Feb 212014

By Bob Smith. Ti bi sung ti the melody o “Galway Bay”. Wi Apologies ti Arthur Colahan

DonaldWindIf ye ivver nip ower the sea ti Ireland
An meybe doon the wye o Coonty Clare
Ye micht see a mannie on his gowf course
Bawlin bigg a bliddy winfairm if ye dare

As ye sit aroon the peat fire in the gloamin
Watchin Doonbeg gowfers as they play
Thinkin Trumpie micht be here in Eire
Bit foo lang’s the bugger gyaan ti stay

His auld mither she did come fae Scotia
Far his faither cam fae we really dinna ken
A’m sure The Donald wull noo try ti tell us
He wis born in a wee bit Irish but ‘n ben

If the waves crash ower the dunes in Ireland
An flood the greens nearest ti the shore
Ye can bet yer bliddy bottom dollar
Fae Doonbeg ye’re sure ti hear an affa roar

It’s gyaan ti be the greatest there is in Eire
Wi the best in the warld it wull compare
We’ll nae doot hear es spiel fae Donald
Aboot his gowf course ower at Doonbeg Coonty Clare

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2014

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Feb 182014

Aberdeenshire Green councillor Martin Ford has commented on the announcement that The Trump Organization has withdrawn its planning application to build a second golf course at Menie and has abandoned its scheme to construct a large golf resort at the site.

MartinFordatUTGCllr Ford said,

“This is not a huge surprise, given Mr Trump’s track record elsewhere. For the last few years, the very slow pace of progress on the Menie development, the procrastination and delay, have strongly suggested Mr Trump was seeking an exit strategy – but wanted to be able to blame someone else for his decision not to proceed. His way out has been to blame the Scottish Government.”

Commenting on the suggestion that the proposed wind farm should have been moved or abandoned to appease Mr Trump, Cllr Ford said,

“Mr Trump has been making threats and unreasonable demands from the start. You don’t appease an arrogant, irrational bully. It doesn’t work. They only come back wanting even more.

“Mr Trump’s tendency to change his position and contradict himself, means we cannot be sure that he will not say something quite different next week. But I do think this probably is Mr Trump walking away from continuing work on his development.

“Of course, the Scottish Government should never have stepped in to grant Mr Trump planning permission in the first place. We have lost an important and beautiful natural area that was legally protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Our duty, as I saw it, was to hand this natural heritage over to following generations intact, so they could enjoy it and wonder at and better understand nature.

“Instead, it has become a golf course. The justification for allowing this damage to the environment was the jobs and economic benefit the proposed golf resort would bring.

“While the scale of the economic benefit promised by Mr Trump was clearly ridiculously exaggerated, there is no doubt that, had the resort gone ahead, there would have been some job creation and economic activity as a result. As it is, the north-east has got the worst of all possible worlds. We have lost our irreplaceable, natural, mobile dune system – for negligible economic return.

“Mr Trump should never have been given planning permission.”

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Feb 142014

By Bob Smith.


Trump’s nae deein the Hielan Fling
He’s noo tryin River Dance
Intae his Menie Developmint
Anither dollar he’ll nae advance
He’s gyaan ti the Emerald Isle
Doon the wye o Coonty Clare
A feel sorry fer the Irish fowk
His arrogance they’ll hae ti bear
His mither bein’ Scottish born
The chiel wis aywis blawin
Wull we noo hear fae him
His faither wis a leprechaun
Scotland wull be the losers
The bugger dis rant an roar
Donald jist gie’t a rest
Yer mair than jist a bore
Bi throwin the toys oot the pram
He’s shown his petulant streak
Aa because he lost his case
In front o a Scottish “beak”
At Menie wull he pack it in
An leave here wi gweed grace?
Somehoo a dinna think so
Cos the mannie wid lose face
Donald o the Menie Estate
Fa’s stock his teen a dip
Noo he micht be kent as
Donald o the petted lip.
©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2014
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May 262013

By Bob Smith.

