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).

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
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?

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
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.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[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.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[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.]

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.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[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.]

Aug 072015
 

Old Susannah gets to grips with Grampian gripes normally; this week the focus is on the Face of Aberdeen, and a shy retiring golf magnate. By Suzanne Kelly

DictionaryTally ho! There is quite a lot going on in the Deen, such as Dr Kennedy’s new book (interview and review to follow). BrewDog has some new beers coming out, and the BrewDog Jackhammer margaritas continue to delight.

An 87 year old man was put on the sex offenders’ list for kissing a shop assistant on the cheek while at the same time a man who lifted a woman’s dress over her head while she was using a cash point was dismissed as being just good fun. In fact, she was put on trial for giving chase and hitting him.

Sounds fair to me.

With the weather a bit dreich, and things not quite as vibrant and dynamic as they might be this summer, I thought I’d revisit an Old Susannah column from two years ago, The Beautiful Princess. The Beautiful Princess still stands as shining example of what happens when your looks are in the driving seat.

Sure, in her case the brain may not have actually made it into the vehicle, and ethics must have jumped out at a red light. In fact, a former co-worker has just told me that this princess is ‘thick as mince’. However, for the young and pretty girl, the sky’s the limit as to how much money you can make.

So Tally Ho! instead of the usual news round up, diary, and definitions, it’s time to re-visit the well-loved fairy tale of The Beautiful Princess. Definitions and normal services to resume shortly.

The Beautiful Princess. By Suzanne Kelly.

Recapeth:

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

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

Verily when she was crowned fairest face in the land, the dashing young newspaper executive who had coincidentally run this august competition fell madly in love with her, and she with him. Forsaking their previous partners, they soon wed, for beautiful people must stick together. And ambitious beautiful people even more so.

Around this time, a tyrant-ogre named Trump from a faraway land had come to the Princess’ kingdom, and set out to make the world’s greatest golf course. Fearful he was, with the hair of a wildebeest (and the wildebeest was glad to get rid of it). This ogre had the roar of a lion (possibly one of the lions his two brave manly sons had courageously shot with high-powered muskets while tracking animals down using iron horses and 4x4s.

This hunting, in the words of one of the brave boys, was verily a largess on their part which enabled the poor Africans to have shoes, but I never did understand how that worked and I digresseth).

Who should the ogre tyrant choose to build hundreds of homes, two golf courses, a country club, kennels to keep the slaves in, and giant clocks showing the wrong times? Why the Beautiful Princess of course.

Her work experience consisted previously of hanging around at the Gordon Highlanders’ museum. She had tired of this job indeed, as many of the school children oft mistook her for one of the display dummies. Imagine her great joy when her great beauty won the heart of the tyrant King!

‘Forsooth! He may not be very pretty to look at, but his gold will keep me in all the Jimmy Choo glass slippers I could ever want, which truth be told is the lot of them’ she mused.

‘Surely I will have to spend a day or two learning about ‘golf’ whatever that is, and I already know about houses for I have lived in some. Verily, Master Bates and I his Mistress Princess are quids in’.

And the rest was history.

….. But things change, ken?

The Story Noweth:

Now the Princess was on a nice little earner, and in between rants the bellowing ogre-tyrant Trump taught the princess much. She learned of faraway lands and customs.

Near Trump’s American homeland was Mexicoland. Savage beasts called Mexicoans lived there – but were always trying to move to America to rape, pillage, sell magic potions and taketh over.

“As soon as I make the world’s greatest golf course here in Scotlandland, and am made King of America, I will build a wall shutting all those Mexicoans into their Mexicoland forever.” the tyrant told her.

There were also apparently Black people, though Princess Sarah had met precious few such people, and hardly ever did any black people appear in her husband’s Ye Press & Journal newspaper.

“A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market. I think sometimes a black may think they don’t have an advantage or this and that… I’ve said on one occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I believe they do have an actual advantage.’’ Trump would joke with the Princess.

But his infamous moods began to swing even more erratically with the passage of time.

Construction of the second golf course was put off because of something called wind turbines. Whatever these were, the Princess understood they were hideous to look upon, and no one would come for a match of golf if there were any turbines to be seen on the water.

By a happy coincidence someone with the same surname as the princess was in a position in the shire such that he had a vote over whether building such monstrous turbines should be allowed on land or sea; his name was Tom, and never did he cast an ‘Aye’ in favour of the wind machines, which happily suited ogre-tyrant to a tee.  Verily though, the people decided that their energy needs were at least as important as golf, and these turbines got ye go-ahead.

So the second course was off. Then it was on again. Then Trump went to the court of King Salmond to proclaim ‘he was the evidence’ and no turbines should be built. For some reason, King Salmond disagreed. He was later succeeded by Queen Nicola, but alas, I digress again and seek thy pardon. And to the astonishment of many, Trump did buyeth a share in a wind farm company. ‘What’s he liketh?’ the peasants wondered.

Anyway, it seemed to the Princess that the tyrant was becoming more and more confused by the day. His rants against black people and Mexicoans were joined by rants against this group, that person, television networks, countries – in truth, everyone was subject to a fearful, slavering Trump slaggeth – except for the Ice Queen Sara Palin. It was said she had a musket, killed many a moose (whatever a moose is), and lived in the frozen north.

Upon hearing of the slaughter of fearsome lion Cecil, Trump said he’d pay the legal costs for the dentist-lech-hunter who had done the deed, and Sara Palin said:

“there are plenty of lions in zoos; what’s the big deal yous guys?”

As was well-known in the shire, Trump suffered from many bewitchments. One of these was of course his delusion of competence. Another spell he was under was that although he looked like a particularly unattractive bloated jellyfish with a gaping maw (why his mouth never assumed a normal shape was undoubtedly another bewitchment upon him – pardon for yet another digression), he thought he was beautiful.

He in turn had an enchantment of his own and was able to make fair looking maids think he was the very knees of the bees. Beautiful maidens with names like ‘Ivana’ and ’Melania’ threw themselves at the hulking mass which was the ogre tyrant, marrying – nay – even mating with the beast. This attraction he held over them was whispered in hushed tones to be in some way connected with bags of gold.

However, while The Donald, as Trump was also knowneth, showed scant sign of possessing any actual gold. But there one hath it.

Anyway, one summer day Trump flew his iron bird and came to visit the Princess and the club of golfs at Menie. Afraid of incurring his wrath, the Princess decked herself out in her loveliest clothes.

While Princess Bates had been a wee slip of a girl, there was a wee slip in her looks as the years progressed. The year before, Trump flew in a team of witch stylists, who put an American glamour on the Princess. While she was not best pleased at this turn of affairs, Princess Sarah thought ‘why fighteth it? If I am to look like an American for this gig, so be it, and I will just dress in my lovely clothes when out on the town with my Damian.’

So in came the hairdressers the stylists and make up artists. Sarah’s hair grew to twice its normal height and width, so big was it was that it nearly rivialled the main the giant himself sported. A jerkin with massive shoulder pads was put on her; she could barely walk in it. A tunic of American style was put on her. And to her great shame, she was photographed in this frumpy puritanical gear with giant hair, holding a giant certificate.

Forsooth! This was none other than the fabled ‘Five Diamond Award’. Now this was the most sought-after prize in all the countryside; even in Mexicoland. Trump was pleased greatly by receiving this great award. Result! By the oddest of coincidences, Trump was on the board of the great and good who gave this award out. But there you haveth it.

