Mar 022017
 

A landmark law to tackle violence against women passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons on Friday with an overwhelming majority of 138 in favour to just 1 against. With thanks to Banff & Buchan SNP.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP with campaigners and MPs after the vote.

Local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford’s Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill 2017, requires the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention – a far-reaching new law that puts legal obligations on the state to prevent violence against women, protect
women and prosecute the perpetrators.

The Convention encompasses many forms of sexual violence and domestic abuse including stalking, harassment, sexual assault and rape, physical and psychological abuse by a partner, forced marriage, forced abortion or sterilisation and female genital mutilation.

The UK signed the treaty in 2012 but has yet to ratify it to make it part of UK law.

The SNP MP for Banff & Buchan, who is the party’s Westminster spokesperson for Social Justice, secured cross-party support for her Bill, which has been championed by women’s equality organisations including IC Change, Women’s Aid, Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland, White Ribbon, End Violence Against Women, Scottish Women’s convention, NUS, Girlguiding, and the Fawcett Society.

The Bill also received strong support from the actor and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, who this week wrote to all MPs urging them to vote for the Bill.

Commenting after the Bill passed its Third Reading, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“I am delighted that this landmark legislation to combat gender-based violence has received such overwhelming cross-party support and now looks set to become UK law.

“This is a huge and historic step forward in efforts to tackle violence against women and has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of women right across the country.

“Women’s equality organisations and activists have been campaigning for the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention for many years now – so today’s vote is a cause for celebration and a testament to their sustained efforts.

“The Istanbul Convention is the most comprehensive and far-reaching framework that exists to tackle violence against women in its many forms and manifestations, and critically, it provides the legal apparatus to hold governments accountable for their progress. This is a powerful vehicle for improving policy, practices and services on an ongoing basis.

“Sexual violence and domestic abuse are neither natural nor inevitable. We can prevent it, we can challenge it and we can hold perpetrators to account. We need to do all these things if we are to end this systematic abuse of women’s basic human rights, and ratifying the Istanbul Convention is a big step in the right direction.

“We have travelled some distance in this struggle but we still have such long way still to go and we need to recognise that Ratification of the Istanbul Convention is a milestone on the journey to equality and justice for women, not an end point.”

Further reading:

 Emma Watson backs SNP MP’s bid to combat domestic abuse.
 Theresa May urges MPs to back Whiteford bill and stamp out violence against women.

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Feb 072014
 

By Suzanne Kelly.

February 4, 2014 – BrewDog launches the world’s first protest beer – ‘Hello My Name is Vladimir’.  Within 24 hours the flagship Aberdeen bar had completely sold out of its stock of ‘Vladimir’ both bottled and draft beer. 

“Hello My Name is Vladimir mocks Putin’s discriminatory legislation ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi”

Brewdog Vlad sqScottish craft brewery, BrewDog has today launched Hello My Name is Vladimir, a craft beer apparently ‘not for gays’ that carries an image of the Russian premier wearing make up on the label.

The ale is the world’s first ‘protest beer’, aiming to support LGBT communities by undermining the potential of the Winter Olympics to deflect attention from Russia’s recent law banning ‘homosexual propaganda’.

  • 50 per cent of profits from the sale of Hello My Name is Vladimir will be donated directly to charities that represent oppressed minorities around the world.
  •  BrewDog has also sent a case of the limited edition beer to President Putin himself.
  • Hello My Name is Vladimir is a 8.2% ABV double IPA containing Limonnik berries, an ingredient regarded by some Russian hunters to enhance sexual performance in men.
  • As well as claiming the beer is ‘not for gays’, the label carries a garish Warhol-style image of Putin wearing eye shadow and lipstick and suggests the beer ‘may contain traces of sarcasm’.
  • The Putin-inspired double IPA is the latest in a long line of BrewDog beers making an impact during major events. In 2012, the brewer launched Never Mind the Anabolics, a beer laced with steroids, mocking Heineken’s sponsorship of the Olympic Games in London, whilst in 2011 BrewDog’s Royal Virility Performance beer was laced with herbal Viagra to mark the Royal Wedding and ‘take the wheels off the bandwagon’ being ridden by breweries manufacturing saccharine celebratory beers.
  • Hello My Name is Vladimir will be available for £2.89 per bottle in all BrewDog bars and brewdog.com from 4th February 2014.
  • BrewDog is trying to mount global social media pressure on Putin using the dedicated hashtag #NotForGays

James Watt, BrewDog co-founder commented:

Vlad-Label-copy-3“We sincerely hope that when Vladimir Putin is tired from a busy day riding horses with his top off, grappling with burly men on the Judo mat or fishing in his Speedos, he reclines on a velvet chaise longue and has one of his handsome helpers wet his whistle with a glass of Hello My Name is Vladimir.”

