Feb 122015

Following on from last week’s Valentine’s Day themed column, Old Susannah is still feeling the love. After all, this is Aberdeen. By Suzanne Kelly.

DictionaryTally ho! The Deen is awash in romance; you can smell it in the air. Then again, that might just be a nasty whiff coming in from the sewerage plant.

In major news, it seems that civilisation may not end if we don’t build a glass office building next to Marischal College. Millions of jobs were to go, connectivity would be lost, and we’d lose our vibrant and dynamic edge that our planners have worked so hard for a decade or so to give us. However, it seems that protestors may interfere with our modern progress. After all, when has the city ever ignored protestors before?

We can’t thank our planning supremos enough for making us the 2014 Carbuncle Award Winner. Surely now that we’ve got this award, the city of culture award can’t be far behind.

I’m sure the awards will start flooding in, just like all those extra tourists clogging the roads from the airport to Trump Links and MacLeod House.

In fact, with all the good feeling and love in the air, here’s a few affectionate definitions.

Mutual Admiration Society: (English Compound Noun) An assembly of like-minded groups or people to share affection and respect.

It would have been enough to restore anyone’s faith in human nature; I’m sorry my invite was somehow lost in the post. But this past week, Donald Trump, Aberdeen Journals Ltd, Damian Bates, and other journalism superstars got together to pat themselves on the back, and sing the praises of journalism today.

It was hugs and kisses all ‘round when 60 business leaders (<swoon!>) got together to sing the praises of the Scottish Newspaper Society.  These respected figures included Trump, as well as a few respectable figures from quangos and some nice banking VIPs.

And what do businessmen like most about our newspapers? Is it for impartiality, for thorough, unhindered, unbiased investigative journalism? Here’s what The Donald said:

“I’ve had my battles with the Scottish press and seen my fair share of tough headlines, but the impact of advertising in the Scottish media – particularly The Press and Journal and Evening Express – can’t be underestimated,”
– http://www.thedrum.com/news/2015/02/09/donald-trump-joins-scottish-business-figures-backing-campaign-scotlands-newspapers

What do the executives value? Advertising. What more can you want from a newspaper? Absorbency, I suppose.

That the Scottish Newspaper Society sought Trump’s endorsement doesn’t make the group  look at all uninformed, star-struck, advertising-starved or parochial.  After all, Trump does get into the papers now and then. In the rest of the world, it’s for reasons such as failing golf clubs, bankruptcy,  links to organised crime, lawsuits and environmental damage. But that’s just negative nit-picking by The Haters.

Here, executives, newspapers and little people like us love him because he flies into town and has a red carpet when he lands. It’s because he hired our local sweetheart Sarah Malone Bates and used her extensive golf and real estate experience to forge our boring coastline into something else. And not what has he given us? Billions of pounds, millions of jobs, put us on the map, and of course the world’s best golf course ever. Really.

Any battles he’s had with the Scottish press have sadly either faded from my ageing memory, or have not been with the Press & Journal: I wonder why? I guess love is blind.

You can see the full list of business figures backing Scottish newspapers on the Scottish Newspaper Society website – that will keep you busy for many happy hours.  Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Federation, Trump, etc. etc.: This is a mutual admiration society like no other.

COMPETITION TIME: How many organisations on this list have links to ACSEF? Answers on a (large) postcard; winner gets a BrewDog or a P&J – their choice.

And what does a paper do to earn this lavish praise from otherwise neutral billionaire Donald Trump? What kinds of riveting articles command his respect? What incisive slants on local stories are we being served up this week? Old Susannah is happy to serve up some examples.

“Aberdeen store could be turned into 5 smaller stores.” 

We’ll remember where we were when we heard this story.

And then if you want a good laugh (even if it’s at the victim’s expense), we had:

“Man found guilty of putting face in woman’s cleavage”

As the story advised:

“A MAN who clamped his mouth to a stranger’s chest during a night out has been ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work. Remigiusz Zdziech was found guilty of putting his face in a woman’s cleavage while on a night out.

“The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, felt “distressed and shaken” by the incident. Zdziech, 28, denied the offence but was found guilty.”  

I guess  what one paper describes as ‘putting face in woman’s cleavage/clamping a mouth to a stranger’s chest’ is what some of the rest of us might be tempted to call a sexual assault and leave the specifics out of it to spare the victim any further distress – but there you go. If it’s good enough for Damian Bates to publish, then it’s good enough for us to accept without question.

And yet somehow Old Susannah can’t help but feel there is just the slightest hint of sexism in the writing. But I’m just a silly old woman anyway.

