Dec 162016
 

Melancolia meets the hideous nutcracker named Donald J Drumpf whose odd shaped mouth and repellent hair don’t put her off, neither does the fact he’s actually loaded.  After waging a battle it seems unlikely the nutcracker can possibly win, they are miraculously victorious. Together they go on a journey around the world visiting wondrous lands etc etc. Now read on.

IT WAS A cosy Christmas eve at young Melancolia’s photoshoot; photographers, stylists, other nude models and various reptilian types were gathering for a
Christmas themed girl-on-girl shoot – but a tasteful one.

Melancolia was one of the top glamour models ever to share a full page spread with another woman and guns.
Her sparkly eyes, perfect teeth, chiselled cheekbones and enviable physique were only matched by her perfect pout.

And all her features were perfectly natural, with only a few boob jobs, teeth work, nose re-sculpting, tummy tucking to tweak her natural beauty a wee bit.

Some of the girls had their reservations about the current shoot, but the stylists said ‘this will make your career; it will be very artful – just think of Hannah Montana and the sexualized giant teddy bears only nude – now put on these tassels. What a cracker!’.

But young Melancolia had no such qualms. Rather, she was transfixed by something in the room. It looked like a bloated, oversized animated – overly-animated – nutcracker.

To be clear, this was one of the most repellent looking things at the shoot. It seemed wooden for a start. But it was grossly misshapen – where there might have been a chin, the oversized potato-esque head joined to its body directly, and there were so many chins Melancolia couldn’t count them all.

And the hair! Revolting! Thin wisps of straw like grey material – ‘Squirrel fur?’ Melancolia wondered – were in places dyed a primary shade of yellow. These few strands were probably several feet in length and would have hung down like a balding Rapunzel. Rather, they were seemingly wound into a shape not seen since the days of Douglas Hird and were lacquered into a shape such as to accentuate, rather than disguise the nutcracker’s bald pate.

The eyes were beady; the outfit gaudy. The thing wore a little red cap which only exaggerated the size of its head. The hat said ‘Make America Bigly Again’ – while a little label sticking out of the back of the tacky headpiece proclaimed ‘Made In Mexico’.

The mouth. The mouth was revolting and never, never stopped moving. Was the thing having some kind of asthmatic attack? The mouth seemed to gasp like a basking shark gulping down plankton one moment, and the next it wore a leering smile like a Cheshire cat.

“Melancolia, what are you looking at?” asked one of the models, adjusting a leather sleigh harness and fixing her antlers to her head.

“Zat thing over there – vat is it?” Melancolia said pointing with her chin towards the nutcracker and her glossy mane flew round her perfect features.

“That guy’s a nut – a real whitebread cracker who owns a model agency. Gives me the creeps myself; I try and stay clear. Calls himself Herr Drumpf or something.”

“Sank you” Melancolia said, and turning now to the creature, who was wildly waving its arms and yelling at one minion or other, mouth quivering like the maw of a giant squid, she smiled. The nutcracker smiled back, or at least she thought so.

“Hey baby, you’re wanted on set, and bring the gun and handcuffs, gonna be real classy. People will be talking about this shoot for years to come” the director said to Melancolia.

How right he was. Yugely right.

*                                             *                                             *

What happened that night was all a big blur for Melancolia; the traditional after shoot party was in full swing. Someone had decided to play Christmas music, and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite was emanating from a wireless. Naturally this being an after-shoot Christmas party, there was lots and lots and lots and lots of ‘snow’.  It seemed to be everywhere. People had all sorts of other candy as well.

The Nutcracker – I mean Drumpf – made its way over to Melancolia; they both pouted. Right then and there, they seemed destined to be together.

“Hey I’m Donald Drumpf, nice to meet me I know. You’re not from Central America I hope?” The Nutcracker drawled,

“Nice shoot baby – loved what they did with the sleigh bells.”

“Zank you, you handsome man.”

“Yes, I know I’m handsome, but thanks for saying it. Wanna go for a ride in my Drumpf jet after the party? The toilets are solid gold.”

“Ven do ve go?” pouted Melancolia

“I can get into some clothes in a minute or two.”

“Never mind the clothes honey, just bring that gun, the handcuffs, and that photographer.”

“Okey dokey as you Americans say.”

From the other side of the room, the random chatter, snorts of amusement (or snorts of something) from the models echoed, and the wireless continued:

“… and the ugly Nutcracker transforms into a rich, handsome prince; he and Clara defeat their enemies, and take off in a magical flying sleigh to the world of candy and fantasy…”

Melancolia listened as Drumpf continued listing his accomplishments; but she was feeling a bit woozy by now.

“… and Drumpf Model Agency, and Drumpf whisky, Drumpf Golf links Scotland, Drumpf…” Drumpf continued without pause.

The wireless competed for Melancolia’s attentions too; the announcer’s voice rising:

“… and The Nutcracker and Clara visit exotic faraway lands such as China and Japan…”

The snow dazzled the East European beauty as large flakes of it fell on her tongue. The more the snow raged, the better looking the nutcracker (and his wallet) became. The room was humming harder as the ceiling flew away. Melancolia fell into a vision – giant mounds of snow appeared, she saw fairies dancing, mice with seven heads, and all sorts. Her head swam.

‘Not bad party’ she thought as Drumpf droned on – “…Drumpf offshore holdings, Drumpf casinos..” and she fell into a reverie (obviously not fuelled by any illicit substances, because nude models don’t go near that scene, nor do their photographers).

*                                             *                                             *

Melancolia closed her eyes for a moment.

Woosh! the happy couple were suddenly flying off to Drumpf’s kingdom on 5th Avenue, and all the little people – black, Jewish, Mexican and even gay ones rejoiced and worshipped their undoubted king and queen Donald and Melancolia. Everyone wanted to buy Drumpf brand clothing; everyone wanted to play golf at Drumpf golf courses, or gamble away all their money at Drumpf casinos.

The whole world watched The Nutcracker – or rather Drumpf – on television telling people they were fired; and all the women contestants on his fantastic television show were in love with the him, which goes without saying. The burgermeisters turned a blind eye to some of The Donald’s colourful antics.

Black people were turned away from Drumpf apartments and Drumpf job openings – but that’s just how you do business. Women were grabbed by their tutus as they competed to be Miss Nutcracker – but of course as they were dressed provocatively, they deserved it and if you’re famous, you can grab all the tutu you like.

Illegal immigrants got beaten up – but in the land of freedom, justice and liberty for all, you have to expect that kind of thing. All was well.

What more could the happy couple have wanted? – they had their own son, and Melancolia might not have been as young as Drumpf’s daughter from another marriage, but she was just as sexy – Drumpf himself often said as much. Melancolia had all the clothes a woman could want, and after all those years without wearing any clothes, this made a nice change.

But somehow for her beloved husband Donald, this wasn’t enough. New York, New York – if he could make it there, he could make it anywhere – so where next for the Drumpfs?

*                                             *                                             *

“Hey Melancolia, ya know” said Donald Drumpf, smiling widely like a crocodile with gas,

“I think I’m gonna go be president. Whaddya think of that?”

He was reclining on a gold lame cushion on the gold divan, sitting on the marble floors inlaid with the Drumpf logo.

“Okey dokey honey – you do that. You win. You big winner. You always telling me that.” 

Melancolia was admiring her face in one of the gilt mirrors.

“Lots of pictures get taken when you campaign in America no? I buy dresses. First Lady dresses. I be traditional First Lady like Mrs Ford or Jackie O. Jackie vas pretty. I prettier.” 

She came and put her arms around The Nutcracker, though they barely reached around the space where a neck should have been.

“Sure honey, you buy all the dresses you want.” The Nutcracker/Drumpf said, its mouth throwing otherworldly shapes,

“Mind the hair Mel, just had it woven last week.”

And so it came to pass that the Nutcracker and his brood hit the campaign trail. Many wondrous sites did they see. All of a sudden wonderful worlds of opportunity appeared; the mood was jubilant. First of all, they could give all the Drumpf children official campaign jobs – that meant tax breaks, taking donation money and giving it to the family, and it was all legit – which made a yuge change.

Then they could hold parties at Drumpf hotels and resorts – and charge the campaign fund a fortune for them! Result! Never before had those fundraising dinners caused The Nutcracker to salivate so. The Donald was now so busy that understandably he forgot about a few million dollars he was going to give to some veterans, but it’s the thought that counts.

Then there was money from his charities – he could raise money for charity and look good, tell people how charitable he was (which is the real point of charitable works), get tax relief, and then keep the money. He should have run for president years ago.

At the rallies Drumpf would tell his euphoric fans what his great plans were.

“Donald J Drumpf will wall up Mexico!” – the crowds cheered

“Donald J Drumpf will punish women who have abortions” – the crowds were in a frenzy

“Donald J Drumpf will throw all the illegal aliens (and some legal ones) out of the country and monitor all those Muslim types!” – the crowds were euphoric

“Climate change is just a myth made by the Chinese!” – how could he fail to win the presidency?

For some reason, not everyone in America was delighted by his candidacy. Then again, these weren’t real Americans – some were even Muslims and a few Mexicans who’d snuck in.

There was one guy who pretended to be some kind of American war hero who objected to Drumpf too – but he was a big fraud who had been dumb enough to get caught, and we all like our heroes to be guys who don’t get caught.

Donald might have been a great war hero himself, but he had a tragic medical flaw – there was a bone spur on his foot. This was so bad, that he couldn’t always win all the college basketball games he played in while being too ill to be drafted. Playing ball with a bone spur must have hurt sometimes, so in a way a pretty heroic thing to play b-ball at all.

Occasionally undesirables would get into one of nutcracker Drumpf’s rallies and try to protest – as if there were anything to protest, and as if resistance wasn’t futile.

“That guy over there is a protestor, throw him out, throw him out. You know, when I was younger, this guy would have been roughed up.” Drumpf told the faithful– and thus he won the heart of the right wing.

Melancolia was not crazy about the arduous schedule this campaigning meant, but it was worth it for such a good cause. She had to sometimes get up early before 11 am when the stylists arrived, and she had to wear some pretty frumpy outfits – but at least they were eye-wateringly expensive. She had to stand around at the nutcracker’s side and smile for hours on end – it was gruelling work.

How hard it was to smile without throwing in a single pout! But the photographers were there, and that was all that mattered. However, things were about to get really tough.

One evening Drumpf told her:

“Honey, ya gotta give a speech next week.”

Melancolia was not used to doing anything more than pouting or smiling, this was going to be a challenge.

“You will have a speech written out, and then you say the words on the paper, and smile – all at the same time. We’ll get you a coach honey, gonna be fine. Gonna be the biggest, best, yugest speech anyone’s ever made – well except me of course.”

And the day arrived and Melancolia read her speech. It was really hard, but she managed. At least people took pictures, and she smiled.

Alas! The speech was copied by someone named Michelle! The nerve! This copying was even more annoying because Michelle did her speech before Melancolia could do hers! This campaigning was a hard business.

Anyway to make a long campaign short, Drumpf The Nutcracker won the nomination, and then went on to defeat the evil cheating lying dishonest Hillary, who should be really in prison. The next president of the United States would be a wooden figure, whose mouth was controlled by a lever in the back by unseen hands. Russian hands. Result!

*                                             *                                             *

A voice far, far away came into Melancolia’s head:

“…and so The Nutcracker and Clara defeat their enemies, and take off in a magical flying sleigh to the world of candy and fantasy…”

He’d won! He defeated all comers and had been elected!

“Dahling!” she purred into her nutcracker-husband’s fuzzy ear-hole,

“eet iz wonderful! I buy ballgowns now. But vat is this cabinet zey keep talking about? Do we need nother gold cabinet to put zings in?  How much money we get for being president?”

“Melancolia – it’s gonna be a really big cabinet. Yuge. The best cabinet ever. No one will have ever had a cabinet like my presidential cabinet’s gonna be. I’m really smart when it comes to cabinets.” Drumpf reassured her, arms flailing, mouth flapping

“Vat you put in zees cabinet?”

“Nuts. Lots and lots of nuts.”

*                                             *                                             *

“Honey, we’re going on a victory rally tour; got the idea from this great book I’m reading by some German guy, Adolph something or other. The media will love it. They love me.” Drumpf explained as the servants packed a few gold-plated essentials.