So the Princess kept learning about golf; apparently there were clubs that you struck things with (like Derek Forbes, who years ago in the shire saved himself from a giant fox that was after his sandwich by clubbing it half to death and leaving it to suffer. The people still to this day remember him – but again already this is another digression), and there were also clubs golfers visited to buy sandwiches for £20 a pop.

The Princess’ progress astounded all those around here, who had never known her to absorb so much knowledge before. And the ogre-tyrant would visit on occasion, at which times Sarah’s husband would bow to his wishes and spread stories far and wide about how wonderful Trump was.

Then it was time for another visit from Trump.

Warmly welcoming Trump and his entourage to his Scottish lands at Menie, Sarah curtseyed as per usual. When she looked up, she was aghast. Trump had never seemed a portrait in oils to her, but now he seemed positively terrifying. His face had turned the orange colour of oranges, and the skin around his beady eyes had turned the pink of the rose.

“Well, Sarah honey, now that I’ve done such a grand job here at Menie building the world’s greatest course, I’ve bought far off lands called Turnberry. I’ll soon do for them what I’ve done here!” Trump roared.

“I’ve even got another girl to help me with drinks and photo opps there just like you do here.”

Sarah tried not to shake with fear and revulsion when the monstrous Trump spake thus:

“Sarah honey, go get me and the guys some drinks will ya?”

Not accustomed to being ordered, she nevertheless left the elegant clubhouse room Trump was now ensconced in. Grabbing a passing servant by the neck, she hissed at them to serve Trump’s drinks. But could it be that there was someone else who knew about this game of golf who had been hired? Was she pretty? ‘Surely any new employee is not as beautiful as I am, for in truth I am the Face of the Shire.’ she thought.

Sarah was perplexed.

Trump and his court jester, Sorial, were laughing loudly. Sarah hid behind the statue of St. MacDonald, Trump’s grandmother from Skye, which had been cast in the finest concrete known to man (just like the fountain at the MacLeod house – ach, I digresseth again), and thus concealed, she listened to them speak.

“Dumb doesn’t come close to it, and I oughtta know!” Trump joked with Sorial

“Yeah, and did you see how doughy she was!” Sorial joked back

“Those eyes! those lines aren’t crow’s lines, those are San Andreas Faults”

The Princess heaved a sigh of relief. So – this usurper who was going to work at Turnberry was not a great beauty. This was good news indeed. Any insecurities she felt disappeared.

The servant girl with the drinks appeared; shaking like a leaf such that the goblets on her tray quivered. Serving as quickly as she could, she left.

‘Now that my great boss Trump has his drinks, I’ll emerge from behind this statue and dazzle him with my beauty AND my knowledge of golf’ the Princess thought. Sashaying over in her 6” heels, smiling from ear to ear, she heard the last line of their conversation:

“But at least if we keep the old bag of a princess around, we’ll still get good PR in Ye Press & Journal, and those rebellious upstarts like Forbes, Milne, Munro and Baxter will be closed out of the news, and verily their names stricken from the record.” Sorial laughed

“But for Chrissake, I’m going to get my makeup gal to fix the Princess’s complexion up just like she’s done to me – don’t I look nice and tan, Sorial?” Trump enquired.

“Er, sure you do boss” Sorial said, taking a big swig from his goblet.

Princess Sarah stopped in her tracks, her smile disappearing into the laughter lines around here eyes. Her chins dropped. Even beneath her St Tropez magic tan – which ironically made her look more like one of those hated Mexicoans than she could ever know – Sarah could feel herself grow pale as the blood drained from her once beautiful face.

Somewhere outside the beautiful clubhouse palace, a lonely seagull cried.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[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.]

Jan 302015
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In mid 2014, Trump said of Alex:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or something.

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

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

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

But I digress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[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.]

Dec 162014
 
GollumReds1

A creature with a bald pate and beady eyes sat at one end of an immensely long wooden table.

By Suzanne Kelly.

Damian Baits lived in a kingdom by the sea called the Shire; it had rolling green fields, sandy shores, meadows and hills. Deer grazed in fields, great birds flew overhead, and precious flowers grew.

In the centre of this great shire was a city of silver. Well, granite anyway.

In the heart of the city was a little green park in a valley, sheltered from the harsh winds and verily it was a trap for the sun.

The people had many ways to earn their keep, and young Damian was no exception. In fact, he had a calling in life for he was a journalist, and his newspaper was read by the town crier so people throughout the kingdom knew what the skinny was with the local burgermeisters at the town hall.

Alas! There just wasn’t that much money in the news business. Damian had high ambitions; he wanted to be like the lords and barons who lived in castles. He knew eventually he’d find a way to succeed. And it came to pass that his opportunity arose at last.

Now Damian had kept an old cow for some years; but he had grown tired of her (although some say it was mutual). He decided to trade her in for something new. Walking to the market with the poor cow to sell, Damian’s path crossed with that of a man in a suit.

“Good day sir, nice to meet you.” the man smiled at Damian. “I am an accountant with well-respected firm PriceHousewatercooper. Or, as the common folk would say, I am a bean counter.”

“How exciting that must be!” said Damian, for he knew that beancounters counted other people’s money, made wild predictions for the future, and got handsomely paid for it.”

“Why yes it is” said the suit, “In fact, I am just now doing some work for one of the giants, have you heard of Sirian of Wood? He is a giant in these parts, and I’ve just made some calculations for him on one of his projects. 

“Sirian says he can make the townfolk billions of gold dubloons every year, and that millions of visitors from around the world will come to buy the produce of our little hamlet. All we would have to do is put a few wee modifications into yon city centre garden. It will be nearly as wonderfully profitable as all the money I’ve predicted farmer Tesco will make this year.”

The stranger had a lopsided smile, and somehow didn’t seem to be that honest looking, but Damian was now thinking of dubloons. The stranger took a small pouch from under his three piece suit, and shook its contents out, revealing three little beans.

“Here are five magic soya beans – probably the most valuable thing in all the shire! I got them from one of my clients called Montsantto; he is a wizard who creates strange hybrid creatures. Says it’s all perfectly safe. I’m taking these beans to market to sell, wife says she won’t have them in the house.” said the stranger.

“But you’ve only got three beans there – look” said Damian.

“Och well, I’m an accountant” said the little man “we can’t always be expected to get all our figures right. Tell you what I’ll do – I’ll trade you these 8 beans for those two cows you’ve got there” the man offered.

“I’ve only the one cow, and you’ve only three beans” explained Jack.

“Done!” cried the accountant, and he disappeared in a flash of smoke with the cow.

‘Guess I should have asked whether I’m supposed to plant these or eat them’ thought Damian. To be truthful, he was not the most swift-thinking journalist in the land. He decided to take them home and plant them by his front door, which he did. He went to sleep that night, glad to be rid of the old cow, wondering what the beans would grow into.

Coins on white

Damian could not believe his eyes; overnight a beanstalk appeared where the beans had been sown, and the beanstalk was enormous! It reached higher than the highest Tree for Every Citizen by miles.

‘Forsooth’ Damian thought. ‘I will climb this beanstalk. Perhaps there are stories and adventures awaiting that the people should know of.’

Damian set out, using his best and most well-honed climbing skills. He paused once to look back and was astonished to see how far his climbing had taken him. He could see the green fields, the rivers and the beautiful sea shore of the shire. Two friendly peregrine falcons circled for a moment before flying back to the tower they lived in near the city centre park. Pausing for a moment to consider the shire’s great beauty, he then resumed his quest.

