Sep 022017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

Go4Set allows school pupils opportunities to meet with industry leaders and gain insight into the careers which studying science, engineering, technology and maths may lead to.

A scheme which encourages young people in Aberdeen to get involved with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) has received a welcome donation from Aberdeen Charitable Foundation.

The global financial firm has previously sponsored the Engineering Development Trust’s Go4Set programme in London and
Edinburgh, and has now set its sights on aiding students in the north east of Scotland.

Throughout the 10-week Go4Set scheme, 12 to 14-year-old pupils from secondary schools across Aberdeen will get the opportunity to work with industry mentors on environmentally-themed STEM projects.

By working with industry leaders, they will be able to gain an insight into industries that they may work in themselves one day, seeing theoretical knowledge they have gained in the classroom put to real-world uses.

Helen Anderson, director of the Education Development Trust, says:

“Go4Set allows school pupils an unrivalled opportunity to meet with industry leaders and gain a greater insight into the career paths which studying science, engineering, technology and maths may take them on. The students who participate are all volunteers, meaning they are passionate about the subjects and eager to learn more. Aberdeen Charitable Foundation’s generous £1,194 donation will help us to continue to run Go4Set for pupils in and around Aberdeen, inspiring future STEM pioneers.”

Research has shown that by exposing younger pupils to STEM-related employers and allowing them an insight into the world in which they could find themselves in the future, more students choose to continue studying STEM courses at Higher and Advanced Higher level, and onwards to university.

Claire Drummond, head of charitable giving for Aberdeen Charitable Foundation, says,

“The Engineering Development Trust’s Go4Set programme is incredibly popular with pupils and employers across the country, allowing them to interact with each other to jointly discover the future of STEM subjects. STEM is integral to the work we do, so we are thrilled to be able to support a scheme which encourages young people to pursue these topics.”

For more information on the Engineering Development Trust and Go4SET, visit www.etrust.org.uk

For more information about the Charitable Foundation, visit http://aboutus.aberdeen-asset.com/en/aboutus/responsible-business/aberdeen-charitable

Aug 202017
 

With thanks to Donna Ross, Senior Account Manager, Frasermedia Ltd.

Thursday, April 4th 2014, Banff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Motive Offshore, Image Library and stock photography, for website and PR
(Photo Ross Johnston/Newsline Scotland)

With signs that the oil and gas market starting to recover, it is more important than ever for companies to ensure skilled staff are in place to plug the looming skills shortage.
For leading offshore services firm Motive Offshore, which is headquartered in Boyndie near Banff, training the future talent of tomorrow is extremely important and the company has continued to employ a high number of apprentices over the years.

Providing a first-class service means that Motive is extremely passionate about developing its team to ensure that its clients always receive a high level of work allowing them to meet their business objectives.  

The firm, which has a skilled workforce of 60 members of staff across its marine equipment manufacture and rental and fabrication divisions, has continued to roll out its apprenticeship scheme to new members of staff.

Motive Offshore directors, James Gregg, and Dave Acton, both started their careers as apprentices and have played an instrumental role in continuing to develop strong links with North East Scotland College, ITCA, Skills Development Scotland and local secondary schools.

Today, the firm employs two apprentice fabricators; two craft apprentices; an apprentice fitter and an apprentice machinist.

The latest intake follow in the footsteps of four previous apprentices who all gained full time employment with Motive on completion of their apprenticeships, as hydraulic technician, fabricator, machinist and fitter.

Apprentices at Motive aren’t purely workshop based, assistant accountant Lauren Stronach also completed an apprenticeship at the firm and plans are now in place to add a finance apprentice to the team.

Currently Motive is also advertising for four new craft apprentices and intends to fill these positions by the end of summer.

James Gregg, said:

“At Motive we recognise the importance of investing in continuous learning and development for all ages. We see our apprentice programme as a vital link in the succession planning process and an important step in building a stronger business.

“Apprenticeships are a valuable asset to a company and the training that apprentices at Motive receive gives them first hand, on the job experience.

“As the oil and gas industry starts to pick up again, companies need to become proactive in providing job opportunities. Not only will this improve employability in an incredibly difficult market, it will also benefit the business and ultimately the economy of the North-east.”

Aug 112017
 

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

ITCA Training provides training for young employees in various sectors including welding, fabrication, mechanical engineering, business administration and logistics.

An Aberdeen-based apprenticeship training company is seeking applications from the engineers of tomorrow for its specially tailored course.
In recognition of the looming skills shortage due to an aging workforce, ITCA Training, which is based at the Kirkhill Industrial Estate in Dyce, created the Skills for Engineers course (S4E) to provide in-depth training for learners aged 16-18 who have left full-time education.

ITCA deliver a mixture of practical workshop based training with classroom based studies over the 16-week course, which is funded through the Skills Development Scotland (SDS) employability fund.

The course offers in-depth training in a wide range of disciplines including general workshop skills, health and safety awareness, hand fitting, service engineering, assembly skills and welding. 

Following 12-weeks at ITCA, learners then complete a four week work placement to build on their skills in a working environment. 

June Jones, managing director of ITCA, said:

“It is important that businesses address the issue of a potential skills gap, before it becomes a serious problem for the North-east in the future. In the current market, it is more important than ever before to have relevant experience and an industry standard qualification when applying for a job.

“The aim of S4E is to give learners the training and workplace experience required to get a foothold in the engineering industry, build their confidence and raise their understanding of safety in the workplace.

“This type of hands-on experience instantly gives S4E participants an advantage over other jobseekers in an extremely competitive market. Since the establishment of the S4E course, we have seen a high number of learners gaining full-time employment at a number of different companies, not only in the oil and gas sector, which is extremely positive.”

To apply for the course or find out more information, please email info@itca-training.com or visit www.itca-training.com. Next intake will be before the end of August 2017.

ITCA Training, which is one of the largest engineering apprenticeship-training firms in Scotland, is situated at Howe Moss Drive in the Kirkhill Industrial Estate, Dyce. The base, which spans almost 22,000sq feet, includes offices, classrooms, a storage yard, and workshop space. The company has been in operation in the North-east since 1989, and provides training for young employees in various sectors including welding, fabrication, mechanical engineering, business administration and logistics.

To find out more about ITCA visit www.itca-training.com.

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Jun 162017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

Primary school pupils have been working to add their own splash of colour in Aberdeen by sowing seeds for a city centre wildflower meadow. Alongside representatives from Aberdeen Inspired, a class of 22 P6 pupils from Hanover Street School have planted wildflower seeds on the grassy area where Bridge Street becomes College Street.

The aim of the session was to create greater biodiversity in the area while also encouraging community involvement in city centre activities.

Last year, children from Hanover Street Nursery also planted crocuses at the St Nicholas Centre rooftop garden.