And off the couple flew, with some of the Drumpf children, a handful of secret servicemen and a press team.

The first stop on this tour was Japan.

Drumpf’s daughter Iwantitall and son Donny Jr had come along on the tour, and it was heart-warming to Melancolia how her Donald was letting his children learn the ropes for the new family president business.

“Iwantitall, why don’t you go to that Japanese meeting thing darling; I’ve got some really important Tweets to send.”

“Fer sher daddy; can I have an advance on my allowance?” Drumpf’s daughter drawled; she was wearing a tasteful mini dress (available from her QVC shopping channel for £499).

Perhaps it was sour grapes, but the Japanese and some embassy attaches (whatever those are Melancolia wondered) didn’t think it was proper that Iwantitall was at the meeting. But what did that matter? Drumpf was running the show – the TV show that is (he was hardly going to give up ‘The Apprentice’ and the chance to say ‘You’re Fired!’ on TV – that was pretty important stuff).

As to running the White House, there was some guy who would call up and give Drumpf pointers. He had a Russian accent, and was pretty knowledgeable about all this electric college and cabinet stuff – how good it was to have help.

And off the entourage flew to their next destination. Africa.

“Welcome to Africa! Hail to the Chief! You come shoot some more elephants and giraffes Mr Donny – we need the shoes and game meat your little visits supply! We’re so grateful! Anything you want, anything at all!”

Donny Jr said:

“Thanks thanks – but ya know, I’ve not bagged one of those ferocious giraffes in a couple of months, let’s go kill some and then you can show me some more gratitude.”

The African ambassadors threw glances at each other for a moment:

“We’ll get back to you on that soon, Donny.” 

For some reason, they all had to go really suddenly.

“That went yugely well” Drumpf said as they all got back on the plane, Donny sporting an elephant’s tail the grateful locals insisted he take with him.

And off they went to China.

“I’m gonna handle this one on my own” Drumpf told his fellow travellers.

“But first, I got a little phone call to make to Taiwan. They’re gonna do some merchandising for me.”

Melancolia thought she saw a look of shock on the faces of some of the press team, but she put that down to their being awed that she and Donald knew Taiwan was a thing.

After completing a phone order for a hundred thousand ‘Make America Greatly Again’ baseball caps from the Taiwanese business delegation, it was off to China.

Stepping out of the plane, Drumpf was for some reason given a frosty reception. Putting on his best ‘O’ shaped mouth, he descended and told the Chinese government representatives:

“Yous guys gotta stop raping America – and why didn’t you ask my permission before you devalued your currency? You didn’t even respond to my tweets about that! You’d better learn who’s in charge – yeah, that’s right Vlad – I mean me. Now if only you’d have done the right thing, I wouldn’ta had to order my baseball caps from Taiwan. So you’d better stop thinking like losers and –“

For some reason at this point the secret servicemen pulled all the presidential party back up the plane steps, and prepared for a hasty departure.

“Get ready for take off!” the pilot announced over the tannoy of Air Farce One

“Ze dress first and leave the shoes on like usual?” Melancolia asked. But no one answered, and off they jetted.

“Geez, this thing doesn’t even have a gold plated can” Drumpf said, exiting the jet’s toilet.

“I’m gonna cancel that Boeing contract, that’ll show ‘em – and get a proper Presidential Plane”

“But- but sir” said one of the press party – and it was a woman to boot,

“there are thousands of American jobs at stake at Boeing, and if you make such an announcement, you’ll devalue the Boeing stock!”

“Who let this woman on the plane – are you a real reporter honey? – you don’t look very pretty. Who are you to be questioning me!” Drumpf thundered,

“and don’t go telling me about business. I know business really well. Dad lent me $6,000,000 – and I’ve only had eight bankruptcies. Go put on some makeup or something.” 

And with that the hapless hack was despatched.

“Ya know, we’re gonna go somewhere they really love me – not that they don’t love me everywhere that is – but in Scotchland they love me. Take us over there, that’s where my mother was from.”

And the Presidential jet touched down in Aberdeen. A police escort took Trump to his beloved golf course at Menie. All the staff were lined up and ready to meet him.

“Sarah Malone always good to see you – how’s that husband of yours doing – does he want another column for his newspaper yet, cause I got some great ideas.”

Drumpf addressed none other than the very Face of Aberdeen – a stunningly beautiful creature – obviously not as pretty as Iwantitall or Melancolia.

“We’re so glad to see you sir Mr Drumpf sir! If I can just -” she squealed.

“Just make sure I get plenty of clean towels honey.”

He dismissed her, and then proceeded to greet all the assembled Aberdeen city and shire councillors who lined up to kiss his ring.

Melancolia thought the Scotchland visit went much better than the China trip. It was freezing cold, the place was deserted, and part of the golf course had fallen into the sea. Still, there was the tasteful Drumpf clubhouse – with the Drumpf family crest – a two-headed monstrous bird – carved or printed on every surface within eyesight. Drumpf whisky was on sale at a mere £500 per bottle, signed by Drumpf (or truth be told, signed by Sarah Malone).

Soon this state visit had to end as well, and off the party flew back towards the States.

“One more stop, just to make sure everyone knows what a winner I am” the Drumpf/nutcracker said; its hinged mouth flapping wildly, its hair more frazzled than ever. “Mexico it is.”

The welcoming party at the airport seemed very festive; the peasants were all holding giant piñatas that looked just like Donald J Drumpf, and they were beating the s*it out of them. Drumpf opened his mouth to speak, but the cheering was so loud he couldn’t be heard. Melancolia was told that the waving of pitchforks and torches was a traditional Mexican greeting. Drumpf, his family and Melancolia were ushered quickly away and soon sat down to talk to the Mexican president.

“It’s very simple.” Donald said, his mouth in one of his widest smiles,

“You’re not giving us your best people. You’re giving us rapist and drug dealers. You gotta keep people in Mexico or I can’t get a good price on my Drumpf t-shirts that they make so cheaply here. So here’s what we’re gonna do. I’m gonna build a wall. It’s gonna be the biggest, bestest, smartest wall anyone ever built, and it’s gonna keep those bad Mexicans out of America.”

“Senor – this is not possible – think of the environment, the practicalities – the cost!” The Mexican president wiped his brow.

“Not my problem – you’re gonna pay for it pal!” Drumpf said, leering.

“This meeting’s over and I’ll send you the bill later.” 

And with that, he rose, the rest of his party rose, and off they went.

“Oh wait, there’s some other place we gotta go” Drumpf said to his weary pilot,

“What’s it called again, it’s somewhere they really, really need my smart thinking. Oh yeah, The Middle East – that’s it.”

Audible groans came from everyone but the first family, as the jet roared into the night.

“Time for your CIA briefing sir.” said a man in a black suit.

“Ya know, I’m not one of those dumb guys, I don’t need to be told the same thing day in day out.” said a bored Drumpf, who was tweeting about a television show called Saturday Night Live, which was not funny or fair at all.

“But Sir!” persisted the CIA officer,

“The Syrian problem is deepening, there is a rift in Turkmenistan, there is insurgency in Turkey, human rights violations in several countries, economic instability threatens several regions, and environmental disaster relief is threatening to outstrip spending on our other missions.”

“Eh?” said Drumpf

“Just do what ya gotta do; maybe I’ll get time for you next month; we’ll see. Don’t you know I still gotta television show I gotta produce?”

Drumpf had ordered all the region’s diplomats and leaders to meet his plane, which as usual was greeted by a classy red carpet, a couple of models, and some bagpipe players just in case anyone forgot his mother was from Scotchland.

“Darling you do know how to make ze entrance!” Melancolia purred.

“Here’s some money from one of the charities – why don’t you and Iwantitall go do some shopping.”

Needing no further encouragement, the women were off. Drumpf was ushered into an assembly room and led to a podium.

“Guys you got to know – Jews love me. Muslims love me. The blacks – they love me. Now the problem is that you’ve got too many Muslims here in the Middle East – I’d suggest you deport some of ‘em like I’m gonna do in the States – send ‘em back where they came from.

“But I gotta hand it to you, ya know how to do great wall building here, and if you play your cards right, you might get some building contract work from me on the Mexican border, maybe even some security guard work, unless my pal Vlad has that sewn up already… Now if you’ll form an orderly queue, I’ve brought a few dozen copies of my new book ‘Nuclear weapons – why have ‘em but not use ‘em?’ – a snip at only £49.99 each – £99.99 if I sign them.”

Leaving the Middle East was all a bit of a blur to Melancolia, but the echoed shouts of thanks seemed to fill the streets.

“Donald Darling – Iwantitall and I have bought such darling new ball gowns – look – even titties mostly covered on mine! – we vant to go have dinner at Buckingham Palace.”

“Great idea Mel – let’s go do that. They love me there. The Queen – she loves me; she’ll want me to stop by. Prince Philip – he and I get along great – agree on almost everything. That Charles one – he loves me. Now don’t get jealous sweetie – but his ex-wife Diana – she couldn’t keep her hands off me. I had to tell her – Di – darling – I’ll send you a t-shirt and a cap, but you gotta get off me.”

Melancolia was not pleased to learn that the late princess had such a fixation on her Donald – but it was perfectly understandable of course. So off they all flew to Heathrow.

Soon they were ushered into a Buckingham Palace state room. A gaggle of courtiers surrounded the stately if diminutive Queen.

“Hey, hey Liz – this is my wife Melancolia – shake hands there you go – give me a big kiss.” 

Drumpf’s attempt to slobber all over HM were blocked by the courtiers. The Queen seemed to have turned a shade of red not dissimilar to the colour of a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat.

“Brought you something” Drumpf said, handing over a plastic bag with one of the coveted baseball caps.

A footman took the package, holding it in his gloved hands by two fingers, holding it an extreme distance away.

“Liz, there’s a guy here that wants to see you too – it’s my pal Nigel Farage. Nigel – Liz, Lizzie – Nigel. You’re gonna be fast friends I can tell. It will be yuge. I told Nigel he can be ambassador to the USA for your little country – that’s OK right? He’s got some great ideas – not as great as mine you understand – but he’s gonna make Great Britain Great Again. 

“Now about these immigrants like the Irish you got here….”

The Queen was speechless, not least because Drumpf’s wife and daughter were both trying to grab her tiara.

“This audience is at an end. Her Majesty thanks you and bids you good day.” a guard said, ushering the whole party out of the palace with bayonets drawn.

Soon they were back on their plane, flying for the States.

“Probably an old English custom. Nigel – leave some of that Drumpf whisky; we need to sell some later, that’s a good guy.” Donald said.

Melancolia was in a whirl from this whirlwind world tour. As they walked to their waiting limos to return to Air Farce One, it started to snow.

Donald was on the phone; she wasn’t sure to whom.

“Yes, Vlad, all good here – how’s Wendy? You must come over for some golf sometime soon. Thanks again for everything. What’s that? You want me to press that button thing now? OK – give you a half hour head start to get into that underground complex. 

“I’ll tell the Pentagon just like we agreed. I’ll tell those missiles myself ‘YOU’RE FIRED!’”

Everything was a blur of mushroom-shaped clouds, Drumpf shouting, and then everything went black. She closed her eyes for a second, and everything seemed to fade away.

The snow was swirling all about her face now, landing in huge crystals around her tongue and nose.

*                                             *                                             *

Melancolia was suddenly back at the Christmas Eve photoshoot – it had all been a dream.

“So honey, you wanna blow this party and come back to 5th Avenue with me on my big gold plated jet now?” Drumpf asked, a little drool spilling over his oily o-shaped lips.

His hair had loosened from its previously lacquered condition so that several single strands of oiliness and dye reached his chest, hitting his Drumpf necktie, which at the neck seemed nearly as wide as the spud-shaped head.

Some of the snow had stuck to his polylmer hair and a dash was on his nose.
Melancolia thought of all her imagined adventures which had seemed so real a moment ago.

Turning to Drumpf, moving closer to him, she turned her pout into a wide smile and said:

“Let’s get going big boy. Zees is going to be great.”