“As Hello My Name is Vladimir is clearly marked ‘not for gays’ we should bypass the legislation introduced by Putin outlawing supposed ‘homosexual propaganda’, so Vlad shouldn’t have an issue with it.

“He might even invite us to ride bareback with him in the Siberian mountains.”

“It’s been our mission at BrewDog to upend the status quo in whatever form it occurs.

“Whether it’s the stranglehold the mega brewers have had on beer production in Europe over the last 50 years, or in the case of Russia, the sick legislation that discriminates against millions of its citizens.

“Our core beliefs of freedom, integrity and passion drive all our actions. Since we started in 2007, we’ve always striven to strike fear at the heart of the gatekeepers and establishment, the launch of Hello My Name is Vladimir is simply a continuation of that tradition.”

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Feb 082013
 

With thanks to Kenneth Watt.

Barry Black, Aberdeen City Youth Council chair, has welcomed the passage of the Same Sex Marriage Bill through its second Parliamentary reading, allowing same sex couples in England and Wales to marry.

Mr Black wants to see the Scottish version of the Bill passed as soon as possible.

He said,

“I have written to all NE Scotland MSPs urging them to vote for the introduction of same sex marriage when the bill comes before the Scottish Parliament.

“The youth council and Aberdeen’s six MSYPs have been avid campaigners for the Scottish Youth Parliament’s Love Equally campaign. Today is a proud moment for us and a point to reflect on how society is moving forward.

“I am delighted by the vote in Parliament. It is a very positive step forward and it’s great to see the vast majority of MPs support equality for Same Sex Couples. If two consenting adults wish to marry, who is anyone to say no’”

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Feb 082013
 

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

Tally Ho!  As St Valentine’s Day approaches, love is well and truly in the air.  Either that, or the wind has changed direction and is blowing across the sewage plant.

Another vibrant and dynamic week passed in the Deen; I saw the excellent comedy improv troupe Wildly Unprepared at their usual free show at the Belmont; I hope to catch up with them soon to write about them in more depth.

I quite enjoyed the audience participation part of it.

I’ve been to a few restaurants and bars as well; of course including the usual stop at BrewDog.  Particularly delicious drinks at the moment are the collaboration ‘Catherine’s Pony’ and guest, ‘The Eight Ball.’

I decided it would be a good idea to reintroduce the word ‘journal’ to the title of my column this week; there seems to be a few people on Facebook who are scandalised that this little satirical diary column should include details of what I get up to, or what I like.

I am of course the first columnist in history to write a diary applauding places, people and products.  Unless you count Samuel Pepys, Julie Burchill, and even the Evening Express’s very own Cat Cubie.  I did try staying home and not seeing people, but for some reason, I wound up getting less story leads that way, and it made for even less exciting reading than my normal column.

Some others are apoplectic that I should mention BrewDog.  I promise to try to stop forcing people to read this column and I will no longer make people drink craft beer.   Just for the record, I first disclosed my massive (£95) shareholding in the company only recently.  September 2011 to be exact.  But in the interests of fairness, I will make a point of including other excellent products and services going forward.

I am still rather cross with my postman; I never did receive my invite to the wedding of the decade.  Mistress Bates and her Master (ie Trump’s VP and the P&J’s editor) never got the wedding gifts I’d painstakingly sourced for them, and I never got to wear my new hat.

As well as a case of Donald Trump brand water and a fetching Donald Trump necktie (made in China), perfect for the editor who has everything, I’d some other great gifts lined up:-

1.  Padded check shirt (only £19.99 or buy any two for £29.99). I’d arranged his and hers fleece-lined shirts, perfect for casual wear when working outdoors.  I can picture the happy couple now, perhaps hand in hand at the Balmedie dunes, watching the ‘fantastic’ progress made repairing the eroded course, or overseeing security guards chasing ramblers and locals around.

2.  Steam-O-Power – with which they would have been able to ‘say goodbye to ironing and eliminate wrinkles fast.’  I foresee that they happy couple just might have a few wrinkles to iron out.  Anyway, ‘Steam-O-Power was a steal at £29.95.

