Jan 132017

By Anne Foy.

Doctors have issued a warning published in a British Medical Journal, that grapes are a ‘choking hazard’ to small children after two Scottish children have died choking on the fruit in the last few years.
45 deaths in Scotland in 2015 among people of all ages were due to choking on food.

Parents already know not to give toddlers under three years old, toys with small parts.

Every mum and dad is well versed on the dangers of marbles and tiny building blocks but foods often aren’t given the same consideration. 

Hotdogs, Grapes and Sweets Risk

The top three foods that children choke on are hotdogs, grapes and sweets because they are exactly the right shape to obstruct an immature airway. Not only do sweets cause dental problems, they are a major choking risk to children. Cherry tomatoes are also a problem and if parents don’t slice them into smaller pieces, they can become lodged in the throat. Babies and under 5 year old’s are at much greater risk of choking accidents because their trachea is so small.

Aberdeenshire Boy Dies

Five year old Aberdeenshire boy, Louis Emaho died in 2012 after choking on grapes at an after-school club. Staff at the club attempted to dislodge the fruit when it became apparent that he couldn’t breathe. He was suctioned by ambulance technicians and given CPR but despite their efforts was dead on arrival at the hospital.

17 Month Old Toddler Dies

In another case, a 17 month old boy died died when he was eating lunch with his family after choking on grapes. His parents attempted to clear his airway but were unsuccessful so they dialled for an emergency ambulance. Initial attempts at CPR failed because the fruit was still blocking the airway so paramedics met the ambulance crew on route to the hospital and were able to remove it via laryngoscopy (a telescope that allows the doctor to see into the back of the throat and extract objects). 

Medical staff were unable to revive the little boy.

A Lucky Escape

A third child narrowly escaped death when he began choking on grapes in the park. An ambulance crew was already nearby and were on the scene within minutes. They were able to remove the grape and the child began breathing again, although he had two seizures as a result of the oxygen starvation and signs of brain swelling. After being placed on artificial ventilation for five days. Just six days following the removal of his vent, he was well enough to go home. Miraculously, he showed no signs of any disability.

Advice for Parents

Due to these infrequent but tragic incidents, NHS Health Scotland has updated their childcare guidance and now suggest that parents chop up fruits like cherry tomatoes and grapes into tiny pieces, remove any pips and stones and avoid whole nuts. They also advise that it is safer to cut larger fruits into slices rather than chunks, as this makes them thinner and less likely to get stuck in the throat and they urged that parents supervise their young children when they are eating.

What To Do If Your Child Chokes

  • Check your child’s mouth for blockages and remove any you can see. Don’t poke your fingers down their throat or you could push it down even deeper and make the situation worse.
  • If your child can’t cough due to the blockage, place him face down across your lap and slap him in the middle of his back between his shoulder blades, five times in succession. If he is a baby under one year, make sure you support his head with your other hand.
  • If the blockage isn’t dislodged, begin chest thrusts. In an older child, you can do this by kneeling behind him and putting your arms around his upper waist, under his arms. Make a fist and place it between the ribs and the navel, then place your other hand over your fist and make a forceful inwards and upward thrust. Do this five times and then check your child.
  • Babies need a different type of thrust. If your baby is under one year, you can perform chest thrusts by placing him face up on your lap, along your thighs and put two fingers in the middle of his breastbone. Push sharply five times in succession. 
  • If your child has lost consciousness, dial 999 and use speakerphone so that you can still do back thrusts or CPR until help arrives.


Picture courtesy of Selovekt used under Creative Commons license.

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Oct 152016

With thanks to Gemma Setter, PR Account Executive, Frasermedia.

howard-and-ann-johnson2A leading provider of fire control and safety solutions has been presented with a prestigious accolade by a major industry body in recognition of its innovative supply chain operations.

Blaze Manufacturing Solutions (Blaze), which was established in 2006 to serve the global oil and gas and renewables markets, was presented with the Energy Industries Council (EIC) Supply Chain Breakthrough 2016 Award at the ceremony held at the Natural History Museum in London on Thursday (13 October).

The accolade, which recognises member organisations that have demonstrated excellence within the energy supply chain, was presented to Blaze for its operations involving its Flameshield 300™ fire protection deluge pipework system solution.

Blaze, which is headquartered in Laurencekirk, offers fire safety protection, detection and loss prevention solutions for harsh and challenging environments including offshore production platforms, drill rigs, floating production units, onshore oil fields, terminals, refineries and petrochemical plants. For the past ten years, the firm has been at the forefront of fire control and safety systems technology.

Its signature fire safety protection system, Flameshield 300™, offers the delivery of a jet fire resistant, blast resistant, corrosion resilient fire protection system with a 20-year design life, eliminating corrosion problems for the client during its lifetime operation. The system has increased levels of reliable fire protection and safety, saved many millions of pounds in potential lost production, and extended the life of valuable offshore assets helping to play its part in OGA Maximise Economic Recovery (MER).

Ann Johnson, finance director at Blaze Manufacturing, said:

“We work very hard to ensure that our supply chain operations are of the highest standard, alongside all of our fire control and safety systems. It is an honour to have been recognised by the EIC and we’re very proud of our dedicated team who are committed to striving for excellence in all aspects of the business.”

Blaze Manufacturing Solutions, a leading provider of Fire Safety Protection, Detection and Loss Prevention services for Safety Critical Solutions, is an accredited distributor for Xtralis; manufacturer of the market leading VESDA Aspirated Smoke Detection systems.

Xtralis has an established worldwide network of certified distribution partners to serve customers seeking world-class, early warning life safety and security solutions. Blaze has over 20 years’ experience in the Design, Supply, Installation, Commissioning and Maintenance of VESDA systems worldwide for a vast range of clients.

