Mar 242017

Stewart Stevenson, has contacted ALDI to voice local residents’ concerns re. new store.

With thanks to Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP.

Concerns from local residents over the apparent lack of any visible progress in developing the former Kirkburn Mills site in Peterhead have prompted local SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson to contact ALDI Stores.

ALDI secured planning permission to build a store on the site but, to date, this prominent piece of land on the approach to Peterhead Town Centre remains undeveloped.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“I am pleased that ALDI have confirmed once again their commitment to Peterhead and it does appear that work is going on in the background in order to get to a position where construction on the site can start.

“This site on the main approach to Peterhead Town Centre has lain vacant for too long and has been a source of vandalism around the perimeter hoardings.  ALDI recognise that the local community is keen to see this move forward and I trust we can see some evidence of this on the ground before too long.”

In his letter to Mr Stevenson, ALDI Managing Director Richard Holloway said:

“Having recently received planning consent, we are now undertaking a series of complex tests to fully assess the works required to build a store on the site. We are of course working to start construction as soon as possible and understand from previous engagement that the community are eager to see the store opened.”

Peterhead North & Rattray SNP councillor Anne Allan added:

“I’m grateful to Stewart Stevenson for keeping the pressure on ALDI. With the council having granted planning consent, I think everyone in the town is keen to see progress made and the site developed in the very near future.”

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Jul 102015

futurechoicessainsburys3With thanks to David Forbes.

Future Choices received a fabulous cheque for £7092.03 from Sainsbury’s Garthdee.

The sum was raised through dedicated fundraising from Sainsbury’s Garthdee store staff and customers, Future Choices being voted as their Charity of the Year for 2014-2015.

Margaret Pitcairn of Sainsbury’s presented the cheque to Future Choices along with colleagues.

David Forbes, Chairperson, Future Choices stated:

“Future Choices is absolutely delighted to receive such an amazing donation. We have a brilliant relationship with Sainsbury’s Garthdee who provide such great support to charities and communities. The donation will make a real positive difference to all the people we support. I thank all staff and customers of Sainsbury’s Garthdee.”

Future Choices is a volunteer led charity undertaking fantastic, important work providing a range of activities for disabled people every week at Inchgarth Community Centre. This includes arts and crafts, boccia, board games, dominoes and provides an opportunity for people to meet up, socialise and support each other. The charity continues to grow with the support of the community and volunteers.

Future Choices always greatly appreciate any help and support people can be to the charity as volunteers, members or supporters and very much actively encourage anyone who wishes to make a big difference to the lives of disabled people in Aberdeen to contact them on Freephone 0800 5668728 or email to find out how you can assist.

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Feb 272014

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

Another exciting week passes in Aberdeen; our very own Prime Minister Cameron came up for a nice wee chat, something about independence or other.

I haven’t been able to find much about this topic on the net, but if anything turns up, I’ll keep you posted.

A very huge thanks to a very kind stranger who lent me £5 for bus fare (a long story). Your cheque should be with you, nice to know there are a few kind people still out there.

In my ongoing quest for vegetarian food, I’ve been eating at Café 52 a bit (yes, I know the owners), and am getting used to eating lots of quorn stuff as well. To each his own, but I’m glad I’m doing this. I’m also off to the gym at the Thistle Altens, where there are few fashion victims, and lots of nice people.

I’m still trying to get good at running, something Ben Hukins inspired me to do. I achieved a personal best last week, and didn’t fall off the treadmill while watching the Winter Olympics. As far as I can tell, some people with red and blue flags have faster individuals than some other people with yellow or green flags. And of course, Pussy Riot got playfully teased (i.e. hit) by Cossacks. Good times.

Necessity forced me into a Morrisons recently for some cat food; I don’t usually shop there after an event some years ago. I saw one of their staff members walking around in their street shoes in one of the chiller areas, using the food storage area, filled with food, as a kind of step ladder.