Following the seed sowing, it is hoped that the school will take over looking after the wildflower meadow as part of Aberdeen Inspired’s ‘Adopt an Area’ initiative.

The organisation has played a key role in identifying areas within the city centre which could benefit from a refresh with the hope of making them more visually attractive and appealing to use.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We were delighted to invite children from Hanover Street Primary School to help us plant a wildflower meadow beside College Street which will brighten up the space in the coming weeks.

“As well as teaching them a bit about nature, this session was important to introduce a variety of wild flowers to the area. Increasing biodiversity in the city centre is very important and we are keen to encourage more projects like this.

“We are passionate about creating a more vibrant and appealing city centre and believe efforts like this, which involve working with school children, are hugely important in achieving that.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute.

Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district and drive increased footfall to the area.

More information about Aberdeen Inspired is available online at: www.aberdeeninspired.com

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May 122017
 

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

Graeme Johnson and June Jones from ITCA, alongside four of the pupils and Turriff Academy depute rector, Jane Bisset.

A leading apprenticeship-training provider is calling on North-east schools to prepare youngsters for the workplace through an industry initiative aimed at plugging the engineering skills gap.

For the second year running, Aberdeen-based ITCA Training offered pupils from Turriff Academy the opportunity to gain an industry standard accredited qualification.

Six pupils, aged 16-18, successfully completed units in health and safety, machining, lathe work, fabrication, welding and general engineering hand skills at ITCA.

ITCA is now calling on other secondary schools to follow in the footsteps of the school by providing additional skill development opportunities for pupils.

Managing director of ITCA Training, June Jones, said:

“It is extremely promising to see a secondary school so focused on the development of its pupils. I can only hope that other schools follow suit by providing even more young people with the opportunity to gain useful skills and additional qualifications that add to their SCQF points.

“At a time when recruitment in the North-east is low, it is now more important than ever to provide promising young engineers with the skilled training and support they need to pursue a career in this field.”

Jane Bisset, deputy rector at Turriff Academy, said:

“We are very appreciative of the partnership between ITCA, Turriff Academy and Aberdeenshire Council. The initiative is very beneficial for our pupils, as they are able to gain an industry standard qualification whilst still in secondary school.

“This qualification stands alongside their academic achievements and will instantly give them an advantage over other jobseekers in a very competitive market.”    

ITCA Training, which is one of the largest engineering apprenticeship-training firms in Scotland, is situated at Howe Moss Drive in the  Kirkhill  Industrial Estate, Dyce. The base, which spans almost 22,000sq feet, includes offices, classrooms, a storage yard, and workshop space. The company has been in operation in the   North-east  since 1989, and provides training for young employees in various sectors including welding, fabrication, mechanical engineering, business administration and logistics.      

To find out more about ITCA visit www.itca-training.com  

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Dec 062016
 
pupils-from-invergarry-primary-school-with-singer-and-harpist-claire-hewitt-medium

Pupils from Invergarry Primary School with singer and harpist Claire Hewitt.

With thanks to Richard Bunting, Director, Richard Bunting PR.

Schools in the Highlands are working with conservation charity Trees for Life to learn firsthand about native woodlands and rewilding through a new project that combines tree planting with storytelling, folklore, history, geography, poetry and song.

Around 300 pupils in Cannich, Balnain, Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus and Invergarry are taking part in the Rewilding the Highlands project, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“This is an exciting collaboration in which teachers and pupils are working together to discover more about our precious native woodlands and the importance of restoring Scotland’s ancient Caledonian Forest,” said Alan Watson Featherstone, Trees for Life’s Founder.

Specially commissioned teaching resources written by Sallie Harkness and Carol Omand of Storyline Scotland – including stories, songs and puppets – are bringing the project alive for the schoolchildren. The pupils are also learning about past relationships between people and trees, Gaelic place-names, and the craft of the storyteller or seanachaidh.

Storyteller, singer and harpist Claire Hewitt recently visited Invergarry Primary School to share woodland folklore, songs and stories, while training upper primary pupils as apprentice storytellers.

Gaelic storyteller Ariel Killick also visited Invergarry Primary School and Kilchuimen Primary School in Fort Augustus, using her engaging workshop ‘Adventures with the Gaelic Tree Alphabet’ to explore environmental issues, Gaelic poetry and language, and the Highland clearances.

Kim Bentley, Head Teacher at Invergarry Primary School, said:

“This fantastic project is helping to strengthen our pupils’ appreciation and love of our native woodlands. It’s wonderful for them to be involved in the restoration of the Caledonian Forest, and to be part of something that will have a lasting impact on future generations.”

The project addresses a wide range of curriculum areas including outdoor learning, science, Gaelic, arts and literacy. Participating schools have visited Trees for Life’s acclaimed Dundreggan Conservation Estate in Glenmoriston to find out more about conservation and to help in the charity’s tree nursery. 

Plans for the schools also include community celebrations of the project, and walks in community woodlands with pupils who are to be trained as nature guides.

Next spring, poets Alec Finlay and Ken Cockburn will work with secondary schools on a Gaelic place-name map, using linguistic archaeology to reveal lost woods and wildlife in Glen Affric, Glen Urquhart, Glenmoriston and Glen Garry. Pupils will carry out research, with their discoveries added to the map.

The Caledonian Forest has been an important part of the Highlands’ culture and natural landscape for millennia, but is now one of the UK’s most endangered habitats – largely because of over-grazing, which prevents natural regeneration of its trees. For details about Trees for Life’s award-winning work to save the forest, visit www.treesforlife.org.uk.

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Aug 312012
 

With thanks to Dave Macdermid.

North East District tennis coach Vikki Paterson is seen here being presented with the sportscotland Aberdeen City Council Development Coach of the Year award by Tennis Scotland’s Andrew Raitt.
In addition to being NESLTA coach, Vikki, who lives in Kintore, is the club coach for Banchory and Westhill and is also the voluntary organiser for the nine North County age group teams.

Sport Aberdeen’s John Purcell, who nominated Vikki for the award, said.

“NESLTA has recently agreed a demanding development plan with Tennis Scotland, with the emphasis very much on increasing participation and Vikki’s input to this will be crucial to its success.

“Her current work with the Active Schools team in Aberdeen and her organisation of the inaugural Glacier Energy Under 12 Grand Prix series at Westburn are excellent illustrations of the innovative work she is undertaking.”

 

 

 

Jun 072012
 

Voice’s Old Susannah comments on current events and enlightens us with definitions of some tricky terms with a locally topical taste. This week, more ABZ ‘A to Z’, some ATOS, and thoughts on the sad loss of a Voice colleague. By Suzanne Kelly.

