786 871264 oremail email@example.com
Footnote: Contact the Elderly is a national charity, founded in 1965, which aims to relieve the acute loneliness and isolation of very elderly people throughout Britain who live alone, without family, friends or other support networks nearby.
The Contact the Elderly model is based on a simple yet very effective concept – that of monthly tea parties for small groups of older people and other volunteers within their community – which brings people of all ages together, develops fulfilling friendships and support networks, and gives everyone something to look forward to.
Last week’s Voice featured Aberdeen entertainment iconSid Ozalid, his life, his act, his impact, the release of his new book, and news of ‘not to be missed’ performances in the city. Well, If you did happen to miss out on catching Sid live on Friday and Saturday, then fash yersel not – this week we present a brief account of the missed mayhem, and a poem from ‘Mr Elastic Brain’.
Sid Ozalid jetted in from Sunny Amsterdam last Friday for a whistle stop tour of Aberdeen to promote his fab new book ‘Mr Elastic Brain – The Life and Poems of Sid Ozalid’.
The previous week he had done three gigs in London and the week before that three gigs in Holland, so he was keen to make it a hat trick and do three gigs in Aberdeen.
This meant two gigs on Friday night and a book signing/performance at 1UP on the Sat afternoon.
Below – Sid Ozalid performs ‘Tartan Underpants’ accompanied by Dave McLeod.
Lots of people made one gig, a few brave people made it along to two gigs, but apart from Sid and his lovely wife only one person made it to all three: a Mr Colin MacLean who had driven up from the Kingdom of Fife to see Sid after an absence of 26 years.
Colin and Sid had performed together in 1977 in one of Aberdeen’s first punk bands, ‘The Enormous Snakes,’ and Colin had gone on to work with Sid as one of his All-Stars over a number of years, taking in the Edinburgh Festival and supporting The Clash at Inverness Ice Rink.
The first two gigs sizzled with professionalism, wit and dancing. The 24 year-old MC at Geesalaff Comedy Night, Miss Anna Devitt said:
“I was exhausted just watching; he was non-stop, how can someone this old have so much energy? My mum is a big fan and told me to get one of his books, the book truly is amazing, so I told mum to get her own copy.”
The third gig at 1UP, the sole suppliers of Sid’s book in Aberdeen, was the most surreal by far.
Sid performed ‘Salvador Dali’s Hat’, ‘Three Fat Ladies at the Bingo Hall,’ and thrashed himself with a daisy — but nothing had prepared him for two drunk shoppers and a man in an electric wheel chair.
The drunk shoppers really giggled at Sid’s antics, but thought nothing of standing next to him flicking through CD’s and asking his opinion on Hip Hop and Jazz classics.
Sid took all of this in his stride and was set the extra challenge of being nimble on his feet when the electric wheelchair man was so taken by the performance he decided to join in, whizzing to the stage and joining Sid on the first electric wheelchair elastic brain dance routine ever seen in Aberdeen. Sid may well have been the dance teacher to the Queen at one time in his life, but nothing had prepared him for this!!
Some nice people had ordered Sid’s book from Amazon and brought it along to be signed, and other nice people bought copies of the book at 1UP, and there then followed a good half hour of chatting and book signing.
A special mention must go to Fred Craig of 1UP who had brought along one of Sid’s original book/records from 1982 ‘Songs and Stories from a Suitcase Extravaganza.’ Fred wanted this signed, and in return Sid was rewarded with a well deserved cup of tea.
The year is 1979. I am at Aberdeen’s 62 Club to watch a selection of local punk bands, and my attention is drawn to an unfamiliar name on the bill.
Sid Ozalid? A band? A guy? Pretty punk if slightly strange kind of a name though, which for an 18 y.o. punk diehard was somehow reassuring.
On stage appeared a tall, skinny, slightly weird-looking guy with no guitar. Not punk – not punk at all, which in the circumstances was all the more intriguing.