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Nov 252016
 

As the Aberdeen Press & Journal gets into the festive spirit by announcing on its front cover today that ‘there ain’t no sanity clause’ and it’s dangerous to encourage children to believe in him, Old Susannah aka Suzanne Kelly marvels at Damian Bate’s organ yet again, and how it has seized the spirit of good will with its attack on Father Christmas.

DictionaryAt this time of year, it’s important to realise how lucky we are, and to think of those who are less fortunate, who suffer, who are abused.

Imagine spending your days in a no-hope situation. A tyrant forces you to do things against your better nature. You are humiliated on a daily basis, and people openly laugh at what you are doing.

Let’s take a moment then and pause. We have our problems. We might have money and health worries. It’s freezing cold.

But at least we don’t have to write for the Press & Journal and Evening Express under Damian Bates and Sarah Malone Bates.

Some poor soul had to write the infamous ‘TRAITORS!’ article back in the early days of Trump’s planning campaign depicting councillors who dared to vote against the unprecedented Trump golf plans.

Some idealistic young thing who years ago dreamed of a career in journalism now takes orders to write articles praising Damian’s wife’s forays into running a 5 star resort (or is that 6 diamonds – as Turnip awarded himself a few years back?). Imagine the overpriced coffee, the clunky ‘temporary’ clubhouse where the invented ‘Trump family crest’* asserts itself on every piece of furniture, paper serviette and presumably loo roll too.

And you have to submit copy saying it’s fabulous.

While you are instructed to write yet another review of MacLeod House and its beautiful concrete fountain, all around you local writers are firing off Freedom of Information requests, digging into Companies House files, and uncovering stories which actually constitute investigative journalism while you try to find 250 words about why the chicken supreme is worth £40 per head, all the while ignoring the giant plaque staring at you through the clubhouse windows proclaiming that you are on the world’s largest sand dune system.

You might like to say something about this being a blatantly untrue fabrication – but you don’t really dare to do so.

At least you get paid for it. Rather like those girls around the harbour. At least they don’t have to put their name to their handiwork. And quite understandably, many of the AJL articles go without anyone claiming a byline.

santa-with-traumatised-children-creepy-santa-comAnd now this week one of you was handed an arcane, clearly deliberately provocative piece from two academics who believe perpetuating the Santa Claus fable is akin to child abuse. ‘Give me a front page story on Bad Santa’ Damian or one of his minions told you.

And you did it, didn’t you?

Did you care this angle has been done before? Was what you were going to bring to the argument so brilliant you didn’t care? Maybe you were happy to get away from Trump for a little, or you were happy to try and forget the real news stories in our area that a reporter would want to cover – Marischal Square and its genesis, who is linked to who in the curious companies Sir Ian Wood and others still keep afloat even though (theoretically) the Union Terrace Gardens parking lot scheme (for that was all it really was) is dead in the water.

Maybe you don’t want to think about the fact your newspaper (for lack of a better word) will soon need to metaphorically tug its forelock at the city council: what other newspaper would even remotely consider taking a free rent from a city council? Can you even keep track of the number of city council stories and dealings that should have been investigated by the local printed press?

No, you are now going to Google elves, Santa, and present your findings on the new throwaway theory Santa is Bad Santa. Someone else is going to look into Muse, Trump, Inspired, fraud inside the council, etc. etc. But not you or your fellow Aberdeen Journals writers.

And Result! Good for you!

The Facebook P&J page has hundreds of hits on this story. Of course most of them are ridiculing the fact your boss put this on the paper’s front cover, and some are angry that young children will see this and dissolve into tears – thus spoiling photoshoots for your next ‘adorable tot’ competition. Hits matter on Facebook to your boss – even if the paper is not exactly flying off the shelf. You may well put this into your cuttings book – another front page story for you.

At least it beats the brains out of having to type for the umpteenth time ‘breathe fresh life into the beating heart of the city’ and such. How do you breathe into a heart anyway?  How fast can you as an Evening Express reporter type the phrase ‘vibrant and dynamic?’ Do they pay you for the word much as some other professionals are paid by the hour?  I’ve always wondered.

Maybe someday they’ll give a Pulitzer for incisive, pithy front page stories about the Tooth Fairy’s negative psychological impact on children. Perhaps that brilliant headline your paper used when a young man was missing ‘search called off due to unforeseen circumstances’ about a no-show psychic should have received more acclaim – how the family must have laughed! But not today.

Just maybe your Father Christmas article will lead to bigger and better – there is no shortage of crackpot experts with degrees who write ridiculous papers to get noticed – not that the attack on the Santa belief wasn’t a serious, scholarly work. You’ll find them – or Damian will find them and tell you to write up an op ed. Can a piece about the Loch Ness Monster be that far off now? I guess we all aspire to something.

perhaps time for you to pick up an actual newspaper and see what other writers are doing

So, many of us who contribute to Aberdeen Voice will keep doing the work you’re too busy to do. We’ll keep revealing that despite Trump’s declarations to the contrary, he was definitely seeking compulsory purchase orders against his neighbours. That was an AV scoop, and it doesn’t seem you picked up on that.

Guess it didn’t have the gravitas a piece on the Easter Bunny will do when you write it.

We revealed the literally cozy relationship between the P&J and Trump International Golf Links Scotland. We found out how much money from the public purse was spent promoting the risible UTG project. Did you like looking at those lurid images of the ridiculous ramps arching over an impossible landscape of trees and open air theatre month after month?

You’ve gone all out to help the council (usually).  Remember the Evening Express story designed to lend creedence to the city’s plans for killing the Tullos Hill Deer?  The deer were going to be killed to plant trees on Tullos despite public outcry to just leave the hill, wildflower meadow and deer alone.  The trees aren’t growing, but the deer are dead.  Your paper helpfully announced ‘Two Deer Found Dead Ahead of Cull’ – implying the poor creatures needed to be culled for their own good.  Then I found out it was fully two years before the cull was proposed that the deer were found dead of unknown cause.  Your paper never did cover my story that deer had clearly been slaughtered in the Gramps – severed limbs were found.  The preposterous claim Ranger Talboys made was that the deer must have been killed somewhere else, then the poachers marched up two different hills to deposit the limbs.  I guess there wasn’t room for any of this as well as another review of MacLeod House.  The ‘cost-neutral’ tree scheme Peter Leonard of ACC forced on the taxpayer has now cost a five-figure sum – obviously that’s not newsworthy to Damian.

As I write, it’s nearly 6pm – knocking off time for you, or perhaps time for you to pick up an actual newspaper and see what other writers are doing. Does it bother you to read Monbiot, Rob Edwards, people who care about corruption, the environment, the threat Trump poses to world stability – or are you genuinely content writing about the latest P&J sponsored award show held at the AECC and who won a golden cabbage or whatever it is given out that helps generate advertising revenue and PR for your stable of publications?

From the rest of us, we feel sorry for you. It’s not news you’re writing. It’s not investigative journalism your paper offers as a norm. You are sucking up to your advertisers (remember when a certain diminutive housebuilder reportedly threatened to pull his advertising if you ever wrote a critical piece on him again? I do). The press should serve as a check and balance on the council; in the P&J’s case, the council’s cheques for ads total £200,000 a year, and press you into service.

Adios to ideals; to dreams of reporting and investigating, or choosing what stories to follow. The rest of us feel your shame, and we pity you. This has taken enough of your time though, and you will likely have a beautiful tot or beautiful bride layout to work on.

Some of us managed to believe (or half believe) the Santa Claus/Father Christmas mythology without it turning us into megalomaniacal would-be fascist dictators, preening newspaper editors whose Facebook page consists of a series of selfies and little else, or a woman in a job over her head who will do anything for money, however much that means swallowing racism, sexism and nationalism – just hypothetical examples of personality disorders, mind you.

I am very thankful. Thankful I am never going to work for you or those you serve.

STOP PRESS:  Be sure to take your children to Santa’s Grotto at the Trump International Golf Links Scotland; if you’re going to scar the offspring for life, do it somewhere where they know about great big men with odd hair promising lots of gifts to people who do what they are told to do (even if those gifts never materialise). A tenner a tyke.

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Nov 222016
 

marischalpicBy Suzanne Kelly.

While pondering whether to offer Aberdeen Press & Journal and the Evening Express a free base for one year in the controversial Marischal College office building, Aberdeen City Council has certainly been helping the paper financially as it spends £200,000 per annum on advertisements in the papers. 

A recent Freedom of Information request shows that the city council has advertised in Aberdeen Journals Ltd’s local papers to the tune of £626,500 over the last three years. 

This is a mean of £205,500 per year. 

The breakdown is as follows:

2016 – £199,818.78 (up to 25 October 2016)

2015 – £219,123.87

2014 – £197,513.68

The City explained:

“Unfortunately, we are unable to provide a breakdown of each expense. The types of expense that ACC would use Aberdeen Journals for would be, for example, Public Notices and Job Advertisements.”

The city also claims it would be too expensive to get a breakdown of what these ads are.

Aberdeenshire Council on the other hand spend a grand total of £6,998 on advertising with the two newspapers over the same three year period. When asked to check the figures, the Shire spokesperson confirmed this figure was all-inclusive.

The city declined to give a breakdown, stating there were a staggering 3,000 invoices for the time period, and the cost to them of collating the information was over £3,000.

There IS such a thing as free rent.

The City Council declines to answer whether it is planning to give free rent to the P&J or other future Marischal Square residents.

The City does advise:

“The discussions in relation to the proposals for the AJL terms have involved the advice of external property agents, the Council’s development partner and a number of Council officers.  The Council officers involved  were Head of Finance, Head of Land and Property Assets, and Asset Management Manager.” 

The P&J editor Damian Bates seems unsurprisingly keen to move to the building his papers previously called ‘controversial’. 

He commented in a recent article:

“It’s in no-one’s interests for it to sit empty and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to head back home; back into the city centre where we belong and where The Press and Journal started its amazing journey more than 270 years ago.

“We are now a multi-media business and this prospective move will provide a bright future for the Evening Express, P&J, Energy Voice and all our other products and sites. The council has been our landlord since approximately 1970 so nothing is going to change.”  

Some Free Advice on Free Rent, Expensive Advertising and Ethics.

Some notices must be published in newspapers for legal requirements. Job advertisements appear on the City Council’s website, which is free to access by anyone with a computer, and anyone with a library card can access computers for free. There is no excuse for cutting services while spending this kind of money on advertising.

Considering that jobs can be easily, freely posted on the city council’s website, and citizens are told that services and that citizens were told budget cuts have to be made, cutting down on advertising should have been a priority. In January Finance Committee Convener, Cllr Willie Young told the council’s advertising vehicle the Evening Express:

“It’s possible third sector organisations could see funding cut…We have to look at everything.”

Perhaps before any other services are cut, Aberdeen City Council might want to think twice about its advertising spend and giving new office space away for free, with the taxpayer picking up the tab.

According to the P&J, office space in Aberdeen commands a high price – or at least should do:

“…Aberdeen continues to lead the way for prime office rents, with Ryden reporting a current price of £32 per sq ft – higher than Glasgow’s £30 figure, with sites in Edinburgh and Dundee generating £28 and £15 respectively.” 

If the city could and should be making money out of the massive eyesore which could have been that civic square everyone in a position of power once Jonesed for (oh Sir Ian, where art thou? Why didn’t you want the civic square there? And I note that ‘Opportunity North East Limited’ has extended its accounting period so it won’t have to report at the end of this month now and has until the end of March 2017 – your comment welcome Sir Ian), and if the city has to ‘look at everything’ to find money – why should Aberdeen Journals Ltd. enjoy this largess?

Then again there is a small moral issue. For most of the rest of the UK, a newspaper has a duty to investigate with impartiality, serving as a check on government and a check on the powerful. As it stands, the P&J’s alliance to the editor’s wife’s boss Donald Trump is a dark stain.

Can the P&J really morally afford to be indebted to the city council it should be investigating, or has any pretence of journalism now left the building. We should be told.

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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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Sep 092016
 

Old Susannah’s takes account of how no one is accountable any more for their actions. By Suzanne Kelly

DictionaryA lovely week of great weather in the Deen has passed; if only we had some city centre concrete slabs we could have relaxed on instead of a suntrap in the form of a sunken, historic, green, grassy garden. Oh well.