‘How inventive’ I thought at the time, but wondered whether it was the most hygienic way to treat the chilled food I was going to bring home. Somehow the idea of someone walking around the streets of Aberdeen and then walking around on the food (even though packaged, I’d still have to touch it) I was going to prepare didn’t thrill me.

morrisons chller cabinet stepladder

I complained at the time, but was assured nothing like what I’d seen had actually happened. Fair enough. Old Susannah isn’t getting any younger, and you can’t argue with Morrisons, so I forgot about it.

Still, here is a little photo take from my recent visit to a Morrisons, of me imagining something that doesn’t happen in their stores.

You might wonder if there is some kind of guidelines or even laws about how food should be hygienically treated. Well, there are.

The thing is, whether it comes to food, childcare, animal welfare, or journalism, what laws and rules are actually enforced might on occasion be a subjective thing. You can’t expect important, busy and rich people to have to follow rules, and the same holds true of elected officials, governments, and of course private companies.

Here are a few relevant definitions to guide you through the legal minefield.

Ignorantia juris non excusat (Ignorance of the Law is no Excuse)(Latin phrase) – in law, not knowing a practice or act was illegal is not considered grounds for innocence. Or is it?
Applies to: you and me
Probably doesn’t apply to: Rebekah Brooks

Aside from a few bereaved parents, politicians and celebrities whose lives have been blighted, there is one standout victim of the ongoing Old Bailey trial into hacking, and that is poor Mrs Rebekah Brooks, former editor of News of the World, and husband-beater.

According to the BBC:

“Mrs Brooks said she “didn’t think anybody, me included, knew it was illegal”.

“She told the Old Bailey she felt “shock and horror” after she discovered murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked…. She said she was never asked to sanction the accessing of voicemails for a story during her time as editor of the newspaper.”

“’No journalist ever came to me and said ‘We’re working on so and so a story but we need to access their voicemail and we need to ask for my sanction to do it’, she said.”

“Even though I didn’t know it was illegal, I absolutely felt it was in the category of a serious breach of privacy’.”

That’s fair enough; I mean how could anyone have known or suspected it would be illegal to secretly spy on people? It’s not as if there is some kind of skill level you’d need to get the top job on such an illustrious, responsible, value-orientated newspaper. There’s not really time to get your nails done as well as to get up to speed on publishing laws.

Of course, her shock and horror at learning Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked was translated into direct action; it is impressive how she called those involved to account and dealt with them. By doing virtually nothing.

Brooks was a very busy woman, as Private Eye once reported, sometimes so busy she needed two or more hairdressers to attend to her curly red locks at work, much in the same way she needed her husband and a bit on the side in the form of Andy Coulson.

You might have expected Coulson’s high standard of ethics to rub off on Rebekah at some point, but alas, they didn’t. Coulson brought some of his other skills to bear in his role as David Cameron’s spin doctor. More on the sad demise of these media demi-gods can be found here:

If only there were some way Brooks could have known there was a law against hacking into private telephone conversations and messages. If only News International had say a legal department. I hear that such things exist.Of course Brooks could always turn to the police if she needed advice on what was legal and what wasn’t – the police were indeed in touch with the newspaper’s staff. Then again, the police were probably too busy selling secrets about the Royal Family to News International to dispense any legal advice.

There is also an obscure website – she couldn’t have known about it – which gives advice to professional editors and news professionals; it is called The Press Complaints Commission, and my sources say that News International may have had one or two dealings with them over the years. The code dates from 1991 and has recently been updated, though I can’t imagine why. Details can be found here, should you ever find yourself wondering if you should be writing stories based on information taken from the phones of missing children.

But it is the violation of family privacy that is most upsetting in this sorry tale. In times of trauma and crisis, you don’t want your secrets splashed out in lurid detail in the papers. If only the rest of the press had been as respectful of people as the News of the World had, then a lot of unnecessary shame and embarrassment could have been avoided.

Mrs Brooks is getting the best advice in the world.

When it emerged that Charlie Brooks, Rebekah’s husband, was found carrying some porno around with him, we all realised that the press needed to be reined in. Poor Charlie!