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Jul 082016

VisitAberdeenshire, the organisation responsible for attracting both leisure and business visitors to the area, has been instrumental in securing a new conference for the north east of Scotland. With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

LiftEx2016-large2LiftEx2016, the UK’s only exhibition and conference dedicated to overhead lifting and safe work at height will be held at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on 23 and 24 November 2016 following subvention funding from VisitAberdeenshire.

The subvention support has been match funded by VisitScotland.

The VisitAberdeenshire subvention fund aims to increase the numbers of high profile events held in the city by providing a degree of financial support to increase the city’s competitiveness within the conference and exhibitions market.

It enables the city to draw together the best possible bid for attracting high yield conferences which have synergy with Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’s areas of expertise; further enhancing the city’s reputation as a world class conference destination. VisitAberdeenshire is also the official provider of accommodation for LiftEx2016 and is offering preferential hotel rates for delegates.

Peter Medley, business development director of VisitAberdeenshire says,

“Despite the current situation in the oil and gas industry, Aberdeen remains one of the most influential, innovative and proactive global energy cities and securing this event shows the confidence which the supply chain has in the industry’s future. Over 100 trade exhibitors are expected to take part in LiftEx2016 with around 1500 industry professionals visiting the event taking part in conference sessions and discovering innovative new products.

“Our team has worked closely with Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre to secure this valuable event for our area.”

“I’m delighted that we are taking LiftEx2016 to Europe’s ‘Energy Capital’ for the first time in its history,” said Geoff Holden, chief executive of Lifting Equipment Engineers’ Association (LEEA) which organises the event.

“The energy, offshore and maritime sectors are all heavily reliant on overhead lifting, and LiftEx2016 offers the professional community an outstanding opportunity to catch up with recent developments in training, accreditation, legislation, products and services.”

LiftEx Industry Conference will bring together an impressive line-up of respected speakers on topics related to safe, legal and efficient overhead lifting. The popular innovation fast pitch event also returns, giving visitors a quick-fire introduction to the latest technologies and applications in this industry sector.

In addition to end users and suppliers of lifting equipment, LiftEx is highly relevant to professionals working in fields such as health and safety, training, plant engineering and maintenance.

Peter Medley continues,

“Our area is a vibrant business tourism destination, with a host of new developments in progress. Aberdeen International Airport’s £20 million expansion is well underway, and new flight routes – including those to the USA via Icelandair –are opening up the area to a wider global audience.

“The £333 million relocation and upgrading of the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, coupled with the renovations of Aberdeen Art Gallery and the Music Hall – worth £30 million and £7 million respectively, will also provide a welcome boost to the area’s conferencing and events offering.

“Room rates in Aberdeen are now lower than they have been for a number of years, and with the newly expanded range of hotels on offer the area is a very attractive conference and exhibition proposition. We continue to work with partners across the region to bring further high profile events to the north east.”

Delegates can register for LiftEx2016, a free event at www.liftex.org.

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Jun 102016

With thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford

Eilidh Whiteford In boat (small)

Dr Whiteford met with Lifeboat volunteers, and joined the crew on a training exercise

BANFF & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has joined members of Fraserburgh Lifeboat crew to mark the launch of the Royal National Lifeboat Association’s summer campaign to raise awareness of staying safe by the sea.
‘Respect the Water’ aims to spread awareness on safety at sea, particularly during the summer months, and decrease the number of deaths at sea by half by 2024.

Around one-hundred and ninety people die at Irish and UK coasts each year, and the majority of these people do not intend on entering the water.

Dr Whiteford visited the Lifeboat station in Fraserburgh on Friday to meet Coxswain Vic Sutherland and other Lifeboat volunteers, and joined the crew on a training exercise off Kinnaird Head. She also met with representatives of the RNLI at the group’s reception at Westminster to launch the campaign yesterday.

Speaking afterwards, she said:

“Everyone in Banff and Buchan needs to know about safety on the water and around our coastline. With so many local livelihoods dependent on off-shore industries, most folk already have a healthy respect for the sea, but every year preventable incidents put lives at risk.

“Speaking to local lifeboat crew members, there are particular risks at this time of year with dinghies and other inflatables. Strong rip tides on some of our most popular beaches, and our windy weather, can cause real dangers to swimmers and those involved in other water sports. Another well-documented risk is people falling in harbours late at night having left pubs or clubs. 

“Everyone wants to have fun on these fine Summer days, but we all need to be sensible and aware of the risks

“For nearly two centuries, lifeboats have set out along the Buchan coast, and last year alone, Scottish lifeboats rescued over a thousand people. Since the RNLI’s establishment in 1824, it has saved more than 140,000 lives. Even allowing for the timeframe, that’s an absolutely astonishing level of heroism, and the men and women who volunteer to crew our lifeboats deserve enormous gratitude and support.

“We can all do our bit to support the campaign by being aware of the risks.”

Crew (small)Respect the Water have identified that the main risks originate from three separate factors. These entail: shock, rip currents and waves, and suddenly falling into water. The shock that cold water brings to the system takes air from the lungs and causes people to feel helpless leading to a panicked state.

The unpredictability of the water is a highly influential factor in the cause of drowning, as currents can pull even the strongest of swimmers far into the sea.

Lastly, people can drown by tripping, slipping or falling into the water unexpectedly.

Studies have shown that out of the total number of deaths, two-thirds are male. The campaign is targeting men aged between sixteen and thirty-nine years old in particular, who are the most likely demographic to die at sea. The RTW campaign found that last year, on average, fifteen per cent of people in the UK recognised Respect the Water and a higher percentage of twenty-one per cent of males had acknowledged the campaign.

This shows that RTW had successfully raised awareness throughout the UK after being a national campaign for under a year.

Eilidh Whiteford Showing support (small)This year, Respect the Water will advertise its campaign in several different ways, including poster advertising. From August 2016, RTW posters will be put up on billboards all around the coast, in male lavatories and pubs situated near water.