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder: (English saying) – belief that being away from loved ones makes them love you more.

Never was a saying more true than this past week when our former Chief Executive Valerie Watts decided to play  hard to get. Our former leader was to have been questioned at a hearing into the letter sent out last year, wherein it was stated that the city council wanted to stay in the Union. Everyone missed Valerie tremendously. If anyone could have given an honest and complete explanation, it would have been her.

Indeed, when it comes to her honesty, it is beyond question by miles. And here’s just a small sample of why that’s so.

So what kept her from her beloved former city? In her current job in Belfast, the Permanent Secretary had invited her to a meeting. Picture how conflicted and torn she must have been! Choosing between a meeting with her new lovely boss and her old love of Aberdeen. Some say she could have chosen to meet the Permanent Secretary another time (perhaps for movie and a meal – not to rush into anything of course), and come here to see us. But she chose to make us wait.

We will be waiting, Valerie. The whole hearing has been kicked into the long grass by this femme fatale with her natural looking suntan and honest smile. Let’s hope next time she’s supposed to appear at a hearing on this matter she doesn’t have a pedicure or facial planned instead. See you soon Valerie. We’ll wait.

Erotic Love: (Compound English Noun) Form of affection or desire which is sexual in nature

What could say ‘I love you’ more than a few lashes with a leather cat ‘o nine tails? What says ‘I care’ more than a complicated set of ropes and pulleys? How best to demonstrate the ties that bind you to someone than by tying them up?

You won’t be aware of this due to the lack of hype, advertising and promotion, but a romantic film is about to hit the big screen (in a non-violent, loving sort of way). Fifty Shades of Gray is coming (ahem) to a cinema near you soon. Is it (as I already suggested on Facebook – sorry) just money for old rope? No, this spanking new spanking film is set to change how the middle classes do DIY.

Hard to believe, but I’m told the film is even more riveting than the dialogue in the book. I’d go see it myself, but I’m a little tied up right now.

Don’t worry though – it can’t possibly lead to any further lack of respect to women. How could it?

Have fun all you B&Q-ers; best get down to the superstore before they run out of winches, pulleys, rope, cord and chains. Say good bye to spontaneity with a few DIY projects that will have that spare bedroom all decked up as if it were a haunt of Jeffrey Archer’s.

But what happens when you and your beloved eventually fall out and have an argument? Will you feel stupid, used, creepy, lame, ashamed, cheap, weird? Of course not – off you’ll go to your mini-dungeon locked room, and the dominant one will be pulling the strings once more.

I’m sure no one will ever carry this too far, get hurt or need to call the fire department and the sanitation services. Have fun, and remember, love isn’t dead. It’s just gagged, blindfolded  and trussed up somewhere.

Happy Valentine’s Day all.

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Jan 302015

Suzanne Kelly aka Old Susannah gets to grips with Grampian’s great and good, and with St Valentine’s Day just around the corner, her soft and sympathetic side is coming to the fore. Or maybe not. Can’t you just feel the love?

DictionaryWell, it’s official now: Aberdeen City and Shire ARE ON THE MAP! This is for several reasons. It’s not because we’re home to BrewDog, the UK’s fastest-growing drinks company (and arguably the most fun drinks company anywhere). It’s not even because we might set the tone and build a granite web (keep dreaming Messrs Wood, Smith and Crosby, you never know).

We got on the map mainly because Donald Trump came to our humble backwater. But the latest developments are even more exciting than that! Alex Salmond is writing a column for the Press & Journal AND famous people came here the other weekend! Result!

As to this new column, it’s riveting stuff. Did you know he loved his mum? He’s written a column about it.

It’s in no way reminiscent of when an X Factor contestant seeks sympathy with a sad story before singing badly. He’s also sharing a few likes and dislikes. I’m sure the honourable member will one of these days come and visit the people in his constituency at the Menie Estate – it’s just a matter of priorities.

Columns don’t write themselves you know; it’s hard work for a budding writer on his own to make it in the journalism world. It’s awfully good of the P&J to give this novice a break; I wonder if it was just the goodness of the collective Aberdeen Journals Ltd’s hearts – or if there were any other factors involved in signing young Alex up to pen his thoughts? I wonder.

But that’s only the half the reason we’re on the world’s radar now: did you know someone from Oasis and a fashion model actually came to Aberdeenshire for a party?

Well, if not, where have you been? It’s the story everyone’s talking about (well, after fracking, Muse at Marischal College, pollution and other boring subjects). Apparently someone threw a party and… people came up north from down south. To hear Aberdeen Journals tell it it’s the best thing since bunting:

“Kate Moss and Nick Grimshaw party in Craigellachie… That’s right, you read it correctly!”