Tally Ho!  It’s all been happening up and down the country, and whatever you think of the Jubilee, isn’t it grand that our ConDems have got the unemployed something to do.  Not only have they apparently been given important (albeit temporary) jobs as stewards at Jubilee events, but our government employment arm has combined this great work experience with a holiday.

Lucky invitees from the ranks of the unemployed enjoyed several days in London, camping under the stars (and a tiny bit of rain) to help run Jubilee events.  I have nothing against the Jubilee itself, and it is great to see people getting back to work.

Soon some of our lazier unemployed, including MS and cancer patients, will be given suitable jobs too; all thanks to our Coalition and ATOS, the kind (foreign) organisation which assess who’s fit for work and who’s not (and gives work to absolutely all of these people anyway).

While the layabouts got to layabout in lovely tents in London, it’s come to our attention that Conservative co-chairperson MP Lady Warsi was roughing it as well.  While this frugal woman would apparently stay in cheap B&Bs or kipped on a friend’s sofa  (as befits someone of her office), she’d put in expense claims for the maximum amount allowable, and seems to have travelled to Pakistan with a relative/business partner in tow.  Result!

Nothing wrong with having a bit of an earner now and then, as long as you’re not unemployed.  Voice readers might like to know Warsi’s never won an election.  Interestingly she was a ‘community cohesion’ guru of sorts (I’ll have to define ‘community cohesion’ sometime), despite some allegations that her election material was homophobic.  It is a funny old world indeed, and we are extremely generous taxpayers.

Old Susannah was up in the lovely town of Helmsdale for a long weekend.

This pretty coastal town is missing several tricks however.  There are no concrete high-rise buildings, no development plans, and not even a ring road.  There are several grassy areas with no granite webs planned, and the seashore doesn’t have any bingo halls, amusement arcades or huge factories.  And somehow, without so much as a single shopping mall, the people were friendly, cheerful and happy.

I met a lovely man nicknamed ‘Klondike Davy’ who took me panning for gold.  I say he is nice, but one or two people in the town have ridiculed him in the past apparently.  You see, he’s given prizes for the region’s highland games in the form of the valuable gold and garnet gemstones he’s found while panning.

The criticism from a minority, quite rightly, is that he’s given valuables and his time and efforts away for nothing.  People like that, or who give money to charities, run parties in Victorian Gardens and so on just aren’t stimulating the economy and are obviously mugs.

Apparently some of the lovely schools are in the wrong place, even after all the 3Rs strategic planning and expensive consultants

We don’t need great acts of generosity, children having fun, family days in parks with music – we need to encourage businesses to come to Scotland.  This can only be done by getting scroungers to work and by building granite webs.  Perhaps in 20 years’ time people will still remember having a great day out or winning a unique, valuable gift of gold.

Or perhaps in 20 years’ time people will still remember people being generous to a fault.  I know which I think is more likely.

Before we continue with our romp through ACC’s A to Z of its spectrum of services, spare a thought for our school children.  Apparently some of the lovely schools are in the wrong place, even after all the 3Rs strategic planning and expensive consultants.  I think we should close them all down and build new ones.

But if the children aren’t busy worrying about the unending cycle of exams they are expected to take, like so many dogs jumping through flaming hoops, another worry looms.  No, not lingering asbestos in Walker Road School, now completely clear of contaminants (I’m sure).  I can reveal that Aberdeen Football Club plan to give schools more unsold/unsellable tickets for the home games.

In this heart-breaking development, inconsolable youngsters were given the news they’ll be expected to pack the empty seats.  One young person, close to tears, told Old Susannah

“It’s bad enough to know that AFC is our team and that soon we’ll build an even more empty stadium near Loirston Loch, but to actually have to sit through a match will be torture.  Not to mention the cost of a coke and burger.”   

Reports that child welfare agencies may step in are as yet unconfirmed.  A further rumour suggests unemployed might be forced to attend games – but those surveyed so far have expressed a preference for sleeping in tents in the rain along the Thames.

Finally, Willows Animal Sanctuary needs help (the government only has funds for consultants), and it was such a pleasure to see a big help arriving in the form of Paul Rodgers and wife Cynthia.
(See article – ‘Willows Name New Patrons Paul Rodgers And Cynthia Kereluc’ in this weeks issue. )

The last time Old Susannah had seen Mr Rodgers (or ‘Paul’ as he said I should call him) was in the late 1980s, backstage at a concert for the Firm (if you don’t know – you should – Tony Franklin, Chris Slade, Jimmy Page and Paul Rodgers).  John Bonham’s son Jason was the opening act (if memory serves this band of his was called ‘Virginia Woolf’ – but don’t quote me).  Good times.

The couple are animal lovers to serious extremes, as I’ll describe next week.  It was a pleasure to meet them and to visit all the animals at Willows (although I did forego the exotic insects).  PS – The New Ark also could use our support.

Right – on with some more listings from the Aberdeen City Council’s matrix of services.

H is for Housing: – but to examine the city’s housing services, policies and expenditures – to say nothing of properties sitting empty – will take a bit more than a column to sort.  Consider this on hold for now.

I is for Insects: – Yes, you guessed correctly – the link takes you back to the list of extermination services mentioned last week.  I wonder if in the jungles on the equator so many insects and forms of vermin exist as must do here in Aberdeen.

J is for Jobs: – Yes, you can work for the council, and as an added bonus, the city will give you its beneficial assistance when it comes to knowing what you can and cannot complain about in public.  The city has apparently told its employees not to get involved with protests over school closures, park destruction, turning Hazelhead into a recycling centre and so on.

The city kindly warns its employees what will happen if they turn whistle-blower, yet somehow seems not to tell them in what circumstances they are meant to be whistle-blowers (as covered previously).  I would have expected to see a great deal of jobs for exterminators and pest controllers given the coverage this issue gets on the website, but no such jobs appear this week.

There are jobs for trainee planners (which may interest some of our recently unemployed ex-councillors), and indeed a few vacancies for Freedom of Information Officers – hopefully filling these FOI posts will speed things up.

K is for Kerb: – Old Susannah wondered what would pop up when I clicked on the link for kerb:  would it be a reference to the wonderful, smooth, well repaired and dog mess free kerbs we enjoy?  Would it be a reference to our former councillor who was arrested for kerb crawling?

No – there is a procedure for changing your kerb.  Do you want to go wide?  Do you want to change it?  Well, there is a dedicated person and procedure.  Sleep well tonight in this knowledge.

L is for – actually lots and lots of things: – ‘literacy and numeracy’ spring up (good to know the city is numerate, even if it can’t keep track of its millions or the employees who have embezzled hundreds of thousands over the years), as does my favourite ‘Lord Provost’ (I wonder if the new one will be as frugal – and portrait-worthy as the previous?).  L is for Local Plan, Local Development Plan, Local Transport strategy and so on.

