Nov 042016
 

There are few people taking to social media to profess love for Muse’s Marischal Square development which is growing up and around – and now under Provost Skene House.  Photographs from the site show that far from respecting the house, it is not only surrounded by this oversized new office structure, but also digging works are also taking place which certainly seem less than safe for the Provost Skene House. Article by Jon Symons, Photographs by Suzanne Kelly of the Provost’s House as it now sits, and from Writing from Scotland – by Christine Laennec.

provost-skene-house-one-use-onlyPhotographs which have appeared on social media make it look as if the fabric of Lord Provost Skene House is not being respected by the builders. Aberdeen Voice has been promised access to the site and a statement from the builders.

This will be published in due course.

So what is it about Provost Skene House (PSH) that inspires an abiding affinity with most Aberdonians?

Is it the fact it was initially built in 1545 and is 471 years old?

Is it the fact Mary the First was on the Scottish throne when the foundation stones were laid?

Perhaps it’s because PSH is the oldest surviving house in Aberdeen and one of the few remaining examples of early burgh architecture in the city.

It has an exceptional interior with outstanding examples of 17th century plasterwork and a painted gallery with an unusual cycle of religious tempera paintings.

The first records of the house date back to 1545 and the vaulted basement is likely to be from this period.

In 1622 this former three storey house was bought by Matthew Lumsden who added a two storey and attic gabled section to the south west side. His Coat-of-Arms, dated 1626 is clearly visible in one of the dormer gables.

The house was then bought in 1669 by the wealthy merchant and later Provost of Aberdeen, George Skene of Rubislaw and he reconstructed the original house and built the square tower on the north west side.

The house is steeped in history and was used by the marauding Duke of Cumberland’s troops in 1746 and for a long time after was known as ‘Cumberland’s House’.

In 1732, the house was divided into two separate tenements but was then brought together again in the mid 19th century and later used as a lodging house (Victoria Lodging House) but thereafter it slowly fell into disrepair.

Many of the slum buildings surrounding it were demolished in the 1930s but a public campaign (purportedly supported by the Queen Mother) saved Provost Skene House from Council vandalism.

provost-skene-house-one-use-only-facadeThe painted gallery is important and unusual.

Originally depicting The Life of Christ in 10 panels the ceiling is by an unknown artist although it does show Flemish and Germanic influences.

Some of the armorial devices included in the paintings may be those of previous owner Matthew Lumsden and this suggests the ceiling may have been painted between 1622-44.

The smaller painted room depicts landscapes with figures all done in a Classical style.

The archway, now removed at Muse’s instigation, was transported from Union Terrace Gardens and rebuilt at the house in 1931.

In the sixties the then Council decided to erect the monstrosity known as St Nicholas House and PSH was virtually hidden from public view from 1968 until 2013 when the Council’s carbuncle was finally demolished.

You could be forgiven for thinking Aberdonians had forgotten about their historical city centre jewel but that was not the case. During the limited (some might say derisory) consultation with the public on what should be done with the site it became obvious that Aberdeen’s residents had rediscovered their love for PSH.

Even the present Council realised this and determined, in recognition of the importance of the Broad Street site to the future of the city centre, officers should explore the options open to the council to ensure any development was of the highest quality and sympathetic to Provost Skene House and Marischal College and ruled that should include consideration of the council developing the site through a joint venture and the possibility of a design competition tender exercise.

Of course, saying one thing and doing something completely different would seem to be the hallmark of the current Council administration and it appears they have put money and potential profit ahead of all other considerations.

The final design (Muse Developments) was supposedly chosen by an unbiased and independently minded ten person working group based on Urban Design, Culture and Heritage but only five of the group were Councillors. The other five were Council Officers and an employee of Ryden, the site selling agent and later the company Muse chose to market the property.

More recently photographs have shown the apparent disregard the contractor has shown for PSH as they appear to dig under the south west gable end foundations with no obvious support for the four hundred and seventy one year old building.

When completed the Council seems determined to dumb down the house and use some of the rooms to showcase the likes of Joey Harper, Annie Lennox and other lesser known Aberdeen celebrities.

provost-skene-house-one-use-only-detailThey have also decided not to reopen the once popular PSH tea room and this may well be because they hope to rent the ground floor retail units of Marischal Square to fast food outlets.