Yes, that’s right: you DID read it correctly! Well done! I hope you’ve not fainted with the excitement of this revelation if you’re only reading it here for the first time. Apologies. (And if one of you could be so kind as to send me a message and let me know who Nick Grimshaw is and what he does, thanks in advance).

Watch and download the Craigellachie video here, for your and your grand children’s future viewing pleasure:

Anyway, moving on…It’s not Valentine’s day just yet; but as the supermarkets are already piling the Easter eggs on the shelves, there’s no time to lose. Tally ho!

Perhaps love and romance deserve a few definitions at time of year. A cynic might think that St Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a marketing ploy. Let’s look to our betters and see if we can learn anything about affection, admiration, and maybe even love.

To Reconcile: (English verb) Renew a friendship or a love; to recover lost affection and love.

There is one power couple that I hope will soon reconcile. These are two people, meant for each other, sharing the same loves, dreams and ambitions. It would be a huge loss if they can’t rekindle what they once had. So Alex Salmond, in case you missed it: Donald Trump ‘Still Likes and Respects You.’ Or so says the Press & Journal – and if ever The Donald will be quoted accurately, rest assured it will be in the paper his Scottish Vice President’s husband edits.

In mid 2014, Trump said of Alex:

“I disagree with him on one element, I’ve had moments in life when I’ve been very friendly with him and I do respect him, but I disagree with him on wind. [Old Susannah wonders if they got this wind from all the champagne they drank with their steak dinners in New York]

I think there are other great forms of energy but wind is becoming obsolete. I disagreed with him on that, other than that, I like him. I told that to someone the other day, I actually like Alex Salmond but I have to fight him. I’ve created a masterpiece and I don’t want to see it hurt by a very, very foolish technology that’s obsolete.” 

Presumably the very foolish technology that’s obsolete is not the printed newspaper.

I suppose when two people are deeply involved – what with wining and dining in the finest hotels either side of the Atlantic – their passions will sometimes lead to heated arguments. However, now that Alex is writing a column for the Press & Journal, he’ll have lots more opportunities to let people connected to Trump know that he likewise wants and needs to get back together.

Let’s wish the couple a happy reconciliation. Trump did go on in the P&J article about taking a position on Salmond’s independence drive, and what would or would not be appropriate for Trump to do about it – but lest the imagery be too heady for some readers, I’ll not dwell on the idea of Trump taking a position on Alex.

Perhaps the taxpayer should step in – again – and send the two flying off to a 5 star hotel in New York or elsewhere where they can enjoy yet another evening of drink and fine food. Perhaps there’s some other SSSI site we can give Trump on a silver platter as well.

Anniversary Gifts: (Modern English compound noun) A list of gifts couples are meant to exchange on different wedding anniversaries.

In January 2013 the power couple of the year tied the knot. Yes, Damian Bates married 2007 Face of Aberdeen Sarah Malone. Why the two didn’t have their nuptuals announced in Aberdeen Journals Ltd – and why Sarah didn’t make the Bride of the Week page – is a mystery. But then love works in mysterious ways. I personally think they didn’t want us mere mortals to be jealous of their union.

Last year by tradition they would have exchanged anniversary gifts made of paper – but I guess Damian had already given Sarah a gift in the form of paper – the Evening Express and P&J to be specific. The modern gift would have been made of plastic for that first anniversary; but no doubt there was already enough plastic in the mix as it was.

The alternative gift for a first year of wedded bliss is to exchange clocks. However, at Sarah’s day job at Trump’s Menie Estate, there are already some small, discrete, tasteful clocks on the landscape. Even better, they all seem to tell different times – doubtless the couple count the hours until the next Trump advertising revenue comes in and the next pro Trump advertorial is put to bed. Isn’t love grand?

This year the happy couple are meant to exchange cotton. Again, that ship has sailed, for they have both cottoned on a number of years back.

Online Dating: (Modern English noun) means of using electronic communications and computing to find a potential partner based on compatibility.

Do pity us poor single people; I spend all my time crying in my Hagen daas, wondering what to do with myself, fearing I’ll wither away as a wallflower spinster. Some singles join church groups, some take tango lessons, some take out classified ads. All are desperate to find that certain someone to go to Union Square with on a Saturday, then to stroll hand in hand through the paint thinner section of B&Q with on a Sunday. Let’s face it – you have to be in a couple to be anybody.

Single or married, if we were to be honest with ourselves, men and women are looking for some very basic, important things from a relationship. Money and looks.