But L is for litter.  If you’ve wondered why our streets are the envy of Europe, it’s because of our policy:-

“…it is an offence to drop or leave litter in any public place even if thrown from a vehicle. City Wardens assist the local community in maintaining a clean litter free environment and are authorised to issue Fixed Penalty Notices should the need arise.” – Aberdeen City website

Well, I doubt the need will ever arise for a warden to issue a fixed penalty notice, but if you should ever encounter the rare spectacle of someone littering – like the guy wearing a council badge (he had dark hair and a beard) last Thursday evening who put his trash in the doorway of a closed store on Union Street), then call the city, the wardens will spring into action, and the litter will be cleared away.

But that’s enough for now on the alphabet.  Time for something a bit serious and sad.

One of the Aberdeen Voice Team has passed away; you might have seen something about this on Facebook or elsewhere in the Voice.  She will be sorely missed by friends, colleagues and her family.  It was an unforeseen tragedy.

Can I please please urge anyone who is starting to be unhappy for any reason at all or dissatisfied with their life to open up about their feelings at an early stage.  There is a friend, colleague or relative who wants to help you, I promise.  They would be devastated if they lost you – believe me.   If you’re too proud or too afraid to talk to someone in your life (which is totally understandable), then talk to a counsellor.  But don’t let things get worse.

Like any problem, the best thing to do is get on top of it while it is still small.  If things are already on top of you, then I’m begging you to do something constructive about it today.

A great deal has been done to break down the outdated stigmas attached to depression and other forms of mental illness.  It is not a sign of weakness; it is not a sign of inferiority.  Above all, it is something that can be dealt with.

Whoever you are, whatever side of the political or economic divide, you are valuable, you are needed, and you have contributions to make.  Do please remember that.

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Dec 152011
 

Aberdeen Voice presents An Aberdeen Christmas Carol – A work of fiction, with apologies to Charles Dickens, by Suzanne Kelly and Fred Wilkinson.

The Characters

(any resemblance to anyone living, dead, or somewhere between the two is purely coincidental and not at all a deliberate attempt at parody.  This is a work of fiction and of Saltire satire )

Ianeezer Scrooge                          Old, wealthy miser, lacking in compassion but loaded with greed
Gruff and MeKeachruns                Servants to Scrooge, supplying his needs
Jenny Crawl                                   Companion to Scrooge, with whom he feeds
Jacob Milney                                  A Spirit – Once partner of Scrooge, now doomed for his deeds
Bruce the Robert                           A Spirit of Christmas Past, with Scrooge he pleads
ASIF                                               A Spirit of Christmas present, transparent indeed
Hoodie                                           A Spirit of Christmas future – but will Scrooge heed?
Spencer for Hire                             A waiter
Steve Peters Lord Provost             A dignitary
Kevin                                              An errand boy
Mr Mickie                                        Scrooge’s employee, head of a large family
Tiny Tim Mickie                              Youngest of the Mickie household
Katie Dee & Kevin Dum                 Washerwomen

  *                                              *                                              *

The careful shopper kept one eye on his purse and the other looking upwards, for the gigantic Christmas lights hung over all, like the giant orbs from ‘The Prisoner’, and were prone to falling, crushing the occasional small child or pensioner.

The pubs were filled with young ladies and gentlemen drinking eggnogs and Babycham.

The first snow would soon fall, and Christmas cheer was everywhere.  Well, almost everywhere.

A car drove towards an office block; not just any car, but the town’s very own Civic Car.  This chauffeur-driven car was the envy of all, and in it sat the Lord Provost Steve Peters himself, and the town’s wealthiest man, Ianeezer Scrooge.

“Listen Peters, I’m a patient man, but if construction doesn’t start soon on my Scrooge family car park and shopping mall, someone’s going to find less cash in their Christmas stocking this year – get the picture?”

The speaker was Scrooge, and although his voice was calm, he was turning a reddish colour.  Peters shook his head and rubbed his hands.

“Everything possible is being done – we have our best people ah, ‘volunteering’ to work on the project night and day.  Soon the Denburn Park will be officially yours.”  Peters answered Scrooge with a slightly nervous voice, for there had been far more opposition to this plan than was expected.  The public it seems did not want a little patch of ground turned into a car park.

This piece of ground had been given centuries ago to the people by the famed  hero king of old, Bruce the Robert.  A statue of him astride a trusty steed stood outside the newly-cleaned (and gutted) Marshall Academy building which now housed the city’s staff.  The Denburn Parkland was the property of the people, gifted to they by King Robert, but if Scrooge wanted the park, well, then he must have it.

Teams of lawyers toiled day and night to find some clever way to make it all work. The brilliant, peerless lawyer MeKeechruns could not have been more helpful.  Loopholes were exploited, companies set up, and there very best man, Berry Gruff was one of the lead figures making it all fall into place. ‘ If only the people would stop protesting!’ the Lord Provost thought.  ‘The wife’s on at me for some more designer jeans, and her clothes are costing a fortune.  Guess it’s all on expenses anyway, but still.’

“I want progress soon, understand!  You do want to stay Lord Provost, I’m sure, and all those other councillors know what side their bread is buttered on.  Get me a progress report tonight.”  Scrooge said matter-of-factly, as the chauffeur opened the door and Ianeezer Scrooge alit at the Scrooge Building.  He entered the doors, thrust his hat and coat at his assistant Mr Mickie, and strode off to his office, Mickie trotting at his heels.

“Have you written those letters yet?” Scrooge asked “They need to be out to James Brown at the funding office forthwith – but do send them second class – first class stamps are going up again.  And who turned the heat up in here?  I’m paying for this you know.”

Scrooge’s pet project depended to some extent on a funding application.  A Mr James Brown was in charge of the funds.  Most of Scrooge’s employees and lackeys had been set the task of writing to Brown, saying what a great project it would be and that funding must be granted.

“Oh, I’m sorry” said Mickie, “I’ll turn the heat off straight away.  Yes, I’ve written to ask for the funding for the Denburn project in my own name, in the names of all my wee children, including Tiny Tim, and as myself for all the companies you’ve put me in charge of – in name only of course” he added, seeing  Ianeezer had raised an eyebrow.

“Well, I’m out to lunch” said Ianeezer – and Mickie thought that was true enough.  “Have you made reservations for me ?  I’m taking Jenny Crawl out to the Clifmar for a nice long lunch.”

“Oh yes sir, everything is in place; do have a nice –“ but before Mickie could finish Scrooge was off again.