“Wee sleekit cow’rin tim’rous beastie
O what a panic’s in thy breastie”
So said Burns aboot a moose
Afore Eck Salmond wis in Bute Hoose
Trump is nae a happy chiel
Thinks “Wee Eck” a bliddy feel
Accusin the billie o tellin a porker
Tae yon affa brash New Yorker
The Donald he is gyaan tae court
The winfairm micht spile his resort
Claimin it breaches Human Richts
He’s takkin iss tae great hichts
Noo he’s tryin the olive brunch
Askin Eck tae gie peace a chunce
If the winfairm project wid ging awa
Aathing he’s sure it wid be braw
The latest fae iss bliddy chancer
Is win turbines they cause cancer
Unless the winfairm it is scrapped
His hotel’ll nae be unwrapped
Wull Eck be proven man or moose?
Maybe he’ll vacate Bute Hoose
Or wull he tell DT tae bugger aff
An nae tae be sae bliddy nyaff

Bob Smith”The Poetry Mannie” 2013

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May 022013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And you thought there was no good news around.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nudge Nudge wink wink indeed.

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

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

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

Time for my one glass of wine.

Next week – more fecklessness, or possibly some recklessness.

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Apr 262013

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

The winds howl; the rain falls and a sandstorm or two batter East Grampian; it must be spring.  The biggest event of the past week was to be a ‘twilight’ visit to the Menie Estate.

When I heard of the ‘twilight’ visit to the Trump course, I’d initially expected that some sulky teenage movie stars would be coming for a photo shoot, but it was even more exciting than that:  Mrs Sarah Malone ‘Face of Grampian’ Bates would be meeting councillors and the public not once, but twice in the Trump parking lot. Result!

Before I give too much away about this exciting event, some of the other developments first.

What a pleasant surprise I had on Wednesday last week; I ran into Power Ranger Ian Tallboys. 

I was at a meeting of the East Grampian Coastal Partnership.   I’d no idea Tallboys was interested in environmental issues, so it came as something of a surprise.  He was with two women who were very friendly; so much so that they kept exchanging glances and giggling at each other when I approached their group.

I told Ian that Tullos Hill was a complete tip (I really should have said it looked like a war zone), and I asked him whether or not the waste recently left on the hill by the tree planters had been removed.

I guess a busy, important award-winning man like I.T. didn’t really have time to look into these minor details, so he avoided giving either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ answer, and instead explained he’d been talking to the contractors who planted the trees, etc. etc… I translated his answer to be ‘no’.   I was just flattered he seemed to recognise me.

If I weren’t so shy and retiring, I’d have asked for his autograph now that he’s won awards and been in the newspapers and all.  I really must stop pestering such celebrities; he has after all met HR Princess Anne who presented the award to the Tullos Hill deer and habitat destruction scheme.

Rumours that HRH is hiring Tallboys and CJ Piper to landscape royal properties remain unconfirmed.

Other than this happy chance meeting, it’s been another colourful week.  BrewDog have new additions  this week– ‘there is ‘Fake’ larger and a lovely porter named after the original BrewDog dog, Bracken.  Both are going down a storm.

Sadly, there were sandstorms in our area; sadly they could have had an effect on world’s greatest golf course, or worse – mess up Sarah Malone’s hair.  It wouldn’t do to look untidy while representing Donald Trump.

Remember – if you want to have a foursome and play a round (as it were), for a mere £190 (resident discount), you too can enjoy sandstorms, high winds, driving rain and collapsing greens.  But hurry – there are only three or four dozen places free every day, according to the online booking tool.

Media-wise we now have the Daily Record’s new Thursday publication

I’m sure that with the beautiful bed and breakfast facilities now up and running, the golf bookings will escalate even further – it’s no wonder they need a second course to cope with demand.  The interior shots of the world’s greatest bed and breakfast, yours for £295 per night only, show lovely shades of mustard soft furnishings.

The last time Old Susannah saw anything in this tasteful shade was at the city council elections; Aileen HoMalone wore an adorable oversized mustard jacket, which didn’t make her look like a theatre usher or real estate sales person at all.   Then there is the new fountain.  It defies description, and all it needs are one or two gnomes.