Provost Skene House is a national, never mind a city, treasure and most Aberdonians hoped and thought it would finally be showcased in the green grassed and tree lined surroundings it deserved.

Unfortunately it seems this Council, just like the one in the nineteen thirties, has little if any regard for the needs and wants of Aberdeen’s long suffering citizens but then again, why on earth should we be surprised?

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Aug 262014
 

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

DictionaryTally Ho! There is much ado in the Granite City; Friday is the Public Meeting concerning the future of the former St Nicholas House site.

Of course the beautiful, iconic, vibrant, dynamic creative glass-box office and retail development is a foregone conclusion; it will go ahead. It may take a chunk or two out of property that is part of the Lord Provost’s House, but at least we’ll have new places to shop.

As I say, whatever speakers say in their 10 minutes of allotted time, nothing will change; the plans are unchangeable.

Then again, it was a meant to be set in stone that the land at Loirston Loch was to be kept pristine green and serene as a wildlife habitat. It’s now being surrounded by more urban sprawl.

Old Susannah was allowed 10 minutes to come in and speak about the plans for the former St Nicholas site, but as the plans are made, somehow I don’t think I’ll speak after all.

You could be forgiven for thinking that planning in Aberdeen is a ratchet which can only be torqued in favour of developers’ wishes and construction projects, and never towards conservation, clean air and green space. But there you go.

On the other hand, it may be worth showing up to this meeting, for surely some people will be speaking of the crucial need for a civic square. Sir Ian Wood will doubtless remind us of his passion for a civic square. Aberdeen City Gardens Trust and ACSEF affiliate Tom Smith will surely be leading the charge to demand we take this opportunity to  make the public gathering space that he desperately wanted the ACGT to manage.

Stewart Milne will renew his impassioned, selfless case for a city square or granite web as well, which clearly had nothing to do with his then need for parking spaces for Triple Kirks (also now to be a glass box office complex). Perhaps this is an unfair comparison for me to make; after all Union Terrace Gardens is bigger than the area now under consideration.

I’m sure it is a complete coincidence that UTG is common good land worth a small packet and that ACSEF, Wood and the ACGT were so keen to get their hands on it. I guess we need a civic square (whatever that is) an outdoor theatre (great in winter no doubt) and so on – but only if they’re to be built on top of open, green spaces owned by the people.

It’s not as if I think the city’s officers don’t listen to the public or formulate plans and carry them out no matter what. But considering the deer cull and tree planting at Tullos, I could be forgiven for thinking so.

On a less contentious note, I saw the amazing, singular Jeremy Paxman in his Edinburgh Festival premier. For some reason he was acting nice; guess it was all part of the show for clearly he must be scathing and sarcastic all the time. The tickets had sold out quickly for some reason or other.

At one point he explained why he wasn’t always nice and kind to elected officials. Apparently, there are some elected officials who are dishonest, inept, bumbling, self-serving and dishonest. I’d never have thought it. At least we’re safe from that kind of thing in the Deen.

Clearly we don’t always appreciate the saintly self-sacrificing nature of our elected officials, experts and public figures.  Perhaps a few timely definitions may help engender more respect from us for our betters.

But first:  a competition.  A bottle of BrewDog to the first correct answer pulled from the hat on Friday:-

Q1. Garden Talk: Match the person to the quote

  1. wanted  “to create a hub, a focal point for future generations, which will draw together the retail and cultural aspects of the city.”
  2. asked “that it be noted that every week the councillors of the Monitoring group have asked for the ‘no action’ option to be part of the public display and this has been passed on to the Management Board by Mr Brough. The Councillors stated that they were very disappointed that this [voting to keep the gardens as they were and improve them] was still not an option.”
  3. “This [Granite Web] ingenious and inspiring design for Aberdeen’s key public space gives the city a new social landscape but one rooted in its extraordinarily rich heritage and natural assets.”
  4. “Right enough, there have been more people in the gardens recently but they seem to go in to have their photograph taken and wave placards, rather than to play draughts or spot trains as they did many years ago.”
  5. “there would NOT be a ‘no action’ option [to vote to leave the gardens alone ]at this stage because the feedback was part of a tendering process to select the best of six designs [allowing the public to reject the scheme would, of course, saved the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds and a divisive referendum.  no one outside of private company ACTG has seen all of the votes or been allowed to count the votes against the scheme cast]”

a) Morris the Monkey – fictional character used by BiG Partnership to promote building in UTG (presumably either no one else wanted the job, or a fictional character was all they could afford to explain the benefits of a £140 million pound granite spaghetti junction).