Mickie knew he had to work hard and do as Scrooge told him.  He had all his children to think of, including poor little Tiny Tim who needed a crutch.  Not only did Mickie work for Scrooge, he had to hold down several other jobs and even work at the local pharmacy to make ends meet.  If only things went Scrooge’s way, then no doubt Scrooge would pass some money onto Mickie as well – at least Mickie hoped so.  For Scrooge had pledged to leave the project millions of pounds, and hinted that those nearest to him would likewise be remembered in his will.

Across town Scrooge was peering at the lovely Jenny Crawl over the wine list.

“Is there anything else I can do for you sir, anything at all?  Just let me know, I’m your man.”  The little waiter, Spencer for Hire addressed Scrooge with great respect.  He too hoped to be a beneficiary of the as-yet unseen largess of Mr Scrooge.

“That will be all thank you Spence.” Jenny replied.  She was a tall stately woman with long blond hair.  She had worked her way up through the ranks and was now in the inner circle of Scrooge’s trusted business associates.  She worked long and hard helping Scrooge fulfil his dreams of seizing Denburn Park; it was after all the most desirable piece of real estate in town.  Of course they told the public that everything that Scrooge did was for their own good.  The truth was something else altogether.   If they could only turn this unprofitable bit of land with its trees, grassy banks, birds and flowers into a parking lot, they would become even richer.

They passed a pleasant few hours over caviar, champagne and fine foods.  Suddenly Scrooge felt unwell.  His head began to swim and his stomach ached.

“Jenny my dear” he sighed.  “Not feeling all that well, perhaps I had too much stilton and port.  Going home for a lie-down.  See you later I trust?  Just sign the bill for the project, it was a working lunch after all.”

“Dear Dear Ian” she said; she called him by his shortened name “you must go home and lie down at once!  We mustn’t let anything happen to you!”  She genuinely looked alarmed.  How she must care for him, Scrooge thought.

Before he knew it, Jenny and Spencer for Hire had bundled him back into his limo –  he thought they mumbled something about a will –  and he was being driven home through town.  It was twilight.  The moon shown over the Denburn Park as the limo drove past.  A shadow crossed the moon and for a moment, Scrooge thought he heard a moan.  The car then stopped at traffic lights at the Academy building, just by the Statue of Bruce the Robert.

The moonlight danced on the statue and as Scrooge froze – the horse lifted his hoof and the great Robert leaned forward and pointed at Ianeezer.  Scrooge closed his eyes and rubbed them – and when he opened them, there was the statue as motionless as it always had been.  ‘I must not eat any more of those funny chocolate brownies Katie my cleaning woman makes.  Trick of the eyes.’ He thought to himself.

As he arrived at the Scrooge mansion, his servants Katie D and Kevin Dum were at hand to help him into the house.  He ordered his faithful lackeys to bring him his dinner in his room; he would watch television in his bed and get an early night’s sleep.

Some funny programme was on, some old film called ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.  Scrooge stopped to watch for a few moments.  In the scene that was playing, a young man called George Bailey was talking to a wealthy man called Mr Potter.

“Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about… they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you’ll ever be!”

Ianeezer Scooge couldn’t quite fathom what was wrong with the young man, and thought that the Mr Potter character seemed like an admirable fellow.

Just then a gust of wind caused a tree branch to tap on the window at the opposite wall.  The noise caught Scrooge’s attention and he turned.  For a split second he thought he saw the statue of Bruce the Robert again.  A feeling of dread crept over him, but then the moment was gone.  Scrooge gradually drifted off to sleep.  He though of Christmas and how much it would cost him in holiday wages.  ‘Christmas!  Bah Humbug!’

Scrooge had a troubled, strange sleep.  Waking with a start he noticed the room glowed red in the dark.  ‘what the hell is that irritating red light and how is anyone supposed to get any sleep with it on’ he thought when suddenly he realised he was not alone.  He clutched the bedclothes and sat upright, heart pounding.

There to his horror was a hideous figure – bald and short in stature with an undefined, characterless face.  It wore a red football jersey marked ‘AFC’.

“Ianeezer Scrooge!  It is I, your former business partner  Jacob Milney come to warn you!  Mend your ways, or you too will be damned for all eternity as I am!”

“Milney – is that you?”  Scrooge could not believe it – there stood the ghastly apparition which looked exactly like his former business partner Jacob Milney.  Poor Milney had blotted his copy book.  First there were some funny dealings with the city and a queer land deal. Then Milney alienated the people by buying their city champion curling team, and running it into the ground.  People whispered that Milney did not really care for curling at all, and simply wanted to grab as much land as possible.  True enough – and Scrooge in the old days felt a paternal fondness for Jacob Milney.  But as the tables turned on Milney and he lost credibility and got into trouble, Scrooge quite rightly cut him off.

“Er, look here Milney, I’m hallucinating right?  You are just an undigested bit of cheese aren’t you?” Scrooge demanded.

“I’ve been called far worse,” said Milney looking at the floor and shaking his head sadly “Ian, I have been sent here tonight to warn you – you must give up your greedy ways.  Three spirits will visit you this night to show you your past present and your terrible future if you don’t get off the path you are on.”

“What’s that thing you’re wearing?” demanded Ianeezer “and what makes you think I’m doing anything wrong?

At this Milney let out a ghostly long wail.  “For my greed, dishonesty, destruction of green spaces and miserly treatment of the curling club, I am forced to glow red in the dark like the stadium I built in the nature reserve.  I must wear this long chain.  It is made from all the trophies and silver that the curling team could have won had I not treated it as a real estate vehicle.  And believe me, this is a pretty long chain.”

Jacob shook it for effect.

“Learn from my greed and turn back.  Pay your UK taxes.  Stop getting rid of green space – and above all:  YOU MUST NOT BUILD THE MONOLITH.  My time here is ending.  I return to my punishment – I am forced to read the fan website and all the newspaper articles denouncing my stewartship of the curling club.  Ianeezer….,,”

Milney seemed to shrink to an even smaller shape than he had been in life, and with a final moan (which Ianeezer was used to from their long years of association) he was gone.

“Phew!” Thought Scrooge “If that was poor old Milney, he’s really lost his business sense.  But it was only a dream.  No more Brewdog ‘Tactical Nuclear Penguin’ for me before bedtime.

He rolled over and soon was sleeping again, but not very soundly at all.

*                                              *                                              *

Somewhere far off a horse whinnied and steel crashed against steel.  Scrooge sat up, and there was the great heroic figure of Bruce the Robert.

“Get up ye wee futtret!”  Robert demanded.

“Now look here” Scrooge cried ” Don’t speak to me like that, dead hero or not!  I’m Ianeezer Scrooge – or Mr Scrooge to you.”

“AAARRGH!” Cried Bruce the Robert, swinging his huge sword close to Scrooge who seemed to regret his earlier rudeness.  “Ah’ve focht bloody battles tae win the lands Ah hae noo – but fit aoot yersel? A’ you’ve ivver daen is stan idle watchin rival firms struggle, an’ like a hoodie cra’ pick their banes fan they’re ower puggled tae fecht back.