BrewDog threw another of its Drink and Draw events; these are for people of all abilities, and are going down a storm. Lush helped raise awareness and funds this past weekend for excellent charity DAWGS.

This past week in the UK saw some of the great thinkers of our time explaining some of their great works.

A 63 year old man in Manchester is being unfairly persecuted for punching a 5 day old baby in a supermarket. The proud parents were holding the child up to show to some of their friends on the child’s first-ever day out, when the man came over and punched the child in the head.

For some reason security called the police and the child was hospitalised (apparently she is fine now). Inexplicably, the police wanted the man to explain.

“I thought it was a doll,” he said. 

The Manchester City doll-punching finals will be held next month, we hear.

Closer to home, Aberdeen City Council is once again the toast of the town.

Not content with giving us Marischal Square and giving the P&J free rent for a year (while we have homeless on the streets and empty, habitable council properties it should be noted – thanks Pete Leonard), they are making the streets safe. By safe, I mean they are covering those hazardous cobbled streets of the merchant quarter (if that’s what we’re calling the Green this week) with tar.

No more high-heel-related trips; no more boring historical ambiance. It was all going to be lovely – then the not in my back yard brigade demanded the cobbles should be restored.

If only there were someone in charge of making decisions about our Housing and Environment who could know what’s going on and what’s happening. But if you’re only going to pay someone about £112,000 a year plus expenses and a £20,000 a year pension contribution, you’re not going to find anyone but a selfless saint to take on the job and actually know what his department heads are up to (isn’t that right Pete Leonard?)

Well, autumn is on the way, and Old Susannah will be joining Aberdeen’s fashionistas to do some shopping. And where better to wear the latest fashions?

ESCALE FRANCE is a Union Street shop selling fox and racoon fur clothing. Nothing screams ‘I am ignorant, self-absorbed and don’t care about needless suffering’ than decorating yourself with the pelt of an animal that was caged, tortured, terrified and skinned, usually alive, sometimes after being clubbed to death.

SPECIAL OFFER: Visit Escale France, and for every OS reader who tells them to stuff their fur where there will be no danger of sunburn, I will buy you a free half pint of BrewDog. I am serious. Send me a photo of yourself in front of their shop with an anti-fur poster to Aberdeen Voice, and I will stand you to a drink (first 50 people).

It is a well-kept secret, but it is possible to be warm and good looking in 21st century Scotland without sewing together the skins of tortured dead animals, raised only for fur, to wear.

Whether it’s making money out of torturing animals, tarring over a medieval cobblestone street, selling Aberdeen taxpayer-owned land for a pittance, or punching infant girls, the people who engage in such activities always have excuses.

Just remember – you can do anything you like – as long as you have a good back up story. Here are some examples of today’s best excuses, great and small. Have you screwed up? Did you lie down on the job? Over your head and don’t know what’s going on? Here are some helpful examples of how great leaders cope.

Clerical Error: (Modern English compound noun) To make an unintentional administrative mistake, which might include making a typographical error, mis-filing documents.

Didn’t get obey the law on Data Protection? No idea there was one? Are you charged with No clue how to do anything but your nails? No worries! If you’ve not registered your multi-million pound, 6,000 person employing golf resort complex with the UK authorities and are in breach of some serious human rights – just tell them you made a clerical error.

If you’ve been filming all those tedious plebs, camera crews and residents for years but didn’t actually register your activities, just tell the authorities it was not your fault, but one of your thousands of employees made a mistake and didn’t file.

According to that leftie newspaper The Guardian, the Scottish Information Commissioner’s office said:

““The Data Protection Act requires every organisation that processes personal information to register with the ICO, unless it is exempt. Failure to do so is a criminal offence,” the commissioner’s office said last week. “We’ll be writing to the company, asking it to clarify how it is registered.”

The award-winning most beautiful golf course in the world ever told the Guardian:

“We take the security of our employees and guests’ personal data very seriously and comply with all aspects of the Data Protection Act. [sure you do – Old Suz] A clerical oversight has just been brought to our attention which is now being rectified.

“As a public facility open to all, Trump International has CCTV cameras located at its entrance and around the public buildings within the estate, for the safety and security of its members, guests and staff. [but not for the safety and security of ramblers like Rohan Beyts, filmed while on the course, obvs – Old Suz]

So, it’s all just a clerical error. The clerk in question forgot to register with the Information Commissioner, assuming they had the sense to know that if you put up security cameras you need to do so. It would be a harsh person indeed who disagrees with the Trump position this is a clerical error.

Far be it from Old Susannah to suggest this is yet another mistake in a catalogue of mistakes (planning, budgeting, forecasting, course design – remember when part of the course was washed away?…) which demonstrate the management shows that it is both out of its depth as to what is required for legal compliance, egotistical to the point they feel themselves above the law, and demonstrative of disdain for the rest of us.

Yes, just a clerical error.

Bonus example of clerical error: The Press & Journal has reported on how lovely the course is, and how tastefully decorated the Trump-crested MacLeod house is. It also reported on Rohan Beyts’ being arrested for allegedly urinating in the Marram grass – and being allegedly filmed on Malone-Bates’ orders.

However, I can’t find a record of Damian Bates’s P&J reporting on Mrs Sarah Malone-Bates’ failure to register the Trump resort with the Scottish Information Commissioner. This omission is most likely just a clerical error.

Road Repair: (Modern English Compound noun) act of ensuring street surfaces are safe.

You really have to hand it to the people responsible for road maintenance in The Granite City. For centuries a cobbled street surface at the Green managed to endure. It’s just wild speculation, but in the past, Old Susannah guesses that if a cobblestone got chipped or loose, either it was replaced or the area around it would have been fixed. How did those past craftsmen manage for the hundreds of years before ACC 2016 existed?

Yes, someone near the top of the food chain, possibly of course in Housing & Environment (would that be you Pete Leonard?) decided the thing to do was to tar over the cobbles. Now I prefer the romance of a tarred street in a historic area as much as the next gal, but apparently people complained, and the cobbles will be restored.

Why did the city suddenly decide to tar the road over? According to the BBC:

“Aberdeen City Council said the resurfacing on Windmill Brae was necessary because some of the stones had come loose. Concerns had been raised on safety grounds by local businesses.”

The BBC piece continues:

“However, the local authority said the work was below standard and the tar would be removed. A “permanent solution” is being sought.” 

Why fix a few loose stones when you can tar over history? You might think that since policy seems to be pothole repair is done on a patchwork spot by spot area (when it’s done at all), some due care might have been given to fixing whatever stones were loose.

It does get better though – this whole debacle shows just how responsive and caring our council is. Local businesses – not named, not coming forward – apparently have safety concerns about the cobbles. Naturally, whenever a business or a person expresses a concern or a wish, the city will immediately spring into action to fix the issue or respond to the request. Just like when 3,000 of us and three community councils asked the city to leave Tullos Hill alone, spare the deer and save money.

If you don’t recall, the head of Housing & Environment helped push the destruction of 36 deer and we now have neither deer nor thriving trees in the scheme our head called ‘cost neutral’ (but you were wrong on all counts, and it’s cost the taxpayer a five figure sum so far, hasn’t it Pete Leonard? Ever thought of going into a different line of work?) But I digress.

Yes, some businesses apparently had safety concerns. Answer: change the hundreds of years old cobblestone streets. I am on the edge of my seat to see what businesses come forward to say they wanted this, and to see what the ‘permanent solution’ would be.

So the next time you vandalise a historic structure by covering it with tar (why didn’t the workmen wonder at the stupidity of their task you might ask?), just say you were trying to please local businesses, and it was unsafe – but you’ll undo it anyway. Makes perfect sense here in the Deen.

Finally, while I am in two minds about including this in a satirical column, sometimes satire is a good response in place of fury. Here are some of Pete Leonard’s excuses for the Aberdeen Crematorium ash scandal. Despite industry bodies existing in the UK for decades, despite best practice standards being easily found on the internet, despite being the man ultimately in charge, Pete Leonard has his reasons for what happened on his watch.

Vacation: (English Noun) State of being away from work, perhaps involved in travel and/or leisure.

While the families who were denied the chance of personally disposing of the ashes of their offspring waited for answers, Leonard was on vacation.

Signed off Sick: (English compound noun) Non attendance at work due to illness.

Mr Leonard did not return from holiday; he is signed off ill.

No Excuse:

So many people seek power and money; I’ve lost track of the people who asked me to try and help with long-running Aberdeen City housing issues (some quite horrific). I’ve tried to make Pete Leonard see sense over the deer cull; he would not take any heed or even listen to the experts who were lined up to give free advice on how to control deer without culling.

Leonard did however deliberately stop the proposal put forward by a councillor to retain and enhance the meadow at Tullos and leave the deer alone – Leonard said leaving the land alone was ‘too costly’.

Housing & Environment always had a reason for delays, bad decisions, and stubbornness. I will, as stated, publish a crematorium review report, but I leave you with this sobering conclusion from the public-facing report (I am trying to get the ‘secret’ report released, you know – by contacting that Information Commissioner Malone hadn’t a clue about). Here is what the report said about the crematorium service, which fell under Leonard’s remit:

“this was a section of the City Council working in almost complete isolation without any strategic direction, development or quality control of the service, so far as it related to babies, infants and non-viable foetuses. There was little knowledge by Senior Management of the service provided to the families of these babies.

“There was insufficient interest taken or leadership shown by management” 

I am sorry if Mr Leonard is ill. I do however want him out of office, as I have done since first encountering him. I am far sorrier for all the people who should have had someone in this highly-paid senior management who actually gave a damn. The evidence over the years convinces me he never did.

Let’s not leave on this bitter note though. Just a few words of advice in summary.

1.  if you are going to run the world’s greatest golf course, there may well be some laws that apply – even to you.

2.  Fur belongs on the animals that bear it. The animals do not belong in cages. The fur trade is obscene.

3.  If you are the sort of person involved in the doll-punching scene, try to make sure you can tell the difference between a doll and a living, breathing infant. If not – consider asking for permission to punch someone’s doll/child before actually doing it.

Next week: hopefully a report on Leonard’s resignation, and more definitions. And – hopefully by then Aberdeen City Council will have offered Aberdeen Voice a free office space too – if they do it for the P&J, then they should do it for us too (nb – we’d turn it down because of things called journalistic ethics, principle, and the fact Marischal Square is nearly as unpopular with the pubic as the P&J has made itself.)

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Aug 262016
 

In this week’s satirical offering from Suzanne Kelly aka Old Susannah, she delights in Aberdeen’s generosity to the Press & Journal, and is happy to brush aside any minor qualms there might be about use of taxpayer money, conflict of interests and ethics; she also spares a few words on an advert for a US gun festival – in Orlando – featuring a skeleton wielding a semi-automatic weapon…(Psst – any non-Aberdeen readers, you might want to skip directly to the last few paragraphs of this column, cheers).

DictionaryTally ho! Another week flies past in Aberdeen. The original BrewDog bar (Old Dog – Gallowgate as opposed to New Dog – Castlegate) have hung up some of my recent paintings and just hosted another successful, fun, packed Drink and Draw session. Their ‘Live Dead Pony’ – it’s the addition of live yeast to their popular brew Dead Pony Club makes it ‘live’ – has proven popular as well.
So for those who can’t stand this small shareholder (one of over 10,000) talking about Aberdeenshire’s most successful start-up company, please feel free to send in a diatribe as to why I shouldn’t be allowed to talk about things I like, even though I’ve disclosed my shareholding since the first mention.

Otherwise, the BrewDog team are looking for further artists’ work to hang, so get in touch at the Old Dog.

For those of you with bigger fish to fry, it’s been quite an interesting few weeks in the Granite City.

The crematorium ash scandal is not a suitable topic for satire, but it needs to be addressed.

The remark made by the man in charge, Peter Leonard, displays all the contempt you’d expect from the man’s previous form, but this belies far more callowness than even seasoned Leonard-watchers have come to expect. If you missed it, the BBC reports (and the council haven’t asked for a retraction which speaks volumes) Leonard saying to/in front of inspectors:

“we’re slow-cooking babies.”

How can anyone who lost an infant or child and was caught up in the crematorium scandal can be expected to work for, with, or have to communicate with this lizard? Why are we keeping him in his job?