b) Sir Ian Wood the Monkey (Scottish Enterprise, Wood Group, Wood Family Trust).

c) Sir Duncan Rice the Monkey – chair of this, that and the other and the design committee.

d) Gerry Brough the Monkey – long-gone ACC employee gently persuading us to have a granite web (and nothing but a granite web) known for his gentle temper and soft words.  Missed by no one.

e) Councillor West.

Q2. How many times over the years has First Minister Alex Salmond visited the Menie Estate residents to hear concerns living under Donald Trump’s stewardship of the estate?

a) 10
b) 20
c) 0
d) 0 – but he will accept an invitation to visit and will come to see Anthony Baxter’s and Richard Phinney’s new film ‘A Dangerous Game’ on 5 September in Aberdeen

Q3. Mixed bag:  match the number to the fact

  1. 5,847
  2. 7
  3. 1,378
  4. £50,000,000
  5. £50,000,000
  6. more than 16,000
  7. £15,000,000 approximately
  8. 65,000

a)  Approximate amount of money sitting in The Wood Family Trust to be used for charitable works (eventually).

b)  Number of people signing David Milne’s petition asking for an investigation held into propriety and handling of planning permission granted to Donald Trump at the Menie Estate.

c)   Number of people who voted for the granite web during the UTG design consultation.

d)  Amount of money shielded by tax from certain oil giant’s empire’s offshore payroll scheme.

e)  Sum of money pledged by Sir Ian Wood to create Granite Web.

f)   Number of people in Scotland reliant on food banks according to one charity.

g)  Number of people who voted for the winter garden design during the UTG design consultation.

h)   Number of people who turned down David Milne’s petition on Trump

Q4. How much oil do we have left?

a)  24bn barrels of oil could be recovered – First Minister Alex Salmond.

b)  12 – 24 billion barrels of oil potential  – Sir Ian Wood, report of February 2014.

c)  ‘Sir Ian claimed there are about 15bn to 16.5bn barrels of recoverable oil left, and that the figure from the White Paper is 45% to 60% too high’. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-28867487

d)  “hard-pushed” to extract 15bn barrels – Melfort Campbell.

e)  no one really knows for certain – everyone else.

And now time for one brief but poignant definition

Suffering (English gerund) the state of being in pain, discomfort, hardship

Never let it be said that Old Susannah turns a blind eye to the hardships faced by some of our older people, and the forces that conspire to break up families.  With today’s economic problems, some men are having to slave long, hard hours and travel extensively to keep their families together.  I am of course thinking about our depute Lord Provost John Reynolds, his wife and family. And so are you.

It all started innocently enough; some spoilsports were questioning the necessity of some of the wee trips the depute was going to make. Well, quite rightly Mrs depute Lord Provost wrote a letter to the Press & Journal. Standing by her man, she explained:

“I am his wife of  nearly 45 years [you can feel the pain], I have supported his work as a councillor and kept quiet when things have been said that upsets us as a family.

“Your piece has changed all that and I will not sit back and let you make it appear he is going off on ‘cooncil jaunts’. ..During his years as Lord Provost, 70 hours weeks became the norm… John was asked to take on the role of promoting Aberdeen and its oil-related industries abroad because he is passionate about the city and everything it has to offer.”

Alas! One of his upcoming trips to the US to go to a conference was booked on the assumption the conference was yearly, not biannual. But it’s going ahead anyway, so we can demonstrate ‘we’re open for business’ according to Jenny Laing, Council Leader. Reynolds said

“because it was approved there was still business to be done in Louisiana, doors that can be opened for Aberdeen businesses particularly, but also bringing Louisiana companies with their technology over to Aberdeen.”

