Jan 072016

YWE-24With thanks to Jack Milner.

Happy couples are being urged to take the plunge before it’s too late if they hope to secure a ticket to the North-east’s leading wedding exhibition. Your Wedding Exhibition (YWE), now in its 20th year, will once again return to the AECC on Saturday and Sunday January 16 and 17 with tickets on sale now and selling fast.

Some of the highlights of the event will be a catwalk fashion show, showcasing the latest bridal wear, as well as Highlandwear, mother-of-the-bride outfits, hair and make-up and a display of wedding vehicles – ranging from luxury cars to classic camper vans.

During its time at the AECC, YWE has welcomed around 30,000 visitors and more than 1,700 exhibitors and this year’s event will be the biggest yet in terms of floor space with a list of vendors covering 6,500sq m of the GE Oil & Gas Arena.

Simon M Morgan, director at Your Wedding Exhibition, said:

“Each year we welcome thousands of visitors looking for ideas and inspiration for their big day and we are extremely proud to be able to be a part of making the most important day of their lives that extra bit magical.

“With 222 vendors exhibiting we are sure there will be something for everyone at the event – as well as some added surprises thrown in as well.”

Tickets for Your Wedding Exhibition are available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk priced £12.50 for individuals and £45 for a group of four (under 16s go free). Tickets will also be available on the door at the event. Free parking for visitors will also be available at the AECC.

For further information please visit www.yourweddingexhibition.com

Pictures courtesy of YWE.

May 092014

NEWSLINE MEDIA LIMITEDWith thanks to Beverley Tricker.

Thistle Aberdeen Airport Hotel has been crowned the regional Events Hotel of the Year at the Scottish Hotel Awards.

The annual awards ceremony, which highlights hospitality excellence, named Thistle Aberdeen Airport Hotel as Events Hotel of the Year for the north east region.

Judges visited the hotel earlier in the year and were impressed with the scope to hold different events, facilities and the professionalism of the events staff.

The award covers the full scope of hospitality events, from corporate meetings and conferences, to dinner dances and weddings.

Thistle Aberdeen Airport Hotel general manager Alison Christie (pictured) says that events is a fast-growing sector within the hotel.

She adds,

“It’s well known that hotels in Aberdeen are performing incredibly well because of the buoyant economy. While there is very high demand for rooms, there is also growing demand for meetings and event spaces.

“Firms in the north east are growing their workforces because of the strong economy and that has meant that additional office space for meetings is at a premium.

“Hotels that can provide well-organised events of all sizes, from meetings to conferences and corporate balls, are benefitting from that. We have built up a very strong track record in this area the hotel business.”

The hotel played host to 68 events in 2013, and is set to surpass that total this year with 76 events already booked. The hotel, a popular venue for weddings, will see 17 couples celebrate their big day this year, with 12 more already booked in for 2015.

“We always strive to offer our guests the best possible event experience, so have our efforts acknowledged with this award is absolutely fantastic. We won the Wedding Team of the Year in 2013, so it is fantastic that the team has been able to build on that success,” says Alison.

Thistle has three hotels in Aberdeen – The Caledonian, Aberdeen Airport and Aberdeen Altens. There are 446 bedrooms across the three venues, and each has conferencing and banqueting facilities. Aberdeen Altens also has an on-site leisure club and spa. Further information is available at www.thistle.com

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Mar 282013

By Bob Smith.

Trumpie a see, wints tae hae a marquee
Plunkit richt in the middle o Menie
Haudin waddins an sic, fer ony rich prick
Fit am sure wull cost a fair penny

A marquee’s jist a name, fer a big tint on a frame
Far monied fowk can spik tae their pallies
Wull Trump be mine host, as pigs they div roast
An doon champers in a couple o swallies

Fae tap o marquee, flags ye micht see
Blawin stracht oot in the win
As sum drunken plunkers, faa intae the bunkers
Iss thocht it fair maks me grin

Nae doot Trump wull say, in his loodest bray
It’s the “Greatest Marquee in the Warld”
Fer the openin evint, invites wull be sint
As the Trump flags are infurled

Nae invite ye’ll see, tae the likes o me
Onywye a wid hae tae refuse
Local press wull be keen, tae mak sure they’re seen
So’s they hae the odd gin as they newse

As fowk dee a jig, fin samplin the pig
An lood music ower the dunes it is blarin
Wull oor boys in blue, stop the hullaballoo
Or micht they Trump badges be wearin

Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2013

Feb 052013

In her series of articles on The Menie Estate and Donald Trump’s planned resort. Suzanne Kelly has documented part of the course being eroded by the North Sea. She has documented the draconian security activities on the site, and the construction of huge earth bunds blocking existing residents’ access to sea views and sunlight. She has also documented deteriorating road surfaces.  Further articles will focus on key players in the Menie story, but a recent development has led her to write this supplementary article for Aberdeen Voice.