Of course, Old Susannah is just a little confused as to how, if you didn’t think something was illegal, you tried to hide the evidence of doing it by getting rid of black bin liners full of evidence. Anyone who can give me an explanation of that one is welcome to weigh in.

On a final note, rest your minds – Mrs Brooks is getting the best advice in the world. None other than Tony Blair, our former PM, and apparent co-author of the famous ‘dodgy dossier’ which led to our little foray into Iraq, is on the case. He’s kindly offered to advise Rupert Murdoch and Brooks.

How should Rebekah cope? ‘Tough up’, take sleeping pills, and go to the gym says Blair (who may or may not have been having a fling with Rupert’s then wife, Wendy Deng. It must be rather difficult at the office Christmas party for some of these couples). Now we know how he sleeps at night, which had proved something of a mystery.

Old Fashioned Discipline: (English phrase) – to ensure good behaviour by threatening, intimidating, injuring, terrorising.

Applies to: you and me
Doesn’t apply to: tough guys who think they’re doing the right thing, the armed forces.

Children need to know their place and who’s boss. Start them out right – like sending them to the Hamilton school, where as babies they will be taught how to be bored and ignored. Crying infants were left to their own devices as part of the school’s discipline ethics, according to recent reports. That’ll learn ‘em. And then we have those belligerent teens, who need some extra special discipline.

So their basic dignity and human rights may get a bit dented in the process, but discipline comes first. If you can’t find some highlands police to take them to a farm and terrorise them then you can always engage the child-rearing and fitness specialist, Norman McConnachie.

This poor man is in court accused of just doing what he thought was right – helping kids get off to a good start in life. He is accused of just doing the right thing by using a mix of a little ridicule, sexual abuse, torture and fear – all of which can go a long way to getting someone to be a useful member of society.

The Aberdeen high court has heard how in his own words he was just using ‘a little old-fashioned discipline’ and sees nothing wrong with calling teens fat and lazy. He’s no doubt doing the right thing by trying to make a 17 year old girl into a man.

I’m sure he’s the action-man hero he claims he is, but what’s this? A Facebook page called ‘Walter Mitty Hunters’ questions whether this ‘be all you can be’ guy can be all he says he is. For that matter, a few people have been in touch to share very curious observations about his behaviour. We’ll see if the courts uphold this macho fitness instructor, or if they’ll believe some fat, lazy teenage girls.

Intellectual Property: (Eng. legal compound noun) The right of the creator of a piece of work, art, music, film over the use of their work.
Applies to: you and me
Doesn’t apply to: SHMU (see related articles in Aberdeen Voice Public Image? Unauthorised Photos Published By SHMU), Aberdeen City Council (which used artwork on line without permission on at least one occasion).

Wildlife protection laws / Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981: (Modern English ) – laws set to protect wildlife from poaching, cruelty, trade
Applies to: virtually no one

Another day, another rare bird of prey is killed in the highlands ( ). Poisoned bait, illegal, cruel traps, shooting, it’s all the rage. After all, these birds eat other animals, and we can’t have that.

Thankfully, there are laws protecting our wildlife. Pity no one seems to have told the police these laws are to be enforced. Likewise, no one seems to have troubled the judicial system with any need for penalising the few people who do get caught.

I am proud to say that in Aberdeen, the police are as on the case as you would expect. When the severed limbs of deer were discovered on Tullos Hill (and on Kincorth hill by a city warden – but that doesn’t somehow count), the police sprang into action. They decided not to go to the press. They decided not to trouble the Scottish SPCA – there were no suspicious circumstances apparently – just the usual collection of butchered body parts.

They swiftly ensured no signs were posted to warn poachers their actions were illegal. They swiftly, well after a month, answered some of my questions about animal crimes. I can now – as a world exclusive – reveal that the police cannot confirm or deny that dogfighting is taking place in Aberdeen. Remember, you heard this bold, brave police statement here first.

What about all the incidents we know of from the press and Facebook of people attempting to steal dogs and cats?