One killjoy, Cllr Yuill said:

“we should remove this visit on the basis that the committee agreed to it based on inaccurate information.” 

I’m sure any private sector business wouldn’t mind finding out its employees were jetting out to non-existent events without any disciplinary action being taken. And if a person booking travel at taxpayer expense doesn’t have time to check out whether the conference actually exists that they’re booking someone to travel to, that’s pretty understandable as well.

It’s not as if the council has never taken decisions based on inaccurate information before, is it?

In my part of the world, the private sector has to watch costs. Bring in business? Private companies  send out literature and presentations are made in teleconferences. Touting for business on spec? The internet is cheaper and just that little bit more environmentally friendly. It’s just that little bit easier to spend taxpayer money isn’t it?

We are assuredly open for business. Perhaps the depute Lord Provost will find our next Donald Trump on one of his jaunts, or another businessman determined to take the small boats off the tiny harbour in Cove. I can’t wait.

But while Reynolds is looking for business in America, it’s just a shame that his family life has had to suffer. The drinks receptions, the public events, the hospitality – all very wearing after a bit don’t you know.

Perhaps we should not have forced him into being a councillor, being a depute / Lord Provost. So if you’re a nurse working double shifts, an oil rig worker, in the police, fire department or in teaching, just think how comparatively lucky you have it. Perhaps if things get rougher, you’ll see a few of our hard-done by councillors on your next visit to the food bank.

Next week: A new version of who’s who in the city and shire – what councillors are in what quangos and groups; what businessmen have cosy links to what politicians, and more.

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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.]

Jul 212014
 

By Ken Hutcheon.

Provost Skene's House by Stanley Wright

Provost Skene’s House – Credit: Stanley Wright

The date for lodging any comments/objections to the Marischal Square and/or Provost Skene Developments has now passed with 146 formal comments/objections having been received by Aberdeen City Planning Dept.

The Council are now considering whether to have a public hearing regarding this development.

The Planning Committee will meet next Thursday 24th July to decide.

Unfortunately it appears that leading councillors are confident they can push this present development plans through WITHOUT a public hearing. If we can get enough councillors to understand that they should be voting to support the wishes of the people that put them in power we can achieve a public hearing to get the developers to think again.

The developers can surely produce a far more innovative design that will open the magnificent view of the shining granite of Marischal College and the historic frontage of Provost Skene’s House for generations of Aberdonians and tourists to the city.

To condemn the centre of Aberdeen (the silver city) to a series of boring square boxes which hide the beauty of Marischal College and Provost Skene’s House is a terrible act of vandalism by our council.

Anyone who is understandably concerned regarding this development should email the Councillors for their area to suggest they vote to hold a public hearing. Over 1100 Aberdeen citizens stated at the exhibitions of this development they do not want these plans to go ahead.

To find your councillor and their email address, the easiest way is to put your postcode into the Aberdeen City Interactive map.

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Jun 232014
 

Provost Skene's House by Stanley WrightBy Ken Hutcheon.

The Marischal Square Development objections closing date may be gone, but MUSE developers have further plans in mind.
Proposals to remove the historic archway, stairs and wall in front of Provost Skene’s House are being considered. The plans can be viewed here.

This is despite the fact that on MUSE’s own website it states:

“Provost Skene’s House will be at the heart of the Marischal Square project……. The role and setting of Provost Skene’s House will be given special consideration in the new development. It will be protected from the demolition then re-opened at an appropriate time.

“Money is being set aside for conservation work.”

There is also a picture of Provost Skene House as it is now, complete with arch and surrounding wall, on that page. Presumably the money that is being set aside is for the removal of part of the frontage of Provost Skene’s House.

You still have time, till 3rd July to comment on, or object to these changes.

You will find more information on my website at www.marischalsquare.weebly.com. Note reference for this plan is 140755.

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May 092013
 

By Bob Smith.

