Dec 192021

In her tenth annual Christmas Satire Aberdeen Voice’s Suzanne ‘Old Susannah’ Kelly revisits the events of the past year and revisits last year’s satire, ‘A Night At Storybook Glen’. 

In that tale last year we learned how Angus performed on his first shift at the night security guard at Storybook Glen. Tonight we join Angus at his new job.

Angus straightened his tie, gave his lapels a pull to straighten his jacket and stepped off the No. 19 Hydrogen bus onto Union Street. Then he promptly slipped on the permanent temporary wooden decking, cracking his head on the wooden parklet (in other words a bench with a planter container filled with vandalised plants, fast-food wrappers and cigarette butts).

“Oh! ma heid!” he muttered, getting up and staggering towards the Souless bar, where he intended to have a quick weak beer before his 9pm shift at The Aberdeen Museum & Art Gallery would start.

Celebrating his new job since leaving Storybook Glen seemed a good idea.

“What’ll it be?” shouted the bar person over the heads of the noisy shouting/hugging throng.

“Ah’ll jist hae a Nanny State Shandy, mak it a half,” he smiled.

Just then a round-faced ginger-haired man in foggy spectacles popped his head around the bar.

“Oh no, my old pal Angus here wants something a wee bit stronger, don’t you pal? I hear you’re that new night security guard at the Musuem; you’ll be wantin tae stay awake.

“Here, have one of my Torry snowballs,” he said, pushing a glass to Angus.

Angus cocked his head to one side, and looked at the drink a bit dubiously.

He suddenly remembered the last time he’d had one of Pablo’s cocktails was last year at Storybook Glen’s drinks marquee, where he wasn’t sure whether half the things he’d seen that night were real or not.

He hadn’t been able to sleep properly for days afterwards, and found himself talking as long and as nonsensically as any ACC councillor.

“Pablo, ta aa the same, but Ah’m startin’ ma new job i noo, an’ need tae look sharp. By the wye, how did ye ken Ah’m on nights i noo?”

“Both the Night Time Economy Manger an’ the Alternate Night Time Economy Managers told me. Now just get that down yer neck an’ you’ll have a crackin’ time at the museum.”

Thinking both ‘fit’s an ‘Alternative Night Time Economy Manager’ and ‘Ach why nae?’ Angus downed the drink, thanked Pablo, and went on his merry way.

Who knows? Who cares? It’s a free dinner at the Marcliffe.

The snowy streets were dark, and here and there a fallen over pensioner, woman in high heels or people with mobility issues moaned for help as they slipped, slid and fell on the wooden pavements.

‘Anither normal night in the Deen’ Angus thought, watching brawling men spilling out of a pub swinging at each other and shouting.

Before long, turning down the beautifully illuminated street sign that read ‘elmo tree’ hanging over Belmont Street (one of twelve English-made signs a snip at £400k the lot), Angus found himself approaching the front of the Art Gallery.

He could see the curator standing just inside the doorway.

“It’s 2 minutes and 17 seconds to nine – I hope you’re going to be more punctual tomorrow night Angus!” the curator impatiently simmered, tapping at his watch.

“Angus, I think you met Tom, Dick and Harry; they’ll take it from here. I’m off to the award ceremony.”

“Thank you sir,” said Angus

“Err, which award ceremony is that?”

The curator gave a sign and an eyeroll, answering:

“Who knows? Who cares? It’s a free dinner at the Marcliffe.” And off he went.

Angus said ‘hullo’ to the three guards who stood before him. He had met them on his interview.

Angus heard a ‘SPLAT’ and the whole museum suddenly got eerily darker

They were all retired, but like so many people these days, chose to work minimum wages for the fun and excitement of it rather than enjoying their retirement.

Tom spoke first.

“Fine seein’ ye Angus; welcome. Ah ken ye’ve got yer flashlicht, an’ ere’s the keys.”

Dick chimed in:

“An’ ye’ll be needin this instruction manual; tells ye aa ye need tae ken aboot workin here at nicht. Can get a bittie spooky, ken – “ he broke off.

“But ach, ye’ll be jis’ fine.”

Finally Harry spoke, thrusting a bag at Angus, saying:

“Ye’ll hae a gran’ time Angus, jist dinna mind ony noises ye hear or onythin’ funny ye think ye micht be gan on. Sometimes the lichts play funny tricks.

“An’ if yer feelin’ i cauld, jist hae some o’ this BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin or Sink the Bismarck – we thocht ye micht like a wee gift fae us on yer first day.”

They toured the museum, now devoid of the last of its visitors. Tracey Emin’s artwork, basically a neon sign,made entirely by others based on a scrawled few words of hers through neon light which reflected strangely on a nearby copy of Michelangelo’s David, a statue of Robert the Bruce, and a few paintings.

‘Fit is it wi’ Aiberdeen thinkin neon signs should be elevated tae expensive artwork an’ road signs?’ Angus thought.

For a fleeting moment the light almost made it seem as if the statues could talk – and wanted to. He shook his head and the effect was gone.

The four men meandered through the museum’s many rooms and floors, they passed priceless artworks by Scottish masters, portraits, battle scenes.

They stood under the great glass oculus window when Angus heard a ‘SPLAT’ and the whole museum suddenly got eerily darker as the light seemed to lower.

The three other security guards laughed.

“Aye, ye looked spooked already pal; that’s jist a seagull splattering the windae wi’ sh*te.” Tom laughed.

Dick said:

“Aye, it came as a huge surprise tae the architects that seagulls sh*te near the sea. Fa wid hae thocht?”

“Didnae stop them gettin’ plenty o’ awards though – fer gettin’ rid o’ the auld marble stairs veneer, an putting a pottycabin on the roof. The original architects are nae thrilled at aa” added Harry.

Tom broke across him:

“Ya mean the original architects widna be thrilled.”

“At’s fit Ah’m sayin’,” Harry answered.

Angus thought the three exchanged a quick glance, but then they ushered him onward.

Peering at the Inventory, Angus thumbed through

They were now in the basement, or ‘Subterranean Treasure Hub No 19’ as a sign read. Huge mountainous shelves were piled high with items the museum had collected.

There were old sewing pattern books, pieces of granite, an old A-Z, unsold copies of the Evening Express from 1973, some old glass jars and more. Angus couldn’t help wonder why anyone in their right mind would keep this junk.

Almost as if sensing Angus’ misgivings about the quality of these items, Tom volunteered:

“Tae some fowk thon auld boots wi’ hols in em, auld used tin cans an’ the like are jist rubbish.”

‘Too right’ thought Angus.

“But,” continued Tom, “we ken they’re valuable, cause the city accepted thon donations an’ officially logged them here in this invinterry.”

They had gone through a door labelled ‘SECURITY’ and Tom pointed to a printed document marked ‘Inventory’. This was a few hundred pages in size.

Peering at the Inventory, Angus thumbed through it read a few lines as the other three men stepped into an ante room marked ‘NO ENTRY NOT EVEN YOU – KEN!’

“Afore we leave ye tae it, we’re, errr… jist gan tae git a few things we … err … left ahind, like ma piece box an ma shoppin’ fae Poondland.

“Noo, Angus, ye lisnin? – ye can ging onywye ye like in i museum, but nae past ess door.

“Nivver! – nae metter fitivver happens! Ye hear ma?”