By the end of this month, the RTW campaign will introduce an interactive video to social media sites which will put people in a water related scenario and have them choose what to do next.

For more information on the campaign, visit: http://rnli.org/safety/respect-the-water/Pages/Safety.aspx

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Apr 292016

A team of apprentices from Scottish fund management firm, Aberdeen Asset Management have been rewarded for their efforts in raising thousands of pounds for Scotland’s National Children’s Charity, Children 1st. With thanks to Beverley Tricker, Tricker PR.

Dragons Glen raises £150K for Children 1st Charity

(L to R) Scottish Entrepreneur Josh Littlejohn presents AAM apprentices, Constance Barelle, Maja Omorczyk, Stevie Low, Abbie Skene with their award in Edinburgh.

Five dedicated apprentices raised over £13,000 in just 6 weeks of fundraising as part of the Children 1st’s Dragons’ Glen initiative.

Dragon’s Glen is an entrepreneurial challenge for Scottish businesses which sees teams from across Scotland pitch for an investment of £500 and mentoring from a selected Dragon, who include some of Scotland’s most influential business leaders.

The team, comprising of Stevie Low, Maja Omorczyk, Abbie Skene, Constance Barelle and Phoenix Megginson received a special commendation for raising the largest amount of money in the shortest amount of time, collecting their award from Scottish entrepreneur Josh Littlejohn at a ceremony in Edinburgh on 20th April.

The Aberdeen Asset Management team reached their total of £13,527 by rolling out a number of fundraising activities in both their Aberdeen and Edinburgh offices. These included a Bonfire Night sponsored Fire Walk in Aberdeen, Office Bake Offs, Pub Quizzes, Friday Breakfast Rolls and a Team Piggybank Challenge. The funds raised by Aberdeen Asset Management, combined with the efforts of 16 other leading Scottish organisations, reached a grand total of £150,703.

Constance Barelle, one of the Aberdeen Asset Management apprentices, said:

“This whole experience has been an incredibly valuable and rewarding one for the whole team. To raise that much money in such a short space of time has been a real challenge, so we are really proud to have won this award and helped contribute to a fantastic total going to a great charity.”

The money raised will go towards supporting the work of Children 1st across Scotland. Children 1st provides practical advice and support to families in tough times and, when the worst happens, supports the survivors of abuse, neglect and other traumatic events in childhood to recover.

Lynn Brown, Apprentice Advisor at Aberdeen Asset Management, said:

“This challenge has been a great opportunity for the apprentices to work together towards a common goal.  They raised an amazing amount in such a short time and everyone in the office is very proud of their achievement”

Dragons’ Glen is a unique opportunity for companies to engage employees and support them to develop a range of skills. 92% of participants report an improvement in communication and 95% an improvement in entrepreneurship.

Barbara Kidd, Director of Fundraising for Children 1st said:

“The amount raised by Dragons’ Glen is phenomenal – enough to provide six months of support for 250 children and families who need help to overcome abuse or make homes safer for children. We could not do this work without our corporate partners.”

Since its launch in 2012, Dragons’ Glen has raised over £280,000. It continues to grow in popularity and now takes part in five cities across Scotland: Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. Children 1st is now accepting entries for the 2016-17 challenge, which starts in September.

To find out more about Dragons’ Glen, please visit www.children1st.org.uk/dragons-glen

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Dec 312014

Mid-Formartine councillor Paul Johnston is backing Green calls for cycling routes in parallel to the A90 from Balmedie.

BikePaulA90web2Local Green campaigner Debra Storr said: “As part of the AWPR and Balmedie-Tipperty dualling, there has been talk of providing an adequate cycle route alongside the A90 into Aberdeen and out to Ellon.

“But there is nothing from either Transport Scotland or in NESTRANS’ latest Business Plan that would start to put infrastructure on the ground.”

“It is time to stop spending money asking people to walk and cycle more and to actually provide the infrastructure needed. 

“There are hundreds of millions of pounds being spent on the AWPR and the Balmedie-Tipperty dualing.  A tiny proportion of that would deliver a safe cycling route.  Cycling into the city will get much worse along the A90 with the two grade-separated junctions at Balmedie and Blackdog being particular hazards.”

Cllr Paul Johnston said:

“It is clear from NESTRANS’ own monitoring report that their efforts over the past decade have been fruitless with an increase in cycling from 2% to 2.5% modal share in the City called a ‘notable achievement’.  But as they do no monitoring themselves and rely on the local Cycle Forum, even these figures are doubtful.

“The more robust census result show continued drops in people cycling to work with cycling less than 1% and falling.  The current spend on promotion is clearly pointless without the infrastructure on the ground to match.”

Debra Storr continued:

“I asked both Councils about their existing cycling infrastructure in April.  Aberdeen City Council believes it has about 100km of shared cycling/walking paths, 67km of advisory on-road cycle path and a couple of km of off-road and mandatory cycle paths.  Aberdeenshire doesn’t even keep records of this.

“I think this speaks volumes of the priority given to cycling and unless both councils focus on providing cycling infrastructure that people want to use, cycling will remain the preserve of a few very brave souls.  The only way to encourage everyone to cycle more is to make space for cycling and that needs dedicated cycleways that are safe for everyone.”

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Oct 102014

North East MSP Christian Allard is urging Westminster to devolve powers to enable the Scottish Government to regulate the transportation of nuclear waste on Scottish land and sea. The call comes following a blaze on a cargo ship carrying radioactive nuclear waste which resulted in the evacuation of a North Sea oil platform.

Christian Allard MSP for the North East of ScotlandDanish ship MV Parida was carrying nuclear waste when it caught fire and began drifting in the Moray Firth this week (Tuesday 7 October).