Media-wise we now have the Daily Record’s new Thursday publication, ‘The Aberdonian’.  Unfortunately it has seen fit to put on the cover of its first issue the wild claim that 2 out of 3 Aberdonians are against Trump when it comes to his wind farm position.

I don’t know why the Daily Record has bothered to come to our little area; after all we get all the news we need from the Press & Journal and its partner in impartiality, the Evening Express.  I’m sure that after a few visits from ACSEF members, billionaires, millionaires and so on the Aberdonian will fall into line, and do as it’s told, just like Aberdeen Journals.

Back to the Twilight Saga.  As I indicated, the real highlight of the past few days (if not the year) was the 23 April  council visit to the Menie Estate.  There should have been a 5.30 meeting followed by the hotly-anticipated Twilight session.

I arrived late to the 5.30 and was heartbroken:  the visit was virtually finished.   Our councillors must have been able to size up the issues in about 10 minutes flat.   And Alas!  Although Sarah Malone was at the first looking very fetching in high heels (I’m told), neither she nor anyone from Trump showed up for the twilight session, leaving councillors in the dark figuratively and literally.  For some inexplicable, eerie, mysterious reason, and for the first time in residents’ memories, the parking lot lights hadn’t been turned on.

It was not going to be successful anyway if the intention was to look at lighting issues such as ‘light spill’ – they chose a night when the moon was nearly full.  The werewolves would have loved it.

A giant white blob shimmered in the distance; it was hideous.

The night became spooky.  A few bats flitted around, and an owl swooped over the trees past the full moon.  The tentative start time of 9pm was greatly delayed by the Blackdog meeting concerning wind turbines which the councillors were at.  It was now nearly 10pm.

You could have been forgiven for thinking vampires and werewolves would emerge, but all I saw was a few zombies, some ghouls and a witch or two, but not the one we were waiting for.  No sign of Sarah; no sign of security.    A giant white blob shimmered in the distance; it was hideous.  I’d thought it was a ghost or daemon, but it was just the temporary marquee.  Horrible.

Apparently some oil company or other will be hosting a event in this luxurious structure this very weekend!  Expect celebrities in our area soon – maybe even politicians!  The paparazzi will be out in force no doubt.

While I was by then quite scared, most of the councillors were in great spirits, having driven to the estate to stand around in a cold, windy, dark parking lot waiting for non-existent Trump people to appear.  I know they were in great spirits because one of them said ‘This is *!(£%%~%*!! amusing, isn’t it?’’ and another ‘what a f*^&!!~%%!!!  joke!’.  And no sign of any Twilight actors, either.

Some unkind observers suggested the Trump people did this no-show deliberately to stall any planning decisions – but they’d never stoop to unfair tactics, I’m sure of it.  It could have been a bit of completely uncharacteristic incompetence which made them look arrogant, disorganised and disdainful of local councillors, but surely not.

However, I have emailed Mrs Bates (copy George Sorial) and I’m sure she’ll write back with an explanation any moment. I only hope it wasn’t some serious accident like a broken high-heel or chipped nail polish that kept our former beauty queen from her appointment with the councillors.

I’m sure a strategic genius like Donald Trump has never made a bad decision in his life.  Undoubtedly any bad decisions would have been someone else’s fault, kind of like the situation with the wee spot of financial trouble he has in Atlantic City.  And with that, it is time for some definitions.

Bad Judgment Call: (mod Eng. compound phrase) –  to make a decision or take an action with negative consequences.

Pity poor Euan Masterson, who was being charged with a count or two of threatening / abusive behaviour to his Ellon neighbours.  Perhaps he didn’t get a very strategic legal advisor after his arrest.  Some lawyers would recommend to their clients acting in an apologetic and contrite fashion.  But this is what Euan did next.

Masterson decided the best thing to do was call a policeman a ‘paedophile’ the day after his arrest. Later, he decided to swear and lunge at a security guard in prison.