Angus just shrugged, and left them to it. As he heard banging, and scraping noises from that room, he thumbed through the inventory:

ABDMS095514 Gilda Le Fevre Label, 1920-1980
ABDMS095515 Jane Doe’s Thimble, 1920-1940
ABDMS095516 Jane Doe’s broken Thimble, 1886
ABDMS095517 Pattern for Six-Section Hat, 1936-1980
ABDMS095518 Pattern for Six-Section Hat, 1936-1980
ABDMS095519 Oval Hat Pattern, 1936-1980
ABDMS095520 Jane Doe’s Brim Pattern, 1936-1980
ABDMS095521 Jane Doe Sewing, 1990
ABDMS095522 Photograph of Gilda LeFevre, 1990
ABDMS095523 Photograph of Jane Doe, 1936-1980
ABDMS095524 Photograph of Gilda LeFevre and Employees, 1990
ABDMS095525 Photograph of Gilda LeFevre and Employees, 1990
ABDMS095526 Photograph of Pantomime, 1944
ABDMS095527 Photograph of Pantomime, 1944
ABDMS095589 Results Past, 2017
ABDMS095590 Comment No 20.
ABDMS095591 Comment No 15.
ABDMS095592 Comment No 16.
ABDMS095562 Valuable Gift, 2011
ABDMS095533 Income Tax Record, 1944-1945

“Fit’s a hat maker’s broken thimble daein in a museum?” He asked

“Nae idea, but ye can be sure it’s worth a fair few bob.” Tom shouted back

“Fits somebody’s auld tax record daein’ here?”

“Nae idea.” answered Dick

“Fit’s ess aboot? – items ca’d ‘Comment 20’ an’ hunners o’ blank lines?”

“Dinnae fash yersel loon, the important museum curator staff an’ cooncil will understan’ aa thon technical stuff.”

“Hey – how come there’s aa this stuff marked ‘missin’?” Angus asked.

Tom, Dick and Harry had stepped out of the back room.

Each now had on a huge backpack. Tom had a suitcase on wheels.

Dick had a big cardboard box with what looked like a gold frame sticking out of the top of it, and Harry had a big sack.

“Angus, jist bide here, watch i telly, hae a drink an’ a nap, and we’ll see ye aboot 9 the morn’s mornin. Dinna worry aboot onythin’ an’ pey nae heed tae ony noises ye think ye micht be hearin’.” Tom said

“Aye, an’ read thon instruction manual if onythin’ … errr …  unusual pops up. See ye the morn.” said Dick.

“An’ mind fit Ah tellt ye. BIDE OOT O’ ESS ROOM…. Guid Nicht!” said Harry, shutting the door to the forbidden room.

The three turned to leave when with a clatter a selection of silver spoons fell out of Dick’s coat’s sleeve. Scooping them up Angus said:

“Hemen, hing on, looks like ye drapped summin. Ah think ah got ’em aa. See yiz the morn …  an’ thanks for the drink an’ yer help.”

The three men traded furtive looks and off they went out the security guard entrance. For some reason they turned off the light outside of the exit door, and the street outside was in darkness.

Angus watched as they pulled on their covid masks (‘for safety no doubt’ Angus thought), and drew their hats and scarves over their faces, their uniforms covered by their long dark coats. They threw their bags and boxes into the back of the van. Jumping in, they sped off into the night.

“Hey, ye’ve nae switched yer heidlights on”- Angus called after them, but they had sped out of sight.

Angus sat down and opened the bag he’d been left; pulling out a bottle of Tactical Nuclear Penguin he thought ‘At least this will be a bit more normal than Storybook Glen was’.

He thumbed through the inventory half-interested by the repeated words ‘missing’, ‘damaged’, ‘stolen’. On the desk he saw an old Press & Journal; its headlines read ‘Wood to save Torry by turning it into an industrial zone – Hoorah!’ and ‘Exclusive whitewash of oor role in Trump Menie development’.

Folding the paper up into a pillow, he put his head down and soon was fast asleep.

# # #

Angus slowly woke from a dream

He thought he heard voices.

Grabbing his flashlight and having a quick swig from his hip flask, followed by more fortified beer, he stealthily made his way to where the sound was coming from.

Approaching the centre of the building, he stopped to listen; he heard men and women chattering, the pop of a champagne cork, and glasses clinking.

Angus stood out of sight around a corner. The lights were on, and a few dozen well-dressed men and women were milling around the entrance foyer.

“.. so we donated 400 grubby auld cigarette cards, an’ got a 10k tax break; it wis hilarious!”

“I ken, right?,” said a woman’s voice “We donated some auld bits o’ stationery we were gan tae fling oot – seriously, an auld eraser, some index tabs. Chucked in a cigarette lighter or twa, and ken? We didnae hae tae pey tax fer a year. I’m affa gled ye suggested it; thanks again!”

Laughter ensued. Glasses clinked.

“Fit a crackin’ award ceremony; wis richt fine hearin’ Stew tell mair o’ his hilarious jokes doon the Marcliffe. Cooncil pickin’ up the tab Ah’d expect, aye?”

Angus kept hidden out of sight; he realised that these people were some of the town’s great and the good – and a few councillors.

“Hey, div ye still hae thon siller punch bowl roon at yer place? Ah widna mind a shottie o’ it in a couple o wikks fer the big ONE Christmas perty, if ye can spare it?”

Angus stayed out of sight and caught snippets of further conversations.

“Looks a richt sotter, dis it nae? Lik tuppence o’ mix. A metal box on tap o’ a MacKenzie mesterpiece? Nae cohesive use o’ materials, nae relation tae the existing proportions or aesthetic. It wis bound tae win awards. Did ye ken MacKenzie’d daen the Waldorf?

“D’ye think they’d let some hacks come alang an’ stick a metal box on tap o’ the Waldorf?”

Further laughter followed; Angus heard more glasses clinking.

“Fa’s carin’ fit it looks like?” a woman’s voice could be heard asking,

“The point is it wis a much-needed consultation an’ construction job – an’ fit’s mair vibrant an’ dynamic than a few extra crisp Jane Austen’s in your wikkly brownie?”

“The £36 mil wis weel spent – Ah mean, it’s nae like ony o’ us or we’re faimilies will hae tae pey for it.”

“A shame it didna help like we thocht it wid though … tae push the £180 million revamp o’ thon gerdens, Ah mean that wis the original plan, wis it nae?”

“Ach weel, at least the gerdens are aa dug up noo; thon space-hoggin, unprofitable trees awa – well maist o’ them, an’ thankfully some shops are gan in. Mair consultation, mair construction, an’ … errr …. some mair goodies up for grabs an’ aa.”

“Mind, ‘at was richt sleekit o’ ye tae announce with nae prior warning that the gallery wid fa’ tae bits if it didna get a new roof an’ a new a’thin else. Weel done.”

“Aye, an’ thon lottery ticket sellin’ racket wis genius an’ aa.”

“Foo lang dis onybody think ess new buildin’ work will stan’ up? That windae better be water ticht, an’ let’s hope that despite fit it looks like, that box winna ivver cause ony funny stresses or load issues ower time.”

“But twa years owerdue – how’d ye sell ‘at tae the public again?”

“Get this.” A short balding man said.

“We got the P&J tae say – an’ Ah hae tae laugh – we were ower spent an’ owerdue because ‘We had to get it right!’”