He climbed and climbed and climbed; the clouds grew thick above him, and an eagle soared far below. Suddenly he was aware that out of the clouds a small castle had appeared; there was a long drive leading up to it; misty vapour along this drive seemed to clear as he took his first steps along it.

‘My goodness’ Damian thought. ‘It seems to me that this driveway is heated! What wonderous magic is this?’

The drive led to the small castle; and two henchmen appeared. Damian was sore afraid, but they almost seemed to be waiting for him.

“This way Mr Baits, we’ve been expecting you.” 

The men wore dark suits and talked into small strange boxes; a voice seemed to emanate from these bewitched items.

“Is that Baits arrived? Bring him on in.” A man’s voice squeaked.

Damian was led into a main room where he feart the giant must be lurking. A creature with a bald pate and beady eyes sat at one end of an immensely long wooden table. But as Damian approached he realised this was no giant after all.

‘Why this wee mannie’s no giant after all’ Damian thought to himself., ‘In fact it looks like wee Stewart, the kitchen fitter. Is he wearing lifts? I wonder how he comes to be in this castle?’

The little mannie spoke:

“Fie Fi Fo Fum
“I want to build a stadium
“I may wear lifts cause I’m not big
“But honest gov, that’s me hair not a wig.”

Damian had no answer to that, and remained silent.

“Have a seat Damian – may I call you Damian?” The little man enthused. “I’ve been expecting you. You can call me The Chairman.” 

The henchmen pointed to a little chair; Damian realised that sitting in it would make him seem very small compared to The Chairman who sat on a throne with a booster seat. Damian sat, and so did his mysterious host.

 “How did you come to find your way to me then Baits?”

“Someone offered me some magic beans; I thought they’d be like the magic mushrooms I had the once, but a beanstalk grew instead. I climbed and climbed and climbed, and then through the mist, I saw the road to your castle. The steam and mist seemed to spring from the road as if by magic and it seemed to me I was meant to come done the path.” Damian explained.

At this The Chairman chuckled.

“That would be my heated driveway, don’t you know. Very ecologically sound. In fact, they let me re-design this castle. It may be vibrant and dynamic now, but it was terribly old fashioned before.” 

The henchmen withdrew.

“Now Damian, I’m really a very nice guy, but some of the peasants don’t like me. In fact I think the peasants are revolting. It’s been said I’ve tried to bribe the city planning elders one year with whisky – in fact this outlandish tale appeared in your very own newspaper. We’ll have no more of that I think.”

The man pulled out a small sack of gold and put it on the table. Damian’s eyes grew wide.

“The people also think I want to steal their lands and the lake at Loirston where the birds drink, swim and feed. Nothing could be further from the truth. They’ve also said that I wanted to steal the people’s park in the town centre for my own ends. Such lies! In fact, I merely wanted to enhance the lake and the fields – with a few hundred parking spaces, a stadium and the like. 

“As for the townspeople’s park, it’s not at ground level, and I’m sure a few layers of parking for their coaches and carriages would be preferable to the empty green space that is there now. It’s mere coincidence that I owned the lands across the great road, and needed space for carriages. As to those peregrine falcons that used to live in the ancient tower on my land, they chose to fly away. 

“Of course, I put in spikes and lights to ‘discourage’ them, but verily I never forced them to go.”

Damian looked at the sack of gold the whole while.

“Chairman, I should love to help you; whatever service can I perform to help?”

“To start with, there will be no more tales in your news that make me look badly in front of the people” The Chairman continued. 

“Perhaps some nice photos of me with my winning football team will make the people happy, and thus distract them from worries that would only trouble them. After all, I have used all my footballing skills these many years to build up the best team money can buy. If the stadium I built is apparently falling apart, and we need to move to a green field instead of rebuilding, that’s hardly my fault.” 

“And as a little incentive to you, for every good deed you for me to enhance my reputation with the good people, I shall send you advertisements and gold. Your newspaper needs advertisements, does it not?”

The Boss leaned forward at this point; Damian saw the gold reflected in his eyes. ‘Surely those are the most kindly and honest eyes I’ve ever seen’ thought the young reporter.

“Verily I thank you for your kindness to the people and myself – these souvenir autographed photos of you are lovely and so is that yon sack of gold. Forsooth! I am in. Call me.”

At that moment a high-pitched squawking started from a far corner of the room. A goose sat on a nest, and seemed in distress. A moment later, the henchmen appeared. Taking the goose off the nest, Damian thought he saw the gleam of gold, and in an instant, a bowing henchman placed a beautiful golden egg before The Chairman.

“Not bad, eh?” asked The Chairman.

Damian’s eyes were as wide as saucers now.

“My goodness – what magic is this?” he asked.

“That dear boy is my goose that lays the golden eggs. I call her Council. Council has given me gold many times and in many ways. Council found lands in the Western Hills for me, and gave them to me for a song; I then started to grow rich. Council did even better, and by enchantments I was granted three properties to develop for 10,000,000 coins of gold. 

“Had I not had the lands, I would not have had the leverage to be the lowest bidder among those bidding to develop those properties. Every now and again I am given further gifts.” 

As The Chairman continued, Damian was entranced.

“Council made a magic circle for me; it is called AXSEF. AXSEF is a few, well – like-minded people – people like you and me, Damian, who want to help the city and shire grow smart and successful. And AXSEF even made me its king for a time. 

“AXSEF does help – it’s helping me and my fellow giants as much as it can to get the townspeople on side and to bag that empty park the townspeople seem so fond of. and Damian, I think you may be able to help us with that too. Here, have a golden egg, and a free souvenir AFC coffee mug.”

The boy reporter was thunderstruck by the riches laid at his feet.

“I’ll be in touch soon dear boy” said the former kitchen-fitter, “do come back tomorrow; there is another giant who’d like to meet you and all.” 

The henchmen already had Jack to his feet, and were escorting him and his new treasures off the property.

‘Wow’, thought Damian, ‘What a nice guy; just a little misunderstood. I am sure I can get him out of the stew he’s in – and get a little gold in the process.’

Climbing down the beanstalk and back into his small but stylish home that evening, Damian filed a story or two about the shortage of coach parking and the need for more football stadiums before falling soundly asleep, golden egg secure beneath his pillow, and a fist full of coins in his tighly-clutched hand.

Coins on white

Damian could barely sleep that night. He thought more stories he’d write to say what a nice guy The Chairman was, but it was this next giant that fired his imagination. ‘I wonder who he is and what he has in store for me?’ Surely I will do what’s right for the townspeople – of course – but maybe this is just another misunderstood fellow too?’ – that’s what Damian thought as woke that morning, the gold warming in his hands.

The sun was bright and bonny as Damian wandered towards the beanstalk. He climbed and climbed and climbed. In truth he was turning into quite an accomplished little climber. Once more he turned to look to see the shire. But what was this? The great loch, once home to bird, beast and flower was covered in earth moving equipment, and fences were going up nearly as quickly as the skeletal iron building frames. The animals were nowhere to be seen.

‘Oh well, we can’t really waste space in today’s world, that’s not ‘value for money’ Damian thought. He climbed and climbed and climbed – he was getting better at being a climber every day. But no friendly falcon flew to greet him today ‘I guess the bird got ‘discouraged’ and went to live somewhere else’ he thought.

This time when he reached a break in the cloud he could see a far grander castle than the one The Chairman lived in. Despite having the right to roam in the shire, there were fences blocking Damian’s way. A great jaguar sat in front of the castle, an X type it was. A blonde haired woman stood in the doorway, a broom in her hand. She wore a black gown – and Damian was afraid she might be a witch.