They are busy behind the scenes, cracking the criminal rings

What about the person who got in touch with me to say they gave the police a description of someone who tried to make off with their dog and that the police dissuaded them from taking the matter further. Well, Police Scotland has come forward to say that there was one reported case in 2013 of an animal theft.

You could start to wonder whether there is a conspiracy of silence. Do the police and our local government want to keep unsavoury crime under wraps so as not to upset potential incoming businesses and residents? Are we keen to deny evidence, such as the nearly starved dog found last year in the north of the city which showed signs of dogfighting abuse?

Are the authorities keeping info back from the Scottish SPCA when they failed to pass on the dismembered deer details? Of course not. They are busy behind the scenes, cracking the criminal rings involved in organised animal crime, and those behind bird of prey poisonings. If we got too much info, that would clearly tip the gangs off, and they might cut their activities down. Since we’ve had such a successful police response to our tiny local car crime problem, let’s just leave them to it on animal issues as well.

So, the next time you forget you’ve let your tax disc expire or the next time you park in the wrong place at the wrong time, just tell the authorities you didn’t realise you were doing wrong. It seems to work for everyone else.

And now, time for a BrewDog.

Next Week: More legal definitions , courtesy of Trump, the University of Florida, Atos, and the government’s plans to sell your NHS files to private companies. Sleep well.

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Dec 152011

With thanks to Aberdeen Forward and Zero Waste Scotland.

Volunteers working with environmental charity Aberdeen Forward and Zero Waste Scotland are calling on locals to make sure they are not throwing good food in the bin this Christmas.  The average household could save as much as £430 a year by stamping out food waste, and at least £18 million of edible food is thrown in the bin in Scotland every year.

Zero Waste Volunteers in the North East are now encouraging local residents to find out more about how to reduce food waste.  For more tips to reduce food waste and save money, visit

Gillian Marr, Zero Waste Scotland’s Volunteer Coordinator for Grampian, said:

“There are a number of simple steps which everyone can take to stop food going to waste. 

“Begin by thinking about the meals you’d like to eat over Christmas, planning the ingredients you will need and writing a shopping list.  By planning meals, you can build in ideas for making tasty meals from any leftovers you might have. 

“Remember to make the most of your freezer and pay attention to the use by dates on the things you buy.  Many items, such as hard cheese and mashed potatoes, can be frozen and reused at a later date which saves on time and stops you throwing food you’ve spent good money on in the bin.  Storing your food to keep it at its best can prevent things from spoiling. 

“Thinking about how many guests you will have could also prevent you buying or cooking too much.  A perfect portion planner is available from  which advises on how much you need to make healthy-sized meals and snacks for both adults and children.

“Finally, for all the vegetable peelings and fruit trimmings you can’t avoid put these to good use, remember to use your compost bin to make a rich fertiliser you can use in the garden.”

Zero Waste Scotland’s Christmas Food Saver Tips

To help local families make the most of the food they buy over Christmas, Zero Waste Scotland’s Love Food Hate Waste Team shares some tips about how to turn your Christmas Dinner into a waste-less treat:

  • Write a list before you do that big Christmas shop to prevent over-buying in the supermarkets
  • Use the perfect portion planner at to plan how much you need to feed your guests
  • Freeze the carcass of your turkey to make a tasty stock for soup later
  • Don’t bin the leftovers of your turkey, they will be tasty on a sandwich on Boxing Day or make them into another delicious meal, like turkey curry.  You could even freeze leftover meat for later too.
  • Store those Christmas vegetables in the fridge to make sure they stay fresh long after Christmas day.  If you don’t get round to eating them in time, boil them up and freeze them in individual portions to enjoy your own home-made ready meals in January
  • If you’ve got leftovers from dessert, whipped cream can be frozen too or turn your Christmas pudding into a strudel or use leftover fruit and dessert sauces to make brownies
  • Even leftover party food can be frozen and enjoyed in packed lunches when the festive season ends.