What happened next was somewhere between seeing the light and being scarred for life.
Out of a sudden discharge of nervous energy came an onslaught of surreal, silly verse spliced seamlessly with a bunch of broken anecdotes delivered at a pace leaving no pause for appraisal; accompanied by incongruous, disjointed, directionless dance moves which somehow worked – they must have worked, as somehow, he stayed on his feet.
Then it was over. I had not moved. I was still staring at the empty stage, and I remember thinking: “I hope no-one asks me what I made of Sid Ozalid.” Devoid of reference points, my thoughts were a long time coming. Yes, I found it funny, and yes I was immensely entertained – I just didn’t know why! Neither punk nor Python, neither Cutler, Cooper nor Cooper-Clarke, Sid Ozalid certainly breathed the same air, but did not walk on the same planet.
Would I perhaps find a clue to understanding what made Sid tick from his publicity around at the time? –
“Legend has it that Sid Ozalid was born sometime during an eruption of earwigs.
“Sid arrived on earth from the planet OZ in the year 1898. His spaceship was disguised as an old brown suitcase that was full of inflatable toys.
“During this period he specialised in walking backwards into hat stands.
“Six years later he split from Flying Ozalids to form Sid and Sam the Ozalid Twins. This dynamic duo thrilled audiences with their routine entitled ‘The First pickled Onion in Orbit’, but alas this too came to an abrupt end due to lack of cupboard space”
– Alas, No.
Fast-forward to the following evening.
Three troublesome fat ladies, a conductor named Russ and a womanising fire raising tortoise had taken up permanent residence in my consciousness, and it seemed that the only way to exorcise these delightful demons, and at the same time come to terms with the experience was via demonstration to the uninitiated.
And so there I was outside with my brothers and sister and a few chums, recounting those fragments of verse I could recall whilst attempting in vain to recreate those unique ‘dance’ moves.
Perhaps an observer of the ‘lite’ version would be better placed to help me understand what it was about Sid that had so affected me. No chance. They stood – as I had stood, and stared – as I had stared, and laughed. That evening, each time another chum arrived in our company came the call:
” Hey Fred, go dae yer Sid Ozalid, watch ess, it’s really funny “
The previous evening Sid had performed for around 15 minutes. Twenty four hours later, I must have performed twice as long armed with only about 30 seconds of Sid’s material. More than once, passers-by stopped on the other side of the road … then moved on when they ascertained I was not in need of medical assistance.
As I look back I realise this was a solid indication that Sid Ozalid would be around for some time to come, and would become, if not a legend, definitely an icon of the Aberdeen Entertainment scene.
I was not the only one for whom Sid Ozalid presented an enigma:
” he auditioned and was invited to perform on two different talent shows. Once again the producers liked what Sid was doing but did not know how to describe him. They settled for ‘eccentric’. ” – Douglas John Mclean Cairns
Thirty two years on, having enjoyed many more of Sid’s performances, yet being no closer to understanding exactly how to explain what it is about Sid Ozalid’s act that entertains, amuses and excites me, I find myself charged with the task of reviewing his brand new book:
“Mr Elastic Brain – The Life And Poems Of Sid Ozalid”.
Having just finished reading it, I find myself desperate to tell everyone to go get themselves a copy as soon as possible, but as with my impression of that first performance, I struggle to articulate why it will be worth more to you than a tenner. But I will try.
These days, I know Sid Ozalid by his not so ‘pretty punk, and kinda reassuringly strange’ name Douglas Cairns …. which is actually more reassuring.
So, where to start?
This is an autobiographical book in four parts, about Sid Ozalid, written by Douglas John McLean Cairns. Or is it? As with all things Sid Ozalid, it is the equivalent of an ‘any-way-up’ cup as the first part of the book demonstrates.
Even to someone as familiar with the writer as I am, It startles me to discover that the madness which fuelled the performances of Sid Ozalid and brought so much pleasure to many also had an alter ego in the shape of a mental illness which had a devastating effect on Douglas Cairns for a period in 2001 – and as a consequence, all but put an end to Sid.