You can exchange Tinder feelings to complete strangers and meet up in a back booth of the Chester Hotel to compare bank balances and plastic surgery results. But those who are in the know and in the dough cut to the chase and visit website ‘Seeking Arrangements’.

This is a dignified, personal site that pairs up rich men with poor, good-looking (and for some reason usually younger) women. The women in question, while working nights to put themselves through medical school and supporting their sick mothers no doubt, need a little financial assistance. Girls dating rich men is of course nothing like girls selling themselves for money.

Today’s smart successful girls are free to seek out sugar daddies and ask them to contribute a wee bit to keep them in Jimmy Choos and Tiffany bracelets. In return the men get the satisfaction of working closely with younger people and helping out the next generation – they wouldn’t want anything else for their money from beautiful young women, would they?

I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a romantic way to find the bank account of your dreams if you’re a liberated woman (who looks good of course). And if you’re a rich, hard-working man, it’s likely the wife doesn’t appreciate you, and for a bit of money and jewellery, you can get in a few hours of appreciation on the side. Someone to listen how the wife doesn’t understand, to take walks in the park with, perhaps to do the crossword together.

Or something.

For whatever reason, some people object to sexually objectifying men or women. They even nearly stopped the Sun’s Page 3 models for a day or two!

And that would have been bad for the circulation. Such people are called Feminists. They are almost always unattractive and old. Some of the former Sun models took time out from their busy careers to make witty tweets about those who object to Page 3. Rhian Sugden said:

“It’s only a matter of time before everything we do will be dictated by comfy shoe wearing… No bra wearing… man haters.”

But I digress.

Back to the subject of ‘Seeking Arrangements’ I hope no ‘bra-wearing, men-haters’ think there is anything wrong with such a set-up. It’s not as if it objectifies women, glorifies youth and beauty and commodifies these traits.

One final word on the subject. There are some taboos that should not and must not be broken. It’s acceptable for a rich old man to buy – sorry to help out a poorer, beautiful girl. That’s one of the things we like so much about Mr Trump for that matter. They’re called ‘sugar daddies’ – such a cute nickname, with nothing remotely unpleasant about the ‘daddies’ bit.

But we can all agree that an older woman, however rich, has no business around younger men. Cougars are just unacceptable. Happy to have cleared that up.

It’s so refreshing we had a women’s rights movement, even if it was a long time ago and it’s largely forgotten. For the life of me I can’t think what people like Emma Watson are getting so worked up about. Men may earn more than women, but as websites like Seeking Arrangements show, we’re all really just looking for that person out there who shares our values.

Good luck girls – but be warned: you may have to at some point hold your sugar daddy’s hand. Or something. Still, think of the money.

Cultural Speed Dating: (Modern Aberdonian quango phrase) A matchmaking service for rich patrons and poor artists and makers to get together.

In the same way that the idea of ‘Seeking Arrangements’ gives us a warm feeling, the concept of Cultural Speed Dating is nearly as heart-warming. I wonder what clever person came up with this marvellous idea?

Poor impoverished artists can come and throw themselves at people with money in a bid to get funding. It’s a speed dating set up which gives artists the respect they deserve – a chance to beg for money from the rich in a small space of time.

Culturally speaking, the marriage between the rich, the government, and those artists who either are desperate for success/money – or who are keen to get into bed (as it were) with the powerful is as moving as when Romeo and Juliet first spoke. And that turned out just fine.

Aside from money and fame, any real artist worth their salt wants to be guided by the patronising hand of the people with money.

What can be more important for a visionary than learning to be more commercially acceptable? The people in government who hand out grants know what art they want, and if you want their money, you’ll give them what they want. The wealthy private patron has their own ideas as well too, and the ideas of the rich trump the ideas of the talented. What’s a little compromise now and then if you’re a creative?

Old Susannah was told of a foolish portrait painter who some years back took a commission from a retired wealthy man for a group painting. When the painting was nearly done, the man’s wife told the artist to leave the painting unsigned, so that she could sign it herself later.

What do you think the ungrateful artist did? He said no.

Only with slightly different words. The painter lost out on money. If you’re an artist, I hope you’ll learn something from this little anecdote before the next Cultural Speed dating comes along. I’m sure 5 to 10 minutes is enough time to explain your artistic vision to someone with a chequebook – and if not – just let them do the talking instead.

We can’t just have people going around creating art or literature that the rich folks won’t enjoy, can we?

Next week: I’ll tell you that I love my family, and what tragedies I’ve been through. Or I may update you on what Police Scotland’s been up to (or not been up to for that matter).

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