A wedding was solemnised this past weekend: Miss Sarah Malone married Mr Damian Bates. There are a few points which make this wedding of interest and importance to a wider circle than their family and friends.
Ms Malone was selected in the Evening Express’s beauty contest as the ‘face of Aberdeen’.  That was in 2007. Mr Bates was editing the paper from 2006, having started there in 2003; he is now the editor of sister paper, The Press & Journal.

Ms Malone was plucked from the relative obscurity of the Gordon Highlanders’ museum by Donald Trump to serve as a Vice-President for his controversial golf development on Aberdeen’s coastal Menie Estate. She has no previous experience of real estate developments, or of golf.

It’s wonderful when two people meet and fall in love.

It is not quite so wonderful when there seems to be a whiff of bias in favour of an editor’s wife’s business interests.

For those who don’t know, the DC Thomson papers in Aberdeen, the Evening Express and the Press and Journal have given a huge amount of positive press to Donald Trump and the real estate development of which Sarah is in charge. When Trump or relatives flew in or out of Aberdeen, front pages were decked with positive stories and large photos. The paper has supported the development from the start.

In doing so, it printed not only positive, glowing Trump articles. It also vilified Aberdeenshire councillors who voted against the scheme, which went against existing planning guidelines and meant the destruction of a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the highest kind of environmental protection there is.  Andy Wightman puts it best in his excellent report:-

“Perhaps the most notorious example of this was following the planning decision on 29 November 2009 to reject the planning application. The Evening Express published the pictures of all seven councillors who had voted against the application under the headline ‘You traitors’.

“The paper’s editorial, ‘Betrayed by stupidity of seven’, described the councillors as ‘small-minded numpties’, ‘misfits’, ‘buffoons in woolly jumpers’, ‘traitors to the North-east’ and ‘no-hopers’.  …Furthermore, Aberdeen Journals have taken a conscious editorial decision to exclude critical voices from being heard in the Press and Journal and Evening Express.

“On 12 December 2009, the Press and Journal ran what it called an ‘Exclusive Report’  which alleged that the main critics of the development, a pressure group called Tripping Up Trump (TUT), consisted of many people with ‘tenuous or no connections with the Aberdeenshire coastline they claim to want to protect.’ Martin Glegg, one of the TUT campaigners, was alleged to be co-ordinating the campaign from Glasgow. And, in a bizarre interpretation of what makes a news story, the paper revealed that TUT’s legal adviser was based in Paisley.  [Note – Trump’s lawyers are in Edinburgh, but that was not deemed newsworthy]

“The Press and Journal editorial then went on to make the remarkable announcement that it would no longer be reporting what TUT might care to say.”

Wightman’s report also covers the planning aspects, boundary disputes and how the residents were treated; it makes for excellent factual reading.

For reasons of journalistic integrity, some might find this pro-Trump editorial policy a touch unseemly. 

There are some basic, albeit not legally binding principles of journalism which include accuracy, objectivity, truthfulness and the like. Can you be objective where your wife is concerned?

If a newspaper editor had been someone’s partner for months, perhaps years, and intended to form a marriage with their partner, would any financial gain their betrothed stood to make, such as having a highly-paid job on a multi-million pound project, also in effect be to the editor’s financial gain?

Bates, it should be added, is on the Press Complaints Commission’s Editors’ Code of Practice Committee.

Sarah and Damian Bates might have tied the knot legally, but many of the other players on the board are also interrelated. Here is a brief listing of how some of the players are coincidentally linked together.

Sarah Malone Bates – married Press & Journal editor Damian Bates February 2013

“[Resident David] Milne’s allegations of harassment are baseless and untrue …  His views are not representative of the ‘community’ … The course opened this summer with phenomenal success and glowing international reviews. It has enhanced the area and the environment immeasurably, and brought thousands of visitors from around the world to the north-east.”

Donald Trump“Sarah, I want to get rid of that house [David Milne’s home].”
Malone  Bates replies: “It’s going to create a bit of a stir but if we’re up for it let’s do it.”