It included a trouser crease attachment (perfect for looking your best for visiting billionaires and Scottish Government ministers, or cutting a figure at PCC enquiries).  A brush and measuring cup were also included (at no extra cost!  Result!) – handy for giving people the brush-off, or for measuring out Donald Trump water.

3.  Wrinkle cream – guaranteed to fix your laughter and worry lines.  Never mind the old-fashioned concept that ‘beauty is as beauty does.’  Sometimes life’s little stresses and strains can cause – heaven forbid! – the odd wrinkle.  A beauty queen can’t be too careful, you know.  I’m sure that there would only have been laughter lines to be corrected, as what could possibly worry Mrs Bates?

Now that you’ve read about these great buys in the Old Susannah column, clearly there will be a stampede to the shops to try and find these great products since I’ve mentioned them.  Well, you needn’t look any further than the last few issues of the Press & Journal, for these are all P&J products, offered exclusively to readers by post.

The promises made for the effectiveness of the wrinkle cream are, I am certain as reliable as anything else in the paper.  I quite like the fact they are diversifying, but I can’t imagine why they would need to.  I did try and find a stain remover, but alas no such luck.   This might explain a few lingering stains indeed.

Well, with Valentine’s Day upon us, romantic gifts from roses and champagne to teddy bears and silk teddies, check flannel-lined shirts and wrinkle steamers are flying off shop shelves.  Here then are some timely terms for this celebration of love.

Engagement: (Eng. 1.  noun – two people contracted to marry each other; 2.  Mod Eng. verb – to interact)

Traditionally, engagements are announced and details posted in newspapers or church bulletins; the happy couples are usually so proud of their pending nuptials that they want to shout it from the rooftops.  Then again, some tend to want to keep things quiet.

Marriage: (Eng. noun) a legally-binding partnership with another person, whether of the same sex or not.

The ConDems have ConFounded everyone by voting to allow two people of the same sex to marry one another.  Don’t worry, there is no sign this development will happen in Scotland any time soon.

Two people can’t be in love if they are of the same sex, as any morally-correct person can tell you.  Come back Mary Whitehouse – you were right all along!  Same-sex couples for some reason wanted and now have the same legal and economic rights as straight people.

In the old days, if one partner in a same-sex union fell seriously ill, the other was left out of medical decisions, funeral decisions, and of course inheriting, even being thrown out of what was once their home in favour of the morally-superior heterosexual relatives of the deceased.

Still, if people will go against God and have a same-sex partnership, what do they expect.  We know God is against gay unions, because in the bible it says ‘love one another’ and because there are lots of right wing people with guns and bibles who say they know what God wants.  That’s good enough for me.

To recap – a socially-acceptable marriage is when a good looking woman (like a beauty queen for instance) marries a man with lots of money (like a newspaper editor).  This is the only kind of marriage that really works.

But sadly, even for morally-upright, god-fearing conservative people, marriages don’t always end well….

Divorce: (Eng. verb) To dissolve a marriage partnership.

It is with tears in my eyes that I see the spectacle of Chris Huhne’s family woes unfold in the press.  I could be wrong, but his wife seems just a little upset, and his son has hinted on social media that not all is well in this once happy home.

This humble politician, former cabinet member, and LibDem leading light, got into a teeny tiny bit of legal trouble, and this had a knock-on effect on his family.  The poor man was caught by a speed camera, and most nobly, his lovely, loving wife agreed to sayit was  she who was at the wheel, Chris thus avoiding a few more points on his license and avoiding scandal.

I wonder how the scandal-avoiding scheme is working out for him.

Vicky Pryce (who doesn’t seem to want to be known as the ex Mrs Huhne for some reason)  has been charged with perverting the course of justice by taking the blame for the offence.  Somehow, the idea of spending a few months in Holloway to protect her husband’s sterling reputation seems to have soured the love.

Reading between the lines, or more accurately reading between the tweets and posts, his son is not taking the dissolution of his parents’ marriage very well.  Young Huhne has written to his dad:-

“I hate you, so f*** off”

“you are the most ghastly man I have ever known”

“don’t contact me again.  You make me feel sick.”

Even the Great Donald has been divorced; if memory serves, his subsequent wives coincidentally tended to be younger and physically prettier than their predecessors.  Everyone likes the sight of a perfect May to December couple; knowing they got together for spiritual and emotional reasons which have nothing to do with power, vanity, or greed.

It is only fair that a rich man should have a young and pretty woman on his arm, isn’t it?  (Older rich women take note:  society tells you ‘don’t even think about it.).

