Sep 102015

With thanks to Martin Carle.

Polish PilotsThe Aberdeen City Youth Council, alongside the Polish Association in Aberdeen have organised an event to be taking place in the city that commemorates the role of Polish pilots in the Battle of Britain, 75 years on.
“For Your Freedom and Ours” is an event that will run from 5pm on Wednesday 16th September in the city’s Town House.

Lord Provost George Adam is to open the exhibition and there will be a lecture from Mateusz Biskup, a polish writer and author.

Refreshment will be available on the evening.

The Event is open to the public, and much of the exhibition consists of informative displays that can be viewed at your leisure. Speaking about the event, ACYC chairperson, Piotr Teodorowski says

“The Youth Council runs multiculturalism consultations in Aberdeen. Many young people want to learn about different cultures. Thus, we organise a joint event with the Polish Association to show our common history and present these courageous men and women who fought for our freedom 75 years ago in the Battle of Britain.”

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Nov 082011

With Remembrance Sunday approaching fast and the wearing of a poppy being de rigueur for every stuffed shirt and empty suit on TV, Voice’s Dave Watt thinks about 11 November.  

11 November falls on a Friday this year, so the dead will have to wait until Sunday to be remembered, as the powers that be don’t seem to think that remembering them on the actual Armistice Day would be convenient.
I mean, businesses might lose a whole two minutes profit and think what a disaster that would be for our thriving economy. After all, big business interests shovel money into party funds and one and a quarter million dead servicemen and women don’t. So, balls to them.

Armistice Day on 11 November was originally meant to signal the end of The War to End Wars, back in a time when that phrase wouldn’t bring forth a cynical snigger.

In fact, on my grandfather’s medals, hanging in a frame in my hallway, it refers to The Great War For Civilisation which shows that there were politicians in the 1920s capable of coming out with the same kind of drivel as George W Bush did with his ludicrous War on Terror ten years ago.

Presumably, at some time in the future there will be a War For Straight Bananas or a War For Fashionable Sandals or something equally weird.

Hopefully, this year will not feature such irretrievable tat as the Royal British Legion inviting The Saturdays to frolic half-naked in a sea of poppies or getting the judges on X Factor to wear grotesque poppy fashion items – two tasteless frolics which inspired ex-SAS soldier Ben Griffin to describe them as ‘stunts to trivialise, normalise and satirise war’. Griffin, in fact, went on to state that remembrance has been turned into ‘a month long drum roll of support for current wars’, a point of view it is increasingly difficult to disagree with.

My grandfather joined up in 1914 in the surge of patriotism engendered by Germany illegally invading Belgium; my uncle joined up in 1939 when Hitler illegally subjugated Poland. Presumably, if Tony Blair had been Prime Minister in 1914, we’d have joined in the illegal invasion and attacked tiny Belgium as we did with impoverished third world Afghanistan, not one of whose citizens had previously done us the slightest harm.

Then again, if Tony had been in charge in 1939 he’d surely have produced some shoddy dossiers to our gullible Parliament showing how those dastardly Poles were all set to attack peace-loving Nazi Germany and that they had weapons of mass destruction concealed in Cracow and Gdansk which could be deployed within 45 minutes.

Yes, if good old Tony had been on the case then, we could nowadays watch Wellington bombers joining the Stukas strafing the women and kids in Warsaw on World at War on Yesterday – with a suitably solemn voice-over courtesy of Laurence Olivier. God, wouldn’t that make us just so proud of ourselves?

No, the bottom line is that we’re not the Good Guys helping the Underdog against the Bully any more. We’re something quite different now.

If you were wondering what happened to my uncle and grandfather in their wars, my uncle died in Normandy in 1944 after fighting in North Africa, Italy and Sicily. My grandfather survived four years in the trenches but was wounded and mustard-gassed in 1918. The mustard gas steadily and horribly eroded his lungs over the years and he eventually died in 1955 aged 56, so the War for Civilisation got him in the end.

I also had a relative on board HMS Hood when the Bismarck sank her in the Denmark Straits in May 1941. He was not one of the three survivors.

It’s interesting to think that if my three relations had survived wars and lived until now that their reward from a grateful country would be to have some pampered ex-public schoolboy Tories and Lib Dems cutting their fuel allowances by £100 this winter.

I’ll have my own two minutes silence for my relations and all the rest – the ones who came back and the ones who didn’t.

On Friday.

Photo Credits –
Row Of Crosses © Mediaonela |  
Poppy At Newe July 2011 © Elaine Andrews

Central And Eastern European Fortnight In Aberdeen

 Aberdeen City, Articles, Community, Events, Featured, Gigs and Concerts, Information  Comments Off on Central And Eastern European Fortnight In Aberdeen
Mar 152011

By Kieran Donnan.

It is not unknown that in the Northeast there is now a considerable part of the population of Eastern and Central European descent.

The Shared Planet society have thus been inclined to host musical events, dance, music and cookery workshops, talks and possibly a photograph exhibition to bring the color of that culture to the Northeast for two weeks.

The series of events, organised by Shared Planet Society and supported by the Polish Soc, Lithuanian Soc, German Soc, Climate Change Project and Amnesty International, are more or less a warm effort to invoke cultural understanding and the idea of integration into our community.

Described as a sense experience, the events are intended to be colourful, musical, sumptuous and informative; a veritable tapestry of the Eastern European experience.

The collaboration of the diverse societies of Aberdeen University can be experienced at the communal club night, taking place on Friday the 18th of March in the Tunnels. The Eastern European Diversity Club Night offers a variety of music ranging from Balkan Beat, through Klezmer, traditional and modern Lithuanian vibes, Polish tunes to Estonian rock. Next to more interactive happenings at the Club Night and Polish and Romanian Cookery Workshops, the Fortnight offers six different talks informing different aspects of Central and Eastern European life, language, history and identity.

On the 23rd of March, there will be music workshops focusing on Balkan music and the tradition of Klezmer music and dance, which is essentially an ethnic Jewish tradition but undergoing revival in different forms such as jazz and modern folk music. The idea most prevalent in the Klezmer tradition is the expression of human emotions, from grief to joy, and it is ultimately a celebration of the joy of living.

Also on the 23rd,  a Klezmer dance workshop will be followed by a concert, which marks one of the highlights of the Fortnight.

these are simply a demonstration of community feeling and warmth towards relatively new neighbours

The concert will be given by She’Koyokh, who describe themselves on their webpage as London’s “klezmer sensation”, performing Eastern European and Balkan folk music at international festivals and concert halls, performing lively and particularly vibrant music, one cannot resist dancing to.

A less raucous but nonetheless engaging element of the culture awareness week will be a series of talks by academics of various departments from the University of Aberdeen on the significance of understanding Central and Eastern cultural identity and history within the Northeast community.

One of the interests of the Shared Planet society is to nudge people into understanding the new element that exists within not only the Northeast, but the entire community in Scotland, an element that is rich in history, culture and taste.

These talks, along with the possibility of a photography exhibition titled “Scotland Through our Eyes” during the course of the fortnight,  are simply a demonstration of community feeling and warmth towards relatively new neighbours. It will be a varied and sensual experience, aural, visual and for the sense of taste as well.

It is certainly worth picking one of these events to go to, even better to enjoy the whole experience.

For more info, click –


Aug 132010

Dave Watt shockingly reveals that colourful, honest and fun-loving Scots have not always been revered beyond our own shores…

The traditional picture in Scotland of we noble Jocks being welcomed all over the world for our forthright honesty, creativity, general lovability – and not being English football fans – took a bit of a knock for me earlier this year when I read an interesting book, The Scots Abroad by TA Fischer. Continue reading »