“Ah dinna ken why Ah should gee ma bahookie ower sic a grippy flechbite as yersel, but somebody hid tae come ower an gie ye a bollockin, an’ as ayewis, it wis left tae Muggins.

“Hemen, ye’ve mair money than ye ken fit tae dae wi, an’ still aye yer needin mair. Ah’m tellin ye noo tae cut it oot!

“Ah ken fit it’s like tae a fair puckly siller. Ae time Ah could hae went onywye an daen onythin Ah likit. Twis naebody’s business fit Ah did wi siller Ah workit for. But Ah gaed awa! ‘At’s richt, glaikit as it micht soun’, Ah gaed awa ma siller tae ornry workin fowks…. an as lang as Ah’m still kent as the Big Bob, fit Ah gied tae the fowks will bide wi the fowks. D’ye underconstumble?

“So if you as much as pint yer finger at ae tree in the fowk’s perk at Denburn, Ah’ll come doon on ye like a ton o’ bricks.

“Noo Ah’ve heard ye bumpin yer gums aboot gaein yer siller awa tae fowk, but dinna kid yersel, the Aiberdeen fowk are nae blin’, an’ they’re nae as feel as ye think. So fit is’t yer buildin onywye? Ah’ve haen a lookie an’ Ah’ve nae seen siccan a sair sotter in a’ ma puff. Fit’s wi’ the muckle gless worm thingmy? Are ye wise??”

“Clearly”  Scrooge replied, “You just don’t understand this wonderful gift I’m giving the people.

“There will be underground parking, shopping, ramps to walk on, a monolith, and a great big covered space to sit in.    It is the way to ensure our economic future, and people will come from afar to see this wonderful site.  And spend money.  There will be jobs creation, vibrancy, dynamism.  It is a focal point for the civic heart of the city which – “

“Haud yer wheesht min!” interrupted the ancient hero’s ghost forcefully  “Div Ah look like a gluepot? Div ye think fowk are feel enough tae believe the tripe comin oot yer mou? Div ye believe it yersel min? If ye dae, then yer mair o’ a neep than Ah taen ye for. Ah’m tellin ye yince mair min jist in case the penny hisna drapped. That perk is tae bide the wye it is … so snoot oot –  or ye’ll ken a’ aboot it.

“Richt, Ah’m awa noo, but mind fit Ah telt ye.”

“Is your time on this earth up?” asked Scrooge “You see, if you could just understand why we need to build these ramps and monoliths, then –“

“Nah, ma time’s ma ain” the Robert growled, prodding his finger into his chest “But the verra sicht o’ yer soor coupon is daein ma napper in, so Ah’m aff. But Ah’ll be clockin ye. So get a grip ye grippy git. Yer needin tae heed the wise or wise the heid. Itherwise min, it’s tatties!”

And the ghostly horse reared; the Robert charged the window, and was gone into the night.

“Hm… I guess I believe in ghosts!” Thought  Ianeezer – “Hmph!  It’s easier to believe in spirits than in any of this public relations ‘vibrant and dynamic’ nonsense – whatever that means.   I just want that land, some parking, some shops and of course a statue to ME, which the grateful populace will insist is built.  But the spirit was right – perhaps I need to do some more thinking about this project.”

Scrooge shook his head up and down with satisfaction before plumping his pillow, and laying down again.

*                                              *                                              *

“You sit around here and you spin your little webs and you think the whole world revolves around you and your money. Well, it doesn’t, Mr. Potter. In the whole vast configuration of things, I’d say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider!”

The television was still on – these words woke Scrooge up, and he rubbed his eyes.  The room was filled with a fuzzy glow.  There was some kind of shape in the room, cloudlike with little form.  It however spoke in a girl’s voice.

“Hi there!  I’m ASIF, the ghost of Christmas present!  But you can call me Jan.” the thing said.

“What are you?  I can’t figure out what you’re supposed to be?” Scrooge asked, turning his head to one side.  The thing existed, yet he could see straight through it but could not tell what it was.  It kept changing.  Truly this ghost was vibrant and dynamic.  At one point he thought he saw a big translucent worm.  Another moment and it seemed to be either a big spiderweb or a great big square block.

“You should understand” the voice said “for you are creating me.  I am ASIF, your project.  I’m not exactly defined yet – no one – not even you  – knows what I will look like.  You only know that you want me built, and you hope to have a statue of yourself – like the statue of Bruce the Robert.  I am here to show you the truth of Christmas Present.  You will see what your actions have created in this city for people this very Christmas night.  Now come with me.  Take hold of my robe and you will be uplifted in more than this.  Whatever that means.”

“Now hold on Jan” said a sceptical Scrooge.  “I had Milney in her not long ago pretending to be some kind of spirit – just the kind of silly caper that gets him into trouble every time.  Why should I think you are ASIF, some kind of a ghost?”

“Well, I’m fully transparent aren’t I?” ASIF answered.

“Very well spirit, show me what Christmas looks like this year.”

They flew out the window.  And this is what they saw.

They saw a homeless man shiver in the cold, mourning for his friend who had frozen to death earlier in the week.  They saw bulldozers tearing into the remaining countryside; they saw other green fields nearby.  They saw some people suffering, and others feasting.  They saw pensioners and people with special needs trying to make do.  They saw crumbling NHS hospitals and closed down schools.  They saw poor ailing Tiny Tim Mickie sitting in a corner of his room, writing letters at his dad’s bidding to James Brown, begging for the Scrooge project to go ahead.  They saw the happy, the sad, the rich and the poor.  Then they saw the richest man in town’s mansion, and it was Scrooge’s.

“All those people with all their hopes and dreams.  All of the land being built on, leaving animals without shelter, space or feeding ground. All the suffering.  And yet Mr Scooge, here we are back at your billionaire pad with its comforts and servants.  Does this teach you anything at all?”  The spirit asked.

“Yes, indeed it does.  Thank you ASIF.  I have learned much.”  Scrooge answered thoughfully.  “But what are those two child-like figures clinging to you, hidden under your robes?”

“Fear them Scrooge” answered ASIF “the little boy is Ignorance; he is what happens if schools are closed.  The little girl is called Want, and what you waste in a day could save her.”

“Would I get any tax break if I make a donation?” Scrooge asked.  The spirit pretended it hadn’t heard this question.

“I shall leave you now, and another spirit will soon appear to show you the future.”ASIF said.  With that, the ghostly shimmery giant worm thing was gone.

“I shall make use of what she showed me.  I shall change” Ianeezer thought. “And now I await my last spectral visitation.”  He sat on his bed, and noticed the movie was still playing.  It felt as if this night was never going to end, yet if the movie was still on, only moments had passed.