Even the seemingly innocent newlyweds Sarah and Damian had each been married before. I guess it is normal for two people thrown together by common interests to fall in love.   Let’s hope they have now found lasting happiness; we do know that they work very well together indeed.

Sarah’s dad, councillor Tom Malone coincidentally shares her employer’s dislike of wind farms, having voted against all 6 applications which came in front of him.  How very like-minded they all seem to be.  I can practically feel a surge of warmth when I think of them all.  Then again, I think it’s just that my checked flannel-lined shirt is too warm.

I’m just trying to remind myself of all the great reasons same-sex marriages shouldn’t be allowed and that heterosexual marriages like Mr & Mrs Huhne are the way to go.  Once I make this list, I’ll get back to you.  However, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

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Jul 262012
 

Aberdeen Voice’s Old Susannah can barely contain her excitement over the Olympics and Tartan Day, and reviews the week’s past local events. By Suzanne Kelly.

Tally Ho!  I guess we’ve all had an exciting week, and with the Olympics upon us and Tartan Day around the corner, you can practically feel the excitement.

I am not sure whether we will need to deploy surface-to-air missiles on top of St Nicholas House to ensure Tartan Day goes without a hitch like they’re doing with the Olympic games (what could go wrong?).  I am not clear as to whether there will be a special ‘Tartan Day’ lane on our main roads for VIPs, either.

But in all seriousness, it should be fun.

There has been so much in the news these last few weeks about morals – people wanting to marry people of the same sex just because they’re in love; people committing moral crimes (like paying in cash for services) and so on; who’s to know what’s moral and what’s not any more?

As well as looking to our community leaders, movie stars and elected officials for guidance through the murky waters of morality, Old Susannah has some advice and of course definitions.

Moral Superiority: (Eng. phrase) – claim of holding a higher set of values and ethics than another person or group (not to be confused with smug, self-righteous, conceited, or small-minded).

Firstly, we are all shocked, angered and saddened by the main news, I’m sure.  Kirsten Stewart, Twilight and Snow White star is not snow-white like the rest of us after all.   Stewart has had a brief encounter with a married film director.

No doubt armies of Twilight fans in thrall to her Twilight co-star, Robert Pattison, will be baying for Stewart to be burned at the stake.  After all, Hollywood is no place for people to have affairs, and a star in a quick fling with a director is without precedent.

I’m sure all of us remember what it was like to be in our late teens and early twenties, and we all remember how responsible we were then, never making any mistakes, never experimenting, and of course always being faithful.

Being as good as we were is just as easy if you’re trying to fit into Hollywood and make your way in life in front of a lens.  Otherwise, there would be one or two examples of child stars who had unhappy, stormy lives.  It is important to remember that what goes on between the people involved is the world’s business, because they are famous.

let’s not forget either that it is OK for a man to cheat, but for a girl to do so is unacceptable

It must be Kristen’s fault, mustn’t it?  Helpless Hollywood director, all on his own, and a worldly twenty-something woman, and all that.  We owe a huge debt of gratitude to US Weekly’s campaigning, morally-superior investigative journalists and the editors who put them on the scent of this crucial news story.

Will Stewart and Pattison get together again?  Will they be happily married and never divorce?  I can barely sleep nights for thinking about it.

Other than that, there is something in the news about a bank scandal, and civilians including children being tortured and killed in a place called Syria.  Will get back to you on that boring stuff some other time, but for now best keep your money in your mattress.  (I have deliberately spared you any lame puns in the ‘Twilight’ vampire vein.  I didn’t think I’d earn your fangs if I wrote anything about what was at stake for Stewart and Pattison, and I didn’t want any hilarious jokes giving anyone a coffin fit.  Bad vampire puns suck).

Now that we’ve established we are all morally superior to Ms Stewart and her director, let’s not forget either that it is OK for a man to cheat, but for a girl to do so is unacceptable.  I hope Ms Stewart will look to other famous role models in Hollywood and Government for clues as how to be as morally acceptable, faithful and upright as they are in the future.

One last observation, courtesy of the Facebook page of George Takei (something popular with the young people I’m told).  In the Harry Potter saga, when the heroine’s boyfriend leaves her, Hermione goes on a quest to save the world.  In the Twilight saga, when the heroine’s boyfriend leaves her, Bella sits in a chair for three months, doing nothing but crying.  Hmm.