My interest in the man goes back to his report which condemned the Tullos Hill deer to massive culling. He told the council the tree-planting scheme was completely cost neutral and would succeed – if we shot the deer and kept the weeds down. Lib Dem councillor Aileen ‘Ho’Malone was at the helm of the relevant committee which pushed the scheme through.

She’s just the sort of person you could convince to wipe out a meadow full of flowers and a herd of deer to plant trees on top of rocks and industrial waste where there is no topsoil.

‘A tree for every citizen’ they called it. They deliberately left the culling and the £43k penalty out of the initial public consultation (correspondence proves they knew a cull was planned – but they wanted to ‘manage’ the public which they knew would object. The city tried to deny the £43,800 penalty it paid for the previous failure, too – that’s what we call open government; but I digress).

Peter’s cost neutral scheme? Looks like it’s cost nearly half a million, with £100k alone going to the consultant Chris Piper.

So, Leonard sits in his highly-paid post having been out with his estimates by half a million pounds of taxpayer money, and having insulted everyone with his ash scandal remark, and has not been bounced out of office. Blame the elected officials for bad decisions if you must – but it’s the officers like Leonard who create the reports the councillors have to vote on. Has he stuffed up one too many times?

Any member of staff who’d blundered like he has would have been disciplined and/or let go. Maybe the powers that be will keep him in place. By many accounts, should Mr Leonard be sent packing, there are a fair few staff who will not shed any tears.

Apologies for the lack of humour to this point, but that needed to be said.

Perhaps a few words on the happy event everyone’s talking about will change the mood. It’s not just that the Marischal Square building project is proving to be a breath-taking beauty (I hear people gasp when they look at it). It’s even better than that: everyone’s favourite newspaper, The Press and Journal, is to grace the building with its presence. Better still: the paper won’t have to pay any rent for a whole year. Result!

I’m thinking of starting a petition so that they’ll never have to pay any rent ever. After all, we’re supposed to be trying to attract smart, successful, vibrant, dynamic, forward-looking businesses to the beating heart of Aberdeen.

What better way to cheer us all up each morning than the sight of Damian Bates rounding Broad Street in his Maserati after dropping Sarah Malone off to her job as Trump’s spokesperson? I can barely wait! And with that, it’s time for some timely definitions.

Limousine Bull: (Proper Scottish Noun) – a Torry-based artists collective which had education, training, exhibition services for people in the south of the city. Closed for lack of £10,000.

These art types; just can’t balance the books. Perhaps if they had gone on one of the city’s cultural (?) ‘speed dating’ events they could have begged the rich for funding and kept going.

Alas, the city’s uber-rich wanted to build granite ramps and parking spaces; spending money on an actual arts and education service for the less advantaged was never going to get a look-in. And thus it was that after years of having a small warehouse space with studios for artists, Limousine Bull had to close. As their website reported:

“When we discovered ACC had given details of a new round of funding, with applications to be submitted just 6 weeks after our rejection notice, we put together a greatly revised funding proposal and were due to apply for just £1,700 of the £10,000 available to our category.

“On the day and almost exact time of the deadline for this, Carrie messaged the rest of us on the committee, saying she had decided not to submit the application, as she thought ACC’s demands upon applicants were too strict to follow for such a small amount of funding.” – LB website

Perhaps the people who wonder why we couldn’t win the ‘city of culture’ accolade (or is that poisoned chalice – cities that have won have often found themselves in debt afterwards) might think that getting rid of small groups like this might have made us look smarter and more successful to the judges. The people who submitted our exciting CoC bid had no use for Limousine Bull – they wanted to have ‘Gigs on Rigs’ instead.

How exciting that could have been– flying rock bands to play to offshore oil installations where, er, the footage would have been beamed back to shore. Only the worst kind of philistine would have asked ‘why not just have them play on shore?’. What musician wouldn’t rather do survival training, fly to an alcohol-free oil rig in the chilly North Sea than play a few sets in nightclubs and hotels? But I digress.

Back to Limousine Bull – Old Susannah’s not surprised it went under; after all £10,000 is a lot of money (about one fifth of the amount we had to pay back to central government for the first Tree for Every Citizen failure on Tullos. Or, about one 14,000th of the cost of the granite web. But I digress again). Maybe someone in ACC is offering Limousine Bull a chance to resurrect itself rent-free at Marischal Square?

If so, I’ve not heard of it yet. And funnily enough, for some reason Aberdeen Voice’s invitation to a rent-free office suite at the taxpayer’s expense hasn’t come in the post just yet.

Ethics: (archaic term) Morality, knowledge of right and wrong.

We all know what ethics are (well, you do if you’re not in ACSEF … or whatever it is called this week) – the sense of a common morality that would stop a man making crass remarks about deceased children. It’s that sense of right and wrong that would stop people in power from crushing the weak while, for instance, using public resources to subsidise a newspaper thereby gaining control and advantage.

Many companies have ethics policies governing what freebies, advantages, and hospitality can be accepted without compromising the company. If as an employee you are going to accept a gift or hospitality, say a hamper of food or a few bottles of wine, most companies would expect you to declare it or decline it.

You see, accepting something might put you in a position where you would be indebted to the person giving you a gift. If one company were to offer another company something valuable these days – a weekend at a hotel, a trip, or say a year’s free rent for your business in a brand new suite of offices: you’d be expected by your code of ethics to turn it down.

Otherwise you would be either asked to do something in return for the largess, or even if you weren’t asked to do so, there would be an expectation of a ‘quid pro quo’ situation. In other words, there is no free lunch. And for that matter, there are also laws about using public money unethically, laws about public institutions ensuring ‘value for money’ is sought, and avoiding conflict of interests.

Then again, that kind of thing never hampers the truly creative Aberdeen spirit.

I come back to my friend Peter Leonard again. While the deer cull protest raged (several community councils, thousands of residents, the Scottish SPCA all objecting to the plan), an article appeared in the Evening Express:

“TWO DEER FOUND DEAD AHEAD OF CULL”. 

This story was planted by someone in ACC, although surprisingly, no investigation was held to find out who the ‘leak’ was. The intrepid reporter either didn’t ask, or omitted to say when the dead deer were actually found: and it emerged (after AV asked about it) that the deer were found dead two years before the cull.

The city’s insinuation that to stop deer from suffering starvation or possible accidents was not to supply more grazing land and erect fences – but to stop their lives being blighted by taking their lives away. But, shall we say, some readers found the absence of that little gap of several years somewhat misleading. To some people, this little episode might seem ethically bankrupt. However, I’m sure nothing misleading has been printed before or since by AJL.

I’d never insinuate that an organisation like the ACC would or could ever corrupt an organisation like the P&J – how could it? Sadly, other observers have made a few unfortunate remarks about the free rent offer. I think some of these people need shaming:

“If this if it goes ahead, (and all the hall markers suggest it will) it can but only be seen for what it appears to be – a covenant between the ACC and the P&J/EE. So where now lies objectivity, impartiality, indeed freedom to report and print news on anything that objects to the working of their landlord?”
– A MacDonald

“Don’t they realise that the continuing fall in readership is due to their biased approach to local stories in aberdeen. lets remember too that they are not a local paper anymore but another D. C. Thomson, Dundee rag. I for one cancelled my evening express as soon as it was made public that they were in talks to secure office space in Willies folly and i would suggest that others do the same”
– C Duguid

“Many readers were of the impression that the Press and Journal supported the opposition to the Muse development as evidenced by the publication of numerous stories relating to the opposition to Marischal Square and the scores of letters from the public over the past couple of years… It therefore case as quite a shock to many to learn that Aberdeen Journals themselves are to take up office space in Marischal Square.

“Many of your readers saw that as a betrayal…. Surely any deal that did not deliver the projected returns on the council’s investment would be seen as a failure by the council to secure its financial position and deliver on the promise of sustainable rental profits to fund essential public services.”
– a Mr W Skidmore, who is waiting patiently for this letter to be printed in the P & Poo (an affectionate term I’m told). I trust he isn’t holding his breath.

I hope these people will feel suitably ashamed at their negative words, which strike at the very beating heart of the civic district of the Granite City. It’s always sad for Old Susannah to see such cynical, suspicious minds at work criticising our beloved institutions which have done so much for us.

Perhaps the honesty, integrity and wisdom the council is known for will eventually rub off on such harsh critics. I’m sure we’re only talking a few hundred thousand pounds anyway, and it’s not as if there’s anything better to do with the money.

Conflict of interest: (English compound noun) an unethical condition wherein a person or entity owes allegiance to two opposing forces.

Can the P&J continue to claim the moral high ground it has rightly held these many years if it is now Aberdeen City’s bitch – sorry — tenant?

Perhaps we should mention a potential conflict of interest that’s been brought up on social media. For some reason, there are people who see something wrong with Aberdeen Journals Limited taking a year’s free rent in Marischal College from Aberdeen City Council.

I’m trying to figure out why this bothers some people. Sure, the P&J might in the past have called the development ‘controversial’ in its articles: that just shows that they’re not afraid of standing up to the city council!

I’m sure that fighting spirit, and love of investigation we love in the P&J won’t be compromised just because they will have had their bacon saved by ACC. What an insinuation! I think by now the values the P&J have are clear to us all. And, they win awards so we can tell they’re great.

No, I for one don’t think we will see any change to their usual ethical standards. Where would you be without the tiny tots baby competition? Without photos of the Menie Golf course and MacLeod House to look at every day?

An aside….

orlando ad for gun eventI’m sometimes asked, ‘don’t you miss America?’

There are things I don’t miss. I think the whole machinery that’s created a school to prison pipeline for the disadvantaged and minorities (where police brutality runs riot in schools) stinks. I hate the system that allows mega pharmaceuticals to ruin people’s lives for fat profit margins and where drugs and care can be priced out of the reach of those most in need.

I hate it that a woman can take a device like a medi pen, raise its cost through the roof, and pay herself an 18 million dollar bonus.

I hate it that the alleged founding principle of individuals having a right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ is not as fought for as the right to have a well-trained militia which has been torqued into the invented ‘rights’ of anyone to have a semi-automatic weapon.

There are many things I love about my country of birth: the majority of people, the land, the wildlife, the pre-existing culture and our potential. However, we’ve decimated the original inhabitants, the native Americans – and yet now they are leading the fight against our corporate greed. Native Peoples are campaigning on horseback and on foot in the face of the fury of the government and its armies over pipelines which can only devastate the environment.

This is a country where people who were brought in chains on slave ships can eventually see their descendants become professors, leaders, successes in all areas and icons.

We’ve seen heroes like the late great Mohammed Ali and Jesse Hagopian, an educational reformer who was teargassed on a peaceful protest, but still pursues his dream of fair education for all nonetheless.

It’s a country where ancestors like mine came fleeing from famine to find signs in New York’s windows and doors reading ‘no blacks, no Irish and no dogs’ and yet in a few generations, one such Irish catholic descendant became a president.

This is a country where a young American boy of Japanese ancestry can be imprisoned without due course or rights in an internment camp in World War II and somehow still come out of the experience with a wicked sense of humour to emerge as a voice for tolerance and forgiveness.

There is natural beauty (cross your fingers) and biodiversity.

There are also people who will take that right to have a well-armed militia, and exploit it until we have bloodbaths like the recent slaughter in Orlando. And why?

Ultimately to make money for the gun manufacturers. Gun manufacturers do not care who gets killed. Statistically we know that you are more likely to have an accidental shooting at a home with a gun in it rather than your successfully shooting a would be burglar.

The image above belongs to the Orlando Weekly, which sees nothing wrong in advertising a semi-automatic shooting event … with an image of a skeleton. Now, I’m possibly not the most sensitive person in the world, but I see something very wrong in printing an ad like this to a city which is still mourning.

So America, as dearly as I love some things about you, please start worrying more about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and less about this supposed right to have guns. You are locking up people for collecting their own rainwater, for growing herbs – such as ginseng – and you are criminalising people who want to pursue a different life/liberty/happiness than the status quo. That’s not what was meant to be.

Look at this ad. Does this say responsible, sober gun ownership and respect for life to you – or is this nearly the lowest appeal to base nature (save the videos with bikini clad girls firing automatic weapons) and lack of empathy for the dead of Orlando (and the wider country) that can be imagined?