The Danish registered ship was transporting six cemented drums of radioactive nuclear waste from Scrabster to Antwerp in Belgium when a fire broke out in one of her two funnels. The ship began drifting in the Moray

As a precaution, 52 workers from the Beatrice oil platform in the North Sea were evacuated.

Radiation and containment monitoring has been carried out on the vessel and it has been confirmed there is no risk to the public or the environment

SNP MSP Christian Allard said:

“This incident is a sobering reminder that the Scottish Government does not have control over the transportation of radioactive waste or what happens with ships in incidents like this that occur in Scottish waters.

“Thankfully risk to the public and the environment has been avoided in this case but serious questions must be asked of how the incident occurred.

“In the week when Westminster has decided to build a new nuclear power station at the staggering cost of £24.5billion on top of its commitment to the irrational and costly renewal of Trident nuclear weapons system, it is quite clear that the priorities of the London parties are at odds with the priorities of the people of Scotland 

“I urge Westminster to devolve powers that would give the Scottish Parliament control over these issues and I encourage anyone who feels the same to make their views known to the Smith Commission.”

Chair of Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Jonathan Russell added:

“The incident with the Danish Ship MV Parida is of considerable concern and suggests that regulation needs to be tightened.

“The incident was of particular worry to the people living nearby and would suggest that the regulation of the transportation of nuclear waste would be much better dealt with at a Scottish level.”

The Smith Commission has been tasked with agreeing more powers for the Scottish Parliament, following the result of the referendum on Scottish Independence. To make sure the Scottish Parliament is granted control over these and other important matters you can send your comments direct to: haveyoursay@smith-commission.scot.

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[Aberdeen Voice accepts and welcomes contributions from all sides/angles pertaining to any issue. Views and opinions expressed in any article are entirely those of the writer/contributor, and inclusion in our publication does not constitute support or endorsement of these by Aberdeen Voice as an organisation or any of its team members.]

Jun 272014

A catering supply company based in Aberdeen has been fined £7,500 after a gas explosion in an Auchenblae hotel kitchen injured three people. With thanks to Kevin Burke.

670px-Gas_flameOn June 25th, Instant Catering Maintenance (ICM), of Aberdeen’s Union Street, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at a hearing at Aberdeen Sherriff Court.

The court heard that on January 7th 2009, at the Drumtochty Arms on Market Square, a customer, a barmaid and one of ICM’s workers were seriously injured after a gas leak in the hotel led to an explosion.

At the time of the incident, ICM had been hired by the hotel to design and fit a new kitchen on the ground floor. This kitchen was to contain three propane-burning appliances – a four-ring hob, a hotplate range and a freestanding chargrill.

Barmaid Danielle Ormond was working at the bar on the date of the explosion. A customer complained about their drink, so she went down to the cellar to look into the complaint.

ICM employee Neil Coffield was in the process of purging the gas system as Ms Ormond went through the kitchen, while customer James Guthrie was smoking a cigarette in the courtyard near the kitchen door. Ms Ormond reported that she smelled gas as she went through the kitchen.

The explosion then occurred, seriously injuring all three people.

The blast was so serious that part of the building immediately collapsed, preventing Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigators from entering the premises and leading Aberdeenshire Council to issue an emergency demolition order.

Later investigations revealed that ICM had created and fitted a steel manifold, which was used to transfer propane to gas appliances. This manifold had not been fitted to a facility that enabled the safe purging of gas systems – if it had been, the dangerous build-up of propane gas would not have occurred.

he had been told to check the system was working by lighting it

The HSE eventually recovered and examined the gas appliances, and found that the chargrill did not have a regulator fitted, and that the hob and hotplate’s regulators were set for natural gas instead of propane. Another ICM employee had attached these regulators.

Gas appliances must be fitted with regulators to ensure they have the right pressure, and propane-fuelled appliances must have a properly-converted regulator.

Mr Coffield said that he had noticed one of the appliances was missing a regulator and that he had been told to check the system was working by lighting it. He elected to purge the system to do so and removed the air from the pipe work in order to replace it with propane – an activity he was certified to do so and able to perform competently.

The system had not been fitted with an adequate purging point, however, and the pressure testing valve was therefore left open for longer than necessary. Mr Coffield had not been given a flare stack, and was unable to safely dissipate any gas he released. Instead, he opened the test port repeatedly while attempting to light the pilot light.

The court proceeded on the basis that ICM’s failings caused some of the gas in the hotel kitchen to be released, as Mr Coffield’s actions alone were not believed to account for the build-up of all the gas involved in the incident or the explosion.

Niall Miller, Principal Inspector for the HSE, called the incident both “very serious” and “entirely avoidable”.

He said the risks involved in purging LPG gas systems without the necessary equipment are “well-known”, and that industry guidance clearly states that flare stacks are required when workers are dealing with propane or any other gas that is heavier than air.

Furthermore, purging systems such as the one in the Drumtochty Arms should be performed by at least two people, the HSE inspector stated.

Contributed by Kevin Burke on behalf of  247 Home Rescue

May 092014

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

DictionaryBefore I get down to the usual business, at the time of writing, the fire in Crovie is foremost on many people’s minds. The homeowner  is still unaccounted for (as is a household pet), but remains have been found.

I’ve personally had a great week of travel and adventure, but that all seems a long time ago. Whoever you are, and whether you like or loathe my 150 political satire columns, I’ll ask you one thing – please get and maintain a smoke detector.

People who know me may think I go overboard in my zeal about fire issues; maybe I do.

However, I’ve had friends and relatives who are fire fighters, and all of them will tell you how very quickly a small fire turns into a room filled with fatally toxic smoke. They’d tell you to have a fire alarm and test it, have a fire blanket and/or extinguisher – and to have a fire plan.

