Feb 122015

Following on from last week’s Valentine’s Day themed column, Old Susannah is still feeling the love. After all, this is Aberdeen. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryTally ho! The Deen is awash in romance; you can smell it in the air. Then again, that might just be a nasty whiff coming in from the sewerage plant.

In major news, it seems that civilisation may not end if we don’t build a glass office building next to Marischal College. Millions of jobs were to go, connectivity would be lost, and we’d lose our vibrant and dynamic edge that our planners have worked so hard for a decade or so to give us. However, it seems that protestors may interfere with our modern progress. After all, when has the city ever ignored protestors before?

We can’t thank our planning supremos enough for making us the 2014 Carbuncle Award Winner. Surely now that we’ve got this award, the city of culture award can’t be far behind.

I’m sure the awards will start flooding in, just like all those extra tourists clogging the roads from the airport to Trump Links and MacLeod House.

In fact, with all the good feeling and love in the air, here’s a few affectionate definitions.

Mutual Admiration Society: (English Compound Noun) An assembly of like-minded groups or people to share affection and respect.

It would have been enough to restore anyone’s faith in human nature; I’m sorry my invite was somehow lost in the post. But this past week, Donald Trump, Aberdeen Journals Ltd, Damian Bates, and other journalism superstars got together to pat themselves on the back, and sing the praises of journalism today.

It was hugs and kisses all ‘round when 60 business leaders (<swoon!>) got together to sing the praises of the Scottish Newspaper Society.  These respected figures included Trump, as well as a few respectable figures from quangos and some nice banking VIPs.

And what do businessmen like most about our newspapers? Is it for impartiality, for thorough, unhindered, unbiased investigative journalism? Here’s what The Donald said:

“I’ve had my battles with the Scottish press and seen my fair share of tough headlines, but the impact of advertising in the Scottish media – particularly The Press and Journal and Evening Express – can’t be underestimated,”
– http://www.thedrum.com/news/2015/02/09/donald-trump-joins-scottish-business-figures-backing-campaign-scotlands-newspapers

What do the executives value? Advertising. What more can you want from a newspaper? Absorbency, I suppose.

That the Scottish Newspaper Society sought Trump’s endorsement doesn’t make the group  look at all uninformed, star-struck, advertising-starved or parochial.  After all, Trump does get into the papers now and then. In the rest of the world, it’s for reasons such as failing golf clubs, bankruptcy,  links to organised crime, lawsuits and environmental damage. But that’s just negative nit-picking by The Haters.

Here, executives, newspapers and little people like us love him because he flies into town and has a red carpet when he lands. It’s because he hired our local sweetheart Sarah Malone Bates and used her extensive golf and real estate experience to forge our boring coastline into something else. And not what has he given us? Billions of pounds, millions of jobs, put us on the map, and of course the world’s best golf course ever. Really.

Any battles he’s had with the Scottish press have sadly either faded from my ageing memory, or have not been with the Press & Journal: I wonder why? I guess love is blind.

You can see the full list of business figures backing Scottish newspapers on the Scottish Newspaper Society website – that will keep you busy for many happy hours.  Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Federation, Trump, etc. etc.: This is a mutual admiration society like no other.

COMPETITION TIME: How many organisations on this list have links to ACSEF? Answers on a (large) postcard; winner gets a BrewDog or a P&J – their choice.

And what does a paper do to earn this lavish praise from otherwise neutral billionaire Donald Trump? What kinds of riveting articles command his respect? What incisive slants on local stories are we being served up this week? Old Susannah is happy to serve up some examples.

“Aberdeen store could be turned into 5 smaller stores.” 

We’ll remember where we were when we heard this story.

And then if you want a good laugh (even if it’s at the victim’s expense), we had:

“Man found guilty of putting face in woman’s cleavage”

As the story advised:

“A MAN who clamped his mouth to a stranger’s chest during a night out has been ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work. Remigiusz Zdziech was found guilty of putting his face in a woman’s cleavage while on a night out.

“The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, felt “distressed and shaken” by the incident. Zdziech, 28, denied the offence but was found guilty.”  