Boxes, boxes, boxes
Is aa we nooadays see
The “darlins” o modern architects
Be it Aiberdeen or Torquay

Thingies like yon Rubik’s Cube
O a Uni Library biggin
Leukin like the pint his run
A think it’s bliddy mingin

Union Square, o michty me
It’s jist aa steel an gless
Oor toon’s in the hauns o Philistines
Creatin a maist affa mess

The city skyline is fair important
Says Aiberdeen mannie Eric Auld
Seen throwe his artistic ee
Marischal Square it leaves him cauld

Fowk noo are fair upset
At fit they see gyaan on
Aa in the guise o progress
In the toon twixt Dee an Don

“Progress is jist the exchange
O ae nuisance fer anither”
So wrote  yon Havelock Ellis
Writer, Doctor an life giver

Boxes are fer storin things
Bit nae the human race
Stop biggins fit are jist bland
Dinna chynge oor city’s face

Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2013
Image credit: Corporate Tree 2 © Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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May 022013
 

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

Tally Ho!  This past week there was an astonishingly great fashion show by Gray’s School of Art second and third year fashion students, held in The Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen.
It was professionally organised, smoothly and elegantly run (with a great reception), and the work on show was by any standard advanced beyond the expected level.  More on that elsewhere in Aberdeen Voice.

Let’s take a bit of a break from Mr Trump this week I think.  Besides which, he’s about to issue writs to the Scottish Government and I’m really scared!  If Donald doesn’t want windfarms, Donald will take us to court!

When a law abiding man like that takes legal action, you know he’s not doing it frivolously.  I’m sure he’s got a point:  hardly anyone’s signing up for golf at Balmedie, and it’s almost as if the 6,000 jobs that were created might be in peril. 

This lack of golfers could be due to the sandstorms, hailstorms, rain and cold weather, but far more likely people are staying away in case they’d have to see a wind farm offshore.  If I’m going to spend £195 for a round of golf, then have a £100 lunch for two consisting of a few burgers, fries and coffees, I don’t want to be looking at windfarms, either.  For that kind of money, I want Led Zeppelin performing live.

I hear the Mayday march might be cancelled this year.  Since all of the labour force is now doing so very well under the Coalition Government, the unions decided there is no need for any display.  Things are almost as great as when the entire town marched against Kate Dean.

There is also to be a party and events in Union Terrace Gardens that afternoon, but since it is so full of criminals and drug smugglers, I’m sure we’ll all be too afraid to go there.  If only we could have had the granite web.

The beautiful granite-clad concrete web may be toast now, but then again, we look set to get some very fetching, brand new glass-box office buildings soon.  Really, how do these trendy architects come up with these great designs?

These happening, nearly modern buildings will replace St Nicholas’ House.  The complex will blend right into the local architecture of Marischal College and won’t stick out like a dated pastiche predictable cheap sore thumb whatsoever.  No doubt these glass box office buildings will look absolutely state-of-the art near the Milne Triple Kirks glass box office buildings and won’t seem old dated and dirty in 3 years or less.

Given the seagull and pigeon populations, this may be a good time to open a window cleaning business.

Norwich decided to encourage some peregrines to nest in their city centre

Speaking of Triple Kirks, poor Stewart certainly has had his difficulties lately.  He may have failed to get Scottish football teams to vote with him despite his use of reasoned debate, but at least he showed the city centre wildlife he was boss.

You may remember how Stewart Milne, saviour of Scottish Football and tasteful developer arranged to have the long-settled peregrine falcons ‘discouraged’ from nesting in the Triple Kirks site when he took it over.  Well done Stewart.

Unlike clever, business-orientated Aberdeen, Norwich decided to encourage some peregrines to nest in their city centre.  The people of Norwich surprisingly find their rare peregrines and the newly-hatched chicks a source of interest, tourism, pride and education as they and the wider world watch the birds on cctv.  More info here:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-22368516 .

The RSBP believes there are fewer than 1400 breeding pairs in the UK.  With as many as that around, it is no wonder the previous Aberdeen City Council administration didn’t discourage Milne from discouraging the birds.  We need more office buildings you see.

As there is clearly not enough building work going on to placate important local contractors, some still cling to the possibility of turning Union Terrace Gardens into a parking lot/shopping mall, which we so desperately need.  What other explanation is there for the continued existence of the limited company which is the Aberdeen City Gardens Trust?