The room erupted in laughter.

Just then the doors burst open and three people, looking a bit the worse for wear staggered in, arms over each others’ shoulders, singing.

“Here’s oor Wullie!” one of the revellers shouted.

“Aye, an’ the Alternative Night Time Manager sure seems tae hae livened him an’ Al up a bit, aye?

Angus guessed it must still be snowing, as the newly-arrived trio were covered in white powder. The conversations continued.

“So fylst the average mannie in the street says ‘oh fit a bonny buildin! ‘it’s won an award’ or ‘we get tae see a heap o’ local artwork’ an’ aa that crap, we get some tax write affs for donating tat, a wee thank you fae the commissioning an’ construction folk, AND…”

The voice paused for a moment

“An’ aa the priceless airtwork, siller an’ nick-nacks ye could ivver want or need tae decorate wi’, or use tae pad up yer retirement fund.”

An anxious woman’s voice was heard next

“But will fowk nae twig that it’s aa o’ us fa’s donating absolute rubbish? Will they nae catch on that the good stuff’s naewye tae be found?”

The man who’d just spoken answered her,

“Nah, nah, dinna worry yersel; hae anither scoof o’ bubbly. Aa the donations are anonymous – unless somebody’s gan for a big publicity stunt; an’ naebody’ll ivver ken fa donated aa thon auld muck.

“Efter aa, thon auld bits o’ auld crap, unsellt papers, broken thimbles an’ fit hiv ye, are of course – should onybody ask – IMPORTANT PIECES O’ OOR HERITAGE.

“Onybody says stuff’s gan missing? Weel: fa’s gan tae clipe? Certainly nae oor local papers – by the wye, gled tae see yiz aa here the nicht an’ hope yer likin’ yer Marischal Square offices. We were happy tae help ye get thon rent breaks an’ perks; fit’s a few mill between chums? The morn, Ah’ve some mair stories for ye tae rin, but the nicht’s a social occasion. Here’s tae us!”

“HERE’S TAE US!!” the room answered back.

As Angus slowly crept away he heard a voice:

“Love how the granite an’ marble looks in yer gerden; lucky for yersel it’s aff limits an’ yer nae subject tae ess right tae roam stuff like the rest o’ us, as befits a mannie in yer position….”

“Ye’ll be in the hoose o’ heroes afore lang; oor very ain king o hydrogen…”

“…chose affa weel indeed… nah, nae The Shamen – drug references, ye ken? The beer brewing fowk – nah, too critical o’ Donald an’ made a few ither controversial missteps as weel …. St Machar the founder? Nah, nae famous enough. If we’d brocht up Glover fowk micht start askin’ aboot eez hoose an’ its contents…. nae punk musicians obviously – that would hae a toxic effect… an’ certainly nae St Fittick…”

Angus decided not to tangle with this crew and silently backed away into the darkness of the museum.
Reaching his guard room again, he tried to make sense of what he’d just overheard. ‘Far’s tha instruction manual?’ he muttered, and finding it started to read.

1. Ye see nithin, ye ken nithin
2. If summin’s wrang an’ ye want to report it tae the line manager, dinna!. Mind, ye’ve got a job an’ jobs are hard tae come by. The cooncil’s the biggest employer roon here.
3. If ye feel ye need tae report summin an’ canna trust yer line manager, jist tell the local papers. They’ll keep a lid on it for us. Better still, see Rule 1.
4. If ye can follae Rule 1, we’ll be sure ye get a nice pat on the heid fer daein fit yer tellt, ken fit ah mean?

However, the various drinks he’d had this evening were starting to make him feel woozy, so he reached for another one, and had a few swigs from a few bottles.

He was putting his head down as the loud voices seemed to go away.

He thought he heard the museum’s door shut, and soon it fell silent.

Angus went back to sleep, the words ‘hoose o’ heroes’ echoing in his mind.

Alas, Angus had only started this security job before the museum refit! The B.R. Premier Oil Lamp (now missing) was actually a magic lamp. When it had been in the museum, at midnight it’s magic brought ALL of the collection to life, kind of like that Ben Stiller series of films.

This included the (now missing) painting of the Gods on Olympus, 1798 by William Williams, including the (missing) Apollo and Daphne, also by Williams.

The architect who so carefully planned the Art Gallery, Mr Mackenzie, once roamed the halls when they were under construction shouting and screaming about his jewel being cannibalised and desecrated to the other gallery inhabitants when the magic lamp brought him to life; but he is heard no more.

The (missing) portrait of Sir Thomas More [sic] by Francesco Bartolozzi RA, After Hans Holbein, came to life and spoke with eloquent logic.

Back then the (now missing) Scottish Maid by an unknown master sat down to enjoy a (now missing) Still Life With Candlestick & Bread by Oskar Kokoschka with the handsome (now missing) James, Fifth Earl of Fife by Alexander Brodie.

Highland Cattle came out of (now missing) paintings and huge, beautiful artworks were filled with life.

During the day, some of that magic could be seen by visiting school children, some of whom might once have been inspired to make similar work. Some of these pieces could have provided historical information to artists, researchers and family historians. And heck, some people might just have enjoyed looking at these now missing windows on another world and time.

nasty glass-box architecture rose

But today no one will see their beauty or magic again: save the people who know where these and 1,577 items are that belonged to Aberdonians.

While this is a satire with no relation to anyone living or dead, should anyone in possession of stolen valuable, irreplaceable art taken from the public ever read these lines, may they encounter the karma they have earned.

As to those who were paid to protect the art that belongs to all of us, but whether by ignorance, negligence or deliberate acts stole, turned a blind eye or otherwise allowed this betrayal of trust, may such judases eventually get their karmic rewards too.

Anyone who knows where any of the missing 1,577 items are but who is keeping quiet is an accessory after the fact to theft. Time to unburden yourselves and fess up.

In Angus’ dreams hundreds of valuable portraits disappeared out of the museum into nowhere. Bits of old papers, bus tickets, broken biros were put in gilt frames in place of the fine art and hung on the gallery walls. And he dreamed people were in awe of the elevated rubbish because they were told it was art.

He dreamed that the things of real value in his beloved city were being stolen, bulldozed, built over, sold cheaply and cheap, nasty glass-box architecture rose over what was once a collection of historic, unique buildings.

He dreamed the land once loved by heroes and literal saints was now governed by incompetents, venal, greedy self-serving sneaks, egotistical ward- and attention-seeking narcissists and sex offenders.

He dreamed that the historic was written off as old-fashioned and the cheap, profiteering projects destroying the greenbelt and its wildlife, as well as the once-unique city scape, were hailed in a bought-and-paid for biased press as ‘vibrant’ ‘dynamic’ and ‘job-creating’.

He dreamed that same press had abandoned any pretence of journalistic independence, integrity and impartiality by taking millions from the taxpayer and were happy to mislead the public when it suited them if there was money in it.

Then Angus saw it was morning and that he wasn’t dreaming.

Angus decided he’d had enough. He picked a few causes to fight, some wrongs to try to right, and he set off to lobby, to investigate and to run for office.

He might not succeed, but he was going to try.

# # #

Follow up on the 2018 Christmas Satire ‘The Snowman’

The above video Aberdeen Voice satire covered some of the awful events of 2019 worldwide. There are at least two happy endings – the Russian caging of beluga whales is over, and the cages destroyed: public pressure did this.