  • face of Aberdeen for Evening Express beauty contest;
  • rumoured to be dating Damian Bates, formerly of Evening Express, now Press & Journal editor;
  • recruited from her job at Gordon Highlanders’ museum to be a Vice-President for Trump despite having no knowledge of golf;
  • was on a panel for Visit Scotland, a quango, and partner of Scottish Enterprise.

Damian Bates – married Trump Int, Golf Links’ Executive Vice President Sarah Malone in February 2013

“This newspaper has given a voice to all those who have wished to become involved in the debate about Donald Trump’s plans. That courtesy was extended to Tripping Up Trump in the belief that it was a bona fide group of local environmentalists. Today, it has been withdrawn.”   – Press and Journal 12 December 2009

“Newspapers like the Press and Journal….provide one of the few platforms for the little man to take on the big institutions”

  • Editor Press & Journal, formerly Evening Express editor;
  • his papers published only two articles on ‘You’ve Been Trumped’, both after the BBC screening, but nothing when it was first shown in Aberdeen nor when it won awards around the world;
  • the first of these articles, by David Ewen said that Anthony Baxter was not available for comment, when in fact he had spoken to the author on the same day the article came out. No subsequent correction was made in later editions;
  • the Press & Journal accepted a controversial full-page ad from Trump linking Salmond, windfarms, and Salmond’s attempt at recruiting Trump to support the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber, Al-Megrahi. Yet it rejected advertising, before any referendum was announced, by local group ‘Friends of  Union Terrace Gardens’, for being ‘too political’;
  • David Ewen, who had reported that Baxter was not available for comment in his first article on the subject, has authored a book with a foreword by Trump. Entitled ‘Chasing Paradise: Donald Trump and the Battle for the World’s Greatest Golf Course’, the book was available for sale in the Press & Journal shops and advertised in the paper;

Donald Trump

“I do play with the bankruptcy laws — they’re very good for me” http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/04/24/the-trump-backlash.html

  • real estate developer with a past history including controversial developments,incomplete developments, litigation, and bankruptcy;
  • purchaser of Menie estate and developer of Trump International courses at Menie;
  • former alliance with Alex Salmond while the project was still in planning;
  • awarded an honorary degree from RobertGordonUniversity, amidst a high private security presence. RGU has Sir Ian Wood as its Chancellor.

Sir Ian Wood

“We are very pleased to honour you today in recognition of the significant contribution the Scottish Trump International golf resort will make to diversify the economy of the North East of Scotland.”

  • chancellor of RobertGordonUniversity, which saw fit to give Trump an honorary degree;
  • Former Chairman of Scottish Enterprise, board member of Scottish Enterprise;
  • Wood added Jennifer Craw, formerly of Scottish Enterprise, to the Wood Family Trust. Craw appeared in the Trump Organisation’s pro-development film in her Scottish Enterprise role, which also used the SE logo. SE never gave permission for this implied support for Trump and yet no formal complaint of this misuse seems to have been made. There will be more on this in a subsequent article.

Alex Salmond:

I believe that the economic and social benefits for the North-east of Scotland substantially outweigh any environmental impact”

  • His government took the unprecedented step of calling in the Trump planning application;
  • Met with Trump representatives just before it was announced Scottish Government would have the final say on the billionaire’s plans for a golf resort;
  • Controversially wined and dined Trump on both sides of the Atlantic while the course controversy raged;
  • Asked Trump to back his government’s stance on Lockerbie bomber Al-Megrahi’s release;
  • Has a close relationship with Sir Ian Wood, rector of RobertGordonUniversity, and ex-Scottish Enterprise.

Image Credits:

The Ring © Andrei Mihalcea | Dreamstime.com 
Marriage For Money © Vangelis | Dreamstime.com
A Pair Of Padlocks © Ragne Kabanova | Dreamstime.com

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Nov 152011

With thanks to Bex Holmes.

Aberdeen was one of five locations across Scotland where the Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) shot a series of short films to show what humanists believe.
The films cover a wide range of important moral issues, including physician-assisted suicide, sectarianism and same-sex marriage and feature more than fifty people – from 10-year-old Mellin Buchanan (Thurso) to 81-year-old Margaret Ferguson (Inverness).

The films can be viewed at the society’s H Factor campaign site http://www.thehfactor.org.uk/ where they can also be downloaded and shared on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Among the contributions in the film on humanism, Alex (Edinburgh) says:

“As far as I am aware, no humanist has ever killed anyone because of their beliefs”.