They’re still listed as an active company at Companies House, with directors Tom Smith, Lavinia Massie and of course Colin Crosby.  (I wonder how they managed to get so much positive Granite Web coverage in Chamber of Commerce publications?  Perhaps as a board member, Colin could help field the answer to this mystery.)  Then again, Colin is also on the Aberdeen Harbour Board, which now seeks to expand into the remaining coastal greenbelt.

An ambitious man, Colin; he’ll make us all rich yet.  Well, some of us rich anyway.

Between the ACGT, ACSEF, the Harbour Board, the Chamber of Commerce, Brewin Dolphin, and the board of Robert Gordon’s College, it’s a wonder Crosby hasn’t dropped any balls.

 we are all so weak-willed we’ll do whatever is made easy for us to do

For some reason I’m reminded of an episode of Dr Who in which invading aliens try to build monstrosities all over any green space they could all in the name of profit, although I can’t think why that should spring to mind just now.

Yes, it’s men like Colin who disprove the otherwise sound, logical government experiment in Nudge Theory.  I’m sure we all know what this important Nudge Theory is, but I’ll get onto it with a definition or two anyway.

Nudge Theory: (modern English jargon phrase) Behavioural theory that people are inherently lazy and need to be pushed into doing what is best for them.

The Nanny State lives on, and thank goodness for that.

It’s like this:  only the Colin Crosbys, Stewart Milnes and other rich businessmen aren’t lazy – the rest of us are.  Worse, we are all so weak-willed we’ll do whatever is made easy for us to do.  This highly-scientific theory is now a government triumph!  Result!  Not only is it part of the reason the country’s doing so well, but it’s also going to  be launched as an initiative!

And you thought there was no good news around.

The BBC covers this marvellous development, and supplies examples of what might otherwise sound like idiotic psychobabble.  For instance, if manufacturers put a label on a bottle of wine to the effect that the average person drinks one glass of wine a day, we’ll all follow suit and do just that.

School children will start eating healthier at lunchtimes too.  Why?  Because we’re going to put the tastier junk food items in locations that are more difficult to reach than healthier options.  This logic is brilliant!  You can see examples of how this works in the shops today.  Since lad’s mags, fags and booze are kept out of reach no one buys them because they’re too lazy to do so.

It’s clear this Nudge Theory is going to take off; it’s so easy to understand.

This scheme is going to make the government millions as well as make all of us safer and less stressed by having to think for ourselves.  I personally look forward to having my laziness used to steer me into good behaviour in this subtle manner.  It’s not at all Kafkaesque or Orwellian for the government to spend our time and our money on getting us to fall into line and be good.

But the really good news is that this will be a ….

Partnership Model: (modern English jargon) A business entity or company formed by government and private enterprise.

Well, since forming in 2010 the brains behind this great Nudge Theory scheme have really come together to ambitiously turn this scientific theory into a money-spinner.  Old Susannah has to wonder if people are inherently lazy, then what sets the people behind this Nudge Theory Partnership Model and their work to go into business with their scheme apart from the rest of us lazy, weak-willed populace.

I guess that they’re just smarter, better, brighter than we are.  Only to the worst kind of lazy cynic would this great humanitarian scheme look like a brazen wheeze and ploy to earn money for old and unnecessary rope.

Here’s what the BBC, lazy as they are, were able to find out:-

“It could become the first of “dozens” of elements of Whitehall to be spun out, as Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude plans to shake-up the Civil Service.

“A spokesman for Mr Maude said: ‘We are in a global race for the jobs and opportunities of the future. To get Britain back on the rise we must find innovative ways to deliver better services more efficiently’. [Old Susannah wonders if Mr Maude was too lazy to make his own statement to the press, and had to be ‘nudged’ into releasing a statement by this spokesman]

“’It’s great news that the world-renowned ‘nudge’ unit is spinning out from central government. As a mutual they will combine the benefits of private sector experience and investment with the innovation and commitment from staff leadership.  This accelerates our drive to make public assets pay their way. We hope to support dozens more new spin outs over the next few years. This is a whole new growth area and Britain is leading the way.”