If not for the likes of those who emerged from hardships in the US, I’d despair completely.

The editor of the Orlando Weekly is Graham Jarrett. At first he tried to claim he was forced to print the ad; it was pointed out that no one can force a news publication to take an ad. We’re waiting to hear what you are going to say and do next Mr Jarrett.

(Want to fight against this kind of gun happy propaganda? On Facebook seek out and join One Pulse, a closed pressure group with the fanciful aim of making people want to stop shooting other people. I’m honoured and happy to be a member).

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May 162016
 

princess3 from clipartlordA modern day fairytale by Suzanne Kelly.

Once upon a time, well right now actually, there lives Donald Drumpf – a very rich, powerful handsome man that all the women adore, even black, Mexican, Muslim and Jewish ones. He bought a Scottish estate to the delight of the Scottish peasantry and the whole world, and then hired a very special person – a genuine princess – to run this new Scottish property and build hundreds of houses, a great club and golf courses.

This was Princess Sarah. She knew nothing about golf, planning, the environment, residential development – or anything at all, really.

It was said she’d not be able to organise a piss up in a brewery. Nevertheless, she was absolutely beautiful, and let’s face it – what else matters? And by a very happy coincidence she was married to the man who ran the local newspapers, who could say great things about Donald Drumpf.

Anyway, she had been crowned The Face of Aberdeen. Verily she was a princess.  In fact she was so delicate and sensitive, a tiny pee could throw her into a frenzy, and lo, so it came to pass.

By and by, Donald Drumpf was given permission to do with the estate and its wildlife whatever he pleased. The wildflowers and plants were scraped away by diggers.

Scores and scores of truckloads of sand were dumped, irrespective of wildlife habitat. Trees were dug up and buried in pits.

It was said that the burrowing animals were gassed. A golf course was laid out in a former wild place which had all its legal environmental protection removed. Scottish Natural Heritage which should have protected Scotland’s Natural Heritage did nothing but deliver some lame, unintelligible scientific jargon to the Reporters, who were told by Scottish Enterprise that this golf course was needed (although golf courses were closing nearby).

The resident peasants who wouldn’t sell to Drumpf were ridiculed, hassled by security guards and, interfered with by police. Elected officials who voted agains the destructive scheme were ridiculed by Princess Sarah’s husband’s newspapers as traitors – simply for applying the existing law to the land owned by The Donald as it would have applied to mere mortals.

One traitorous councillor was even punched on her doorstep by a Drumpf loving woman.

Residents had their water, electric and telephone lines ‘accidentally’ cut off by Drumpf’s construction crews at different points. A resident farmer who had gone salmon fishing for decades was told he’d be arrested if he tried to fish ever again. The rare, moving sand dune system was ‘stabilised’, altering forever a unique habitat once without equal.

Public money was spent by Scottish Enterprise to helicopter Drumpf’s people around while he was wined and dined by the ‘impartial’ First Minister.

One nearby resident was frogmarched to the clubhouse

Two journalists were arrested and manhandled for ‘breach of the peace’. This was without precedent, and the machinations of the police were such that the two never got to have their day in court, which they very much wanted.

Drumpf operatives tried to trick people into selling their homes with blatant lies. Compulsory purchase orders were a threat hanging over the heads of those who refused to sell. A giant bund of sandy earth was deliberately put up between one person’s home and their former views of the sea. This caused dirt and sand to blow into the cottage owner’s house, gardens and car engines – ruining the engines and killing the plants in the gardens.

Trees were planted in this bund. They died, and others were planted in an attempt to further block the cottage. The wildlife visibly dwindled, while the clownish Professor Bill Ritchie, who had previously said the development was great, disappeared as his feeble wildlife monitoring programme was allowed to fizzle out.

One nearby resident was frogmarched to the clubhouse and held by security – he had merely been trying to visit a farm. A huge heap of mixed waste was piled high nearby. A respected photographer was threatened by security who screamed he’d smash her camera.

Then something terrible happened.

One day a woman was accused of doing something so horrifying it should only be spoken of in whispers. She had been walking on the dunes and the shore for hours, and it is alleged she – urinated. In the grasses of the sand dunes. Please forgive me for even alluding to this; I hope you haven’t hit your head when you fainted at the thought.

Now Princess Sarah had had to put up with lots of hardships up until this point. She had to read out press statements for the dozen or so wee planning permission deviations that occurred under her stewardship. Worse – she did not get permission for the 80 foot flagpole – and it certainly seems she really desired a big one, I do wonder why.

Flying a giant flag would have proved once and for all that Drumpf loved Scotland and everyone would be nice to him forever, forgetting his one or two small foibles. But the mean burgermeisters decided this was just too big. But I digress.

A peasant on Drumpf land was bad enough – Sarah was flushed with rage. But for someone to actually take the piss – the Princess decided enough was enough.

Now Princess Sarah was a very delicate, fragrant creature. Indeed, Princess Sarah was so very lovely and fragrant herself, it was widely held that she never needed to go to the bathroom at all. Indeed, the people for miles around said she was full of sh*t.

Late one evening, Police Scotland’s finest showed up

Princess Sarah had everyone who walked across the golf course spied upon – after all, hardly anyone went there in the first place, and you have to get your security guards to earn their bread somehow.

No one came near the place without some employee, security goon in a van or on foot intervening.

This spying, recording, filming and eavesdropping will in no way deter future golfers who might have wanted to play golf and/or talk business without being filmed and recorded – but I digress again.

To show her good taste, great judgment, empathy, public-friendly nature, kindness, and what a whizz she was, the clever princess made three of her lackeys film the woman on their mobile phones. Then she immediately called the police. As any right-thinking person would do. Conveniently her husband’s newspaper had a journalist on the spot before the allegedly urinating woman was able to leave.

The princess arranged for the police to track the peasant down, and of course they obliged.  Late one evening, Police Scotland’s finest showed up at the home of the allegedly peeing pensioner and sneered that ‘there was enough evidence’ to convict her of – peeing. “Urine Trouble Now!” they told the pensioner in her home that night.

The courageous, law-biding Princess issued a statement:

“Offensive behaviour such as this is a matter for the police… This disgusting and shameful act took place in broad daylight in full view of our staff and guests by an individual who has been disruptive in the past.”

Quite right. If she’d not called the police, then people would think Drumpf’s place was going down the pan.

Some people said that there was something immoral, pervy, weird and demeaning about the princess ordering her minions to film this alleged event, but there you go. As to the perpetrator – it’s bad enough to be accused of answering the call of nature – but to be disruptive with it – that’s going too far. If there ‘s one thing we can’t have on this golf course is any kind of disruption.

If we don’t move to stamp this kind of thing out, there is no telling where it might end. How would you feel if one evening for example you were in the Aberdeen town centre and drunk men (and women) were just urinating in the streets? Yes, if we don’t stamp out this menace, there is no telling what will happen. People might also start experimenting with disruption.

The police have been asked to tell us how many other such arrests there have been. I think they have found the subject far too unseemly to be able to respond. When they do, I’ll let you know. No doubt this information will eventually leak out.

 Police Scotland have been too busy doing real work

For my part, after all the wonderful things Drumpf, Princess Sarah and Master Bates have done for us, I think perhaps a statue of some sort might be appropriate. Maybe a parade, too.

Perhaps we should have a National ‘Face of Aberdeen Day’, or put Sarah’s face on a postage stamp or a fiver.

And as to the police who decided hounding a grandmother was a good way to spend their time and our tax money, perhaps they should also be rewarded with some public recognition. What about those brave guys who decided to whip out their mobile phones to film the alleged event? I’d love to thank them personally, and I’m sure others would too. Any one of us would film a pensioner allegedly squatting in a sand dune if ordered to by our bosses I’m sure.

People have in the past been turned away by the police when trying to report thefts, attempted thefts and other issues. Police Scotland have been too busy doing real work such as meeting Drumpf when he jets in than to find your stolen bike or car. In fact, it seems to be your fault your car is stolen if you keep your car keys locked in your house where anyone could break in and get them.

By the way, one cancelled visit from Herr Drumpf cost the taxpayer a few thousand pounds; I wonder what it costs when he does show up? I did ask, but it was far too difficult to calculate for our poor police to be able to answer.

Back to our story: before she left the golf course land, the alleged perpetrator was met by a black vehicle, out of which popped people including someone identifying themselves as a reporter. (Maybe someday I’ll become a professional reporter like that.

I can see it now – I’ll get that phone tip-off :

“Come to a golf course – a granny has possibly strained her greens- we think.”

A story like that might get me writing for Wikileaks. Alas! Putting my name to a by-line like that in newspaper sadly is something I can only dream of. I wondered what they meant by leaking a story to the press – now I know.

As to someone who would allegedly urinate in a sand dune, forcing others to film the episode, I’m thinking it’s a pity that we got rid of hanging. Perhaps just tarring and feathering would do the trick, and then banishment.

A card of condolence will be made available to Princess Sarah – we only hope she’s not had to look at the footage or the crime scene (I wonder if they dust for urine?). I hope that at this difficult, stressful, emotional time she can still continue to defend Mr Drumpf and his desire to wall up the rapist druggie Mexicans, to stop China raping the US, and to ban those pesky Muslims from going to the US.

Without the princess to tell us what’s disgusting or disruptive, where would we be indeed?

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Apr 142016
 

donprespicBy Suzanne Kelly.

Master Bates had just parked the Maserati in his space and was making his way through the hallowed hall of the Press & Churnal.

The receptionists seemed even smilier than usual; the secretaries he walked past smiled and said “Good morning sir”, and seemed to be gigglish.

From further down the corridor, he could hear voices and laughter.

“Well, they say it even looks like him – big head of strawlike grey hair.”

“Well, Bates might as well give Drumpf a column; Drumpf’s given his wife a column and all.”

“Wonder if it’ll have her looks?!

“What if it has her brains and Donald’s looks?”

Bates didn’t quite hear all of that however; he had a searing headache. The reporters got sight of him and scarpered, scattering to all quarters of the newspaper’s offices.

Bates hadn’t slept well. He knew things were going to be different – life was going to be different now. But he hadn’t bargained on all that constant bawling. The whinging, the crying, the temper tantrums at the slightest provocation. That wrinkled face going beet read. The screaming. Yes, life with Donald Drumpf was trying – very trying. Thank goodness he could escape now and then to look after the newborn Malone-Bates baby, Donadina.

He pressed his fingers to his temples and massaged them as he got into his big leather chair at his big leather covered desk and sighed.

Giving Donald Drumpf his own column. He had little choice. He remembered well, how it unfolded. One day his wife came back from the Drumpf clubhouse and had told him:

“Darling, Donald wants to give you a present”

He thought at the time ‘Christ, not another damned Chinese t-shirt with the Drumpf logo or another cheesy Mexican baseball cap with the Drumpf name in giant letters’.

“Precious – how are you? How’s Donald? Happy to help of course.”

“It’s just a teeny weeny favour he’s going to do you”

‘Hope to hell it’s more advertising revenue’ he thought, ‘after we printed that weekend supplement about the MacDonald hotel with its garish orange duvets dyed to match The Donald’s skin makeup colour.’

That actually took a bit of pride-swallowing to print.

“it’s Fabulous! Donald’s going to give you a column to put in your newpaper! You’re always saying you need to fill up the space between advertisements with something or other. Well, he’s going to write you an exclusive column – that mean he’s not going to have it printed anywhere else.”

Damian remembered the little remaining colour running out of his face – something that never seemed to happen to his apparent new columnist.

“Darling, sweetheart, mother of my daughter – I’d er, love that almost as much as I love you. But angel, we’ve just spent a packet hiring Alex Salmond.”

“Yes, that was a mistake, it’s a good thing I talked Donald around about that – that was me using my great skills. I had to blink my eyelashes at him all afternoon about that, but he forgave you. Now he wants that column. Tell Alex he’s to make room for his old pal Donald. Donald says they are getting along now, so that must be true.”

“Sarah, darling – isn’t Donald going to be a bit busy running for president to actually write a column?”

“Silly boy – he’ll not actually write it – he’s far too important to do any actual writing. I thought I might write it myself; he says I’m very good with words. Why I can memorise what they write for me to tell the press in just a matter of hours now that I’ve been practicing.”

Damian was white now.