For further information about Zero Waste Scotland contact:

Nicola McGovern, Press & PR Manager
Tel: 01786 468890
Mob: 07540 516156

Image credit © Marilyn Barbone | ….. 78

Sep 162011

By Bob Smith.

The fitfa’s up in yon Union Square
Aboot iss news I dinna really care
Wi material wealth I’ll hae nae truck
Fae me thae malls winna mak a faist buck

Tho’ fowk can spend ony wye they wint
At times a think their brains hiv got tint
Fair fleein aboot fae here ti there
Iss lemming like steer is hard ti square

Shoppies are placies I dinna like ti dally
So’s aa their spiel I dinna hae ti swally
A buy fit a wint then oot the door
Syne “faar ye gyaan” ma wife’ll roar

Some fowk o coorse wid bide aa day
Gyaan in blonde an cumin oot grey
They’re in the malls for aat lang
Peerin at windas throwe the thrang

Fashions noo are fair aa the rage
Ye maun hae the richt gear fitivver yer age
Wifies in ticht troosers wi erses richt fat
Some mannies ye winner fit the hell they’re at

Shoptill ye drap iss aa the malls cry
Even thingies nae nott they wint ye ti buy
Jist shove it aa on ti aat wee plastic card
Hiv some fowk’s brains aa turned ti lard?

Shoppin it wid seem is a national obsession
It’s aa aboot spendin an gettin possession
O as muckle stuff yer hairt dis desire
Afore oot yer body yer last breath dis expire

Aa the stuff fit ye’ve githered
Efter the money ye’ve shelled oot
A doot eence yer deid an beeriet
A fair puckle micht be chucked oot

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2011
Image Credit: © Brent Wong |

Jun 182011

By George Anderson.

We can never predict when a sudden insight into the workings of our innermost selves will light up our consciousness like an 11 Watt low-energy bulb.
We imagine that such events occur in mysterious places such as Ayres Rock or the luminous bowling alley at the Codonas funfair in Aberdeen.

But in my experience, the location of your average flashbulb moment will be as ordinary as chapped tatties. A place like the freezer cabinet of my village shop last Thursday.

I was leaning over the rim of the cabinet contemplating what life must have been like in the days before we could blast freeze our garden peas within ten seconds of hauling them out of their pods. I was considering whether to go for the leading brand (‘satisfaction guaranteed or your money back’) or the Value Pack (‘please see rear of packaging for list of disclaimers.’).

The Value Pack was a pound cheaper but the contents even when defrosted had the density of buckshot. I reached for my choice. And that’s when it happened.

I first became aware that something wasn’t quite right with the world – well, with my trousers actually. I looked down to discover that in my haste to get to the shop before suppertime I had pulled on the wife’s tracksuit bottoms instead of my own (why, oh why are pastel shades so unbecoming to a man in his late fifties?).

The realisation that shunted into the rear of that first thought was that not only were the leggings incongruous, they were outside in!

This would never do. I live in the heart of a rural community. It is a place where a man is a man and is expected to behave – and dress – like one. Let me explain.

Imagine this: A farm worker with a dodgy watch relaxes behind a hay stack during a lunch break. He sucks on a chut (singular of chutney) from his ploughman’s sandwich. Suddenly he realises that his watch has stopped; that he should have been back in harness twenty minutes ago. He leaps to his feet and bolts off spitting Cheddar. He is thrashed to the ground by the mercilessly flailing blades of a combine harvester which breaks both his arms like cheese straws.

Now, in an episode of Casualty, an air ambulance and a battalion of parachuting para-medics would descend fom the sky and the lad with the two broken arms would be whisked off to the heli-pad at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. But you would be hard pushed to find anyone within a thirty mile radius of my village shop who would not expect that lad to get on his bike with a wobble-free lip and pedal to the ARI using the ‘Look-Ma-Nae-Hands’ technique.

How, I thought, could such people ever look favourably on a middle-aged man wearing his wife’s jogging bottoms inside out in close proximity to their rural community’s only freezer cabinet?

And that’s when the 11 Watt low-energy bulb came on. And I released that, actually, I didn’t care what they thought.