And happily Donald J Trump is out of office and in court – many courts – and may soon be convicted of crimes.

Here’s to a little people power: just what Aberdeen needs. Elections are in May. You can still register to run.

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Jun 192015

With thanks to Paul Smith, Citrus Mix.

Jules wide shot cafe (2)Two businesses have lent a helping hand to a popular Aberdeen social enterprise café after hundreds of pounds were stolen following a recent break-in.

Rosie’s Café on the city’s Rosemount Place was targeted last month (May), with money set aside for a staff day out removed from the premises.

The café, which is part of Rosie’s Social Enterprises and Turning Point Scotland and provides valuable vocational training, support and work experience for people recovering from mental health issues.

Since the incident has occurred, it has been inundated with donations of support. As part of this, hub North Scotland and construction firm Robertson have come together to donate a range of materials alongside six days labour to help secure the premises after the break-in.

Jill Adie, business development manager at hub North Scotland, was delighted the organisation could help the café in its time of need.

She said:

“When we read about what had happened to Rosie’s Café, we were so disappointed and we immediately thought about what we could do to help them. We work quite closely with the team at Robertson through various other construction projects so we spoke to them and arranged for the material and labour to be provided, free of charge, to secure the café after the break-in.

“It really was the least we could do for a charity that provides so much help and support to people in Aberdeen. It’s great to see it up and running again and knowing we’ve helped give them peace of mind is fantastic.”

Patsy Telford, service manager at Rosie’s Social Enterprises, said:

“We’d just like to say a massive thank you to both hub North Scotland and Robertson for donating the materials and labour to secure the café after the break-in.

“We’ve been inundated with donations, both big and small, and every single one has meant the world to everyone associated with the charity. The response has been so heart-warming and we’re delighted that people have taken the time to help us when we needed it the most.”

Hub North Scotland is the delivery partner for various community-based projects across the north of Scotland including the new Alford Community Campus, Wick Community Campus, Brimmond School and Inverness Royal Academy.

Further information can be found at

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Sep 272013

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


Tally ho! Has the Deen ever seen a fairer summer? It’s not faded out just yet, and the parks are still full of people. Union Terrace Gardens were full of revellers for the Rainbow festival.
The mythical drunks and junkies said to loiter there are as much in evidence as the transparent giant boy who floated over the lurid flowerbed in the Granite Web drawings.

Hazlehead is filled with people, including motorists who don’t give a damn about parking on the grass, as well as thieves who’ve stolen a metal plaque.

More on this and other thefts shortly.

Gerry Jablonski & The Electric Band had a great night last Friday at the Lemon Tree; Techfest has rolled into town with a 20th anniversary birthday party and a programme of events that couldn’t be broader. 

I hope to make it to the talk in Cruickshank botanical gardens on Friday. There was a talk about what to do if there is a zombie apocalypse; I missed this, but it couldn’t have been that much difference from some of the previous administration’s full council meetings.

Alas! I wasn’t quick enough to get one of the limited planetarium tickets, and because of other commitments I had to miss BrewDog’s ‘Science of Brewing’ talk which took place Tuesday.

I consoled myself considerably when I discovered two of BrewDog’s new offerings. A new light beer ‘How to Disappear Completely’ is filled with flavour yet low in alcohol content.  Then there is  ‘Misspent Youth.’  The bar staff told me it was rich, creamy and tasted of coffee and plums. They were right. I’ll be back for more of each soonest.

Alas!  Everything that’s not nailed down, everything that is nailed down, and even the nails are being stolen in City and Shire. The epidemic of thefts all around us is alarming. If the police are recovering stolen goods, I hope they let us know about it, for the news at present is all about the thefts. Metal drain and gutter  covers are going faster than cut-price cider.

Cars are being stolen at a rate exceeding sales of the new Grand Theft Auto V game. One car was stolen twice in the space of a few hours; you’ve got to give those thieves points for daring.

Your more ambitious thief is ripping their employer off, be it restaurant, the council or oil company.  People in supermarkets are treating self check-out lines as optional. People are stealing pets in broad daylight. Your more intellectual thief is plagiarising poetry, and having the nerve to win poetry contests.  Award-stealing poet Allen has had to return a prize; he was caught stealing other poets’ material.  The BBC quotes Allen as saying :-

 “I accept that I did plagiarise certain poems (although it was genuinely not my intention to deceive)”

It’s OK then – he was only stealing, not trying to fool us.  Phew.  Here’s a poem for him:-

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue
I Think You’re A Tea-leaf

Och Aye Tha Noo. (copyright 2013 Old Susannah)

we all know what great places care homes are

Here in Torry, people have stolen not only drain covers but bricks – and a section of a stone wall. Worse, serial fantacist and idea appropriator Jeffrey Archer has a new book out to boot.

What’s going on? Why is it going unchecked? Who stole the pen I was just using a minute ago? Time for some timely theft-related definitions, as well as one timely definition for good measure.

Old Fashioned Policing: (old-fashioned English phrase) to keep the peace by intimidation and physical force.

Ah, the good old days. There was of course never any crime or social problem in the past, because in those halcyon days, police were not adverse to beating the daylights out of people, or scaring them out of their wits. Ah, the good old days eh?

I was surprised to read the tale of Ross-shire policemen Ovenstone and Kelman, who are in a  bit of muck because of two teenage girls.

The policemen, both in their early 30s decided the girls needed a bit of old-fashioned policing for acting up at a care home. .

Now we all know what great places care homes are, and how every child that winds up in one is no good. Well, the kindly policemen decided to use some initiative. They handcuffed the teenagers, drove them to a remote farm, intimidated them, made them walk without shoes through manure.

Now, if you can remember back to your teenage years, think what it would have been like if two uniformed, weapon-carrying angry policemen handcuffed you and made you do things that were outside of the law. Yes, you would have been scared into becoming a model citizen. There was of course no chance that this harmless escapade would have caused any lasting psychological scars.

Kelman, was given credit in court for bravely saying ‘that’s enough’

Sadly, the courts have taken action against the police.  Shocking, isn’t it. Of course there will be no custodial sentence, because that would serve no purpose. And here Old Susannah was, thinking that the deprivation caused by a jail term, and the message this sent out had some value.

No doubt this logic will be applied in the future to those with and without uniforms equally.

One of the braver cops, Kelman, was given credit in court for bravely saying ‘that’s enough’ at the end of the ordeal. I think he should get a medal. He didn’t stop anything; he was there, but he said ‘that’s enough’. Again, perhaps this logic will extend to those who are accessories to crime. For reasons unknown, Ovenstone decided to leave the police.

No, you just don’t get policing like that any more.

Theft – Pretexting: (Modern English phrase) – to gain entry to premises, to con, to deceive with the intent of stealing.

Hard up for cash? Need a little extra spending money? Why not do what Charles Skinner did, and trick your way into an 80 year-old woman’s house?

Pretend you’re there to do some work (as if you did any work), read an electricity meter, whatever. If your victim’s been dumb enough to let you in the front door, then they kind of deserve to be robbed, don’t they?

An Aberdeen pensioner is now having problems sleeping after Skint Skinner did just this to her, and once in her home stole money from her handbag.