“Er darling, you’ll be too busy too, running the golf course and looking after little Donalda.”

Sarah wrinkled her pretty nose.

“I’m going to be too busy to look after her that much; the nanny will have to work more hours. And of course, when Donald Drumpf becomes president, you know what that will mean, don’t you?”

Puzzled, Bates couldn’t quite find the words.

Almost as if she could sense his bewilderment she answered:

“Silly – I’m the Vice President – remember? He made me Vice President a few years ago! I’ll have to go to Washington, and go to all those fancy State Dinners and Balls and meet the Queen and everything.”

The rest of that conversation seemed a blur. Bates only remembered that he gave Sarah a few thousand for a pair of rhinestone Jimmy Choos and he gave Drumpf a weekly column.

Bates had been outnumbered and outgunned. Donald’s ghost writer and advertising team sent over their full page, full colour ad – although there wasn’t going to be any advertising revenue! The pain of that increased Bates’ now permanent headache. The ad was monstrous – Drumpf in full open mouth basking shark mode, against the drapery of the US Flag. The Scottish public would undoubtedly find this a bridge too far.

But the contents of the column. How Drumpf had won over the Scottish people. ‘Me, Sarah, Woody – well, that’s three of us won over anyway’ thought the gloomy Bates. ‘How will I ever show my face after this and damn – what’s going to happen at my next RGU journalism lecture?’

His mobile phone bleeped at him. It was a text from Sarah.

“Hello darling; Donald just loves his column now he’s had a chance to read it. He says don’t worry – he’ll have a new column for you to print once a week at least. And he’s here now – will send you a photo in a sec. Love you. PS – can you get a courier to bring me your Barclaycard Platinum? Mine seems not to be working; must be the strip thingy on the back, and what’s ‘exceeded your credit limit’ mean again?”

His head throbbed worse than ever. He put the phone down. Looking out the window of his office he could see the Maserati in the parking lot.

Was that Magritte, the new student intern who was looking at the car so admiringly? For one split second he started to wonder. Then the phone blipped at him. Picking it up, he opened the JPEG message from Sarah. Donald stood next to Sarah; he was holding the baby. His little daughter had a crop of unruly blonde hair, and she was wearing a tiny Drumpf-embroidered baseball cap.

“Donald holding little Donalda MacLeod Sarah Damiana Malone Bates.” read the caption.

Bates put the phone down. He reached inside his desk for the extra strength anadin, and shook his head.

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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.]

Mar 112016
 

Aberdeen Voice’s Old Susannah has something of an identity crisis as her mortgage company rebrands her as ‘Elizabeth’ in a paperwork snafu. As such, we welcome Old Elizabeth’s Dictionary Corner this week. By Suzanne (?) Kelly.

DictionaryTally ho! The banks have decided that my first name isn’t Suzanne, it’s Elizabeth. That’s what the records show, so I have to prove them wrong. This error was only picked up a week ago, so I don’t expect it to be fixed any time soon.

Past signatures on mortgage papers, name on my bank account and payslips, my passport – none of this is good enough just yet for the powers that be. I may change my name; it might be easier. You’re probably as shocked to hear of a bank making any kind of mistake as I am, but apparently it does happen.

I’m beginning to think that I must be in the wrong, not them, and am going to double-check with my parents.

This past week a Florida woman who tried to teach her four year old child how to shoot a gun has been shot. Bet no one saw that coming.

This is an intolerable state of affairs; what kind of mother is this? Perhaps if she’d started him earlier, he’d have acquired more gun handling experience by now. It’s never too early to start learning to hurt or kill, is it? Call me old-fashioned, but every time I give a toddler who can’t really walk or talk a .45 six-shooter, I usually leave only one or two bullets in.

As to Mother of the Year, you’ll be happy to know that she is said to be in a stable condition. She sounds very stable to me. Of course junior might have killed himself or any surviving siblings. In the US nearly 10,000 minors are killed or injured by guns every year But that’s a small price to pay for freedom, I say.

No word on whether she’ll face any charges; hardly likely I’d think. Elsewhere in the US, if your child is stillborn, or has birth defects, you might just well find yourself in prison for murder. Oh, lest I forget – happy International Women’s Day everyone.

Closer to home, all’s well as we continue with our vibrant, dynamic public relations activities, showing the rest of the world how wonderful we are. Now that a new flight route has opened to Iceland, Visit Scotland is out there flying the Satire, waving our tax money around, and giving the VIP treatment to Icelandic Journalists. (Thank you Iain Richardson for sharing this story on Facebook).

As part of their packed itinerary, Visit Aberdeen will ensure the group enjoys ‘… a show round of Macleod House and Trump International Golf Links in Balmedie’. Now you might think that someone somewhere at Visit Scotland would think twice about promoting this particular golf course, but you’d be wrong.

Perhaps a few relevant definitions might help.

Visit Scotland: (Modern English compound noun) a Smart Successful Scotland’s Tourist arm; another unelected quango.

In the dark ages, no one came to look at Scotland’s landscapes, castles, coasts or cities. Then, we created Visit Scotland. What do they do?

“Visit Scotland works in partnership to exceed visitor expectations. Its mission is to contribute significantly to the advancement of Scottish tourism by giving it real presence in the global marketplace, benefiting the whole of Scotland.

“We’ve a wide range of stakeholders, but our activities are defined by visitors’ requirements. Everything we do is based on sound research to make sure that we stay ahead of consumers’ ever-changing needs.

“We work closely with tourism businesses and other partners to make sure that their activities are aligned with the national strategy, and that we’re all working towards a common goal.” 

It’s good to know that everything they do is based on sound research. Otherwise, locally anyway, it might look like they keep using the same venues over and over. We’ll soon find out how much money they’ve spent at Trump; I’m sure that they use all of our local hotels and golf courses on a rotational basis. After all, they are bound to be fair with the taxpayer pound.

They claim that for every pound we spend – of the $50,000,000 million pounds’ budget they have – £20 is spent on tourism in Scotland. Yes, I’m sure they are fully responsible for all tourism in the country. If not for VS, who’d have come to Edinburgh, Glasgow, The Granite City, the islands, the lochs. Well done you!

The fact that there’s a national strategy is comforting. I suppose spending our money at a venue run by arguably the West’s biggest bigot sends the message the national strategy wants to convey.

So, it’s time to round up the Icelandic journalists and show them Scotland. By going to the placid haven that is Trump’s Balmedie course. Will they stop and point out the bunds put up to try and ruin Susie Munro’s views, gardens and spirit? Will they point out where the water mains, electric and telephone services have been ‘accidentally’ cut by the Trump construction crews?

Will they discuss how this successful venue has posted a financial loss? Should be very entertaining. Perhaps the sound research needs a dusting off, as does those ever-changing needs of visitors.

Tacit Endorsement: (Compound English noun) – to imply support for a person, cause or thing by actions rather than words.

I asked Visit Scotland why they’d chosen to go with the Trump property for this visit. They replied:

“Hi Suzanne. Our work with the Trump Organisation is solely in its role as an operator of premium golf resorts in Scotland and as such we would not comment on Mr Trump’s personal or political agenda. Thanks for your FOI request which we have received. A member of our corporate team will contact you directly about this in due course. Many thanks.”

I like the use of the word ‘premium.’ Well, you pay a premium for lunch there, anyway. I suggested:

“Very interesting. Visit Scotland doesn’t distinguish between Trump’s very public remarks and giving taxpayer money to his concerns, yet he’s been stripped of being a Global Scot for these remarks, as well as losing his RGU honorary degree. Perhaps time you rethink your ethics? You are of course condoning and encouraging him every time you give him our tax money, you do see that, don’t you.”

We mustn’t rush to conclusions though. Just because Visit Scotland takes people to Trump properties, spends taxpayer money at Trump properties, and endorses Trump properties is no reason to think that they are happy to have Scotland aligned with the Trump brand. Let’s wait and see if the next visiting dignitaries from the Middle East get taken to Drumpf Golf International.

I’m sure they’ll love meeting Mrs Bates to the extent that all the talk of banning Muslims and making then wear badges in the US will pass once she flashes those pearly whites.

Sure the guy wants to ban Muslims from entering the USA (Muslim American citizen population 3 to 7 million). Sure, he’s verbally waging war on Mexico, wants to bring back water boarding (nothing quite like it you’ll agree), and a bag of vipers would be kinder and more logical. But there’s money at stake. Besides which, VS would have to admit that endorsing him is a mistake.

In December last year, VS said:

“…that it has no plans to stop working with Donald Trump, despite a campaign to ban him from entering Britain because of his comments about Muslim immigration. Visit Scotland said that the tycoon’s two Scottish golf resorts were a valuable asset and attracted thousands of visitors from around the world as well as multimillion-pound investment.” 

The welfare of Scottish citizens living under the whims of Trump at Menie? Who cares? Not Visit Scotland.

Iceland Press Council: (Proper noun – er, Icelandic I guess) – a body governing principles and ethics of reporting in Iceland

This press junket whereby Icelandic writers come to Aberdeen will, I sincerely hope, involve their talking to Aberdeen Journals Ltd’s big wheels like Damian Bates. This is almost inevitable, as Sara Mrs Malone Face of Aberdeen Bates will be showing them round the Trump course. There’s just one problem.

Cultures vary widely from country to country. While we’ve gone all smart and successful here, not every country is up to our own standards. Covering up stories inconvenient to top advertisers, pushing the wife’s business interests, embellishing or suppressing stories to suit the powers that be: Iceland’s not got wise to any of these modern journalistic techniques at all.

They actually have a paper, Rules of Ethics in Journalism; it goes back to 1988. Thought I’d share some of it with you. Press and Journal; Evening Express writers may wish to look away now (if you’re still with me that is). Sorry, but I thought I’d put most of the clauses into this piece, just to show how much more advanced we are here than these idealistic Icelanders.

I’ve made a comment or two in square brackets in bold for the benefit of our local reporters, who probably need a laugh.

Clause 1. A journalist aims to do nothing which may bring his profession or professional organisation, newspaper or newsroom into disrepute. [OOPS!] He must avoid anything, which may be deleterious to public opinion of the journalist’s work, or damage the interests of the profession [OOPS!]. A journalist must always be honourable in his dealings with colleagues. [OOPS!]

Clause 3. A journalist observes the highest possible standards in gathering information, processing this information , and in presentation, and shows the utmost fact in sensitive cases [UNLESS THERE’S A GRANITE WEB, OR THE NEEDS OF AN ACSEF MEMBER AT STAKE ]. He avoids all that may cause unnecessary pain or humiliation to the innocent, or those who have suffered.

Clause 5. A journalist must do his best to avoid conflicts of interest, for instance by reporting on companies or interest groups in which he himself is involved [OOPS! – DAMIAN – ANY COMMENT?]. He must primarily serve the interests of the reader [DAMIAN?], and the honour of the journalistic profession in all that undertakes under the aegis of his job. [IS THIS OK WITH THE MISSUS’ BOSS?]

A journalist writes always on the basis of his convictions [OOPS!]. He makes sure not to confuse editorial material of clear informative and educational value, with advertising in pictorial and / or written form. [HA HA HA!] This code of ethics does not limit the freedom of expression of journalists who write, under their full name, clearly defined items in newspapers, e.g. criticism, where the writer’s personal views are of the essence. [IS THAT WHY SO MANY P&J / EE PIECES DON’T HAVE A BYLINE?]

Clause 6. Any person who believes that a journalist has offended against the above code, and whose interests are at stake, can make a complaint to the Ethics Committee of the Icelandic Union of Journalists within two months of publication, provided the item published is not the subject of court action at the same time. [REMINDS ME OF WHEN I COMPLAINED ABOUT A P&J PIECE. A FRONT PAGE AREA LABELLED ‘FACTS’ IN A HEAVY OUTLINE, CONTAINED OPINIONS. THE RELEVANT PRESS REGULATORS DECIDED THAT ANYONE WHO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE WOULD HAVE REALISED THAT THEY BOX LABELLED ‘FACTS’ WEREN’T FACTS AFTER ALL. FAIR ENOUGH]

So there you have it. Despite First Minister Nicola Sturgeon taking away Donald Drumpf’s Global Scot status, despite the Open saying that they don’t want anything to do with Drumpf, Visit Scotland’s going to plough ahead promoting the Donald’s ‘premium’ clubs. I guess that national strategy they talk about doesn’t give our Nicola a look-in.