*                                              *                                              *

A wild wind was blowing; Scrooge’s windows were thrown wide open by an invisible force.    Before the spectre, who was wearing a hoodie that covered its face entirely could speak, Ianeezer began.

“Look, I know who you are and why you’re here – let’s see the future, for I’ve been given much food for thought tonight.  Time’s money, let’s get a move on.”  The spectre grabbed Scrooge’s arm and they flew forward in time.

They  were still in Scrooge’s house, but according to the calendar some 20 years had passed.  Two old haggard ladies were arguing, and the draperies were closed around Scrooge’s bed.  They were his faithful servants, Katie D and Kevin Dum.

“I’ll have that for all the years of suffering I’ve endured.” Said one of the washer women.  She was grabbing a casket of silverware.

“Fine – take that, I’ll get the old fool’s fillings from his teeth!” said the other scrubber.  More voices were heard, and the two washer women scarpered.  Soon a party of lawyers, councillors, and the lovely Jenny Crawl dressed head to toe in black entered.  They all sobbed.

“See spirit!  See how they miss me!” said Scrooge, who realised it was his deathbed they were seeing.  He felt most proud at this outpouring of grief.

“Bollocks!” said Jenny.  “After all those  years of crawling, the old bastard not only didn’t leave money to the Denburn project, he’s  not left me more than an old photo of himself!  The nerve!”

“Years I printed what I was told, and more to the point I didn’t print what he didn’t want out.  And it’s all been for nothing.”  A man with a folded up newspaper under his arm simmered angrily.

“My project, my beautiful project!” said Gruff “who’s going to pay for it now!?  Hundreds of millions of pounds are needed, or the city will go broke.”

“I thought I had all the angles covered,” wept MeKeechruns “I’m usually so very, very brilliant!”

The miserable party railed at the dead man.  “Show me no more of this!” cried Scrooge.  He blinked and found himself at the home of his servant, Mickie.  Tiny Tim’s crutch lay along against the fire place.

“Where’s Mickie’s son Tiny Tim?” asked Scrooge

Before the spectre of Chrismas Future could answer, the Mickies entered the room.

“My poor wee Tim!” cried Mrs Mickie “Who would have thought he could die from writer’s cramp?  It was bad enough he  had to bombard James Brown with letters demanding that the funding for Scrooge’s project be granted.” She sobbed, “But it was just too much for wee Tim to have to also forge all those referendum ballots too.  Ah, my poor boy!”.

Scrooge and the spirit were suddenly in the fresh air, in the middle of what seemed like a party.  It was the Denburn Park, but not as Scrooge remembered it.  A giant steel skeleton with smashed glass panes lay to his left.  A giant huge monolith with no windows stood nearby.  A schoolboy threw empty bottles of Buckfast off of a giant concrete ramp covered in graffiti.

On a stage under the ramp, Status Quo played to an audience of OAPs. Groans intermixed with the sound of car engines emanated from the oversized Monolith.  It bore a sign that read “The Ianeezer Scrooge memorial Monolith – parking, shopping and children’s Workhouse.” But all were rejoicing as overhead a grafittied monorail limped to a halt.

“He’s dead!  He’s DEAD!” they all cried, raising glasses of latte or vodka overhead.  Scrooge did not want to know who’s death the rabble were cheering – he had his suspicions.

“Spirit, show me no more.  I have learnt my lessons well.  Thank you.  I promise I will make changes!”  And with these words from Scrooge, a bolt of lightning blinded him for a moment.  Then, he was in his own room again.  The calendar showed he had returned to the present time.

Scrooge was much changed by what he had seen.

*                                              *                                              *

“Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends”

Incredibly, the movie ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ was only just now ending, although Scrooge felt his ordeal had lasted several nights not hours.  Scrooge sat straight up in bed, and the sunlight streamed through the window.  He laughed out loud.  Throwing on his robe he raced to the window, still laughing, and threw open the sash.  A boy was visible nearby.

“You there boy, what day is this?” Scrooge demanded.

“Why sir, it’s Christmas day!” the puzzled lad answered.

“Then a merry Christmas to you!  See this twenty-pound note?” Ianeezer asked, waiving a bill in the air

“Yes Sir!” answered the boy

“Go and fetch me the biggest turkey in the whole town!” Scrooge commanded

“Dean, Fletcher or Malone?” asked the lad

“Ho ho – smart lad!  Fetch me them all! – and Gruff and MeKeechruns as well!” Scrooge answered, and disappeared from the window.  “Much to do today!  Much to change!” he thought to himself.

In a little under an hour later, a somewhat disgruntled motley crew of councillors, officials and others connected to the Denburn Park project found themselves in Scrooge’s drawing room.

“I’ll bet you wondered why I called you hear today” he asked.  A chorus of “we are happy to be here, and ‘merry Christmas sir” greeted him.

“I’ve been thinking about the project, and have a new suggestion or two – believe me, these changes are very forward looking.” Ianeezer  announced.  The assembled great and good replied ‘fantastic!’ ‘can’t wait!’ and so on.

“We’re going to electrify the worm, and throw anyone in prison who touches it.  Now the monolith idea – what if as well as underground parking we put in a workhouse? We’ll save money putting the kids in workhouses and closing more schools.  Do you think that will be possible – I mean think of the labour saving and government grant possibilities!”

There was a moment’s silence “Well, are you with me – remember the money I’m leaving in my will!” Scrooge said with a hint of threat.

“Astounding!” “Visionary” “Vibrant!!” “Dynamic!”  “Inclusion!”   the buzzwords he so loved rang out across the room.

“Merry Christmas  – now back to your homes.  Jenny – stay for a drink won’t you?”  A shadow seemed to cross her face for an instant, but it was gone.

Ianeezer Scrooge was a happy man indeed, and remained grateful to the spirits to the end of his days.

“Please sir – the twenty pound note?” asked a wee boy in the back of the great drawing room.   “Yes, here it is” Scrooge said waving it, “And if you do me another favour sometime, I’ll show it to you again.”

Amid the approving nervous titters of the council bigwigs, the boy was shown the door.

Somewhere far away, an icicle formed under the eye of a bronze statue of a former king of Scotland.

THE END.

Dec 012011
 

Old Susannah looks back at the week that was, who said what to whom about what, and wonders what Saint Andrew would have made of it all.

Happy St Andrew’s Day! Old Suz is having haggis and whisky, or ‘swishky’ as the man at the next table is calling it. St Andrew’s Day reminds us of our national identity, more on that later. I read that Aberdeen is climbing up the list of ‘best places to live in the world’ and has reached the dazzling height of No. 52.