Sensing his fear, the lady spoke.

“Greetings Damian – be not afraid; I’m just wearing my university gown for verily I have been put by my lord the giant in charge of a great seat of learning. I’m Jenny Claw” she said.

She was rather tall Damian thought, and he wondered what great academic qualifications she had for so high-powered a post.

She led him to a great hall hung with tapestries.

“These are scenes from my master’s life you see” she explained.

There were scenes of a tall, gaunt grey-skinned giant in a fishing boat on one wall hanging, for that had been the giant’s first line of work. In another wall hanging, a most curious illustration of the people’s gardens was depicted – but it was somehow changed. Damian could identify the gardens from their location in the town, but they were transformed by some form of sorcery or other. He recognised the town centre garden, but in this tapestry, the grass had been replaced by stone.

Strange nonsensical shapes seemed to arch out of the ground, rising to dizzying heights over the concreted garden, and then down to the ground they descended. The centre of the gardens had a statue which seemed to be the giant Sirian Wood.

‘What manner of witchcraft is this?’ thought Damian Bait; ‘these stone arches seem to have no purpose but to go up and then down again. Verily, it puts me in mind of the market stall where Farmer McDonald sells his hot beef sandwiches’. Noticing Damian’s blank puzzled expression the blonde witch Claw said,

“Interested in the garden project? You’ll be hearing about that soon enough I expect. Isn’t it just the most transformational thing you’ve ever seen?” 

“Er, sure it is.” said Damian, still a great deal perplexed.

The witch continued to escort Baits through the castle; indeed he thought she made a great escort.

Suddenly, a wailing woman’s voice was then heard elsewhere in the castle, and a man’s voice could be heard moaning as well.

“Whatever manner of horror is this??” Master Baits gasped

“Oh, that’s nothing” said witch Claw unphased, “that’s just my master’s wifelet taking her morning exercise with her gymnastics instructor.”

“Isn’t she your mistress then as well if she’s your master’s wife?” asked a puzzled Damian.

“There’s only one mistress around here – or there’d better be – and that’s me” said the witch with a wink.

They entered a great hall. And there sat the giant, Sirian Wood.

Sirian barely noticed Damian’s approach, he was busy with a retinue of what seemed like lawyers and politicians. With a wave of his hand they withdrew eventually. The blonde turned to go as well, and Damian imagined that Sirian gave her a swift wink. Sirian the giant then spoke:

“Fie Fi Fo Fum
“If there’s money going, then I want some
“I know nothing about black fish
“The granite web is my dearest wish.”

Damian had no answer to that, and remained silent for a moment. Changing the subject seemed a good idea though.

“Wow, this is some place you have here” Damian enthused

“But surely you cannot fence in your property to the exclusion of the peasants; there is a right to roam in the land”

“Don’t you worry about any rights my boy; I never do.” the giant murmured.

“This place – ‘tis like heaven!” Damian exclaimed, thinking of the castle in the clouds and the huge mounds of gold sitting in a big pile behind the giant Sirian.

“Well, it is a kind of heaven; a haven if you will, a tax haven.” the giant responded.

The room was rather shabby, except for the pile of gold behind Sirian’s throne, which was enormous.

“You’re looking at my gold” the giant noted.

“That’s 50.4 million gold dubloons I’ll have you know. I’m keeping it for a very special gift which I wish the peasants in the city and shire to accept from me. Either that, or I’ll grow some tea in Africa, and help make the plantation owners richer, with my friend the Giant Saintberry. It will be a great gift to the city – as long as they do exactly what I say, when I say and how I say with my gift.”

“Wow!” Damian was awestruck, not fully understanding the logic of this ‘gift’ – but gold glinted in his eyes making him dizzy.

“What kind of tax must there be on this great wealth?”

“Don’t you worry about any taxes my boy; I never do.” the giant murmured. “Now let’s brass tack this.” 

Sirian leaned forward.

“I want to give the people a statue of me, an outdoor theatre to enjoy all year round, rain, sleet and snow, and some beautiful arches of the finest granite. The people will be able to walk up one end of the arch, and down the other. This way they will be able to get from one side of the parking lot – er I mean garden – to the other. I will give them all this connectivity, people from far off lands will come here to shop.

“My accountants at Pricehousewater Coopers have done all the calculations as I’ve told them to do, and will make everyone rich. All I want in exchange for the money, the arches and the statue is that the townspeople give the park land to my good friends Crosby, Smith and Massie to, er, take care of. Now, you can’t say fairer than that – ” 

The giant leaned forward close to Damian’s face.

“CAN YOU?”

Damian was swooning with thoughts of gold.

“If there were only some way I could help you.” Damian sighed.

“Oh, that’s very kind of you indeed.” said Sirian.

“Since you mention it, it would be very nice if the newspaper you write for could proclaim throughout the land my great generosity in making this gift, how great it will be, and how important those arches are – more so than a bunch of peasant owning a big grassy gathering place in the centre of town.” I’m sure you’ll come up with something – but just in case, here are a few dozen articles that my servants have prepared. Two a week ought to do it.”

A huge scroll of papers was put into Damian’s arms. He barely had time to think. Then again, thinking hadn’t really come into any of his adventures in a positive way so far. There was just one niggling doubt he had.

“So, these are then press releases? I should read them, then investigate, then write my own story?” a puzzled Master Baits asked

“No need for that dear boy; press releases, articles – why confuse the simple townsfolk and peasantry? No, it’s all researched; we even did a poll that proved they want some underground parking, shops and a web. My boy, I will give you some magic gold. Before you know it, you will be going to all the important balls and banquets that the town’s grandees hold. You’ll love it. You’ll be meeting more and more interesting people that you can help, and that can help you back. In short, just print the stories as they are.”

“Here is a tiny token of my thanks to you, you’ll be hearing from my people in due course.”

The giant drew out his sporran. It was covered in cobwebs. As he opened the clasp a great cloud of dust arose. He handed Damian a single gold coin. Damian tried to hide his disappointment.

The grey-skinned giant continued, “It is a great deal of wealth of course in and of itself, and there’s more to come, for this is magic gold. More gold will flow to the coffers of your newspaper as I advertise for strong men to work for me in the seas and in the office blocks we’ll keep building. But mostly, keep this piece of gold, and when people know you have had gold from Sirian, then they shall fall over themselves to help you, knowing how important a person you must be to know me. ”

The giant arose; the door at the end of the great hall opened, and there was that blonde witch again. She stood in the doorway, one hand stretched out to the top of the door opening, the other on her hip.

“Right, er, it’s time for my, er afternoon nap” the giant said; Damian thought he was perhaps blushing.

“Before you go, have you heard of the giant Trumpo? He is a great wizard; he can turn muck into money, and he can fly over the oceans. Where he goes, red carpets and pretty girls appear. He is also a great scholar just like me and my assistant Jenny – I mean Ms Claw. I know this, because I own the great seat of learning called Robbie G’s, and it coincidentally gave Ms Claw a great job, and gave Trumpo a degree, making him an honorary doctor. 

“You’ll love him. Climb the beanstalk tomorrow at the same time; you’ll be driven to his castle in the clouds. The Mary MacLeods to be specific.”

The giant waved his hand, and his servants appeared again, bustling Damian out of the hall. From the corner of his eye Damian thought he saw the giant wrapping his arms around his assistant Ms Claw, but before he knew it, Damian was back on the beanstalk, on his way back home.