Well, I’m impressed.  We’re going to make money out of exploiting people’s natural fecklessness.

The government will join with a private company (no doubt one completely unrelated to any government ministers, tax avoiders or big business interests or lobbyists.  Then, they’ll sell the scheme back to the government, which will demand government offices buy into it.

Lazy?  I guess you could say fecklessness is off and running as a way to make profits.  Or something like that.

Group Four changed to G4S, and did a splendid job running the Olympics

I wonder what this great wheeze will wind up earning for the taxpayer over the years?  Undoubtedly we’ll all be better off.  Otherwise, they’ll just tell us we’ll be better off, and we’ll be too lazy and/or too stupefied by our one glass of wine a day to bother to find out the real story.

If I could only motivate myself to do some work, or even to open another BrewDog.

Ages ago the Government started privatising everything, and look how well that’s turned out.  For instance, Group Four security started running various prison services.  These went so well, Group Four changed to G4S, and did a splendid job running the Olympics without any problems at all.  Could the government complain if things went wrong?

Not really – the contracts were sewn up very well, government and private sector overlaps tended to help each other out or at least look the other way if problems arose, and lobbyists were always on hand with sweeteners to keep the cogs well oiled.  And so it will be with the private/public money-spinning Partnership Model, which will industriously make money out of the fact we the people are lazy.

Nudge Nudge wink wink indeed.

With the Mayday march about to take place, I think we should extend an invitation to the brave, pioneering, hard-working men and women behind Nudge Theory and the Partnership Model to come and join in.  I have no doubt that if our teachers, carers, volunteers, firemen, etc. could meet the Nudge professionals, they’d understand just what real hard work is.

I was going to write about the latest in relation to the standoff between the press and the government over press regulation.  I was going to write something about Trump, windfarms, and golf, but I realise that I’m just too lazy to do so.

So it’s off to watch some television until I fall asleep, and hope the government will give me some clear pointers on what to do and what not to do, but without me having to even know I’m being steered to do the right thing, as decided by the Nudge Theory think-tank.  As long as I don’t have to think too much, or do much, that’ll suit me fine.

Time for my one glass of wine.

Next week – more fecklessness, or possibly some recklessness.

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Jan 272012
 

By Bob Smith.


There’s jist nithing ti dee
Young eens cry in Aiberdeen
Iss wisna muckle o a problem
Fin I wis aroon seventeen
.
There wis cafes bi the dizzen
Faar ye cwid sit an chat
The famous Holburn Cafe
Or maybe the Kit Kat
.
Syne later on alang Union Grove
Ye cwid dander wi ease
An cum upon The Rendezvous
Better kent as Mama G’s
.
I learnt the airt o duncin
At Garlogie, Echt an Skene
Syne twis  ti the dunce halls
In bonnie Aiberdeen
.
Wednesdays – Abergeldie Jazz Club
Ti listen or jive ti Sandy West
Setterday – doon ti “The Beach”
Faar Leslie Thorpe wis at his best
.
There wis ither eens o coorse
The Palace, Douglas or the Palais
Faar ye cwid fin a bonnie quine
Ti snog up some dark alley
.
There wis Rock n’ Roll an ballads
Maybe jazz it wis yer choice
Played on the latest record players
Made bi Decca or His Master’s Voice
There wis lots o drainpipe troosers
Sweaters wi necks ca’ed crews
There wis Tony Curtis haircuts
An ticht winkle picker shoes
.
Ti the open air duncin at Hazleheid
Ye wid wanner hand in hand
Ti listen ti the music
Or waltz ti Bert Duff’s Band
.
On Sundays ye’d “waak the mat”
An see lassies bi the score
Maybe ye’d bump inti een
Ye’d snogged the nicht afore
.
There wis hullocks o picter hooses
The Majestic an a haill lot mair
The Capitol an the Astoria
Even hid an organ player
.
Ye ask’d a lassie ti the picters
She wis dolled up ti the nines
Ye really felt a cheapskate
Gyaan in the one an nines
.
The faavrit meetin plaicies
Fer the young an gallus
Wis ootside the “Monkey Hoose”
Or near the statue o William Wallace
.
There wis Eric, Bill, Neil, Ian an me
We fairly thocht we war dashin
Noo we’re aa ower sixty five
An rinnin oot o passion

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011

Sep 012011
 

A year and a half ago, Steve Bothwell wrote to express some, shall we say, ‘reservations’ about ACSEF’s master plan and where Aberdeen is heading.  It looks as if he had a point or two. 