When it was time for his trial, he refused to leave his cell, then shouted religious abuse at a court clerk, and acted aggressively to the sheriff.    It is safe to say Masterson made a few bad judgement calls.  If there was any doubt that he’d get a custodial sentence, there’s no doubt now.

Further examples of bad judgment calls can be found many places, but thankfully not at the World’s Greatest Golf Course. Everything is done with the utmost taste and to the letter of the law.  Whether choosing a lovely shade of gold duvet and beautiful decor for the reasonably priced (£295/night) bed and breakfast or designing a splendid concrete fountain with lions and cupids, decisions are well considered.

It is hard to believe, all things considered, that Sarah Malone had never designed a residential golf sports complex before now.

Deciding to go against the agreed plan and erect giant earth bunds and build a parking lot other than was specified could be construed either as bad judgment calls or as slaps in the face to residents, councillors and the planning process.  I am sure however that there is a carefully managed strategic plan the Trump group adhere to in all things, and they don’t go in for egotistical, aggressive toys-out-of-pram reactionary hysterical arbitrary behaviour.

just a happy opportunity to stand around in the cold, wind and darkness, and enjoy a spot of leisure time together

Deciding not to show up for an important meeting with a dozen councillors who have power over your plans is probably just some kind of clever strategy.  Missing this meeting could have simply been a one – off, but then again, the usually omniscient security guards were nowhere to be seen either.

Perhaps the Trump organisation thought doing a no-show was a great stalling tactic to buy more time and kick the (golf) ball into the long grass.  Alas, the long grass is sand-covered, turning brown,  and needs to be sprayed with blue dye.

Perhaps the hope was people at this meeting would think claims against security were exaggerated; it was certainly the first time I’d been there without seeing them driving around perpetually, looking for hardened criminals.

Whatever the reason for the Trump no-show and the lights not being put on, from the councillors and press point of view, this would not have been a bad judgment call – just a happy opportunity to stand around in the cold, wind and darkness, and enjoy a spot of leisure time together.   As mentioned before, were able to see bats and owls – which demonstrated that there was wildlife in the area.

No doubt the sooner Trump is granted leave to keep these lovely, gigantic lights and erect more of them (I  hope he doesn’t have any erection problems), this troublesome wildlife will be pushed out – another bonus.    With people running down to the clubhouse for signs of life, and milling around the parking lot in the cold, it was a very dynamic night, even if it wasn’t in the least ‘vibrant’.

It will be a real treat for ladies in evening wear to negotiate the wind, dark and weather to the temporary marquee to eat their £20 hamburgers at the upcoming event.  Tally ho!

Lying or Deception by Omission (Eng phrase) to deliberately mislead by excluding relevant information.

The Press & Journal is up for a well-deserved award!  The Newspaper Association believes as we all do that this is one of the greatest local newspapers.

There might have been a wee bit of something that looked like lying by omission when they didn’t tell us about the love between editor Damian Bates and his beauty queen Sarah Malone, Trump VP; after all, on one or two occasions it seemed the paper may have shown some slight favouritism towards the Trump project.

I’m sure this accidental amnesia was not in any way meant to mislead readers.  Let’s  support their contention for this newspaper accolade.

Lying by omission might happen if a councillor were to not make full disclosures on their register of interest.  Every councillor has to list what freebies, hospitality, gifts, favours from construction companies, drinks and meals at golf course temporary clubhouses and so on that they receive, otherwise the public would not know if there were any links between councillors and for instance rich American property tycoons.

Such councillors might be influenced by the receipt of such hospitality to favour the interests of their benefactors, and clearly that would be wrong.

A bad judgment call in such a situation would be to not fully complete their register of interest, to send harsh emails to the press, or perhaps to run around meetings with a photo of themselves with a developer, bragging about their relationship.  Old Susannah is happy to confirm that none of our elected councillors would be that dumb.  Obviously.

Now I’m off to put my modest little painting of Union Terrace Gardens into the Aberdeen Artists Society show.  This annual event is great fun, and a great showcase for local talent.  Until next time – Tally ho!