Morally Wrong: (Eng phrase) behaviour or opinions which go against prevailing standards.

Hooray!  The Coalition government is going after those who are ‘morally wrong’ – and they should know all about morals, shouldn’t they?

Exchequer Secretary David Gauke has publicly accused homeowners who give workers cash of helping them avoid tax.  Tax avoidance!  NO!  Our tax system is totally fair, and anyone who is doing jobs for cash is always a morally bankrupt criminal. And the government have more than a little experience with tax avoidance.

  The Government practices what it preaches, and no MPs are guilty of any tax evasion, book-fiddling, or expense padding at all

The Revenue has, after a few expensive meals and hospitality events, waived goodbye to tax which was owed to you and I by Vodaphone, to name but one multinational that hasn’t paid what it owed.  These few settlements made by the government to multinationals of a billion here and a few hundred million there can eventually add up to significant amounts, but nothing like the man who wants £50 for painting your hallway.

Rumour has it that even here in the respectable North East of Scotland, one of our very own billionaires changed some of his employment schemes to keep money offshore and out of the taxman’s pocket.  Wood that I could tell you who I was thinking of.

The Government practices what it preaches, and no MPs are guilty of any tax evasion, book-fiddling, or expense padding at all.  The government needs all the money it can get for worthwhile causes like buying more weaponry.  After we’ve taken care of the defence budget, we can throw a few scraps to the poor (but only the ‘undeserving’ poor of course).

Hopefully, we’ve got all the lazy MS, cancer-stricken, paralysed layabouts back into meaningful work (whether paid or not), so we should probably consider cutting back on social welfare programmes.    It might seem that there is one rule for the rich and powerful, and another for the rest of us, but I’m sure this is just illusory.

I admit that there are people who make a career out of avoiding tax who are involved in the building trade; they should be brought to book, and made to behave like MPs, bankers  and company directors.

Once Scotland is independent, it will all be different, I’m sure.   But remember, if you hire someone to paint your front steps or fix your garden, don’t pay in cash.  Try to pay them with a service in kind instead – let’s see how that would work.

Moral High Ground: (Eng. phrase) The position of superiority of those with codes and values above the prevailing standards in society.

Well, thank heavens for the Westboro Baptist Church!  Where would we be without them.  These followers of Christ (who once apparently had something to do with ‘love one another’ and ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone’ and other outdated nonsense) are showing us the way.

  These people occupy the moral high ground, because they know what god would have wanted

They nearly came to Aberdeen once to spread the word against immoral behaviour like homosexuality, but they changed their minds.  Old Susannah was so looking forward to greeting them appropriately as well; so were several hundred others.  Perhaps they still will.

These people occupy the moral high ground, because they know what god would have wanted.  They helpfully show up at funerals for servicemen and women who were gay, and create delightful, enlightening events for the mourners, in the true spirit of Christianity of course.

Strangely no mainstream churches seem brave enough to join Westboro on its crusades against gays, blacks, Jewish people and others.  I wonder why.  When I have a chance, I think I’ll ask Westboro about some of its positions; I am starting to wonder if they are a bit racist and homophobic – and I’m not quite able to find the bits in the bible telling me God wants it that way.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little update on what is and isn’t moral, and if you have any questions, just get in touch with Westboro.

Next week:  a romp through Aberdeen’s draft financial accounts – which everyone has the chance to examine until 18 August.

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Jul 202012
 

Aberdeen Voice’s Old Susannah can barely contain her excitement over the imminent Olympics, and reviews the week’s past local events. By Suzanne Kelly.

Yet another exciting week in the Granite City has just passed. I had a great weekend with Anthony Baxter, the Milnes, Susan Munro, photographer Alicia Bruce and more at the Belmont on Saturday.

Baxter’s award-winning documentary, You’ve Been Trumped has returned, and at the Saturday evening show Menie residents and director Baxter did a lengthy Q&A session. I enjoyed the additional footage on the windfarm controversy and other updates. The film still makes me angry, it must be said.

Oddly the residents have a completely different take on what is going on at the estate than the Shire’s Clerk of Works – I wonder why?

If you’ve seen the film you will remember shots of trees being buried in a giant excavation. The Clerk wrote to me months back and advised that this hadn’t happened. So there. I sat next to David Milne during the screening; we are both amazed at the unprecedented way this documentary is doing the rounds. Next stops are New York and LA.

Don’t bother looking for any news of You’ve Been Trumped’s return or its many awards in the local press: you will be searching in vain.  If however you want a nice picture or two of Ivanka Trump, you’ll be well rewarded. We are all as good as rolling in money and new jobs now, I’m sure.