Among those commenting on physician-assisted suicide Catriona (Aberdeen) says movingly:

“We had to watch my granny die over a period of months, in pain, and wasting away in front of us when she’d told me years ago she’d had a great life and she was ready to go. Why can’t we afford people the same compassion that we show to our animals?”

HSS Convenor Les Mitchell says:

“We’re delighted with the H Factor films.  They show that humanists are deeply committed to making the world a better place.  Humanism is becoming daily more familiar in Scotland.  But, although our ceremonies grow ever more popular, very few people actually know what humanists believe.  In these films they can see for themselves and many of them may realise that, without knowing it, they’ve been humanists all their lives.”

The HSS is also inviting members of the public to win £1,000 by creating a new slogan for the society in an online competition hosted at the H Factor site.

Humanist weddings were made legal in Scotland in June 2005.  In 2010 there were 2092 weddings led by Humanist celebrant, compared to 1776 Catholic weddings, making Humanist weddings the third most popular form of marriage in Scotland [after Registrars and Church of Scotland ].

The Humanist Society Scotland is a charity founded in 1989 and currently has more than 7,000 members.   Christopher Brookmyre is its president and distinguished supporters include Stephen Fry, Richard Dawkins, Professor James Lovelock and the novelist Iain Banks.

The Society aims to represent those in Scotland who choose to live a moral life without religion. We have a network of trained Celebrants who carry out non-religious ceremonies such as funerals, weddings, baby-namings etc.

For further information please contact:
Tim Maguire, HSS Media Officer
Tel. 0131 556 0128 or 07770 555 224
Email: media@humanism-scotland.org.uk

Aberdeen Group  Main Contact:
Marion Richardson, Secretary
Tel: 01888 562 237
Email: aberdeen@humanism-scotland.org.uk
Website: http://www.humanism-scotland.org.uk

Jul 292011

By Bob Smith.

Young Dod his ti get mairret
Ti a quine fae doon the howe
He hisna tell’t his mither yet
So there’ll be an affa rowe

Fan Dod’ll tell his mither
I’m nae jist affa sure
Bit ye’ll nae doot hear her rantin
Fae Alford up ti Drummuir

Dod’s quine’s jist a young deem
Fa’s pit on a bittie wecht
Throwe a bit o hunky punky
Efter a marquee dunce at Echt

His mither noo she’s affa prood
Dod’s the aipple o her ee
She’ll fair be less than happy
If  neebors gossip ower their tea

It’ll be a funcy waddin
Dod’s mither wid hae nae less
Fit I doot micht bither her
Is the young quines type o dress

Foo tae cover up the bump
The quine’s mither will wark oot
Fit she wid richt like ti dee
Is skelp Dod’s lug nae doot

The quine hersel is nae pit oot
As she gyangs aboot her wark
Nae doot thinkin o the nicht
Young Dod he made his mark

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2010.  Image Credit:   © Madja | Dreamstime.com

May 062011

Voice’s Old Susannah casts her eye over recent events, stories, and terms and phrases familiar as well as freshly ‘spun’, which will be forever etched in the consciousness of the people of Aberdeen and the Northeast.

Old Susannah checked her mailbox every day for the past few weeks, but never did get the invitation to the royal wedding.

I still went to London – not to stand out side of the palace to look at two people kissing, mind you – but just to see some friends and catch up on the latest fashions.  Just as well I didn’t go – I would have been wearing the same outfit and hat as Princess Beatrix (you remember the giant beige bow on her head?).

At the end of the day, I can safely say I was as emotional about the wedding as the rest of you .

Then it was time to vote.  The votes are still rolling at while I am writing; no doubt there will be some surprises.  Next year’s election will be key for Aberdeen; if we can only persuade the talented, selfless, intelligent individuals we have in the City Council to stay in place, we can look forward to more of the same prosperity, open government, security and prestige that we have today.

You won’t be surprised to hear that the Tullos Hill Roe Deer are still very high on every thinking person’s agenda – on the 10th I will approach HoMalone and her Committee, asking for a chance to speak on the subject.

Theoretically I shouldn’t be allowed to – the official papers for the Committee don’t mention the deer (these people don’t like mentioning deer, do they – whether in public consultations, or to the Torry Community Council).

No doubt they will let me speak, now that they know that Torry Community Council was bypassed in this sad affair and have unanimously condemned the cull.  Malone is quoted in the P&J this week as saying if the money isn’t offered for fencing, then the deer die.  Still, she sent me an email saying the Committee members were going to vote on the cull.