I was flying without wings – despite having a bag of Albanian peas under each oxter. I strode flamboyantly to the checkout  with pastel pantaloons ablaze. I was free, free, free at last!

Next week I plan to push the envelope of my new found freedom by nipping down to the village shop for a copy of the Turriff Advertiser wearing my wife’s bra around my head in the semblance of a Spitfire Pilot’s headgear.

That’ll separate the men from the boys!

Oct 152010

By George Anderson.

I was shopping in Turriff last week, failing, as usual, to find a low-salt, low-fat, cholesterol-free, high-fibre titbit for my supper. Something healthy enough to turn my doctor’s frown to a smile, but with a hint of indulgence. Something with the life enhancing promise of muesli and the bohemian decadence of a Walnut Whip.

In pursuit of this unlikely product, I circled the supermarket’s food hall until I was light-headed.

I eventually concluded that I could have decadence or health, but not both in the same foodstuff and finally fell to considering a carton of peely-wally looking cottage cheese with a kirn of minced greenery through it.

A note on the side claimed that the carton contained eighty-five percent of the vitamins and minerals needed to survive the day, including folic acid, riboflavin and iron. I was just swithering whether to look for something nearer ninety percent – just to be on the safe side – when I realised I was obsessed with nutrition. “When did this start”, I wondered? Having been an Aberdeen loon in the sixties when the government urged us to eat butter, milk and cheese as if the four minute warning had just sounded, I certainly wasn’t so fussy about what went over my thrapple.

I stuffed my face each morning with a brace of Aberdeen rolls. By the time I entered the Grammar School in 1966 I’d eaten eight times my body weight in dough – and remember, I’m not talking about dough with cholesterol-lowering plant extracts, Omega-3, or bifidus digestivum. I’m talking about dough with saturated fat and enough salt to corrode the tailpipe of a Morris Minor.

lard was so popular that people would spread it on bread if they had to, but get it they must.

Nutritionally speaking, things didn’t improve much at lunchtime. The fear of being force-fed semolina kept me permanently away from school dinners and I largely survived on a diet of Sports Mixtures and sherbet-filled flying saucers.

Supper consisted of polony which Ma bought by the yard from the Home & Colonial in George Street. Cut into slices, polony could be grilled, fried, or used to wedge open doors during flittings. For sheer versatility and taste, no other sausage came close.

When Ma was unable due to weemin’s trouble to make supper, the spurtle of power passed to Da. Da’s generation embraced the concept of ‘Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook’ long before Ainsley Harriott ever shoogled a skillet in earnest.  In those days working class men believed that standing too close to a domestic appliance (close enough to use it) shrivelled the gonads, so Da avoided cooking whenever possible. This often meant pottit heid: scrapings of meat from a cow’s skull, suspended in meat jelly. It was cheap and required no cooking. I wish it had required no eating either but I had no choice. I wanted to start a helpline for those exposed to pottit heid but Da said “No”.

Supper was followed by mugs of tea, neep jam (What else could it be? It wasn’t made from any fruit I’ve ever tasted) and white panned loaf from which all nutrients had been diligently thrashed. Variety was added to our diet by means of the chipper supper. Did this increase our life expectancy? It’s unlikely. These were the days when lard was so popular that people would spread it on bread if they had to, but get it they must.

Our nearest chipper was Archie’s in John Street. The ten o’clock shout of “Last orders” in Cooper’s Bar across the street from Archie’s heralded a nightly stampede for all things deep fried that made the customer’s side of Archie’s counter look like the floor of the Tokyo stock exchange. If elbowing your way through this stramash for a single mock chop wasn’t worth the inevitable black eye, you could stick your nose in the air and follow the whiff of over-used fat all the way to the White Rose chipper in Mounthooly. Here you could buy a tanner special: a shovel of chips and a fragment of deep fried sea-life that might be coalfish, starfish or seahorse depending on the by-catch landed at the fish market that morning.

“Fit kind o’ fish is this, mister?”