Old people will have lots of money after all, and sometimes they forget they have it (like the hospital patients you hear of now and then that are ripped off by their ‘carers’.  In fact there have been a few thefts recently in the ARI – gold chains, money, etc.; I’m sure this won’t be upsetting to patients and their families in the least.

thieves stole a commemmorative plaque from Hazelhead park

After all, you probably have a good use for the money – like your drug habit. What fun is an old person going to have with their cash anyway? If they wind up injured or emotionally upset, that’s not really your problem is it?

Besides, if you have had a tough childhood, a drug or alcohol problem, then it’s not your fault, and a decent lawyer will get you a reduced sentence, probably with the taxpayer paying.

Yes, pretexting your way into someone’s house can be a nice little earner.

Metal theft: (Modern English phrase) The theft of goods for their metal/mineral content and/or the stripping of metal from property.

Times are indeed tough; the value of metal is shooting through the roof (no doubt the roof’s lead has been stolen from the roof by now). Time to get some tools, a truck, and go nick some metal.

As mentioned, thieves stole a commemmorative plaque from Hazelhead park. Well, if the park is for everyone’s enjoyment, why not theirs?

Rail commutes will have notice no less than 4 recent disruptions on the Aberdeen to Inverness line:  thieves have been stealing the cabling used in the signalling system. To lose copper cables to thieves once is unlucky. To lose your cables a second time is a bit careless. To have your copper stolen a third time begs the question ‘are you paying attention?’ 

Somewhere there are scrap metal dealers who are taking this material in

To lose cabling a fourth time implies incompetence. As to the thieves, well, the cabling is just there for the taking apparently. What’s the worst that could happen anyway? A potential train crash can’t outweigh the need to steal some copper wire.

Somewhere there are scrap metal dealers who are taking this material in. There must be a few clues when people go to sell plaques that are inscribed to the people of a city, or miles of copper wire. But none of these metal yards seem to be coming forward.

ATM Theft: (Modern English Phrase) to steal cash dispensers.

In the old days, the ones cops like Kelman and Ovenstone might have yearned for, a thief would just have waited for an unsuspecting person to use an ATM, and then either make note of their card number, and steal the card later – or just beat the cash withdrawer senseless once they had the money in their hand. These days are gone.

Need to supplement your metal theft income? Get a truck round to an ATM, and just steal the whole thing. In this line of work you get to travel as well – New Deer, Bieldside, Inverurie. Sounds pretty good to me.

Auto Theft: (English Phrase) the theft of a vehicle.

Well, the police do have this covered nicely in our area. Of course cars are stolen, driven  in a stylish stuntman manner, and then often set alight, in one case cheering up some shoppers at a supermarket not long ago.

The police are blaming car owners for keeping car keys in their kitchens.

Car thieves taught admirers and young apprentices how to hotwire cars

Granted, you have to lock your homes and your cars these days. But even if you do this, if the keys are in your locked house somewhere they can be found, then it seems you’re pretty much guilty of being an accessory to any resultant theft.

We did have the exciting Stig Aberdeen Boys Facebook page not long ago; it had hundreds of members.

Car thieves taught admirers and young apprentices how to hotwire cars, how to steal motorbikes and so on. It’s a shame it was taken down, but Facebook decided promoting crime wasn’t something it wanted to branch out into. Shame.

There is No Honour Among Thieves: (English saying) A proverb advising that thieves are not to be trusted.

Well, it does my heart good to say there is always the exception that proves the rule. In a recent court appearance, a noble, brave robber (who had assaulted and threatened his victims and acted as part of a team) has refused to name his co-workers.

The man in question did tell the court he was very sorry indeed for upsetting people and taking their money, but ‘he is the only one going to jail’ for the spate of robberies he and his mates committed. I’d love to tell you his name, but someone seems to have stolen my notes.

For reasons of space, I’ll leave it there. There have been people embezzling from public and private sector employers; people stealing from charities, people stealing from the old and the infirm.

In Torry people have stolen bricks and even a bit of a stone wall. It just goes to show you, when you need to earn some money, there is always a way. (Did I ever tell you about the rich property developer who did a deal with the City over land in Kingswells, and then tried to keep £1.7 million pounds’ worth of profit)?

PS – pet theft is most definitely going on. Be vigilant.

Next week:  more definitions.

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Apr 182013

By Suzanne Kelly.

Some weeks ago, a lamb was brought to Willows Animal Sanctuary near New Pitsligo. It had been found nearly dead, half drowned in a stream.

Tender loving care by the person who found it nursed it back to a state of health, and it continued to recover at Willows, all the while being hand fed and tended to frequently.

It recovered, and is now an adored pet for the many people, especially children who benefit from the Animal Assisted Therapy which Willows offers.

This should be the end of the story; the animal was saved, helped to recover, and has a home for its life being adored at a sanctuary.

However, if one local farmer has his way, the lamb will be seized, and Willows charged with theft and hauled to court.

Outraged animal campaigners and users of Willows’ facilities are appealing to this farmer.  After all, there is absolutely no proof where the animal came from.  It was found in a stream far from any farms.  It had no marking/brand/dye.

Court action will mean cost for Willows.  Appealing to this farmer’s better nature seems like a slim hope however.

As the Aberdeen Voice  Editor Fred Wilkinson reacted:-

“I think the idea of a sanctuary for rescued animals handing over a rescued animal to someone who has no more interest in the creature than how much fat and growth hormones he can stuff into it and sell it purely for it’s weight as a corpse is quite disturbing. “

It is hard to believe that anyone would claim a lost animal is theirs without any evidence, threaten and intimidate a charity with court and police, all to remove a rescued animal from emotionally vulnerable people who have bonded with it – but that is what is happening.

Footage of the lamb playing with a rescued dog, and other information can be found on Willows page on Facebook where you will also find related information.

The Facebook page also has a photo of the sheep; anyone who is opposed to the removal of this animal is urged to share the photo on Facebook to increase awareness; the campaign is called ‘Spam This Lamb’.

Aberdeen Voice is in touch with a variety of animal welfare organisations on this matter as well as the Blackface Sheep Association; we hope to report a happy outcome in the days to follow.

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Jan 112013

Motor vehicle theft in Aberdeen has gone through the roof with a value over £1 million last year.  Could this surge in crime have anything to do with a local Facebook page which glamourises car and motorbike theft?  A document  circulating in Aberdeen detailing the online and on-street behaviour of the ‘AberdeenBoyz Stig ftp’ group has been sent to Aberdeen Voice. Phoebe Copeland writes.

This week Grampian police cautioned theft victim Lesley Ross.  She made a series of Facebook postings after her car was stolen which featured swear words and the wish that whoever stole her Audi would wind up wrapped around a telephone pole.

What, if any, law was violated by Ms Ross is unknown.  The Daily Record reported her story yesterday, which led to widespread criticism of the Grampian police.

In the meantime, the same police force has not taken any known action against a Facebook page,  AberdeenBoyz Stig ftp (‘ftp’ is a well-known abbreviation meaning f**k the police). 