It is almost as if she is not sure of what is going on.  Still, my being at the Council should give her and me a nice chance to chat and get to know each other.  I hope she will be very happy in the £60 million Marischal building at her new desk in her new chair, safe in the knowledge she saved the taxpayer £225,000 for fencing.

But on with some definitions….


Firstly, most of the police are simply trying to keep the peace and keep us safe.  Hats off to them.  A small minority however are working for the rich and powerful, and some are (literally) taking the piss – I refer to the young officer who tried to dilute his drink-drive urine sample with water – what would have happened to one of us had we been caught in similar circumstances?

1.  to support, fund, encourage – e.g. the Renaissance painters were patronised by the wealthy and powerful Borgia and DeMedici families.  2.  to treat someone as infantile or childlike, or as otherwise incapable of understanding – unusually used in a derogatory sense.

A few months ago, our Grampian police cars sported the Stewart Milne Company logo – people who saw these cars did a double-take and stopped smoking funny cigarettes for a while – and then conducted some research.

It turns out that Stewart Milne Group is patronising the police by actually giving them money for some form of initiative or other.  In return the police take Milne advertising on their cars.  I have never seen this before.  I think it is a great plan.  Perhaps the BNP can pay for some new riot gear/crowd control equipment?  Who knows where this patronising/advertising scheme can take us?

Coincidentally, a few months ago at the Loirston Loch development hearing, the cost of policing the brand-new stadium was discussed – and it was suggested that AFC would have to bear the costs of policing any events.  I almost thought a faint shadow crossed Mr Milne’s shiny forehead at the words.  How unfair!  After all, the stadium will be to everyone’s benefit: the locals, farmers, wildlife – so we taxpayers should be proud to contribute.  I may make an extra contribution and see if I can get the police to wear ‘Old Susannah’ or ‘Aberdeen Voice’ badges on their lapels – we shall see.  At any rate, it must have been my imagination, but at this suggestion of AFC paying policing costs,

Fast forward to 2nd May and the Press & Journal.  Our very own – or rather Stewart Milne’s very own Chief of Police, has made a statement that AFC stewards can handle everything, and police are not needed.  I will have to take his word on this – he is the expert.  Any comments he made will of course be free from the fact that Milne has patronised the police.  No doubt a few stewards will have the same training, crowd control and knowledge of our local constabulary.  I would be quite happy for the police to continue their normal duties (ie contacting social activists about their activities and ‘incidents’ – see below).

Things are now so safe and violence free in the world of Scottish Football that letter-bombs are being posted to football managers, little boys are headbutted for wearing the wrong team’s jersey, and behaviour at ‘Old Firm’ matches are reminiscent of candlelit suppers.

So yes, the police are being patronised by Milne.  This has no influence on them at all.  I wonder, though – why do I feel just a little patronised?


Verb.  to attempt to frighten with threats; to coerce, to deal with political activists.

I hope we are all behaving and keeping in line; if not, you might quite rightly get a social call from the police.

This may be to help them with an ‘incident’ or ‘inquiry’ about protest activity, your taking photos at Balmedie – sorry – Trumpland, or your publicising the fact Aberdeen City has one or two empty buildings which could be used.  The police will show up at  some convenient time, and to let you know they are not intimidating you, they might talk to your friends and employer.

If you have been so bold as to speak to security guards, then you will have some serious explaining to do – or that’s what some activists have just found out.  If this happens to you, you can always ask to go to the police station for a chat rather than having them in your home.  You can always call a lawyer and have them over should the police want a friendly word.  But you should never go public with such a visit – this might make the police involved look bad.  And we can’t have that.

Opportunity Theft:

Noun – a type of petty theivery facilitated by ease of access to the desired objects.

One October about 2-3 years ago, I  found a wallet with a fair amount of cash – but the ID was in Polish, and I had no clue how to contact the rightful owner.  So I dutifully turned it into the Grampian Police Station.

A woman in the lost and found property section (just through the door on the left as you enter the station) took the wallet.  She didn’t seem that keen to take my details, so I offered them.  I also asked her for a receipt, which she declined to give me – probably part of a cost-saving exercise so I thought.  Some weeks passed, and I called to find out if the wallet had been returned to its owner.  I spoke to a woman – I presume the same one who was extremely vague on  the subject.  “If the wallet isn’t claimed, you can have the money” she said.