February 25, 2010 – ACSEF’s plan belies anything that can be comprehended as ‘essential to the future of Aberdeen and the North East of Scotland’. As Jonathon Meades put it, ‘Aberdeen is good at being bad’ – Polite prose indeed.

The former glory of George St, with high quality retail and high quality architecture/replaced with the now John Lewis building (formerly the Co-Op) – St Nicholas Centre and The Bon Accord Centre, whilst severing the bloodline to the rest of George St, which resembles a down market version of the down-trodden Argyle St in Glasgow.

The old Co-op Building in Loch St/Gallowgate, which with little imagination could have been a gem of high quality boutique-scale retail, instead of Architecturally impotent office/residential blocks.  St Nicholas house dwarfs Provost Skene’s house, one of the oldest and most architecturally significant buildings in the area.

Union Terrace Gardens is not to blame

The Trinity Centre/Trinity Hall, which subsequently moved to an equally, but on a smaller scale, architectural abortion.

The Old Market building (Market Street and the Green) replaced with the New Market building, sporadically raising pointing questions from the public (locals and visitors alike).  Amadeus nightclub on the beach front which offers nothing but bemused and disturbed confusion.

And last but not least, Union Square, which is a glorified retail park with parking. This Architectural abomination will need replaced sooner than we think.

Union Street comes up in conversation with great frequency. For the past 30 years planning and control has become so lax that we are adorned with gratingly luminous patchwork of irregular symmetry. Absentee landlords are never held to task, nor are the lease holders.

Union Terrace Gardens is not to blame.

Most City Councils have made errors, and some cities have corrected them. 

Aberdeen City Council still strive forth to allow the most banal picture painting of a living hell, by destroying everything in its path.
Either they are missing the clues which sit firmly on their own created door step or are suffering a serious bout of doldrumitis. The Civic Square planning and design details do not excite but only represent the pointlessness of it.

The City Council, along with ACSEF and Central Government wholeheartedly supported the Peacock scheme, providing local planning guidance was adhered to. This was to make it blend into the historic park. Peacock’s did that.

We now have a scheme, which in its vagueness, is impossible to get to grips with. From that I mean, it is quite obvious that this charade is nothing to do with enhancing our city for future energy companies to get comfy with, because as we know, energy companies care about nothing but energy riches and not about Urban realm Strategies, and especially about retail connectivity.

ACSEF’s approach to retail connectivity is fed through a brainwashing exercise in which the retail ‘Pillars’ unease at motions of failure result in the bandwagon bursting at the seams with the ‘I’m on board brigade’ ensuring their retail offerings, bland as they be, will not suffer the ever-changing movement or trends of public spending.

Union Terrace Gardens is not to blame.

It is poignant that public money has been frittered away on asking Joe Blogs about ‘an idea’, an idea which still reveals no real detail of the final outcome, whereas Peacocks had it sorted and without the need for car parking. Their enhancing project upset no one, and has not created the furore that the Civic square has.

Union Terrace Gardens are not frequented often. Perhaps the reason for that is, the general public are more interested in other things. Society has gone through radical changes and people have become armchair deficits. They rage vengeance on slopes and stairs, grass and beauty, nature and health.

Union Terrace Gardens is not to blame.

However, Courtesy of Grampian Police, the facts are this: – There is negligible crime in Union Terrace Gardens. The Freedom of Information Act has provided much-needed defence, where Union Terrace Gardens is the safest area in the City Centre.

It’s plain to see that ACSEF have not used Europe as an example of quality city centres but used America and Australia as examples. America and Australia are fairly recent countries but wholeheartedly celebrate their Green Spaces.

Aberdeen City Council’s budget is tight and perhaps tight-lipped. And the Scottish Government should be representing Scotland and its history, which it’s not.

Union Terrace Gardens is not to blame.