That evening Damian had quite a bit to think about. When he arrived home, all sorts of invitations awaited him – dinners and parties and feasts galore. ‘I must be a pretty important guy’ he thought. He put his one gold piece from Sirian on his mantle piece, thinking ‘I want everyone who comes here to see this’.

He fell asleep while reading the many stories about the gardens which would be turned to stone. Words like “vibrant, dynamic, connectivity, transformational” circled around his head. Once when he was about to nod off he realised he hadn’t asked the giant how much it was going to cost to make this grand web – or what it was for. ‘I must remember to do that sometime’ he thought as he fell asleep.

Coins on white

Despite his many trips up and down the beanstalk, Damian was filled with trepidation about his pending audience with the Great Trumpo The Donald. Trumpo was greatly feart in the city and shire alike. His fierce temper, his bellowing voice and his giant sized face with cavernous mouth caused the people to tremble. Damian was awestruck to learn that Trumpo could indeed fly.

Some townsfolk whispered that Trumpo had also caused burgermeister Alex to fly as well, for Trumpo came from a faraway land and Alex visited him for great banquets. It was said by some that Trumpo the Donald was half bear and half giant. This explained the tufts of hair on his head, his roar, his slavering jaw, and huge appetite to get his paws on anyone and anything he desired. Then again, these traits might just as well be due to the fact he was American.

Damian wore his best kilt, and made his way up the beanstalk. Things were different. Was this a dark cloud he was passing through? No, it was in fact smoke billowing from one of the many motor carriages and wagons that lined the roads. A new great ring road was springing up, and Damian could see that the field where horses once pranced and played was now a construction site.

‘All for the best, or so the giants tell me. I’ll trust it to them for verily they are rich – and some even have fancy university degrees!’ he told himself.

He looked down. The fields of green weren’t so green now. The Hill of Tullos was barren – there were no deer, no dame’s violets, no foxes and no gorse. ‘Good’ thought Mr Bates ‘those animals were vermin, the dame’s violets were garden escapees, and that gorse was invasive, serving no other purpose than to shelter the deer, the birds and the foxes. Trees – now that’s where money is – or that’s what my new friends tell me anyway.’

But all he saw was glimpses of tiny fledgling trees engulfed by weeds. The other fields nearby now sported more construction sites or glass and concrete office blocks. ‘What did I ever see in those fields?’ Damian asked himself ‘grass is just empty space that does no good’ he reasoned. No pesky peregrines or irritating eagles came to circle him today either.

Damian did wonder what turning he would take through the clouds on the beanstalk to find Trumpo – but he needn’t have worried. As the clouds cleared, far off loomed the largest sign he’d ever seen, announcing ‘TRUMPO’S GOLF COURSE AND TEMPORARY CLUBHOUSE. THE WORLD’S GREATEST GOLF COURSE. CASH WELCOME.’

Damian approached.

The mist cleared; green grass and a road were visible – speeding down the road towards Master Baits was a white van. ‘Acme Security Company’ it said on its sign. Two men – nearly giants themselves – jumped out and raced towards him.

“Halt! Who goes there! Where’s your ID? What are you doing here? I’ll smash your camera!” said the first guard.

“Hold on a minute there – this is our expected guest to be sure, tis Mr Baits hisselff!” exclaimed the second, extending a hand of welcome. “In ye pop and we’ll take you to the boss himself.”

Damian was bundled into a van and sped down a beautifully smooth path. He was driven at speed past huge mounds of earth, topped by dead and dying fir trees. ‘Well, that’s different’ he thought.

The van parked by a mysterious gate. It was wood painted brown; it sat at the end of a huge coach and carriage park. Either side of this gate was neither fence nor barricade, just more mounds of earth. ‘I guess that access code business doesn’t hold much weight up here at the dizzying heights these giants live at’ Baits thought, as he realised only the fittest and slimmest climber would be able to pass that gate.

They got out of the security van, and there stood an amazing sight: it was the biggest clock Damian had ever seen. It stood 20 foot tall – perhaps Trumpo was so big he needed a big clock Damian wondered – either that or he was compensating for something. On closer inspection the clock seemed even more wonderous – it had four different faces. ‘Trumpo must be very wealthy indeed – and look, each side of the clock has a slightly different time. Perhaps that shows what time it is in the magical realm he’s from, and other realms too.’

The temporary clubhouse was not quite as grand as one might think the world’s greatest golf course’s clubhouse would be. A wooden and glass shack, with some round tables and chairs met Damian’s eye.

A voice boomed from far away.

“Bring in the prisoners!”

The voice struck fear in everyone’s hearts – the guards’ and Damian’s too.

Damian and the two guards entered the clubhouse. A gigantic figure of a man with something on his head sat at the far end of the room. Two of the town’s constables entered, each dragging a man in chains before Trumpo.

“Sir, we caught these two men talking to one of your managers” one of the constables started.

“It’s a breach of the peace, sir. They were asking when yon peasants in the farmhouse will have their water supply fixed – you know, the one we accidentally cut off the other week on purpose. This one’s called Anthony of Baxter; the other is Richard of Phinney. They claim to be journalists.” 

The policeman shoved the two chained men forward in front of the giant and stepped back

Trumpo’s face was like thunder. Aesthetically, this was an improvement. He stood and shook his fist. Surely now Damian would hear the kind of oratory and wisdom that a doctor from Robbie G’s school would be expected to employ. Trumpo spoke:

“Hey! Whaddya think youse guys is doing, comin inta the world’s greatest golf course and taking pictures and talking to my fellers. Wadddya two wiseguys tryin ta pull already? Jeez!”

The tall slender man in chains answered,

“We’re journalists. We want to tell the townsfolk what you’re doing here. You can’t treat people like this – cutting off their water supply, and arresting journalists! Journalists need to be free to let people know what’s going on in the world, you can’t bribe us, you can’t silence us. And by law, you can’t arrest us!”

The man was either brave or foolhearty – or indeed he was a journalist and therefore a little of both.

Damian took a step back. After all he was a journalist on the most popular newspaper in the land. Something seemed wrong to him somehow – was he doing a good job as a journalist? He felt vexed.

“Boss, you can’t arrest ‘em it’s true to be sure” said a security guard. “But I’ll bet you can throw them in the prison for a day or so, and teach ‘em a good lesson. If we give ‘em a caution, that’ll shut ‘em up.”

“All right, all right – just ged ‘em outta here, I’ve got an appointment with a real journalist guy any minnit now.” Addressing the two writers, with his hair flopping in his beady eyes Trumpo said.

“Youse two, you keep outta the joint – this is the world’s greatest golf course after all.”

“Oh no it’s not!” said Anthony and Richard

“Oh yes it is!!” said Trumpo

“OH NO IT’S NOT!” said the defiant journalists

“OH YES IT IS! NOW GED ‘EM OUTTTA MY SIGHT.” 

Baxter and Phinney were dragged from the clubhouse in chains.

“Now I’m in one of my rare bad moods!” roared Trumpo the Donald.

“There’s only one thing for it – bring me my golden harpie.” 

The fearful giant clapped his plump hands.

The security guards returned with the most beautiful thing Damian had ever seen: a beautiful harp with the face of a beautiful girl. ‘Hold on, I know her!’ he thought. The giant Trumpo spoke:

“Fie Fi Fo Fum
“She’s rather pretty if rather dumb
“Useless for golf, but good arm candy
“A girl like this comes in handy.”

“Hey Sarah honey, I think you know my visitor Damian Baits here, dontcha?” Trumpo asked his harp.

“Why yes, when I was but a girl, he plucked me –“ she started.