A few months after that a small piece in the paper caught my eye:  a woman working for the police had been arrested for…. stealing items from the lost property section.  Apparently she had been ‘taking her work home with her’ over a number of months.  I guess a girl’s got to supplement her income somehow.  I have since found one or two other items – but if I can’t find out who owns them, then I hold onto them.

I don’t know what kind of sentence the woman received, but I am sure they will have wanted to make an example of her:  we can’t have bad cops can we?

Military Manoeuvre:

Noun – to practice for battle conditions by scaring the bejesus out of the locals.  Perhaps the invasion of northern Scotland is much more imminent than we realise:  the armed forces are continuously staging ‘exercises’ in our airspace.

We need exercises – it helps burn fuel, increase the demand for military equipment, and thus stimulates the economy.

The truly vigilant jet pilot on exercise will be poised to intercept any aircraft in his path in the interests of national security.  If any oil industry helicopters should happen to be in operation during a manoeuvre, then they get what they deserve.  The military can hardly be expected to tell the civil aviation authorities that an exercise is underway – it would spoil the surprise.

Last July a passenger-carrying offshore helicopter was involved in a near-miss with a Typhoon jet – the jet pilot obviously mistook the copter for an invasion force, perhaps from Greenland or Faroe.  Good on him – you can’t be too careful these days.  The cost of a Typhoon jet is about £90 million in case you’re looking for a last-minute gift.  There have been a few multimillion pound problems with delays, technical difficulties and the like – but I can speak for us all when I say we are much safer with these jets looking for enemies in our airspace.


Apr 292011

Voice’s Old Susannah casts her eye over recent events, stories, and terms and phrases familiar as well as freshly ‘spun’, which will be forever etched in the consciousness of the people of Aberdeen and the Northeast.

It was yet another event-packed week in Aberdeen. Some of us hunted for Easter eggs while the SNP, Greens and Labour were outside Marks & Spencers on Union Street Saturday, hunting for votes.

The public square outside of M&S served as an ‘exciting, vibrant hub in the heart of the City’ where people could come together – and it didn’t even cost £140 million to create. Not quite enough concrete there, though.

Anyway, the Friends of UTG and the anti-deer cull lobby spoke to the assembled politicians and passers-by and generated a great deal of interest.

On the other hand, the (not very) Liberal (not really) Democrats were conspicuous by their total absence on the day.  Whatever party you can from, whatever cause you support – everyone was in agreement that Councillor West of the SNP was the life and soul of the party. Who could forget his warm smile, beard, black suit and friendly banter as he offered all comers a bright yellow SNP balloon?

The SNP balloon is filled with hot air, and is likely to burst sometime in the near future, probably on 5 May. Perhaps the LibDems were right to stay away – their popularity might have caused a riot.  However, at the time of writing on Monday 25th April, there is no sign in the Press & Journal that such lively debate, lobbying and protesting ever took place concerning UTG and the deer.

The night before I stayed up all night to watch the skies for a meteor shower (not much joy really,- just wound up very tired Saturday), caused by Comet Thatcher. If I understand the science correctly, the frozen, lifeless Thatcher left a massive trail of debris which we will all still experience for generations to come. I’m sure there is some kind of metaphor in this somewhere but I can’t think what it might be.

Just one last thing – I owe a sincere apology to XXXXXXXXXXXX about my having XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX. I am truly sorry; it was very very much out of character, honestly don’t know what possessed me, and I obviously promise never to XXXXXXXXXXXXXX   XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX again. I have taken out a super injunction against myself, and will never mention XXXXXXXXXXXXXX again. Mea maxima culpa.  I will have one fewer BrewDog this coming weekend than last. Well, maybe not – it’s down to London to see some old friends; apparently there is some big wedding on as well.

Now that that is all cleared up, onwards with a few more terms to define.


(adj – Great Britain) freedom from guilt or blame, not culpable.
(adj – USA) – suspicious, dangerous; a state of being which deserves incarceration without trial, redress, or contact with the outside world – which would normally be guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

I mean, without Guantanamo, how else would we have found all of those Weapons of Mass Destruction?

After over seven years of detention in Guantanamo Bay for hundreds, it seems the United States, land of the free and home of the brave, might just have to admit to keeping innocent people locked up in Guantanamo. Files have surfaced which seem to show that about 220 of the enemy combatants’ (or ‘people’ to you and me) were classed as dangerous terrorists but some 150 were innocent.