No one cares about these details when they’re at home, comfortable surrounded by friends, family and possessions. Everyone who has lost friends, family and possessions because of a fire will tell you they wish they had cared about these details before a fire struck. I’d beg you to get an alarm if I thought it would make you do it.

A childhood friend of mine might still be around today for that matter. They couldn’t find their way out of a smoke filled room which quickly became toxic. (Mind that chip pan in particular; that’s the regional main cause of house fires).

#                                             #                                             #

On the lighter side of things, The UK Subs came to town, shook things up at the Moorings Bar, and my ears are still ringing (despite wearing earplugs). It was also  Aberdeen Voice editor and founder, Fred Wilkinson’s birthday. Happy Birthday Fred.

I’ve been lucky enough this week to be in Nice on the Cote d’Azur and in Monaco. Nice has a large outdoor square – but guess what? The weather is warm and dry enough for it to be used for all manner of things year round. Amazingly, there are beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers everywhere – and no one picks the flowers or uproots the plants to be cool on their way home from a drunken night out.

No one seems to litter at all either, and I don’t think they’ve painted their pavements gray to be cool, either like we just did. Along Nice’s waterfront you won’t find giant, windowless movie theatres, shopping malls, sewerage plants or a massive industrial harbour.

It’s almost as if creating elegant, relaxing, plant-filled open spaces were more important than money. And the money pours in as the tourists can’t get enough of walking up and down the waterfront on the Promenade des Anglais. Aberdeen still has some wildlife tourists, but let’s see how long we can completely industrialise/commercialise our remaining coastline.

do not let your pets drink from the East Tullos Burn

Funnily enough, Nice has far cleaner air than we do as well. Could this be because they’ve set aside green spaces, arranged very frequent and affordable public transport, have a bicycle rental scheme, and encourage pedestrians? Funny people, the French.

One of my flights was delayed due to a minor engine fault. Some of the passengers were very cross about the captain’s decision not to fly (he seemed to think that not risking our lives instead of flying with a small engine leak was a good idea).

Quite rightly the more important passengers started grilling a young stewardess about the engine’s technical problem, demanded to know precisely when the plane would be flying, what the captain was doing to solve the problem, and other things she’d clearly have known all about. I’m surprised the poor girl didn’t put down her drinks tray, whip a spare part out of her pocket, and just fix the engine there and then.

In the end, BA were great at solving the problems and getting us all going. Thanks BA.

Despite my trying to have a proper vacation, some news stories arose in the Deen that caught my imagination.  A word of caution: do not let your pets drink from the East Tullos Burn. It may look prettier now than it did – but the water doesn’t seem to have been cleaned at all.

SEPA have insisted in the past that it’s too hard for them to find out where the pollution is coming from. And still, its American counterpart the Environmental Protection Agency manages to find out who pollutes similar little streams – like the Mississippi for instance. If only SEPA were closer to where the problem was in East Tullos. But they’d have to leave their offices and walk for 10 minutes to get to the burn.

Here then are some definitions defining the week’s news.

Pest Control: (mod English compound noun) to manage, contain and destroy vermin.

Alas!  All is not well in the Cults/Bieldside/Miltimber area.  Pesky vermin are sticking their heads into private gardens, trampling things underfoot, stumbling cluelessly around, and ignorantly destroying anything in their path.  While I definitely feel for these poor, dumb creatures, it is clear that there are just too many of them in our area.

I had hoped that measures taken in May 2012 would have lessened this particular problem, but it seems to be creeping back. I am of course for a humane solution. But something must be done about Aberdeen’s Liberal Democrats.

You may not be able to believe it, but none other than Aileen ‘HoMalone’ wants to do something about deer population.

they trampled on their own pledge not to charge for university education

Expect HoMalone 2 in the Cults area soon. Based on the popularity, efficiency and economic success of her destruction of the Tullos Hill deer (to plant trees on a windswept rubbish heap with little soil), I’m sure the residents of her Bieldside/Miltimber ward will be overjoyed.

Well, apparently ‘several’ of them will. Here’s what HoMalone wrote recently:

“Several residents in the Cults area have contacted me about the presence of Roe Deer whose [sic*] numbers are growing across Scotland. Aberdeen is well ahead of most authorities in the careful, sensitive, management of the situation. A Council team is working on a plan for managing the growing deer population. Over-population is a problem for the deer since the natural environment can only feed a certain number of deer. In the meantime please be extra vigilant when driving at dusk in the Inchgarth area.”

In large numbers, the LibDems ate their way through the city council’s funds, forcing other species, such as people in need, with health problems and the elderly to suffer.  Then in a symbiotic relationship at the UK level, they trampled on their own pledge not to charge for university education. The 2012 ballot box cull saw only five of them going; the chief doe, known as ‘Kate’ was humanely put down.

A lone stag known as ‘Martin’ looks increasingly uncomfortable, and may be leaving the old deer (‘Aileen’) for a more successful herd soon.

Don’t let this menace grow back to its pre 2012 levels. If you are in Bieldside, Cults and Miltimber, you may want to think about feeding these pests by giving them pound notes, votes or attention, even if they seem relatively harmless and innocent to you. I can assure you, the LibDems are not.

*It’s interesting  HoMalone’s written ‘…the presence of Roe Deer whose numbers… ‘  perhaps she is more sensitive than we believe and thinks the animals are people?  If you are describing things, you use words such as ‘which’; if you describe people, you use words such as ‘whose’. Perhaps she secretly isn’t an animal destroying poison dwarf ready to have any life form she finds inconvenient snuffed out?

Or is it more likely she’s just a bit ignorant of some language fundamentals?

Propaganda: (Latin origin, noun) – to deliberately spread lies, exaggerations in order to sway opinion, or further a political cause.

Old Susannah is staying out of the referendum debate.  I’m not endorsing either side.  But a poster purporting to show Labour joining up with those nice BNP lads and others like those winsome UKIP chaps found its way into my news feed.