The site’s main purpose, or rather, its only purpose appears to be advocating vehicle theft, with an emphasis on Audis and other high-performance cars.  Shocking images include:

  • photos of vehicles, motorbikes and bicycles – some burnt out
  • images explaining how to start a car without a key
  • videos purport to show people driving in stolen vehicles
  • images of hooded / masked people in cars or bikes believed to be stolen
  • images of vehicles thought to have been stolen with comments indicating a crime has been committed

The page has over 400 friends, clearly identified in this ‘open’ group, meaning anyone can freely see who is involved and view the images.  These ‘friends ‘include people who claim to work for or are associated with the following companies:

  • NHS Grampian
  • Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital
  • Four Seasons Healthcare
  • Oakbank Residential Home
  • Rowan Court Nursing  Home
  • Aberdeen City Council
  • Instant Neighbour
  • Kirkcaldy Pet Shop
  • Sub Atlantic
  • Scot Oil
  • Schlumberger
  • Proseve
  • TAQA

There appears to be a strong connection with Harlaw Academy, with the page owner apparently also connected to Harlaw.  Other schools are also well represented.

It is hoped the police will be investigating urgently. At the time of writing the page is still online and it is a mystery why there has been no sign whatsoever of any arrests connected to the page.  Last week, Grampian police found six stolen cars and charged 11 people with related offences.

In the last quarter of 2012 approximately 86 people were arrested, some in their teens.  Yet there the Facebook page remains, equating grand theft with excitement and fun.  This crime has victims, and can result in criminal charges for thrill-seekers, reduce any future employment prospects, and of course lead to serious injury and even death.

It is very worrying that some of these friends work with some of society’s most vulnerable people including the elderly, the infirm, and people with special abilities and children.

If these people willingly advocate theft, then this indicates an elevated risk to the people in their care.

If they condone theft, and care little about the victims of theft, then the level of compassion and care they provide to those they are responsible for also becomes questionable.

Another great concern is that people who support this page would have knowledge of their clients’, neighbours’ and co-workers’ movements, and therefore in a position to pass information about high-performance car owners’ holidays and whereabouts on to those prepared to steal vehicles.

While it is not certain by any means, nor implied that these ‘friends’ are involved in criminal activity, they are supporting a page which glamourises and offers instruction on theft of vehicles.  Employers and school officials are already thought to be scouring the site.

How they will respond to the discovery that their firms or schools feature on this page along with photos of their employees or students remains to be seen.

At the time of writing, the page is still  available for anyone with a Facebook account to view.  How much longer this will remain to be the case is unknown.  Anyone who had a car, bike, bicycle or other vehicle stolen may wish to look at the over 40 photos of stolen items.

In the meantime, you may wish to  remove valuables and spare keys from your car and keep any spare vehicle keys hidden away as the thieves have been known to break into homes and take keys from key racks, etc.

Do not allow any suspicious behaviour to go unreported, and above all, do not put your own safety at risk by attempting to intervene should you witness what appears to be a theft in progress.

Despite the high level of this type of crime in the city, luckily, no one has yet been killed.  Sadly has not been the case in Glasgow.  Christopher Grenfell was found responsible for the death of James Simpson, a law-biding elderly pensioner, on 29 November 2011.

Simpson was trying to stop his car being stolen and the thief callously ran him over, killing him on his own property.   What started out as yet another car theft and ended in an innocent man’s death and a thief turned murderer getting a life sentence.

It is hoped the Grampian Police will take immediate action to tackle organised vehicle crime which appears to have been allowed to thrive here.

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Dec 142012

In a particularly callous crime, given that we’re in the season of goodwill to all men – and, presumably, animals – thieves have struck at a Forfar animal sanctuary. Suzanne Kelly reports.

Thieves have dealt a heavy blow to Mountains Animal Sanctuary, taking goods and cash worth thousands, and vandalising the premises in the process.
The theft took place on Sunday night 9th December – following a successful Nativity play fundraiser.

Thankfully no animals were harmed; this was a huge worry as there has been a spate of animal woundings in Aberdeenshire, possibly linked to the sale of pellet guns sold in pound shops on Aberdeen’s Union Street.

“My blood ran a bit cold.” said Pam Taylor of Mountains in Forfar.

Winter is the hardest time of year for any animal shelter.  Food costs for grazing animals doubles (or more), heating and lighting costs need to be reckoned with.  In our current economy people are abandoning domestic and farm animals – even ponies and horses – leaving them exposed to danger abuse and death.  Our area shelters do a great job in protecting these innocent animals, and Mountains Animal Shelter is no exception.

Pam explained that after a successful fundraising event, cash was left overnight on the premises in a padlocked cupboard in a locked office. CCTV should have identified the thieves – but the entire system was stolen.  It certainly seems that whoever organised this theft and property destruction knew this was a good time to strike, and knew that there was CCTV to be reckoned with.

Pam commented:

“It was a terrible shock on Monday morning. We’ve lost about £2,500 in cash. They stole stock from the shop, worth as much as another £3,000. The CCTV system was worth some £2,500.”

“Apart from anything else we no longer feel secure; you’re kind of left wondering what might they might do next.”

The police are already investigating leads and considering the value of the goods and money taken, it’s no surprise the CID is involved. This was a callous theft, and anyone with information is urged to contact the police on 0845 600 5700.

Pam added:

“The theft is bad enough, but the thieves kicked a hole in the office door and made a big mess, tipping out drawers. They deliberately flooded the visitor’s centre. There is a broken window in the staff room. I hope the insurance will help, but cash has a limit on it for insurance claims.”

In response to this particularly cruel theft, however, a number of people turned up yesterday to help sort out the visitor’s centre; someone kindly put up a new office door.

Mountains would like to thank those who have come forward to help for their overwhelming support.

To offer practical help or financial assistance to Mountains, please contact them via their website below:

The website details their work with horses and ponies, with a link to PayPal for donations.

Aberdeen Voice will update readers on any developments.

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Oct 182012

Voice’s Old Susannah looks back on the week that was, complete with Zeppelins, BrewDogs, and a bad smell coming not from the Torry sewage plant, but a whiff of scandal from Edinburgh. By  Suzanne Kelly

Tally  Ho!  By the time you read this, I’ll have been to the Led Zeppelin film ‘Celebration Day’ at the Belmont.  Am counting the minutes.  Another major highlight of this week was  BrewDog Aberdeen’s second birthday party.  I celebrated with great people, great beers, food and a lovely cake.  Happy Birthday to Brew.

I also took in a bread-making course at Nick Nairn Cookery school; it was a great course, not least because of the lovely breads I got to take home (including the tutor’s lovely white loaf).

On the down side of this week, a dog has disappeared from its garden on Holburn Street.  Grampian police downplayed earlier Facebook posts warning of potential dog thieves in our area. 

The police issued a Facebook post about a week ago, saying dog-napping worries were just rumour-mongering, and several FB posters chimed in to ridicule the people worried about potential thefts.

The cops categorically claimed no such thing was going on. Fast-forward to 16 October, and a dog has mysteriously disappeared from its back garden in Holburn Street.

Unless the small dog, not tall enough on its hind legs to reach the lock, undid the lock, went away, and decided never to return again for food or shelter, it looks like theft is a possibility.  However, the police refuse to treat this as a theft.  There is no evidence you see.

Perhaps they had expected a smoking gun, guys in striped shirts wearing masks holding bags of swag?  I wonder whether they even checked the gate for fingerprints – they certainly could have done so.  The moral is – keep an eye on your pets as much as possible, and report anything like thefts or suspicions straight away to the Scottish SPCA – and/or email  PS – dogs, cats, handbags, Led Zeppelin CDs , etc. are not safe left alone in cars for any length of time, either.