“I’ll bet he plucked ya sweetheart! Yuk! Yuk! Yuk!” the giant said, roaring with laughter at his own double entendre. 

The guards looked at each other for a moment, one nudged the other in the ribs with his elbow, and they started laughing loudly at their boss’s joke as well.

The harpie blushed.

“Oh er, I mean he plucked me from obscurity, and crowned me ‘The Fairest Face of The Shire’” the harpie explained, hastening to add “It was truly a great honour – but not as much an honour of course as working for you. It’s real fun planning 900 homes, two golf courses, hundreds of homes and a clubhouse.” the harpie hastened to qualify her answer.

“Tell us whatcha know about golfing and project management, honey.” Trumpo demanded.

“Well, there are little balls. There are little holes, and er, you build stuff and then sometimes ask to get permission for the stuff you’ve already built, and… well it’s the largest sand dunes in the world out there.”

“Oh no they’re not!” Damian said before he could stop himself. Counting on his fingers he continued, “There’s the Sahara, the Empty Quarter, Death Vall-”

“OH YES THEY ARE! ARRRGH! Did you not see my plaque what I wrote by the dunes! It says the world’s largest dunes, sos that’s what they are gottit?!” 

The giant rose from his seat, knocking the fake flowers out of the fake porcelain vase onto the fake wooden veneer floor.

Damian was frozen with horror at the faux pas he’d made; the whole room went silent. Thinking quickly (for him that is) he replied.

“Oh, yes, now I see what you mean of course these are the largest, greatest, bestest dunes ever anywhere – please forgive me, I need to do some more research on your beautiful golf club, and I’ll tell all the world – well everything you tell me to tell all the world” Damian stammered.

“Now that’s what I wanna hear!” the giant said; he seemed placated.

“G’wan, have my golden harpie, take her home with you, I’ll bet you can play her like a violin just like I have. Haw! Haw! Haw!” Trumpo sniggered.

“Now I’m sure you’re gonna wanna help lil Sarah harpie here arentcha Damain, and here’s some gold to keep her good looking”

Trumpo put his hand to his mouth and whispered to Damian,

“She’s a bit high maintenance, needs some work done – just like my other exes, Har! Har!”

Trumpo thrust the harpie at Damian; Damian was smitten. So this then was him reunited with the face of the Shire. He looked at her lovely G string, and thought to himself how clever he’d been to get rid of his old cow before taking home this lovely trophy.

“Now Damian, c’mere” said The Donald, putting a giant arm around the young reporter.

“ I want we should forgets all about those two guys what you saw before – not a word about them or journalism in your little newspaper going forward, got it? Sarah here has written some great stuff about golf and the billions of pounds of investment we’re gonna have using all her brain power – she’s smart as a whip, isn’t she?” said the giant, nudging Baits in the ribs

“We’ll help you write some great stories. Here’s our first one.” 

Trumpo yelled to his minions again.

“Bring in those traitors!”

Several councillors were brought in by the security guards, chained together. They looked defiant.

Trumpo the giant turned to Damian.

“These wiseguys thought they could vote against my development plans – vote against ME! Well, you know I’m a giant, but I’m also a magician. Watch this.” 

As Trumpo spoke he waived his hands and a great purple smoke appeared. When it cleared, everyone gasped for to their amazement, the councillors who voted against Trump had been transformed into giant turnips.

“Damian, you’re gonna take some pictures of these knuckleheads, put ‘em on the front cover of that little evening paper ya got, and in giant letters call them ‘TRAITORS’. That’ll show the townspeople what happens when ya try and cross me. You get turned into a neep – that or you get a bit of a granite overcoat. Haw haw!” Trumpo laughed heartily, his booming voice filling the temporary clubhouse.

Damian thought he saw the beautiful harpie shudder. He too felt uncomfortable. Surely the purpose of a newspaper was to present the facts, and make clear what was an opinion and what was a fact? Surely a newspaper had to report the truth despite however much gold it was offered by industrial giants?

“Oh Damian, can we go home soon?” The harp was singing now, and Damian couldn’t remember exactly what, but a moment ago something had bothered him.

He was quite contented to listen to Sarah’s voice. Everything seemed fine.

“There’s a guy I’d like you to meet as well Damian”, Trump spoke, clapping his hands and a wizened little old man with a red face came out of the shadows.

“This is my scientific adviser, say ‘hello Bill’ – it’s Professor Bill Ritchie, from the other shire university, not the one that made me a doctor. Bill tells everyone how green and environmentally friendly we is at the world’s greatest golf course, dontcha Bill?” 

Trump grabbed the little man by the back of his neck and shook him a bit. The professor seemed little more than a puppet.

Damian was astonished: this was the little old professor who proclaimed far and wide that Trumpo’s golf course would be a great place for wildlife. The professor was supposed to record for the shire all of Trump’s great environmental accomplishments, and keep an eye on things. Alas! The professor had long since stopped receiving carrier pigeons or messengers; everyone thought he was dead. And here he’d been hiding all along, with the giant.

Damian wondered for a split second as to the famed professor’s supposed impartiality.

But it dawned on him: ‘I used to think the fields and creatures were good, but now that I’ve met these three giants with such great plans for our future prosperity, I see that the animals can go find somewhere else to live, and those pesky peregrines can flock off, too. I guess Professor Ritchie just figured that out before I did. I wonder if Sirian gave him a special honorary doctorate too – or some other giftie?’ Damian realised all was fine in the realm.

“Now before ya go, here’s a little bit of gold for you, and two very special gifts.”

Trumpo seemed very pleasant as he spoke. He reached into a shiny bag that lay on the table.

‘Would it be more gold?’ Damian wondered, ‘Perhaps a wonderous gift like the harpie or the goose that laid the golden eggs?’

“This is one of my personal Trumpo the Donald neckties, made in a faraway magical land called China. And this is my book, and I’ve even signed it.” Trumpo explained.

Sure enough, inside the book ‘The Art of the Devil’ was a big letter ‘X’.

“I’ll come see you next time I fly in, my granny was from Scotland land ya know.” 

Trump was off, henchmen at his side. Damian took his swag and left.

Unbridled joy was Damian’s. With the harpie on his arm like arm candy, another sackful of gold, a polyester necktie and some great stories to print, he headed down the beanstalk one final time, knowing he was truly now the success he always knew he would be.

Coins on white

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Sep 262014
 

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

Dictionary

Tally Ho! For a city with no beating heart and collapsed lungs awaiting a granite web transplant, Aberdeen is somehow managing to hold its own on the cultural front. The Techfest 2014 events are very impressive and are still ongoing. Aberdeen gets ready to welcome Billy Connolly next week; if the city isn’t rolling out the red carpets, it should be.

The Big Yin will be at the music hall; tickets sold out instantly. Post referendum, this will be quite a show. That underused shady green garden is going to have an Oktoberfest. It’s all happening.

Referendum fallout is everywhere, and shows no signs of abating. Both Yes and No camps still cry foul; queens are accused of purring; political parties are accused of breaking their promises, something I can assure worried readers will never happen.

Two years on, and Aberdeen’s own referendum on Union Terrace Gardens show no sign of abating, either. The P&J, Tom Smith, ACSEF and Sir Ian Wood are still banging on about how a granite web is the city’s only salvation and how it must be built over our only existing city centre green space (coincidentally owned by you and I, and worth tens of millions).

The canals of Venice. The Eiffel Tower.The Taj Mahal. The granite web to nowhere. Yes, that would have worked. These tenacious people of course have no selfish interests as they campaign on and on and on.