On that note, I’ll take a minute to say goodbye to one of Aberdeen Voice’s founders, David R Guthrie. He passed away after illness and a wake was held on Tuesday. A colourful writer, musician, wit, and all-round good guy, he had his reasons for helping to found Aberdeen Voice. One of those reasons was assuredly Aberdeen Journals Ltd. In lieu of flowers, feel free to donate to Aberdeen Voice.

One of the things I liked about him was his love of Union Terrace Gardens. Another thing I liked: the man was not for sale or for rent. He never got a Maserati, but he had things that were actually valuable. Good night Dave, and thanks.

You might not like Aberdeen Voice – but we’ve exposed untruths. We’ve covered important stories the local press wouldn’t touch. We’ve spoken out against people like Trump, and we’re going to keep going.

PS – I asked MP Paul Flynn how he felt now about Trump, who continues to gain in the polls, and might wind up being President. Flynn of course was on the Petitions Committee, and opened the Parliamentary debate on banning Trump. He’d taken that extra step of going to the press some 9 hours before the debate to say he didn’t believe in banning Trump for hate speech.

No, let’s just take him round my constituency, show him how multiculturalism is working, and then he’ll instantly change his way of thinking – that was Flynn’s master plan. Doesn’t seem to be working that well.

Here’s what he wrote back to me:

“There are still e-mails coming in from the US on Trump. His fans are happy but they all seem pretty stupid. Sensible Republicans are in despair. They believe that he has shamed their party. They believe that If he is the candidate, Hilary will win. I persist in the belief that a country wise enough to elect Obama twice, would be foolish enough to elect Trump once. At the moment I am very much involved in other things. Any contributions I could make in Trump’s downfall would be insignificant.” 

Well, perhaps anything he could do now would be insignificant. But when he led that debate, had he brought up all the relevant facts (including actual US violence caused by Trump’s words), and done the petition justice, I wonder where things would stand now.

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Jan 212016
 

DictionaryBy Suzanne Kelly.

The highly stylish, smart, successful, forward-looking breakfast nook Chez Bates had known some happy times. Days when the sound of laughter and dozens of designer shopping bags crinkled as they were brought into the house. Things seemed a bit colder this winter. Recent events were not helping.

Princess Bates daintily spread low-calorie margarine on her low-calorie rice cracker.

At the other end of the table, Master Bates lazily ate a full Scottish breakfast while reading the lastest Evening Express.

But even the exciting story ‘Ghost Found in Photograph Drunks Took in front of Restaurant’ headline wasn’t cheering him up.

He thumbed through pages of riveting news stories in the papers he edited – ‘Shopping Trolley Stolen’, ‘Cold Weather Expected in January’ and ‘Pope is Catholic Shock’ and then came to the ‘Beautiful Bride’ competition page. The latest brides smiled up at him. How long ago his own wedding to the most beautiful girl in the world seemed somehow. A long, long time ago.

There was their photo, sitting on the mantelpiece. How wonderful their afternoon was on the Northern Belle; and the photo of them sitting together smiling for the P&J cameras was even available for people to buy for their own homes.

“Share the happiness!” he thought, “and make some money out of it as well, particularly if she keeps spending everything I make on clothes, shoes you can’t walk in, and beauty treatments”

The recent prang with his Maserati had made him reassess what was important, and perhaps it was time to rein her spending in a bit. There was this Lotus up for sale which would be perfect for driving to work in Maastrick in.

The Princess was not smiling. It had been a hard week. Film and news crews crossed Trump International Golf Links Scotland’s parking lot to access the dunes. Phonecalls even came in. Suzanne Kelly had the audacity not only to suggest Donald was somehow a mean guy, but also to ask Trump Golf to restore Michael Forbes’ fishing rights and take down the big pile of earth which was called a bund from in front of the Munro cottage. All the terminology Sarah had needed to learn!  A bund was a big pile of earth.  A bung was a big envelope of money.  It was easy to get confused.  She did remember though that Mr T and Georgie Sorial had told her that any compromise was a sign of weakness.

It was her duty to be every bit as strong and smart as Donald was always telling the world he was. She had also been asked to be in a live debate with Kelly, but Mrs Bates was not taking the bait. Talking about the wonderful course she knew so much about would have been easy of course. But all this other stuff about the UK’s Public Order act, laws, hate speech and petitions was so confusing.

What did it matter anyway? After all, Donald was pumping hundreds of millions of pounds into a grateful Scotland. Why couldn’t they just leave him in peace so he could be president and get rid of all those nasty Muslims, Mexicans, handicapped people, women who weren’t pretty and other awful people? Who cared about Muslims when there was money to be made? She just didn’t understand what was wrong with other people’s values.

The rice cracker snapped under the pressure of her knife as she thought of these things. Master Bates peeked from behind his newspaper, hoping it would be a good time to broach a difficult subject.

“Darling, I think we should talk”

“Yes, I do need another pair of kitten heels, you’re right – I’ll go shopping tonight.”
 
“Well, uh, yes, of course – but something else too. This, this – statement that you put out.”
 
“Brilliant isn’t it? I sure showed that dreadful Suzanne Kelly, didn’t I dear. It’s been in a few papers, doubtless more will pick it up.”
 
“Well, yes, about that. I’m not so sure we’re going to run it”
 
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN!!!?”
 
“Well, dear, you know I love you; you’re absolutely beautiful-“
 
“yes, of course I am – what’s wrong with my statement!?”
 
“Just a few little points my buttercup; nothing major, we just need to maybe leave some of it out. you’ve got this bit here complaining that ‘valuable Parliament time was wasted.”
 
“I like that bit. Georgie thought that up. In fact, he thought up a lot of it, which was good because I was busy – we’re getting new curtains.”
 
“Well, it’s just that we don’t want people to start to think about how Mr T has taken up a huge chunk of Holyrood money and taxpayer money, and tied up the courts trying to stop those offshore windfarms.”
 
“Well, that’s different. They were going to be ugly. And golfers doing golf would have been, y’know, distracted.”
 
“My dearest Sarah, of course, of course I agree – but we’re talking hundreds of hours in courts, legal fees, Holyrood time, and an untold sum of taxpayer money on an appeal which so far has stopped an experimental windfarm project which meant clean energy and energy sector jobs, which Aberdeen needs.”
 
“What Aberdeen – and Scotland needs – is the class that Donald Trump brings, and all those thousands of jobs we’re going to make. Any day now. If there are no offshore windfarms. Or anything else Donald doesn’t like.”
 
“Sarah my sweet I so agree and understand, it’s just that some folks facing unemployment in the energy sector are thinking of making their next career in renewables, and would prefer engineering to toilet cleaning and bussing tables.”
 
“We’ve got crests. Trump family crests. Did you see them last time? We’ve got lovely crests with a double headed bird thing. It’s very classy. And pretty. What unemployed person wouldn’t want to live in an on-site staff block and do laundry or serve drinks?”
 
“Unemployment… yes, that’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a while….” but he rallied:

“I hate to mention it, but I think we should forget you making any comments about DT’s freedom of speech being attacked.”

“Why ever not?  And do you think this shade of lipstick clashes with my Chanel?”

“Er, you look fine honey.  How can I put this – Donald’s people here in Scotland fired that cook you had had at the clubhouse because of a picture on his personal Facebook page.”

“Well, it was disgusting!  It was obscene!  It was a shortbread that looked.. that looked – oh my like a man’s private parts!”

“Well,” said Damian, thinking the allegedly offensive piece of shortbread looked like a blob and nothing more, “Some people might think it was hypocritical – that means unfair” he added hastily, seeing her perplexed face.

“Donald didn’t like it, and that wasn’t free speech it was a picture, so that’s different.” Sarah helpfully explained.  She’d stopped nibbling her rice cracker now.  Really, for a newspaper editor person, Damian didn’t understand some very basic things.

“Dearest” Damian continued “Then there is that woman – that Muslim woman – who came to one of Donald’s presidential rallies.  She was thrown out for no good reason I could see.  Some people might think that isn’t exactly respecting freedom.”

“She was ugly!  And wearing an offensive foreign shirt – I think it said ‘Salaam’ or ‘salami’ or something. Really, if you’re not great looking to start with, you could at least wear nice clothes.”

“And, well, how should I put this? Parliament is meant to, on occasion, listen to people.”   Damian felt his blood pressure might be going up.  “It’s not quite like you said. Your statement said ‘for the UK to consider banning someone who made a statement in America, about American borders during a US election campaign is ridiculous.’ I think you’ll find, oh light of my life, that the UK has laws stopping hate speech – as mean as that might seem” he added, seeing her pout and her nose wrinkle up,

“people have been already injured because of Donald Trump’s words.”

“Some homeless guy got beaten up. That’s America’s problem not ours. And if someone tried to make a bomb, then that’s their problem too.”  A frown came over the otherwise beautiful countenance of the beautiful princess.  “As my statement written by Georgie said ‘it is absurd that valuable parliamentary time is being wasted debating a matter raised as part of the American presidential election.”  

She was reading it from the large font printed sheets they’d given her the other day to practice saying.

“Yes darling – but the UK’s laws on public order are supposed to stop people who encourage others to do that kind of thing from coming over here and doing it. I agree with you and Donald of course, but remember he said that relatives of terrorists should be taken out?”
 
“Yes, that’s just the kind of peacemaker he can be, when he’s not busy being smart and strong. He’d take them out to play golf, and then they’d agree with him.”
 
“Er, well.”

Damian didn’t know what to say

“So, when he said all those things about women, Mexicans, ugly people, Muslims, even Republicans in the past, black people, Jewish people – that kind of made Robert Gordon University think he didn’t really belong in a multicultural institution, and the Global Scot ambassadorship was taken away too. Honey – do you really think he should be put in charge of a country as powerful as the US and made Commander in Chief of its army?”
 
“OH! Of All the Nerve!”

The Princess was not going to have her husband question her about these little details.

“Do you remember how much I get paid for being the spokesperson and talking about golf and investment? It’s quite a bit Master Bates. And you – that Maserati guzzles petrol. If Donald didn’t advertise where would you be?”

He thought of where he might be. To change the subject seemed the way forward.

“Let’s not worry – worrying makes wrinkles.”

The Princess reached for her handbag and got out her magnifying, light-up mirror.

“Where? Where?” she asked in blind panic.

“Not you, never – let’s avoid any worry. Or too much overthinking. Don’t you worry honey. All’s fine. I’ll run your quote in full.” Master Bates said soothingly, but his brow showed some signs of stress.

The Princess pulled out a small rectangular package.

“I’ve got something for you darling” She said, handing the box over,

“Remember, Donald will be here in a week or so to see how great everything is.”

Perhaps a Louis Vuitton credit card case? A voucher for the Marcliffe?

As he opened the package, for the first time he felt a bit angry.

“A Trump golf tie? Made in Mexico?”

“He’s coming next week, and it will look great on you!” The Princess beamed

“I’m not wearing a goddamned polyester tie for anyone! Thank F*£$”! no one’s seen me in the golf cap” he thought.

Master Bates stifled his first impulses and answered:

“Well, thank you Sarah, it’s, well, it’s wonderful. I’m going to save it for when we all meet up at the Clubhouse when he’s next here, shall I?”

Grabbing his last piece of toast he got up.

“I’ve just remembered, I’ve got a story to do for Woody; he’s giving money away to charity.”
 
“Darling you’re the best” The Princess crooned;

“Would you be an absolute angel and let me use your card? I’ve got to get my hair all teased up like in that photoshoot I did at MacLeod House for when Donald’s around. A few extensions here and there will do it. And a new dress. He’d love to see me in a new dress, and I’m sure you would too. Be a darling!”

She kissed his forehead.

“Of course.”

Master Bates’ voice was perhaps a bit terser than usual. He thought about asking here where on earth ‘hundreds of millions of pounds had been pumped into the Scottish economy by her blustering boss. Master Bates looked at the photo of them as newlyweds on the mantle piece, and thought, there’s more than a few wrinkles between then and now. He grabbed the toast, flung her the credit card, and grabbed the Maserati keys.

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