The rest of the world recognised this from day one of the camp’s creation and the American refusal to allow legal representtaives in but the US was deaf to international pleas for mercy, basic human rights and the rule of law to prevail.

Dear George ‘Dubya’ Bush was largely behind the camp’s existence and he and his aides came up with the strategy of calling the Guantanamo captives ‘enemy combatants;’ this was unique for two reasons: Firstly,  such a preposterous legal concept had never before been used. Secondly, no one thought Bush could manage a phrase with that many syllables.

Old Susannah might have tried to define a few tricky terms in the past but I’m not touching ‘enemy combatant’ with a bargepole.  I don’t have a bargepole.

Guantanamo did manage to release some of the blatantly blame-free over the years and with their emergence emerged tales of degradation, abuse, suicide attempts, physical and mental torture.  But if you’re innocent, you’ve got to accept this kind of thing.  Most of the inmates were guilty of being in Afghanistan or Pakistan at some time or other, so there you go.

Let us not forget:  if you want to preserve Democracy and Freedom, you’ve got to lock up a few ‘folk’ and torture them now and then.  I mean, without Guantanamo, how else would we have found all of those Weapons of Mass Destruction?  Remember, it’s not torture when the ‘good guys’ are doing it – it’s ‘persuasion’. Of course, it could never happen here (we just let the US use our airspace when moving these people around on the way to be ‘persuaded’).


(noun) protected species of rodent with flight capabilities; habitats of which are under threat.
(adj) slang for slightly crazy or unbalanced.

Scottish Natural Heritage sent me a letter ages ago, when plans for building in Union Terrace Gardens were first brought up, mentioning the presence of important birds and bats.

these guards sadly have ‘visual impact’ per our city experts, who  apparently prefer the visual impact of a suffering or dead animal

I understand from ‘moles’ in Union Terrace Gardens that the bats have been seen on recent evenings within the park.  It would be an awful shame if the presence of an EU-protected species of animal put any brakes on plans to build (another) shopping area in Aberdeen. Still, bats haven’t managed to stall plans for Loirston becoming home to a giant, glowing football stadium.

Other old bats can be found hanging around other city-centre buildings, particularly around the Marischal and St Nicholas areas. Many of these are of the blood-sucking variety, and should be avoided at all costs. Some are undoubtedly rabid.

‘Humane Cull’:

(noun) a way of killing something – such as a deer – whereby you need not feel too badly about it, particularly when the killing is wholly avoidable; the use of ‘experts’ to remove life in a sharing, caring, ‘humane’ kind of way. The feel-good factor in destruction.

We are soon to have a cull (unless someone wants their political career to continue) of an unspecified number of the Tullos Hill Roe Deer, over an unspecified number of years. Cheaper than the tree guards which are successfully in use in Loirston Loch and Kincorth Hill – but these guards sadly have ‘visual impact’ per our city experts, who  apparently prefer the visual impact of a suffering or dead animal.

But don’t lose any sleep, councillors – it is going to be a ‘humane cull.’  Ms Malone and others might want you to think some sharpshooters pull a trigger and an animal will die within seconds. I would hate to burst anyone’s balloon (except Malone’s and West’s), but this is what will happen to at least some of the deer…

I quote from a website called ‘bluestar hunting – www.bluestar-hunting.com/bloodinmotion.html
Sensitive souls may wish to look away now.  Here are some quotes:-

* ” Pay attention to the reaction of the animal when it is shot… I have had many hunters tell me that they knocked the animal down, only to watch it suddenly jump up and run off, leaving lots of blood.  This is the one that I hate to hear the most.  First of all, body shots that do not impact the neck or spine rarely make an animal drop, and if the neck or spine is hit, the animal is usually disabled and cannot get up..”

*  “The falling down likely means the leg was broken; lots of blood usually indicates a muscle hit.  Muscle damage leaves lots of blood in the first 100 yards… if it was a lung hit, it can take time for the body cavity to fill and blood to be forced out.  Animals may run in the beginning… this will cause blood trains to be harder to see…

*  “A liver shot is always fatal… but it will most likely take until the next day or later for the deer to die…. the double lung shot is the best percentage shot to take, as it will cause massive internal bleeding and drowning, causing death within about 150 yards… the pattern will start out with little blood, but it will increase as the  animal starts blowing blood out the mouth and nose…”

And my personal favourite:

*  “Give the animal time to bleed out before  you start tracking…. I have found animals within 40 or 50 yards of the stand, where they died after having run 250 to 300 yards in a long arcing circle, trying to get back to the spot they were safe in before the shot.”