Sunday was a great day to visit Willows; Sandi Thom performed a lovely acoustic set in a barn packed with peacocks, peahens, cats and people of all ages. I like her voice, I hadn’t appreciated her guitar skills until I saw her play. You can’t fake it unplugged with an acoustic guitar. Even the animals were attentive. The Willows is a wonderful place to visit – and a great place to support.

Later in the week Old Susannah and Aberdeen Voice editor Fred met with some legal consultants. Do watch this space, particularly if you’ve ever had doubts about the legality of some of the previous Aberdeen City administration’s decisions. I even had a nice long chat with a councillor or two about some of the issues of the day. There may be some developments coming in the near future.

Tomorrow there is an event in Union Terrace Gardens. In the words of Dorothy from Common Good Aberdeen:

“There is to be a very interesting and moving event taking place in Union Terrace Gardens this Saturday, 21st July 2012 at 2 p.m. T.A.C.T. Bereavement Support are to hold their service of remembrance for loved ones, with a Book of Remembrance being opened. Quiet observation and reflection would be the order of the day, and what better place to have it. Common Good Aberdeen will be there to support in the form of helping with the afternoon tea.”

Hope to see you there.

Despite all the running around and events, I’m managing to stick to the diet programme I’ve been put on by Temple Aesthetics. It is called the Alizonne diet, it seems to be working a treat, and I do get a variety of flavours in the meals I eat on this plan.

The problem is, my visits to BrewDog are out for now (unless I go there and drink water and coffee – and with the best willpower in the world, I’m not sure I could do that just yet). Still, I’ve lost 5½ pounds in the first week. I hope to be back to normal eating habits soon. And normal drinking habits too.

This week I have to admit that I got a bit jealous of the lucky few who attended the opening of Trump’s golf course at Menie. I’ve had a look at the goody bag they took away.

Wow. Not only did I miss out on the free toothpaste (I think that’s what I saw) and golf goodies – but I have to do without an embroidered baseball cap as well. Shucks. It was clear that this collection of goods was put together by an imaginative billionaire with the highest standards of class and taste.

Even though I didn’t get an invitation or a bag myself (I wonder why?) I will still try and get ‘Trump’ baseball caps for Anthony Baxter and the Menie estate residents; I’m sure that will make everything seem better.

But let’s move on with some definitions.

Miscalculate: (verb, Eng.) to incorrectly estimate a quantity or a situation; to fail to appreciate all relevant variables when making decisions.

For all those Olympic fans out there (I presume there are some, even though there is evidence coming in to the contrary), it seems that a few little errors of judgement may have been made.  These involve the demand for tickets, and the all-important security arrangements.

Firstly, despite our Prime Minister pleading with us to agree that the games are great for the UK (he doesn’t want us to call them the ‘soggy’ Olympics, we should think of these as the Great Olympics; do make sure you think accordingly), not all of us seem to be keen on the games.  The football matches, which we have all dreamt of for years, are not exactly selling tickets quite as quickly as expected.

This minor miscalculation means that sales have been overestimated by around half a million tickets, depending on who you talk to. The BBC has this to say on its website:-

Organisers said there had been around one million football tickets left but these have been cut in half by reducing capacity at stadiums. A spokesman for Locog said: “We are planning to reduce capacity across the venues by up to 500,000 tickets across the tournament This will involve possibly not using a tier, or an area of a ground, in some of the venues.”

I hear they might want to hold one of the games in my back garden to cut costs.  Old Susannah is no economist of course, but if there are one million football tickets left unsold from an event that was supposed to make tons of money, does that mean we might not make quite as much money as we thought?  Even if the tickets were £1 each (they were not), that is one million pounds less than expected.

G4S, has said that it ‘regrets’ taking on this contract.  I’m sure they do.

But I don’t want to be negative.  I guess people are skipping football tickets in favour of the more important, exciting events, like women’s 10k three legged race or the men’s McDonald’s hamburger eating contest.

I am sure the sponsors won’t mind a little bit that a few million people less than expected will be there to look at their logos and be impressed at sponsorship for the events.

The other wee bit of miscalculation seems to involve how many security personnel would be needed. After all, we have to make sure that no one is allowed to bring in their own food and drink to the stadium village; the sponsors would be up in arms, and sponsorship is what the games are all about.