Poster from Alistair Davidson purporting Labour in bed with unsavoury orgs.Somehow, among the tiny trickle of honest, calm, factual referendum information out there, this therefore stuck out as being a little suspicious. It had attracted a few disgusted comments already; after all – if it’s in print or if it’s a picture, it has to be real, doesn’t it?

Some people are looking at it, assuming it is legitimate, and are therefore very angry indeed at Labour.

Alas! A swift email to a Labour politician confirmed that this poster is a complete fabrication.

Labour are not in any deal with the BNP. It is almost as if whoever created this wanted Labour to be discredited; I wondered if this had anything to do with Labour’s ‘no’ stance on independence.

I’ve asked the oldest source of the poster what they could tell me about it, and this is what they wrote:

“I don’t think the poster was used in any poster campaign. It was created as an illustrative means of showing people that all these parties are grouped by a common cause and that is to keep the union.“

Funny though – the person who put the poster on Facebook didn’t let viewers know that it was an ‘illustrative means of showing people that all these parties are grouped by a common cause…’. I wonder how they got permission to use so many logos in their little ‘illustration’ for that matter?

Coincidentally, the person who seems to have first posted the poster on Facebook (as far as I can find) has one or two friends who are SNP councillors. These  include Liz MacDonald, Ken Gowans, David Turner, Shab Jaffri , Peter Johnston, Peter Grant (no relation to legendary manager of Led Zeppelin I assume), Graham Ledbitter, and MSP David Torrance.  I’m sure these people have had nothing to do with a poster campaign which was just a tad dishonest.

I’m equally sure they will be quick to have it stopped and will come forward to denounce this kind of propaganda.

If only we could keep the healthy, honest, open, respectful level of referendum debate going on for another year, I’m sure we’d all be very well informed indeed.

Botch: (modern English slang; verb) – to make a bad job of something; to fumble a task or operation.

America has so little crime because it has capital punishment; ie. a jury of your peers (well you hope they will be your peers) can convict you on the evidence (which you hope won’t have been tainted or fabricated, like the poster described above), and after a fair trial (hopefully) you can find yourself hung, shot, gassed or given a lethal injection.

Seems fair. If you don’t get a fair trial (say you are of sub normal intelligence, get a bad or disinterested legal representative, get tried by a jury who are all of a different race from you, had the police mess up, lose or ignore evidence – accidentally of course), then you can always either hire an expensive lawyer for an appeal.

America will punish criminals by death, but killing them is not supposed to be ‘cruel or unusual’

If you don’t have lots of money or haven’t really understood what was happening, then then you can hope for a pardon from the state governor (but for those who really do have lots and  lots of money, you may never have to get to trial at all).

Of course when George W Bush was governor of Texas, he didn’t pardon a single one of the hundreds of people the state executed. In fact, he mocked one of them (a woman who had finally snapped at her chronically abusive spouse and killed him).

Still, if you were innocent but had no fair trial, no appeal, no governor to save you – you might always luck out and get a posthumous pardon. So that’s all right then.

Unfortunately, sometimes an execution is ‘botched’, as happened this week to one Clayton Lockett  in Oklahoma.

America will punish criminals by death, but killing them is not supposed to be ‘cruel or unusual’ – something Old Susannah hasn’t quite got her heard around in all these years. Anyway, you’re supposed to die a nice fast death – with a room full of spectators gawping at your last moments (nothing cruel or unusual there, then).  Unfortunately, this man died in agony over the course of several hours.

It became so distasteful to the audience that the curtains had to be drawn so they didn’t see an unpleasant state execution as compared to your socially-acceptable state execution.

Yes, this was a man convicted of a serious capital crime. I guess it was just divine intervention that tortured his last hours, and not the blatant incompetence of those who didn’t know how to find a vein or how to see the lethal cocktail of chemicals was going into his tissues and not into his blood stream. Could have happened to anyone. We all botch things up now and then.

Finally, for some reason European pharmaceutical companies that make the relevant drugs (why make them in the first place some might ask) are now reluctant to sell them to the States to kill people. I guess some companies just don’t want to make money.

Next week:  more definitions

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Well, it’s been a long, fun, eventful, educational and somewhat strange 3 years and 150 Old Susannah columns for me and I just want to say thanks for those of you who read it, thanks for those who have sent information (and the occasional kind email) over time, and for those who support Aberdeen Voice. The Voice runs on donations; any amount however small is welcome; here’s a link.

All the best,


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Apr 082014

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

DictionaryTally Ho, Cheerio, etc.  It’s genuinely been a great week in the granite city.  I had some great new BrewDog single hop beers this week; the Amarillo on draft was heavenly (yes, I still have my 5 BrewDog shares).

I also had a great vegetarian meal in Café 52 (yes, I know them, too – funny that my weeks often involve doing things I like with people I like); congrats to them on being named one of the city’s top 10 restaurants in an article by Kirsty Ellington Langan (whose father I know – but I’d no idea she’d written this review –  which also rates Rustico and Yatai,  both of which I greatly enjoy – though I don’t know the people behind them).

There are however restaurateurs who review their own places on the Trip Advisor website and even offer incentives for good reviews. Such practices are totally against Trip Advisor rules of course (thankfully I don’t associate with anyone like that).

I’m also busy working on some paintings for a group show at Under The Hammer which will be going up next Saturday; do stop in if you’re around (wine will be had around 3pm).

Aside from that I’m busy getting my garden in shape with help from some friends. Lots of bee and butterfly friendly plants coming soon from the excellent Poyntzfield nursery on the Black Isle (don’t know them, but have used them for years). Best of all, Lord Warner (don’t know him) has a scheme which will save the NHS! Result! And that’s how the spring is starting for me.