(This could be why I prefer taking pictures of wildlife rather than blasting it to a slow death).

All the while, the wounded animal is in total shock, indescribable pain,and complete and utter terror as it dies, either a fairly quick ‘humane’ death or the slow one.  It is safe to assume that at least some of the deer – some of which are pregnant – will get this latter, long, terrifying, agonising death.

No wonder Scottish Natural Heritage wanted the city to manage the news of the cull carefully.  Not everyone is down with this  ‘humane cull’ reality.  Someone send a copy of ‘Bambi’ to Ms Malone, thanks.

NB – the Deer now have about 11 days – and Councillor Malone has about 3 to call it off.


PS – Strictly confidential:

Grate a strong smelling soap around your plant beds. Some people will also tie soap bars to trees and bushes to keep deer away from a specific plant.

Sprinkle a mixture of red and black pepper, garlic and curry powder on and around plants deer like to eat to keep them away from your garden. Since this mixture will disappear when it rains, be sure to spread it out again after rain storms or after heavy watering sessions.

Try mixing a beaten egg with water and spraying on plants and around flower beds to keep deer away from your garden. Again, this will have to be reapplied after rains or heavy watering.

Use a commercial deer-repellent such as Deer-Off or Deer-Away. You can also try drops of animal urine such as coyote in your gardening beds. Some people report that human urine can work as well.

Plant plants deer won’t eat such as Lady’s Mantle, Butterfly Weed, Foxglove, St. John’s Wort, Lavender, Daffodil, Poppy and most pungent herbs.

Sprinkle human hair around your planting beds. Ask your hairdresser or a barber to save you a large bag next time you go in for your haircut.

Put a fence around your property to keep deer out. Some people have luck with tying white plastic shopping bags on the fence every couple of feet. The noise and movement of the plastic bags seems to scare deer and keep them away. A variation on the fence is to try a deer protection net. These nets are less obvious than a fence and may be more aesthetically pleasing to your garden.


Next week – more definitions, outcome of the deer situation, and previously-promised news on Freedom of Information

Apr 292011

Voice’s Dave Watt reports….

5500 Royal Wedding Street Party applications in England and Wales.

13 in Scotland.

Occasionally I am proud to be Scottish.



A Man’s A Man For A’ That

(Robert Burns 1795)

Is there for honest poverty that hings his heid and a’ that
The coward slave we pass him by, we daur be puir for a’ that
For a’ that and a’ that, our toils obscure and a’ that
The rank is but the guinea stamp, the man’s the gowd for a’ that.

What though on hamely fare we dine, wear hodden grey and a’ that,
Gie fools their silk and knaves their wine, a man’s a man for a’ that,
For a’ that and a’ that, their tinsel show an’ a’ that,
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor, is king o’ men for a’ that.

Ye se yon birkie ca’d a lord, wha struts an’ stares an’ a’ that,
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word, he’s but a cuif for a’ that,
For a’ that and a’ that, his ribband, star, an’ a’ that,
The man o’ independent mind, he looks an’ laughs at a’ that.

A King can mak a belted knight, a marquis, duke and a’ that,
But an honest man’s aboon his might – guid faith he mauna fa’ that!
For a’ that and a’ that, their dignities an’ a’ that,,
The pith o’ sense and pride o’ worth are higher rank than a’ that.

Then let us pray that come it may, as come it will for a’ that,
That sense and worth o’er a’ the Earth shall bear the gree an’ a’ that,
For a’ that and a’ that, it’s coming yet for a’ that,
That man to man the world o’er shall brithers be for a’ that.


Nov 262010

A poem by Rapunzel Wizard, a locally based performance poet who is 96% human and 4% woolly mam­moth, and refuses to get a proper job or a haircut.

I’m dreading the royal wedding
As it’s doing my head in
Forget Kate, it’s Cameron
Who’s really in love with William
For his timing in popping the question

What a smart way to bury the cuts
As the mindless media goes off its nut

News on the date, news on the venue
News on the dress, and reception menu
News in nauseating detail
including the design for the commemorative tea-towel

Don’t matter about mangled public services
When you can watch a parade of horse drawn carriages

And I don’t see why taxpayers should contribute any
For my wedding William didn’t give me a penny

All you’ll get out of this is a day off work
… If you’ve still got a job by then…