It seems that the firm that won the security contract have got their sums wrong, and every able-bodied police person in the UK is being told that they must go down to London to help out.

Don’t worry about the crime issues locally or the cost to the taxpayer: Cameron has already explained that the Age of Austerity will last until 2020.  If we have to stump up a few million pounds in police overtime, and the rest of the UK is hit with crime waves, it’s a small price to pay for finding out who is the best 50 yard dash runner in the world.

The firm which altruistically won the work for Olympic Security, G4S, has said that it ‘regrets’ taking on this contract.  I’m sure they do.  Having only secured a contract worth an estimated £57 million or more, depending on who’s doing the calculations, or miscalculations, they can hardly be blamed for small hiccoughs.

They might not have hired enough people, not arranged sufficient training or obtained uniforms, offered salaries below industry standards, but they couldn’t have been cutting any corners for reasons of profit.  After all £57 million doesn’t go nearly as far as it used to; it would barely get you half of a Granite Web.

The Home Office, which usually gets everything perfect, has also fallen a bit flat.  They had no way of knowing that lots of people from around the world would be coming to compete in London.  If the occasional terrorist suspect has got through the Border Agency without a hitch, I guess that’s fair enough.  I will try and remember that the next time I see a granny or a little child being body searched at the airport.

  Tom Smith says economist Mackay just doesn’t understand economics.  Good enough for me.

These little miscalculations demonstrate that this kind of thing can happen to anyone.  Except that it will not happen with the Granite Web. We don’t exactly know what’s proposed to go in the gardens.  We don’t have any working drawings available to the public showing how the ramps over the gardens will be safe, but they will of course have to be enclosed, barbed wire being a cost-effective solution.

We don’t know what the negative impacts will be on the existing city centre businesses, as the streets are clogged with construction vehicles and construction dust, if the thing is allowed to go ahead.  If only there were some other Scottish city that had started an open-ended civic project using many layers of public/private companies, then we could get a handle on the potential problems.  But I can’t think of a single example.

Failing that, we must rely on PriceWaterhouseCooper’s projections of 6,000 totally new jobs appearing and £122 million pouring into the city every year until 2023.  It all sounds so precise, doesn’t it?  Of course there was some economist named Mackay, but Tom Smith says economist Mackay just doesn’t understand economics.  Good enough for me.

So, since the economy is in such great shape, this is a great time to take an Olympic-sized leap of faith, get rid of the city’s only lungs, the UTG trees, clog the streets with construction vehicles – and of course borrow £92 million to pay for it.  It could all either go vastly over budget like the trams in Edinburgh, or turn out to be not quite as lucrative as £122 million flowing in per year.

The Olympics overstated the financial gain case, but this is Aberdeen:  the web will be a profitable, problem free project built to budget and completed without a hitch in no time at all, not like these amateurish cities London and Edinburgh.

Same Sex Marriage: (mod. English phrase) Situation in which two consenting adults of the same sex agree to enter into a marriage contract.

Readers of a sensitive disposition might wish to stop reading. This will be a shock, but there are people out there who apparently are not heterosexual.  Some of these people want to have long-term, legally-recognised partnerships or even marriages with their beloveds.  Clearly this is wrong.

The SNP were going to consider this issue, but have developed cold feet.  And too right.  What kind of a society would we have if people who loved each other could get married as they wanted?  Let’s stick to what we know works – a society where some six out of ten marriages end in divorce and separation.

  Actors are exactly the kind of people who go in for this kind of wild behaviour

On what the kids call ‘social network’ websites, there are a number of protagonists claiming that it should be their right to choose who to be with.  Top among these is one Mr George Takei.  He may be remembered for his role as ‘Sulu’ in Star Trek television and film appearances.

Actors are exactly the kind of people who go in for this kind of wild behaviour.  Elton John too has a ‘same sex’ partner.  Just  because they are intensively creative, intelligent, witty, generous men who have entertained millions for generations is no reason to think this kind of thing won’t mean the entire breakdown of society, or even the planet.

It is clearly our business what consenting adults get up to, so let’s put paid to any same sex marriage ideas here in Scotland – Scotland, arguably the home of modern philosophy, invention and upholder of the Rights of Man.  Next thing you know, we’ll have men going around in skirts.  God forbid.

Confidential to a certain councillor

I am very glad to know that you are having doubts about the private companies set up to carve up the Common Good land of Union Terrace Gardens.  You have confided that you are not sure the financials stack up, and you wonder if this isn’t either a vanity project, or a ‘jobs for the construction boys’ deal.