Common Good Aberdeen reached its financial target of £15K for a children’s play area in Union Terrace Gardens with ease, expect a play area in UTG sometime soon, hopefully with a volunteer-run, cafe, too (with all profits going directly on UTG).  No one could object to putting a play area in a city centre park, could they?

But perhaps best of all this week was sharing joyful commuting stories with fellow bus travellers.  To a man we’re all thrilled to bits at the reduction in routes.  We are of course waiting for the corresponding reduction in bus fares, which must be just ‘round the corner‘.  How wonderful that the No. 21 bus is no more, just as those wonderful Milne homes are going up in Cove.

  I’m wondering  exactly what kind of ‘independence’ Alex is actually offering

It must have been my imagination (and the imaginations of a few dozen other people), but it seemed as if quite a number of scheduled buses (no. 3s, 1s, etc) didn’t actually materialise when they should have.  I got to learn a few more new words from fellow travellers while waiting for a No. 1 bus on Monday evening.

In the wider Scottish environment, this was the week that Cameron and Salmond signed up to a yes/no referendum (wish we’d done so over the gardens –  but never mind).  Alex smiled from the covers of most newspapers this past week, and he told the press:-

 “I didn’t want to look too triumphant.” 

Don’t worry about that, Alex, you didn’t.

In fact, Alex is starting to look like a man with Ninety-Nine Problems.

Old Susannah is looking at some of these minor worries.  All things considered, I’m wondering  exactly what kind of ‘independence’ Alex is actually offering.  For openers, once you consider some of Alex’s  pals, you come to one inescapable question:  How independent exactly is Alex himself?

Is he offering Scots independence or perhaps a form of government that is just a little bit older?

Feudalism: (Eng. noun) – A system of governance/land steward ship prevalent in the middle ages in Europe where a small minority of wealthy property holders wielded power over those with less money, and a great gap existed between the haves and have-nots.

Believe it or not, it was not only the English who were oppressing the Scottish people throughout history, many Scottish nobles did so, too.  Clan warfare, theft, battles, treachery, wife-stealing, drunkenness, cruelty – these are not just part of the daily grind at Holyrood.  Indeed, there were many forms of Scot on Scot violence in the bad old days, too.

In the feudal societies of the past, a rich man owned everything in his territory and all those below him fell in line in accordance with his wishes.  If this ‘lord’ (or sometimes the noble was given the title ‘Sir’, as in ‘Sir Ian Wood’) wanted a castle, a bit of land, or say a granite web, his lackeys ensured he got what he wanted by hook or crook, or compulsory purchase order or by an arm’s length management company or Aberdeen City Gardens Trust.

Thankfully, the days of the rich man dictating the future of the land to the common man are gone.

Alex Salmond will ensure that no rich men can possibly dictate policy, seize land (or public parks), bend Quangos to their will, shield their gold from the taxman via offshore schemes, etc.  No, Alex won’t in any way favour the rich or help them gain unfair advantage.

If he did do so, say for a Murdoch (to whom he seems to have offered his services at one point), a Wood (whose web he favoured) or a Trump (who got permission to ruin the only moveable sand dune system on the UK mainland), then we would not have a free republic.  We would have feudalism.

Intervention: (Eng. noun) to take action in a situation to try and prevent an undesirable outcome.  Interventions can be legal or not.  In Scottish politics – usually not.

When Aberdeenshire Council said no to Donald Trump, Alex’s Government weighed in and  said ‘we’re open for business; c’mon over’.  Thanks for the intervention!

But now it looks as if when Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) didn’t give the beautiful, sparkly granite web the thumbs up, Alex intervened again.

The cat is out of the bag, the chickens have come home to roost, and so on.  No doubt with the best interests of Aberdonians at heart, Alex seems to have put the £140 million web into position to get TIF funding.  Where would we have been without him?

This little intervention raises just one or two questions.  Firstly, I wonder what first attracted politician Alex Salmond to Billionaire tycoon Sir Ian Wood and his Wood-Wide-Web?

How could Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) criticised Wood’s wonderful web?  Well, for openers here is how it scored ( click on table to enlarge ):-

“…further detail / clarity could have been added in relation to:

  • The potential level of private sector activity created (in terms of NDR creation) and its likelihood
  • The underlying enabling nature of the assets themselves – i.e. why are these the right assets
  • The potential level of retail activity in comparison to the overall activity enabled by the TIF
  • The rationale for the redline
  • The key milestones of the project
  • The consideration of risk and risks beyond those detailed in the submission”

The SFT/Government fought tooth and nail (whatever that means) against Steve Vass of the Herald getting this information made public.  For one thing, the SFT claimed people weren’t smart enough to understand their findings.  Quite right.  They argued people would not understand  that Scottish Futures Trust and its reports were only meant to guide the Government, which was then free to ignore the report and do whatever it chose to do.  Funny, this method of government consultation seems perfectly obvious to me.

You are of course as surprised and disappointed as I am that our web didn’t get higher scores.  It’s hard to imagine SFT deciding there were some financial and risk elements.

We should have sent them some of those lovely glossy brochures from Vote for the City Gardens Trust –  you know, the ones that promised 6,500 permanent jobs and £122 million flowing into Aberdeen every year if we got us a web.  That would have swung the balance.

Some  voters may well wonder why this SFT  information wasn’t  shared in advance of any referendum vote.  I’m sure it was for our own good and not to confuse us with facts.  However, if you  are angry we had a referendum with crucial facts withheld deliberately, Go Ask Alex.  Just drop him a line to find out who was playing at what, and why anyone thought we weren’t clever enough to understand a short report.

  No doubt Alex is confident that an independent Scotland will demand a granite web

Perhaps this is all too complicated for us non-Government mortals after all.  I’m so confused I’m thinking the Government wanted a trial run of the referendum system to see what the pros and cons were in advance of the Independence Referendum.

The pros?  You can put anything you want to in a glossy brochure, true or not as long as you remain anonymous.  Result!   You can also hide the voting record from any scrutiny, as was done in Aberdeen.

The Cons?  I think there were plenty of ‘cons’ involved, don’t  you?  In fact, I’m fighting the urge to list the cons by name.

You could also be forgiven for wondering  why the SFT report was prepared in the first place, if the Government had its own ideas about what should or shouldn’t be given a TIF loan.  (Old Susannah heard an unconfirmed rumour that Alex told Sir Ian to ‘leave his money on the table’ for a year.  No doubt Alex is confident that an independent Scotland will demand a granite web.  We could put it on the back of the new Scottish Banknotes).

So, Alex is going to try not to look too triumphant.  If it helps, Alex, just think back to some of your finer moments:-

  • Testifying to the Leveson Inquiry – Alex claimed the Observer had hacked his banking account in 1999 (no evidence was found) – almost as if he were trying to deflect attention from the revelation that Mr Salmond’s adviser (Aberdein) – had agreed that the first minister would call Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt “whenever we need him to” on Murdoch’s behalf.
  • intervening in Aberdeenshire planning permission and giving Trump carte blanche to bulldoze the SSI, make life a misery for the existing residents, and run the area with heavy-handed security
  • Asking Donald Trump to back the return of Megrahi to Libya
  • Spending c. £48,000 to go to the premier of the film ‘Brave’ with an entourage
  • Claiming a sum adjacent to £1,800 per week for food and drink (four year period May 2007 onward)
  • Meddling in the future of the Granite Web, and elevating it over other areas’ projects
  • Cutting money to charities while allowing unelected quangos to thrive…..