In the news this week are various movements – various ‘isms’. Women are bleating on about wanting rights. Campaigning journalists closer to home are drumming up support for their advertisers’ projects – sorry – important local causes. Time for a look at some of these ‘isms’.

Feminism: (Modern English movement) – belief that women and men should have equal opportunities, equal rights and equal pay.

Well, I am just a weak, helpless female, so I got one of my male colleagues to explain to me what’s wrong with this feminism business. Apparently, it’s all about unshaven women who want to look like men, or something like that. It’s just too complex for me.

On the other hand, I did some research. You will be surprised to learn that there may indeed be instances where there is a small amount of discrimination.

For reasons known only to herself, actress Emma Watson – actress and academic scholar is trying to tell us that feminism isn’t a dirty word. For some reason, she thinks that women are not treated as well as men. I wonder why she’d come to such a wild conclusion; she’s probably just looking for headlines.

Of course Watson may object to a few inconsequential facts. Women around the world do not earn as much money as male contemporaries for the same work. Women are being forced into marriage around the globe including here in the UK. There is also the small matter that in the western world, a mere one in 4 women can expect to experience some form of sexual abuse or violence.

Women are being trafficked against their will to be used as prostitutes. Police routinely ignore women’s pleas for help with domestic violence, and yet another woman in the UK was killed by a stalker the police had been warned about many, many times before.

That ought to prove that women aren’t subject to exploitation

In short, I’ve no idea why Emma thinks that campaigning for equal treatment of women in society is something we need to do. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if she turned her efforts to something worthwhile, like backing the Aberdeen City Garden Project?

To disprove Watson’s case, some charming, anonymous people have started a countdown online as to when they plan to release nude photos of her. That ought to prove that women aren’t subject to exploitation to everyone’s satisfaction. Releasing any photos will also put her back in her place, intimidate her, and then we girls can forget all this silly feminist stuff.

For further examples of the fair treatment the fair sex gets, the 25/9 P&J carries a tale we can all have a good laugh along with.

Offshore worker Andrew Thomas has unfairly been put on the sex offenders’ register for a whole year, and will have to do some community service. He was just being a lad after all when he snuck into his female offshore co-worker’s room, set up a phone to spy on her, and saved photos of her changing and washing. It’s even funnier because he pretended to be her pal.

Any red-blooded offshore worker would have done the same. Spoilsport Kerry McKnockiter doesn’t get that this was just good fun, and somehow feels she’s been violated. Go figure. At the same time, a man who grew something called ‘marijuana’ at his home has rightly been locked up for 12 months, a splendidly fair sentence, and a great use of taxpayer money. Good on us.

As to this equal pay business that feminists want resolved, what do you need money for once you’ve got a husband, hopefully the richest one you could snare? I’d recommend pretty young girls enter beauty contests – look at the great catch Sarah ‘Face Of Aberdeen’ Malone landed when Damian Bates married the lucky girl?

Still, some women insist on working, taking jobs away from our boys. It’s only right that girls don’t get the same money as men do; after all, they’re not as strong or as smart as men are. All public sector pay was meant to be levelled out years back; this is still in progress. In fact, Torry was once asked to sell huge tracts of land it controlled to help Aberdeen City level out its pay issues.

If Old Susannah recalls correctly (remember, I’m just an old woman) – the city made a fine job of equalising pay – by lowering the salaries of some men, rather than raising women’s pay. Sounds pretty reasonable to me. More on all this here. Of course pay and pension are still wee problems (well, if you’re a girl anyway) today. All I can say is ‘calm down dear, it’s only your living wage.

We’ve had wimmin academics heckled, threatened with rape and other forms of violence.

It couldn’t be that the ‘writers’ are slavishly regurgitating whatever press releases it gets

I guess when you have extremist feminists like Caroline Criado-Perez (a foreigner, note) who wanted Jane Austin put on a bank note, then trying to frighten the weaker sex is a good strategy to get them in line.Perhaps a nice cup of tea and a pat on the head is all that these feminist type ladies and Emma Watson need.

That, and perhaps a box of chocolates and a new hat.

Yellow Journalism: The use of sensationalism, bias, and exaggeration in order to attract and/or influence readers.

“There are no concrete plans to breathe new life into the heart of Aberdeen – two years after the city Garden Project was controversially scrapped.”

– So wrote the P&J’s Dawn Morrison this week for the P&J’s Wednesday cover story, dramatically illustrated with an ornate gold picture frame with nothing inside of it. I’m sure this factual, un-emotive opening sentence will have us girls weeping into our ice-cream tubs.

I’m equally sure that, coincidentally of course, some of the P&J’s biggest advertisers do indeed have concrete plans for Union Terrace Gardens.

Well, perhaps granite-clad concrete is what they want, but there are some people who just want that green space taken over, which will magically put the business rates in the area within the reach of local shopkeepers, will reduce the unfair advantages multinational competitors have over homegrown businesses (buying power, advertising, brand recognition, and of course the use of cheap if not slave labour abroad to create projects).

It’s also very reassuring that all P&J writers, off their own bats of course, use the exact same description for Aberdeen – breathing new life into it, its beating heart, etc. etc.

It couldn’t be that the ‘writers’ are slavishly regurgitating whatever press releases or directives they get. It wouldn’t be like helmsman Damian Bates to dictate to his minions what to write, what not to write about (Anthony Baxter and his Trump-related documentaries for instance) or how to write it.

A google search on ‘breath new life’, ‘heart’, ‘Aberdeen’ and ‘Ian Wood’ will give you all the breathing, beating and throbbing you could ever hope for. It’s just amazing everyone uses the same metaphors – not that these stirring words and phrases are getting at all tedious or worn out, mind you. This whole business may have started with Sir Ian himself; and a regular breath of fresh air he is, too.

The P&J is a bastion for free thinking, freely-writing intrepid investigative journalists whose high ideals lead to balanced articles such as this empty picture frame one. Some might think that such a blatant piece of editorial belongs tucked away inside the issue, but that’s another matter. Some also think that the press shouldn’t exist to serve its advertisers’ interests or indeed the financial interests of the people who edit the news. But that is, I suppose, nit-picking.

Alas, that’s all there is time for this week; I feel the need to shop coming on, and my weakly female constitution can’t possibly continue without a new pair of shoes to cheer me up. More next week.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

[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.]

May 302014
 

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

DictionaryThe saying runs ‘a week is a long time in politics;’  and it certainly has been a long, eventful week in Scotland.  Congratulations to us all; we  now have new MEPs, including one UKIP member, a Scottish first.

Meet the new boss – David Coburn.  The Torygraph (sorry, Telegraph) quoted Coburn as saying:

“voters disillusioned with the Nationalists had coalesced around Ukip as a result and rejected the First Minister’s claim the BBC was to blame by providing extensive coverage of Nigel Farage to Scottish homes” 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Scottish-Ukip-MEP-thanks-Alex-Salmond-for-breakthrough.

Old Susannah is trying to work out how you can be gay and a UKIP MEP, when UKIP wants to stop same sex marriage. It’s almost as if there were some inconsistencies in this party’s policies and/or membership.

The new catchphrase on UKIP supporters’ lips is “I’m not racist but…”.  For some reason most of us want the freedom to have property abroad, move abroad and work abroad (if not keep our money away from the taxman by stashing it abroad). We just don’t want people from abroad doing that kind of thing here.