As you have those doubts, you will have to err on the side of caution, and reject any plans to start any project over UTG at this time.  If you vote to go ahead, you are going against your own better judgment.  I am glad you have these doubts – and as long as there is any doubt, the project must not proceed.  Don’t listen to me:  listen to your own common sense.

Next Week:  Old Susannah wants your gift suggestions for Ian Wood’s retirement.  What do you give the billionaire who has everything?

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Nov 242011
 

Brian J Carroll, a long serving Aberdeen Civil Servant takes a look at the crucial role the Civil and Public Services play in our day to day lives and argues that this should be gratefully acknowledged.

Lets be thankful for Civil and Public Sector employees !

I have worked in the public sector for over 30 years and have reason to be grateful to the public sector for employing me but also have reason to be grateful for the services other civil and public sector workers provide to me, showing that they have a dedication, commitment and loyalty second to none, in the service I and others within and in other services deliver to the public on a daily basis.
Once these services are gone they will never ever come back again!

Lets hear it for all the hard working, dedicated, committed and loyal civil and public servants who have provided me and no doubt a lot of you with the services we need to see us through life from cradle to grave:-

  • My school teachers who taught me my letters and numbers, to read and write, english, arithmetic and maths, foreign languages, history and science
  • The nurses who came round and inoculated us against TB, mumps and measles
  • The Doctors and nurses in GP practices and hospitals who looked after me when I needed them
  • The air traffic controllers who saw to it that my holiday and work flights took off and landed safely
  • The benefit officers who helped me out when I was unemployed, skint and looking for a job
  • The registrar for doing their job in respect of births, marriages and deaths
  • The midwives who helped in the safe delivery of my nieces and nephews
  • The court officials, administrators and Procurator Fiscals who ensure that justice works on a daily basis
  • The radiographers who X-rayed me
  • Those at the blood transfusion service who helped me to help others
  • The firemen who put out a fire in a flat next to mine a number of years ago and the policeman who assisted in clearing the flats next to the one on fire
  • The gardeners who keep our parks looking nice
  • The refuse collectors, without whom we would be in a terrible state
  • The social workers who help and assist people daily with their problems and issues
  • The paramedics who answer our calls for help, day and night
  • The court officials who assisted me in dealing with my fathers estate
  • The physiotherapist who helped me after breaking my foot at rugby
  • The police officers who answer our calls for help day and night
  • The HMRC staff who assist with Tax Returns
  • The DWP staff who assist us in getting benefits and finding jobs
  • The librarians who provide a reading facility and library second to none
  • The museum officials who continue our learning of this country and the world
  • The grave diggers and others who give us a place to rest and a dignified send off

All these people are to have their nationally agreed pension rights cruelly slashed. The government says:

“They have to take the pain just like everyone else.”

Just because private sector employers who make billions of pounds of profit offer their employees such lousy pensions or no pension at all, does not justify underpaying public service pensions when they are affordable, fair and actually costing the country and the taxpayer less as time goes on.

The average public sector pension is £5600. The average private sector pension is £5800, The average company directors pension is £175,000 – they still have final salary pensions; that is the real scandal and rip off of pensions in Britain today.

Nobody joins the civil and public sector to get rich. They do it to serve the public. They have a public service ethos. We should value that and thank them for it – not vilify them at every turn on the back of government rhetoric and lies.

Jul 292011
 

By Bob Smith.

Young Dod his ti get mairret
Ti a quine fae doon the howe
He hisna tell’t his mither yet
So there’ll be an affa rowe

Fan Dod’ll tell his mither
I’m nae jist affa sure
Bit ye’ll nae doot hear her rantin
Fae Alford up ti Drummuir

Dod’s quine’s jist a young deem
Fa’s pit on a bittie wecht
Throwe a bit o hunky punky
Efter a marquee dunce at Echt

His mither noo she’s affa prood
Dod’s the aipple o her ee
She’ll fair be less than happy
If  neebors gossip ower their tea

It’ll be a funcy waddin
Dod’s mither wid hae nae less
Fit I doot micht bither her
Is the young quines type o dress

Foo tae cover up the bump
The quine’s mither will wark oot
Fit she wid richt like ti dee
Is skelp Dod’s lug nae doot

The quine hersel is nae pit oot
As she gyangs aboot her wark
Nae doot thinkin o the nicht
Young Dod he made his mark


©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2010.  Image Credit:   © Madja | Dreamstime.com