The campaign to save and re-open Bon Accord Baths has cross-party support and thousands of supporters throughout the area. Lions and lambs are lying down together, doves are flying around with olive branches, and editorials in different local media all seem to think this great idea is a great idea. (PS I’m happy to be helping the campaign in some small measure).

A gathering place for all citizens in the centre of the city, offering affordable exercise and a social hub? What’s not to like? Could this ‘mend our broken heart’ (copyright P&J)?

It looks as if some £5 million or so will be needed to get the baths running. At present a team of volunteers with all sorts of expertise are working on it; help if you can.  No doubt some of the city’s better off multimillionaires who want to see a unifying city centre gathering place that benefits the public will be keen to get involved. Let’s see – £5 million is   4.6% of £92 million, and 7% of £140 million.  Just saying.

In case anyone’s wondering, that is. Find out how to help here.

Let’s face it; war is hell

It is understood that the officials who banned the BBC from entering the art deco baths to do a spot of filming are going to soon see sense and let the BBC film there after all.

Dangerous buildings are of course something to be taken seriously; no doubt the city’s Westburn House, a listed property at high risk, will be given some tlc.

On the dangerous structure note, things are very grim in Edinburgh. A 12 year old girl is dead after a wall in Liberton High School’s PE block fell on her. Edinburgh Council had an unfortunate recent history of managing public and private property repairs. A scandal is still unfolding wherein its repairs officials forced private home owners to undertake remedial works at hugely inflated fees – some of the work is thought to have been unnecessary.

As the BBC put it:

“Two reports which reveal how a £40m black hole emerged in Edinburgh City Council’s property repairs department have been published. Auditors from Deloitte were called in two years ago to investigate allegations of fraud and mismanagement. They found serious failings and a lack of accountability in how the department was run. The department’s head, Dave Anderson has since resigned.” 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-22314731 . (I hope Anderson got a nice golden goodbye package).

No wonder they didn’t have time to ensure the city’s own properties were well maintained. City Council teams have since “..found nine walls similar to the one which collapsed on Keane in Castlebrae Community High and Leith Academy secondary schools. A number of smaller free-standing walls were also identified in 11 primary schools.” according to Metro 4/4/14).  Let’s hope the city will get its act together soon. Perhaps Aberdeen could take some proactive measures and fix its problem properties?

Perhaps it’s time for a few definitions spawned from this week’s news reports.

Trauma training: 

Let’s face it; war is hell. Once you’ve signed up to defend your country/king/queen/economy, you may have to kill people. Mostly this can be done these days without anyone but cannon fodder leaving command central. It’s great that we’ve drones that can whiz round to search and destroy; no one’s hands ever need get dirty (well apart from the odd Afghani wedding guest and the like).

Still, if you’re going to send out the infantry now and again (for police actions, obviously not wars), best to make sure you know how to give them proper first aid.

we can’t hurt business, bad for the economy don’t you know

You might get away without giving troopers the right kit for where you fly them, but you’ll need medics; it’s good PR if nothing else. When missile are going off, a medic might well be as useful as a 747 instruction card at 30 thousand feet or ducking and covering in the face of an incoming nuclear weapon.  But it makes us look good.

Still, you’ll have to show you’ve got trained medics, and training can only mean one thing: defence contracts. Defence contracts can only mean one thing: money.

How can you possibly train medics and others how to deal with soldiers who’ve been mildly wounded by automatic weaponry, mines, chemical warfare or missiles? Why, by tying up live farm animals, shooting and stabbing them, operating on them as they suffer, and then killing them. Repeat as necessary. Stabbing and amputation is apparently a big seller on the trauma training circuit, though Old Susannah wonders whether there is really that much stabbing happening on our front lines? Not so much I suspect.

Is there a great deal of automatic weaponry created by east and west being used to turn soldiers into Swiss cheese who will be nearly impossible to save? Definitely. Are there plenty of mines out there ripping off the odd human arm and leg? Most definitely.

There are no alternatives to the tiny amount of suffering that the pigs and goats get when their limbs are hacked off by ‘trainers’. You’ve got an industry going now, and we can’t hurt business, bad for the economy don’t you know.

However, according to those pesty people at PETA,

“U.S., Canada, Norway, Denmark, the U.K., and Poland were the only six NATO countries—out of 28—that still stab, shoot, blow up, and kill animals for cruel military training drills.”

What else can we do but make money and make animals suffer? How better to prepare someone for treating a wounded troop than being able to take a bullet out of an enemy piglet? Well, while we’re busy sending troops out to make the world safe (how’s that working out for you by the way?), 36,000 victims of gunshot wounds were treated in United States Emergency rooms in 2010. According to the Los  Angeles Times:-

“The medical journal Pediatrics this week reported that, based on the most recent data from 2009, children are hospitalized for gunshot wounds at a rate of 20 a day, or one child every 72 minutes, for a total of 7,391 hospitalizations in 2009. Nine of 10 wounded kids are male, and disproportionately African American, which focuses the problem even more.”

I don’t know why a Los Angeles paper would be interested in gun crime; perhaps it was a slow news day.

It’s gratifying that people in this kind of training work are so entrepreneurially creative

I think it’s so wonderful we’ve got doctors in the armed forces who want to save lives (doctors who nobly uphold their Hippocratic oaths by being complicit in shooting and killing animals and people). I suppose we could train the forces doctors in emergency rooms where people, not animals, were the ones who were being shot, but that’s probably not much of an income generator.

Then we come to landmines. That would be a good case for blowing live animals up, because there are only 70 landmine injuries a day every day in the world. I’m not suggesting anything ludicrous like sending troops to clean up the landmines of past wars and helping the civilians who get injured by our left behind junk; for one thing, I doubt there’s as much money in cleaning up after military actions as there is in setting them up.