I guess  what one paper describes as ‘putting face in woman’s cleavage/clamping a mouth to a stranger’s chest’ is what some of the rest of us might be tempted to call a sexual assault and leave the specifics out of it to spare the victim any further distress – but there you go. If it’s good enough for Damian Bates to publish, then it’s good enough for us to accept without question.

And yet somehow Old Susannah can’t help but feel there is just the slightest hint of sexism in the writing. But I’m just a silly old woman anyway.

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder: (English saying) – belief that being away from loved ones makes them love you more.

Never was a saying more true than this past week when our former Chief Executive Valerie Watts decided to play  hard to get. Our former leader was to have been questioned at a hearing into the letter sent out last year, wherein it was stated that the city council wanted to stay in the Union. Everyone missed Valerie tremendously. If anyone could have given an honest and complete explanation, it would have been her.

Indeed, when it comes to her honesty, it is beyond question by miles. And here’s just a small sample of why that’s so.

So what kept her from her beloved former city? In her current job in Belfast, the Permanent Secretary had invited her to a meeting. Picture how conflicted and torn she must have been! Choosing between a meeting with her new lovely boss and her old love of Aberdeen. Some say she could have chosen to meet the Permanent Secretary another time (perhaps for movie and a meal – not to rush into anything of course), and come here to see us. But she chose to make us wait.

We will be waiting, Valerie. The whole hearing has been kicked into the long grass by this femme fatale with her natural looking suntan and honest smile. Let’s hope next time she’s supposed to appear at a hearing on this matter she doesn’t have a pedicure or facial planned instead. See you soon Valerie. We’ll wait.

Erotic Love: (Compound English Noun) Form of affection or desire which is sexual in nature

What could say ‘I love you’ more than a few lashes with a leather cat ‘o nine tails? What says ‘I care’ more than a complicated set of ropes and pulleys? How best to demonstrate the ties that bind you to someone than by tying them up?

You won’t be aware of this due to the lack of hype, advertising and promotion, but a romantic film is about to hit the big screen (in a non-violent, loving sort of way). Fifty Shades of Gray is coming (ahem) to a cinema near you soon. Is it (as I already suggested on Facebook – sorry) just money for old rope? No, this spanking new spanking film is set to change how the middle classes do DIY.

Hard to believe, but I’m told the film is even more riveting than the dialogue in the book. I’d go see it myself, but I’m a little tied up right now.

Don’t worry though – it can’t possibly lead to any further lack of respect to women. How could it?

Have fun all you B&Q-ers; best get down to the superstore before they run out of winches, pulleys, rope, cord and chains. Say good bye to spontaneity with a few DIY projects that will have that spare bedroom all decked up as if it were a haunt of Jeffrey Archer’s.

But what happens when you and your beloved eventually fall out and have an argument? Will you feel stupid, used, creepy, lame, ashamed, cheap, weird? Of course not – off you’ll go to your mini-dungeon locked room, and the dominant one will be pulling the strings once more.

I’m sure no one will ever carry this too far, get hurt or need to call the fire department and the sanitation services. Have fun, and remember, love isn’t dead. It’s just gagged, blindfolded  and trussed up somewhere.

Happy Valentine’s Day all.

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Oct 032014

dreamstimefree_246872 mother childBy Bob Smith.

A mither’s love is eynless
A mither’s love nivver tires
A mither’s love kens nae bounds
A mither’s love inspires

A mither gied ye a bosie
Fin ye fell an skin’t yer knee
A mither syne telt ye aff
Fer climmin up aat tree

A mither’s maist affa wise
An telt ye wrang fae richt
A mither jist shook her heid
Fin thocht ye nae aat bricht

A mither she aye listen’t
As ye hit een o yer lows
A mither gied ye spunk
Ti tackle aa life’s woes

Ay myn o aat gweed wumman
Be she mither, mum or mam
Fowk aa ower the warld
Should toast mithers wi a dram

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie”2013
Image: © Melissa M. Morris | Dreamstime Stock Photos
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Oct 282013

Trees at Sunset  © Freefoto.comBy Tom Shepherd.

Time makes account of all of us, but does not care to tally
There is no pause for games of man, nor by its nature dally.
It does not love, nor care, nor hate, nor listen to our noise
No ears to hear our cries or tears, no greed to bribe with toys.