Well done everyone! And that’s before we get our glowing stadium at Loirston or our giant glass worm. We’ll be number 51 in the world before you know it.  Apparently factors like our low crime level feed into how the ratings are calculated. Congratulations to us all for living in this desirable paradise.

These statistics may or may not include the small minority of people who aren’t rolling in dosh like most of us are. The statistics on crime may or may not be being ‘massaged’ – after all, the top brass get nice bonuses if the crime levels are low. How could I think such a thing? Well, the newspapers this week may have something to do with it.

We’ve had a charming man just sent to prison; he kicked a four-year-old child in the head. Fair enough, they had been having an argument apparently.  You know what these toddlers can be like.

Another similar humanitarian’s gone down for 3 years for robbing children of their pocket money and jewellery, threatening to ‘slash’ some of them. The fact the victims were boys, girls and an autistic person just show that this particular thief was running his business in a non-discriminatory way.  He should be congratulated really. To be even more inclusive, this particular robber tried putting on a ‘Scouse’ accent.

Perhaps his career is inspiring to young people – a nine year old’s been caught stealing a car as well.  You’re never too young to learn.  I wonder if he at least brought a child safety seat on the job with him?

We’ve had older people robbed, conned and abused. Yes, in our 21st Century world, Aberdeen is the 52nd best place to live.  I’d say ‘safe as houses’, but we’ve had burglaries and fire-raising in the news as well.  Still, statistics don’t lie, and if there are experts who say we’re no. 52 in the planet, who are we to question it.

I heard something about some disruptive elements holding something called a ‘strike’. I just hope this won’t affect our place in the world quality standing. I can’t for the life of me see why anyone in such a highly-ranked city would have any reasons for unhappiness, although frozen salaries, cut pensions, closed schools, closed recreational facilities, cut school lessons, cut services and cuts to care homes might play a small role.

Someone should look into this.  Maybe if we just all looked at the brand new festive lights on Union Street, the rest of it wouldn’t matter so much.

That nice Mr Jeremy Clarkson had a solution for these ‘striking’ workers – he apparently said on air that he’d have them all shot in front of their families.  He thinks they get great pensions.  Please be a bit patient and don’t judge Mr Clarkson too harshly.  He’s got to work for a living, and probably only has a modest pension to look forward to.

It is not like him to be intolerant of other people, and as it’s the season of good will (or is it the season of ‘buy one get one free’ – I can never remember), let’s let Jeremy off the hook. We should be more tolerant, like he is.

Perhaps it’s time for some definitions.

Nationalism: (noun), The belief that a person or thing’s national origin is its most important and most defining characteristic.

Incidents of racism and nationalism are on the rise – not just in the UK at large, but here in 52nd best city, Aberdeen. Still, it’s important to remember just how important a person’s nationality is. If Donald Trump hadn’t reminded us that he has a granny from Skye, we might not have given his development the wink and the nod.

Pretty soon we’ll have the number one golf course in the world near the 52nd greatest city: it will be like paradise on earth. Believe it or not, on my mother’s side I can trace my direct ancestry all the way back to King Duncan, King Alexander and St Margaret of Scotland.

Armed with this information, I intend to ask Alex Salmond to give me privileges as well.  Maybe someone will even sell me some land in Westhills for a fraction of its value. National origin is where it’s at.

Of course if someone’s not Scottish, it’s OK to discriminate against them and you can always tell someone’s national origin by looking at them.

We know what a pure Scottish person looks like because of their Scottish characteristics. These Scottish traits come from the Egyptian princess Scota (for whom the country may be named). They also come from the Phoenicians who sailed here, the Celts who came here and the Vikings, Danes, and Norsemen who raided now and then. These pure Scottish traits also come from the Picts, and the Romans (whatever they may have done for us).

Later on continental settlers from travellers and sailors to kings and queens came from the continent. St Colomba came from Ireland, and the movement of people between Ireland and Scotland was massive. So yes – be proud you’re Scottish. After all, it’s not like a Scot is some kind of foreigner or something.

We could learn a lot from that nice lady on Youtube who had a wee bit of a go at foreigners coming over here to live.  It’s only been going on for three and a half thousand years or more as far as I can tell.  The lady in question is now helping the police with their enquiries.

St Andrew, for those who didn’t know, came from Galilee, and was Jewish-born convert to Christianity.  He had this crazy idea of preaching his religion (something to do with ‘turning the other cheek’, loving one another, and so on) to people in every country he could manage to travel to.

He travelled extensively in Europe and is also revered in half a dozen countries and the Greek Orthodox Church.  No doubt he’d be proud of the nationalism that seems to be taking hold of a few people here.  What he’d say to the giant worm or the monolith plans for Union Terrace Gardens is another matter.

Aberdeen Citizens Party: (noun) A facebook site with some 35 friends.

A wide range of rather strong opinions can be found on this site.  The Citizens Party is against Halal slaughter of animals (so am I).  It is all for capital punishment, and says that since 80 percent of people (really?) want the death penalty brought back it should be done.  I guess if a few innocent people get killed like happens in the USA, then the families can be given some kind of compensation payment. Fair enough.

This page is apparently run by one Patrick Wight; I’m told he has some form of hilarious act wherein he pretends to be a camp homosexual hairdresser named ‘Patrice’.  I really must catch that some time (perhaps around the time I want to define ‘tolerance’ more fully).

Old Susannah was surprised to read this on the Citizens page:

“Lets hope that a campaign of direct action can save Union Terrace Gardens and prevent the environmental damage which is to be inflicted upon it by Ian Wood and his yes men. The right to protest peacefully is a fundamental part of our society. We tend to forget that many of the human rights we cherish today are a direct result of protests by ordinary people who were prepared to go onto the streets ..”

I of course don’t want anything to stand in the way of Stewart getting his much-needed parking spaces, and Ian getting his eventual statue.  However, I found the above just a little bit of a contradiction to what a Patrick Wight wrote to Aberdeen Voice:-

“Message:
Not affiliated to any political party?
Your having a fcuken (sic) laugh!
Your promoting the day of action rally by the political left and the unions who want to wreck economic recovery and cause public misery across Britain.”

So – a protest is fine, but not a day of action rally by the unions.  I can’t quite work out why we have unions anyway, since we’re number 52 in the world.  It might have had something to do with workers in the past not having great rights (or any rights).  It might have something to do with the infamous New York City sweatshop fire in the Triangle building–  all the workers had been locked in and none escaped the fire.

But that was then and this is now.  Public sector workers have ‘gilt edged’ pensions; Jeremy Clarkson said so.  Let’s all get behind the Aberdeen Citizens Party and protest against the gardens, but complain about unions having a day of protest.  Makes sense to me.

Next week:  more definitions, including ‘slacktivist’ – someone who likes the idea of supporting a cause, as long as it doesn’t mean doing anything much.