“People had always told Sid he was mad. He thought they were joking until the dawning of the new millennium, suddenly he had a doctor’s certificate to prove what people had been telling him for years.” – Douglas John Mclean Cairns.
Here it is we find – in between some hilarious stories of Sid’s outrageous antics and adventures – an honest account of the extent of Douglas’ illness, punctuated by humour of a nature that can only be explained in terms of Douglas’ story being written by Sid.
It is difficult to pinpoint where ownership of the pen changed, but what results is uniquely unsettling, and simultaneously entertaining. For Sid to joke about Douglas’ dark and desperate situation is surely to run the risk being regarded as sick … but then, at the pertinent time, they are both sick aren’t they?
I don’t have the recipe, but I am pretty sure the main ingredient is his ability to appeal to our inner child.
However, at no point does the humour mask the pain, the lighter asides serving only reinforce the severity of the debilitating condition by way of contrast. It is a brave piece of writing, sandwiched between hilarious tales of the more familiar and wonderful madness of The Artist Formerly Known As Sid Ozalid.
The major portion of the book’s contents is a collection of Sid’s wonderfully bizarre and humorous poems and songs which were the mainstay of his act from 1977 to the present day. Similarities with this material and that of Spike Milligan are impossible to ignore. However, to leave it at that would be to compare a wedding cake with a rowie on account of their flour content.
So am I any closer to putting into words what is the magical appeal of Sid Ozalid?
Well I don’t have the recipe, but I am pretty sure the main ingredient is his ability to appeal to our inner child.
Didn’t we all spontaneously giggle and cackle as babes in response to the simplest and the silliest of things? A pulled face? A silly noise? The poking out of a tongue? A sudden unexpected movement or gesture? Anything at all unusual yet unthreatening? When did we stop being so spontaneously and so thoroughly amused? Did we stop giggling, or did our adult entertainers decide our needs for entertainment lay elsewhere?
If nothing else, Sid Ozalid demonstrates that our inner child is still with us and desperate for a giggle, and the mere fact he knows our tickly spot is enough to make us all the more tickly.
If there should ever be an Aberdeen Entertainers Hall of Fame, Sid Ozalid will be there. He will be neither a statue in the foyer, a framed picture on a wall, or a prized prop or instrument in a glass case. The broom cupboard will be as good a place as any to start your search, but when you track him down he will be possibly be represented by that item described within the spontaneous lyrics of a similarly strange and hilarious Scots band.
” I’ll perhaps take a piece of white bread and I’ll paint it brown so you think it is brown but when you toast it it’s actually white for the paint falls off “( from the album Hairy Scalloween by The Pendulums. )
Mr Elastic Brain – The Life And Poems Of Sid Ozalid by Douglas John McLean Cairns is published by Chipmunka Publishingwhich specialises in giving a voice to people with mental health and other issues.
The profits from sales of Mr Elastic Brain are being donated to MIND – a leading mental health charity.
“We campaign vigorously to create a society that promotes and protects good mental health for all – a society where people with experience of mental distress are treated fairly, positively and with respect.” – http://www.mind.org.uk/
Aberdeen Voice will present a sample of Sid’s poetry in the coming weeks – if that’s OK with Sid, or Douglas, or both – so you can judge for yourselves should you miss all three performances in town this weekend.
Geesalaff Comedy Night Friday, May 27 at 8:00pm
Cellar 35, Rosemount Viaduct ( Sid onstage around 21.00pm )
Scottish Novels of the Second World War – by Isobel Murray
For individuals (OK, OK, generally men) of a certain age, the Second World War holds an enduring fascination. For the Voice’s David Innes, this certainly rings true and when there’s a book written and launched on the effect of the War on one of his other passions, Scottish literature, he’s among the first in the ticket queue.