With measured tread we live our lives by second, minute, hour
Each sweeping hand a gentle cut, a unique mortal scour.
We cry for more, there’s none to have, but time’s song does not end
Each moment filled with hope, with fear, with enemy, with friend.

What little we can see is shown through unclear, blinkered view
The past is clouded with the murky haar of false or true.
Of things to come no certainty save optimistic cries
Yet time accounts for you and I and ever, ever flies.

Live for each day or plan for futures yet to come about
Be happy as the day is long or paralysed with doubt.
Each moment lived is ever in the here, the now, the new
So to each other now’s the time to say that I love you.

© Tom Shepherd, 23 Oct 2013

Image Credits
Sun Halo ( thumbnail ) © Duncan Harley
Sun through Trees © Freefoto.com

Jul 122012

Gubby Plenderleith, our Literary Editor, reports on a find which has rocked Scotland’s literary world.

The Scottish literary establishment is charged with anticipation over the announcement this week that a number of previously unknown poems by Scobie McSporran, ‘The Bard of Balmaha’ are to be published next month.
I spoke with Torquil Abercromby, a senior researcher at Freuchie University, who was approached last year by a woman claiming to be McSporran’s great-granddaughter.

He told me:

“She telephoned me completely out of the blue and said that she had a number of the poet’s unpublished works which the family had kept in storage since his death. She wondered whether the University would be interested in reading them.

“To be honest I was a bit sceptical at first.  Here was someone saying they had unpublished works by one of my favourite Scottish poets and asking me whether I’d like to read them. It was all pretty unreal at the time and I wondered if it was one of my students playing some kind of practical joke.”

Happily, Abercromby put aside his initial dubiety and met with the woman who had contacted him. She wishes to remain anonymous.  He was, he told me, bowled over by what she showed him. He was also fearful that unless he acted quickly, she might take these literary jewels elsewhere, and so he lost no time in contacting the University authorities who fortunately were able to make sufficient funding available for the publication of a slim volume.

The resultant book, although limited in size, also contains some notes on McSporran the man, tracing his journey from apprentice shoemaker to running the family business himself, before handing it on to his two sons in order that he could become a full time writer.

This new publication also details some of McSporran’s travels round Scotland, and documents the way in which he summoned up the spirit of the simple man, choosing to write about everyday subjects rather than the more grandiose themes chosen by some of his contemporaries.  His method of achieving this was to take to the road, living the life of a vagabond – a period of his life which, in his later years, McSporran looked back on with great fondness.

Speaking in 1928, a few months before his death, he told the writer Rudyard McGillicuddy that the day he gave up control of the family business for life as a vagrant was the happiest of his life.

As McGillicuddy recorded:

“Scobie was a free spirit who wished to be bound by no man, creed, or obligation.  As for the family business, he told me that his father, grandfather and great-grandfather had all been shoemakers before him and as he himself remarked,’yon’s a lot o’ cobblers.’”

Abercromby is keenly protective of the publication of these works, which he sees as a landmark in the country’s literary landscape. He is extremely reticent to give away too many details of its contents.  Aberdeen Voice is, therefore, exceptionally privileged to have exclusive permission to print two poems which elegantly demonstrate McSporran’s fascination with the everyday topics of the weather, and unrequited love.


It’s dingin’ doon in Dingwall
An’ it’s snawin’ up in Skye,
There’s hailstones o’er in Helensbru’
An’ a snell north wind forbye,

But we’re snuggled warm an’ toastie
In oor wee bit heilan’ hame,
So the warld can pass ootside oor door
An’ lea’ us a’ alane!


Oh dearest Jean, my cushie-doo,
I crave your tender bosy
An’ a kiss frae aff your tender lips,
So warm an’ saft an’ rosy.

I saw you first in Januar,
When the snaw wis oan the dyke –
You were lying at the roadside,
Havin’ fa’en aff yer bike.

But I stopped and helped you oan again
An’ waved a fond goodbye,
As you pedalled aff tae Cowdenbeath,
Your messages to buy.

But that was ower a year ago
An’ I’ve no’ seen you syne,
So maybe it’s a portent,
That you never will be mine.

‘The Sabbath, Sin and Stovies’, a collection of poems by Scobie McSporran, is published by Wanchancy Press on 20th August.