So, UKIP  has gained ground, largely at the expense of the Lib ‘no tuition fees, we’ve signed a pledge’ Democrats. I guess every very grey cloud has some kind of silver lining. Oh, and that nice man, Mr Inclusive, Nick Griffin has lost the seat the BNP once held.

But first, a quick word before definitions on a serious matter. There is a drug-related problem to be addressed, sorry to say. The P&J and its sister the Evening Express have been desperate for a fix lately, and have been experimenting with drug stories. Unfortunately too many drugs articles can cause reporters great confusion and difficulties in concentrating, thus leading to inaccurate, wild stories. Cocaine in particular can lead to a dangerous feeling over confidence.  In a very excited, highly agitated condition, the P&J reported:

“A MAJOR police probe has been launched after a stash of cocaine was found on a North Sea oil platform. Medics have drug-tested 150 workers on the Piper Bravo after a number of wraps containing white powder were discovered.

“The substance will be tested at a laboratory in Aberdeen today and is expected to be confirmed as the Class A drug.” https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeen/83802/suspected-stash-of-cocaine-found-on-north-sea-platform/

Old Susannah may only be an amateur writer, but I tend to write about things once they have been confirmed. The news professionals at AJL clearly have problems with doing lines. The head line in their story claims it’s cocaine that’s been found. Then the paper does some smaller lines which tell readers that the wraps (whatever that is) are expected to be confirmed as the class a drug.

I’m afraid it was snorts of derision all round other Scottish media when the truth came out, as alas! The wraps of cocaine turned out to be some kind of painkiller (and a legal one at that).

Unfortunately with drugs, there is always a comedown. The papers and their uber editor somehow hallucinated that cocaine was found on an oil rig. When they were forced to sober up a few days later, reality had set in, and they reported:

“An unknown substance discovered in packages on a North Sea platform was common pain relief medicine, tests have confirmed.

“Three small packages containing the substance were recovered from the Piper Bravo platform on Saturday.” http://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/news/scotland/platform-alert-substance-medicine-1.385127

Confused hacks at the papers even have one article talking about unknown substances, but the same article has a photo captioned:

“FIND: An unknown substance found on board the Piper Bravo platform has been confirmed as a common painkiller” – http://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/news/local/three-packages-to-be-tested-after-white-powder-found-on-north-sea-platform-1.380523

So you see, messing around with drugs because you think they may make you or your newspaper look glamorous or interesting can backfire badly, making you embarrassed by your behaviour for a long time to come.

Onwards with definitions as promised last week, although I find it hard to figure out if the governments want to protect our rights or spy on us, and be the only ones allowed to hold data on individuals. It surely can’t be the latter. Here are some definitions focusing on recent developments impacting on your right to privacy, your right to know, and press freedom.

‘Right to be forgotten’ : (Modern English legal phrase)- legal guarantee that in certain circumstances search engines will be forced to remove links from search results if they concern a private person who wants their past stories and deeds to be omitted from search results.

As the BBC reported,

“The Court of Justice of the European Union set a legal precedent on 13 May when it ruled that a user had the right to have links to web pages about him removed from Google’s results because the passage of time had made them ‘irrelevant'”

The Spanish man had complained that Google’s links to an auction notice of his repossessed home infringed his privacy. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27499601

Surely this ‘right to be forgotten’ could never be used to protect lawbreakers, people with violent pasts, or UKIP members who eventually realise they don’t want to be associated with UKIP views on homosexuals and immigrants?

Somehow the EU has decided that it is not the responsibility of people who publish information on the web to take it down, it is somehow Google’s responsibility for letting people know what’s out there that should be curtailed. Perhaps we’ll decide that librarians (if there are any left) are responsible for what gets into card catalogues and publishers are off the hook for printing information that someone, somewhere wants forgotten.

What are the implications – cost, practicality, data management for search engines? Is it even possible to enact this law? I guess these minor details will work themselves out with little fuss.

The BBC also reports:-

“Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, has attacked the judgement, calling it “wide-sweeping internet censorship”, adding that it would be difficult for search firms to determine what should be removed”

Surely our EU and national governments wouldn’t try and control the flow of information, would they?

At the same time the EU wants to control the circulation of information and retention records, UK / Scottish Authorites are going about things a little differently.

Yet another policeman has been charged with spying on an ex partner via the police database. I’m sure he was just trying to keep a friendly eye on her and her family; she’s probably flattered that she’s being looked after.

Unfortunately, the law says that such records are to be used for professional reasons only. But surely we can trust the police with our private information, especially now that the government is collecting more and more data on us all the time?

School children and younger are being arrested, and their DNA and fingerprints taken. Kind of conveniently, this makes it just that much easier for the police to keep tabs on us all from an early age, whether we’re criminals or not. You’ll also be happy to know that more and more police are carrying guns.  I’m sure you feel as safe as I do.

When it comes to sharing info, there is a new scheme afoot to keep records on people with violent pasts, and let potential spouses access these. There may be issues with who controls this data, what’s included or excluded, and who makes the decisions on what to release. But as long a the authorities in charge, then it will all work out fine.  I wonder what would happen if the police started looking at the violent, criminal activities of its own members?

Press Reform: (Modern English phrase) – the ConDem attempt at press regulation in the aftermath of the news of the world hacking scandal.

In the old days, the only check on government, politicians and the powerful was a free press.  However, one news corporation used some illegal methods to get stories.  Coupled with the fact our government is trustworthy and doesn’t need any investigation, the ConDems have decided we don’t really need a free press. As the Telegraph reports:

“Late on Friday, in yet another session from which press representatives were excluded, Mrs Miller and the other parties produced the final version of their charter. There were a few small changes, but crucially nothing to address the newspapers’ central concern, which was that the charter could be amended by politicians, effectively at will. (In theory, a high bar – a two-thirds majority of Parliament – is needed, but in practice this requirement is not entrenched and could be changed by a simple majority of MPs.)

“Any new press regulator would not itself be part of the state, but it would have to conform to the criteria set down by the state in the royal charter. These are fairly prescriptive already – but if they can be changed by MPs in future to make them tighter still, a decisive line has been crossed in political control of the press.”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Why-Maria-Millers-plans-for-reform-are-so-dangerous

Oh, and the ‘Mrs Miller’ quoted in the above paragraph is the same woman who was the culture secretary; she had to leave in disgrace after the media exposed a scandal or two she was involved with.  It’s almost as if she wanted revenge on the press. Miller also had an aide try and thwart press questions by a Telegraph reporter by intimating Miller was in a position of power over the press.

Private Eye, The Guardian, i, The Independent and The Observer (to name a few) did not dish out money to the police for scoops, did not hack into 150 phonecalls of Kate Middleton’s before she married Prince William, and did not hack into a missing schoolgirl’s phone, possibly compromising crucial evidence.

But you have to be fair when you’re in government – like when many of our major banks broke the rules, lost tens of millions of pounds, and falsified records. They were all soundly punished with measures ranging from taxpayer-funded bailouts, taxpayer-funded million pound bonuses for bosses, and absolutely no punitive regulations were at all.  One paper breaks the law (with it should be noted police complicity), and it’s time to cow the entire media.

With the banking sector, it is almost as if the friendships and overlaps between government officials and highly-placed financial executives resulted in the government turning a blind eye.  Funnily enough, the government is keen to punish all  of its critics in the publishing sector. I wonder why?

So in summary, you won’t be getting information from a free, unhindered press.  You probably won’t be getting all the search results you want from Google or Yahoo!  You’ll be getting information from the government, or at least the information government will let you have.  Seems fair enough to me.

Next week:  We’ll see if we’re allowed to publish

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.