Then we come to the scientific, medical, ethical and logical reasons why we need to stab pigs, sheep and goats to teach people how to treat stab wounds. I’ve no solution to that, as I can’t find any record of knife crime in the US, UK or Europe. Nope, guess we’d best stick it to the animals, literally. As usual.

It’s gratifying that people in this kind of training work are so entrepreneurially creative that they’ve come up with the wheeze of making money by torturing animals for democracy. If that’s not capitalism at its finest, then I don’t know what is.

There is one theory that briefly crossed my mind for a second; I dismissed it promptly. What if the real purpose of getting people to accept the squeals of suffering animals, and to be able to cause that suffering was not to teach how to suture up wounds, but rather to make the trainees immune to suffering, to bond them together in a bloody slaughterhouse, and to weed out anyone who would object to this ‘training’ and say ‘this is wrong’.

I guess my imagination must be in overdrive; surely the military wouldn’t engage in any psychological conditioning. The only stupider idea that came to me was to cut our military spending, and buy more bread than guns, solve conflicts peacefully by building infrastructure, and leave the animals out of trauma training.

To bring it closer to home, an Aberdeen University trained doctor hit a sticky wicket in Afghanistan after he failed to notice that detainee civilian Baha Mousa was beaten to a pulp and then to death by the UK’s peacekeeping forces. A witness reported hearing the murdered widower say:

“I am innocent. Blood! Blood! I am going to die. My children are going to become orphans.”

Did former healer Dr Keilloh act like a doctor should? Well, his pals think so. Dr Jim Rodger, medical adviser at the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland, said:

 “Dr Keilloh is extremely disappointed at the decision of this Fitness to Practise Panel and he will need time to consider the implications of this erasure and his future course of action.  He would like to say how much he appreciated the wealth of support he has received from his family, patients, colleagues and friends.”

Phil Shiner, of Public Interest Lawyers, said:

“The medical profession is well rid of such a man. All those UK doctors in Iraq who also saw signs of ill-treatment of Iraqi detainees but took no action had best start to instruct lawyers.”

The NHS is saved! Thank you Lord Warner!

It would be good to know if Keilloh had undertaken trauma training. It seems he hadn’t had enough training in the first place, and he was traumatised. How dreadful for him:
Doctor who denied he saw Iraqi detainee’s injuries is struck off  BMJ

The panel acknowledged that, at the time, Keilloh was still a junior doctor who had not been given the predeployment training he was supposed to have … accepted that Keilloh’s judgment may have been clouded by the traumatic experience [I dare say Baha Mousa’s experience was probably a bit more traumatic than Keilloh’s; and the torture of the trauma training animals was probably not a great time either]

NHS “membership charge” (Modern English compound noun c. Lord Warner)  – a proposed flat £10 per week charge for using the National Health Service.

That nice Mr Nick Tesco of The Members was on Facebook this week, issuing some curious anthropomorphic swear words I hadn’t previously heard. What caused his distress? A think-tank has said we should all chip in £10 per week for the NHS. For some reason, Nick seemed unhappy.

Well, I’m sure like me you’re wondering why we didn’t just think of this sooner. The NHS is saved! Thank you Lord Warner!  Warner once worked alongside St. Anthony Blair, who of course had nothing at all to do with sweetening the NHS for privatisation or carving it up for private companies to jump in. (or in engineering wars).

Everyone has a spare ten pounds per week, don’t they? Well, let’s get with Warner’s plan, and pay it, along with our Council tax, to keep the NHS going. Clearly there is no bureaucracy in the NHS, no extraneous middle managers, no ridiculous bean-counting exercises, supply chain mismanagement, fraud, waste or pre-privatisation manoeuvring that could be got rid of.

No, it’s up to you and me to start paying our way for the NHS. Some of you may have been of the naïve opinion your taxes went to the NHS, but that seems to have eluded Warner and his co-author Jack O’Sullivan when they proposed a fair, flat tenner per week tax.

Here’s what my Lord Warner said:

“Many politicians and clinicians are scared to tell people that our much-beloved 65-year-old NHS no longer meets the country’s needs… Frankly, it is often poor value for money. The NHS now represents the greatest public spending challenge after the general election. MPs taking to the streets to preserve clinically unsustainable hospital services only damage their constituents.”

Warner, in a report he has co-authored for the think-tank Reform, says dramatic action is needed as the NHS faces an expected £30bn-a-year gap by 2020 between the demand for healthcare and its ability to respond, and needs several new funding streams to remain viable.

I’m sure we’ll all be queuing up to help the government monitor our bodies

Revenue could also come from higher, hypothecated “sin” taxes on alcohol, tobacco and gambling, and taxes on sugary foods because of rising obesity. Inheritance tax needs to be collected from more than the current 3.5% of the 500,000 people who die each year, and visitors staying overnight in hospital should pay “hotel charges”.

A £10 monthly fee would be used to fund local initiatives to improve prevention of ill-health and an annual “health MoT” for everyone of working age, say Warner and co-author Jack O’Sullivan, an expert in new thinking in health and social care.

I’m sure we’ll all be queuing up to help the government monitor our bodies – and then get even more money for its new wheeze of selling our health data to private companies. We’ll be in great shape soon! Result!

And it gets even better: Warner wants alcohol and cigarette ‘sin taxes’ for those in the herd who won’t be squeaky clean (but surely government officials will be immune).  Sin taxes on the way soon? I’ve enough trouble with my syntax as it is.  Let’s just get down to privatising the whole system, and setting up weekly blood and urine tests for the poor to boot.

Alas, reading the 191 page report when I should be painting is giving Old Susannah high blood pressure, and I’m not getting any younger.  More later, particularly on the interesting Mr Sullivan and Lord Warner. I wonder if either of them have any reason to want privatisation? Surely not.

Nicky Tesco is interested in this stinktank, and so am I.

Next week:  More definitions, if I pass the State’s health tests, and more on the police and related arresting new developments.

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