“Fit kind wi’d ye like it tae be, loon?”


‘It’s huddock then. Now, dee ye wint salt an’ vinegar or no?’

There were times when I tried to improve my diet by making stuff for myself. Like the day I was foolish enough to rustle up a batch of black sugar ale from a recipe my grunny gave me. Black sugar ale: The very phrase was as romantic as a Barbara Cartland novel. It sounded like something Long John Silver might have drunk. If he did he was a gype. Only a qualified chemist could supply the main ingredient: a bullet of liquorice so concentrated I had to sign a book before the pharmacist would hand it over.

When I got home I removed the slug of liquorice from the bag using the coal tongs, dropped it into a Hay’s Dazzle bottle filled with water and hastily screwed the top back on. The concoction was to be left undisturbed in a dark place for at least six weeks, so I stuck it on a shelf in the coal cellar. I reclaimed the cobwebbed bottle two months later by which time the contents had transformed themselves into an anthracite coloured sludge of extraordinary laxative power.  I opened the bottle and took an exploratory whiff of the fumes lurking in the neck of the bottle and ……..well, let’s just say they were sliding polony under the lavvy door for days.

Why didn’t we all come down with scurvy and double rickets?  Probably because every Saturday Ma bought a tea-chest of ‘chippit fruit’ from The Orchard in Upperkirkgate. Chippit fruit. Nowadays I suppose it would be called ‘distressed’ fruit — was a generic term for all the fruit the fruiterer couldn’t palm off on anybody sober: oranges that had been knelt on, terminally bruised bananas or melons the shop assistant had been playing keepie-up with during the week. This weekly super-boosting of our immune systems most likely kept us all out of hospital.

I returned to the present to find myself still clutching the cottage cheese. I intended to head straight for the checkout with it but an unseen hand guided my trolley to the cold meats section of the store, where I stood gazing at a yard of pre-packed polony with a nostalgic eye. Maybe, just maybe, polony was as packed with vitamins and minerals as my reluctantly chosen cottage cheese. I examined the food label to see.

The main ingredients were listed as pork and bacon. Then came the phrase: ‘Other Meats’. Which other meats I thought? Badger? Three‑banded armadillo? Rusk followed that. Rusk is a variety of edible sawdust the government allows butchers to mix with meat while the customer roots distractedly in the veggie basket for a decent neep. Further down the list where the tiniest of writing strained my prescription glasses to their limit, I found E450K (Wasn’t this the stuff they put in wallpaper paste to kill fungus?); Colour 128 (I Googled it when I got home. It’s in the Dulux range as Fencepost); and anti‑oxidant 301 (an early rocket fuel used by Wernher von Braun if I wasn’t mistaken). No mention of folic acid, riboflavin or iron.

I stood there for some time looking from cottage cheese to polony and back again. I know our sixties diet would be enough to make today’s nutritional boffins at the Rowett Institute cowk on their Special K, but don’t they say that a little of what you fancy does you good?  It just depends on your definition of ‘little’ I suppose.

“Dee ye ken the polony sassidge is buy-een-get-een-for-nithing jist noo?” the lassie at the checkout asked,

“Dee ye wint tae rin back and get anither een?” I took the lassie up on her offer, put the cottage cheese back where I found it and set off home.

Over the next few days I managed to eat the whole two yards. Guilt free. Or so I thought. The night I scoffed the last of it I fell asleep with a contented smile but looking like I’d swallowed a fully inflated beach ball. At two in the morning, I sprang bolt upright out of a nightmare, peching like a ploughman’s horse at lowsin’-time. I was back in the Aberdeen tenement where I grew up. A gang of vitamins had infiltrated our house through a crack in the pointing. Armed with a tattie-masher, Ma pursued the intruders from room to room, clambering over furniture and twice falling down the back of the radiogram before driving them out.

Before I fell sleep again I promised myself that in the morning I’d devote my life to Ryvita and green tea. I should be fine so long as I stay well away from the cold meats section of the supermarket in Turriff.