Aberdeen University’s WORD festival has previously offered strong attractions, but I’ve either been too busy or too slothful to organise attendance at its impressively-wide range of events in the past. Not so for the launch of Isobel Murray’s latest book, Scottish Novels of the Second World War. Scottish fiction AND that conflict? My attendance was guaranteed, even at 11am on a Sunday.
The University’s Multimedia Room was sold out as historians and fiction aficionados mixed to hear what insights the author had to offer in this hitherto little-explored area.
Familiar names – Naomi Mitchison, Robin Jenkins, Eric Linklater, Jessie Kesson and Compton MacKenzie – were discussed alongside lesser literary lights who had written about the War. Fred Urquhart and Stuart Hood, for example, were new literary names to almost all audience members. For some authors their writing was autobiographical, for others almost wholly fictional, several written in real time during the conflict but others more modern, with experience and emotion allowed to mature and distil before crafting and publication.
The one criterion Isobel Murray applied in writing Scottish Novels of the Second World War was that the authors had to have been adults during the 1939-45 period, thus able to articulate the hopes, fears, discomfort and hardship they experienced and by those with whom they shared time and place, whether or not in uniform. For some featured authors, the war was to be the second global conflict in their lives.
Backgrounds to the authors revealed that they viewed the War through different prisms, some fearing the threat of communism from the menacing east as much as they abhorred the fascism of Hitler and Mussolini.
Jenkins was a conscientious objector, as was Urquhart. Background affected their writing to differing degrees, and in Compton MacKenzie’s case, his Hebridean Home Guard tales set on the island of Todday, are affectionately comic despite the potential severe consequences of the voluntary local defence’s ill-preparedness. Of course, as some sort of governmental writer-in-residence, MacKenzie’s fiction was obliged to end happily to maintain civilian and military morale.
Not only did the author give an overview of her research and read illustrative and illuminating passages from the original texts, she went to some length to help those who will now seek rare and out-of-print texts to enhance their historical perspective of a series of ever-fascinating political and military turning points of the last century.
This is all a far cry from the jingoistic playground games of British and Jerries or Japs, and the Commando comics’ “Banzai, I die for my Emperor!” , “Achtung Schpitfeur!” and “Cripes Skip, bandits at 12 o’clock!” we Sixties kids devoured as war fiction, which in all probability turned many of us into obsessives seeking new perspectives and truths.
Scottish Novels of the Second World War itself looks fascinating and insightful. It is published by Word Power Books, whose ethos chimes sympathetically with that of Aberdeen Voice, making it all the more worthwhile.
Catford, a new band on the Aberdeen scene, are about to release a superb new album called “Chronicles”. The Album will be launched at The Blue Lamp on Monday 8th November, offering the first chance check out this exciting new act.
Multi-instrumentalists and singer/songwriters Steve Crawford and Davy Cattanach are joined by Jonny Hardie who is Davy’s former band mate in the popular traditional outfit – “The Old Blind Dogs”.
Steve and Davy have been writing and playing together for several years, originally with the Pictones, but laterally as an acoustic duo. Whilst working with Jonny on a recording project, Jonny asked if they would like to record some tracks at his studio. Naturally they jumped at the chance and with Jonny on board a few tracks quickly turned into an album with some fabulous string arrangements and accompaniment by Hardie.
Also performing on the album are well known local musicians Mhairi Sinclair and Nicky Cairney, and the legendary saxophonist Nigel Hitchcock. Nigel’s contribution to the track “Pressure” is one of the albums many highlights.
The result is an acoustic album with an emphasis on vocal harmonies, driven by Steve and Davy’s percussion and guitar along with Jonny’s luxuriant strings. Those of us who have been hearing these songs developed and played at various gigs and sessions can now hear them arranged and performed exquisitely and will finally be able to take them home.
“Chronicles” is released on the 8th of November at the Blue Lamp and will be available from local outlets. The band will be joined on stage by local guitarist Pete Coutts in addition to all who appeared on the album. See Events. (link)