It might not amount to quite 99 problems, Alex, but you’re getting there.  Give it a week.

Teflon: (mod Eng.noun) a non-stick coating often applied to pots and pans.

Bill Clinton lurched from sex scandal to Whitewater financial scandal and back to sex scandal again, yet he escaped relatively unscathed.  People called him ‘the Teflon President’:  nothing stuck to him.

Not that our First Minister would ever do anything untoward of course, but it is almost like he’s using deflection techniques – sorry to even think it!  Just because he showed up at Leveson with counter claims that he had been hacked when he was there to testify as to his relationship with Murdoch is no reason to think he’s a slippery character.

In fact I’ve  written to Salmond to ask for his comments on some of these little trifling issues.  As soon as he answers, I’ll let you know.  Until then, just keep waving the Saltire, chant ‘Freedom!’ and believe everything you’re being promised.  Would Alex ever steer you wrong?

Just one little thing to remember:  sooner or later that non-stick pan stops working, and it gets thrown out.

Next week:  A wee update on council finances, and an old FOI of mine updated.

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Aug 102012

Justin Smith has been seeking police help and public awareness of the issues surrounding motorbike theft in our area.  Not quite satisfied with his experiences so far with the police and the press, he shares his story with Aberdeen Voice.  By Justin Smith.

As a keen motorcyclist, I have many friends who are bikers and love to get together for a Sunday run or a social gathering.

Many of us are members of groups on Face Book, where we can chat about events, funny incidents or gripes about local roads, the police and local bike thieves.

After a number of recent events and the ensuing anger on various group pages I decided to contact a reporter I had dealt with before.

She works for the Evening Express and I hoped they would print a story and try to help deal with the current situation.

I wrote a short piece, raising a few points of concern and I was told they would put it into print. What they printed on 26/07/2012 was a laughable PR spin on how the Police were on top of the situation. That’s not uncommon in the way things are presented to the public, I’m afraid.

The story I presented to them was pretty much as follows-

There is a known problem with motorcycle thieves in Aberdeen, whether it’s in Sheddocksly, Garthdee or elsewhere. Not only do these people steal the much-loved motorbikes of hard-working people, but  they then race around on the stolen bikes at all times of day with no regard for their communities.

They are often seen riding off road, on green areas, where they are a hazard to local people out walking and generally a noisy irritation. The bikes often end up burned out.

One resident in Sheddocksly who wished to remain anonymous reports:

” On Tuesday 17/7/12, a youth on a motorcycle was observed riding around Sheddocksly in the vicinity of Lerwick Road, between17:00-18:00.  The rider had no helmet on and had also made some effort to hide his face. The bike is evidently stolen from its condition- the front headlight is missing and the number plate has been removed.”

The resident reported what he had seen to Grampian Police shortly afterwards, and was told a car would be dispatched and an officer would contact him. That was on Tuesday 17/07/12, but no one came to see him and collect the photographs he had taken until the following Tuesday the 24th.  A swift and appropriate response time I’m sure you will agree!

The police have, however, been running Operation Trinity in an effort to reduce antisocial biking since June 2011. Grampian Police said calls of concern about irresponsible offending had fallen by 69%. The force revealed that 47 reports of anti-social biking had been received in 2011, compared to 151 for the same period in 2010.

The claimed statistics of success are not being borne out in the communities where offences are taking place.

I believe the reduced calls of concern are due to members of the public giving up on Grampian Police rather than any degree of success. One officer was recently heard to say there is an ‘Epidemic’ of stolen bikes.

So despite the claimed successes of Operation Trinity, it seems more like ‘Operation Donut’ based on the poor police response to the aforementioned call and the escalating level of motorcycle theft.

The police aren’t even allowed to chase these criminals in case they are hurt while trying to evade capture or even injure an innocent passer-by. It is hardly surprising that Grampian Police are demoralised, considering the man hours they have to put in with limited resources and then the courts just let these thieves off!

While I feel the police often do a difficult job very well, there appears to be a gaping hole in our criminal justice system as things stand.  This is particularly the case with Juvenile defendants, who despite many previous offences walk away unpunished.

Such offenders know they will be treated leniently due to being minors and as such there is no deterrent.  How about some serious community service in their own neighbourhoods so they are publicly shamed? 200+ hours of picking up litter, cleaning pavements of gum, painting over graffiti, etc?

I have observed in court the pathetic punitive action taken against people in relation to serious offences and it is laughable to see the horse trading that goes on and the complete failure of the courts to appropriately punish offenders such that it acts as a deterrent. That is at the heart of the issue.

If the Justice system is failing those it is meant to protect. People will take matters into their own hands to protect what’s theirs because they can’t rely on the rule of law.

Please have a look at the attached pictures, perhaps readers could identify him? It may help the community to deal with these people.

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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:-

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.

Sep 092011

With thanks to Carl Gerrard and Grampian Police.

Bicycle theft in Aberdeen is on the increase and police say it’s largely because people are not taking simple precautions. As bicycle use increases it appears that opportunities for thieves is also on the rise.
Grampian Police are delighted to be working with The Aberdeen Cycle Forum to try and remind all cyclist across Aberdeen to take proper security precautions to look after their bikes.

Constable Kevin Murray of Aberdeen Division Crime Reduction Unit Advised:

“I would ask all bike owners to take a little time to think about the exact location you are going to, how you will secure the bike and what you are going to secure it to in the street.

“This thought process can assist in preventing the bike from ever being stolen in the first place.  Most thefts are still opportunist and even if you are just going into a shop for just a couple of minutes that is sufficient time for someone to steal your bike.”

Constable Murray continued:

“A simple but effective method of securing your bike in the street, is to lock it, using a good quality lock such as a ‘D’ lock, at the dedicated bike bars found in and around the city centre. Also consider securing it to immoveable street furniture which is in line of sight of a public space CCTV camera.”

Carl Gerrard, secretary of the Aberdeen Cycle Forum told Aberdeen Voice:

“Since 2008 cycle use has increased 20% inAberdeen. It’s a sad fact that cycle theft has also increased.  The good news is that by following a few common sense tips on the ACF website ( cyclists can both greatly reduce the chance of becoming a victim and increase the chance of getting their bike back should the worst happen.”

“Having your bike stolen results in both financial costs, and the inconvenience of having to use another mode of transport.  We are delighted to be working with Grampian Police to raise awareness in this area.”

Only 10% of the bikes recovered by Grampian Police are returned to their owners due to the poor descriptions, however, owners can ensure their chances of having their vehicle returned is increased.

Constable Murray added:

“In an effort to improve descriptions provided to police  I would like to remind all bike owners to utilise the Bike Passport form which can be found on the Grampian Police website under the crime reduction pages of the advice centre section.

“It is difficult to give the police or your insurer an accurate description of your bike once it has been stolen, however if once you purchase your bike you security mark it, complete this form, which includes an image of your bike and keep it safe, it will provide a more accurate description of your bike to increase the chance of officers being able to reunite you with your stolen pedal cycle if recovered.”

For more advice on bike and shed security visit The Aberdeen Cycle Forum website at or contact your local Crime Reduction Officer on 0845 600 5700.