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Sep 212012

By Bob Smith. 

The Donald’s noo bin telt
Yer advert wi div deplore
Showin some rottin win turbines
Fit warna near Scotia’s shore

The advert wis misleadin
Says fowk fae the ASA
The photo wis o turbines
In 50th state o theUSA

Noo Trumpie he protested
Sayin we telt far t’wis teen
The affa sma print in the advert
Suggestit it wisna near Aiberdeen

Na Na min said the billies
Fa look intae sic like capers
Ye shudna hae pit it in
The bliddy local papers

Dinna dare use it ony mair
Weel nae in it’s preesint form
Use photos of turbine types
Nearer tae Scotland’s norm

Noo iss begs the simple question
Fit wye the P&J printed the ad
There is advertisin standards
Tae be adhered tae in iss land

Nae doot the auld excuse
Eence mair will be trottit oot
We took the advert in good faith
An it brocht us some mair loot

So fit noo Donald we maun ask
Tae the ASA wull ye buckle?
Ye dinna like bein telt fit tae dee
An gittin rappit ower the knuckles

Iss turbines row is biggin up tae be
A fecht wi Eck, Trump’s auld bosom pal
Wull it be  a showdoon at dawn
Like the “Gunfecht at the OK Corral”

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2012

May 032012

By Bob Smith.

“The Donald” wis doon at Holyrood
Agin winfairms he did rail
Stop biggin aa thae turbines
Or yer tourism it’ll fail

Ye’ll spile the bonnie coastline
An wi me ye noo wull clash
Nae wird o connachin shiftin dunes
Fin an SSSI the chiel did trash

Trump says the warld’s aa laachin
At fit he sees as Scaatland’s folly
Fowk winna cum ti ma gowf course
An a’ve spint aa iss bliddy lolly

Royal Aiberdeen spoots oor Donald
Wull lose oot on gowf events
A win’ turbine it’ll spile the view
Fae the course an sponsors’ tents

The pledge a wis gien’s bin bruiken
“Nae winfairms wid be near Menie”
A’m dumfoonert an fair scunnered
An winna spen anither penny

Oor Eck cries “stuff an nonsense”
The mannie’s spikkin crap
His “The Donald’s” bluff an bluster
Geen a bittie ower the tap?

Wi aa the rigmarole at Holyrood
Donald playin his “Trump” cardie
It’s mair akin to yon Hollywood
Wi Donald an Eck as Laurel an Hardy
©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2012

Image credit:© Mark Rasmussen | Dreamstime.com …. 3 windmills

Feb 172012

Old Susannah looks at the Granite Web, and the impressive effort it has taken to spin.

By Suzanne Kelly.

Tally Ho! Yet another vibrant and dynamic week in the Granite Web City.  Whilst Friends of Union Terrace Gardens, Aberdeen against Austerity, and Democracy Watch engaged in some inexpensive grassroots campaigning by flyer, the mysterious Vote for the CGP group pulled out all the stops and spent, spent, spent.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Northsound is playing City Garden Project commercials non-stop. The Art Gallery has a swish new display showing the Garden plan in its Alice-in-Wonderland perspective and garish colours, and issues of The Granite Web compete in the ugly stakes with the A3 VFTCGP colour flyer sent out before.

News reaches Old Susannah that visitors to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary are being cheered up no end by pro-City Garden Project posters on the walls. There is no escape at work either, as employees of Wood Group (no surprise really), Nautronix, and Taqa all seem to have received lovely e-mails from bosses hinting gently that they should vote for the CGP.

I do find it very touching that employers are looking after their employees so well and giving gentle guidance which puts no pressure on them at all.

Why do I call the VFTCGP members secret? Because I was told in so many words by the BIG Partnership, which does PR for this group and, coincidentally, the artwork for the CGP, that “if the members want to stay secret, it’s up to them.”

But before I return to my Myth-busting busting activities started last week – I only got through the first four of the ten Myths the CGP team say we’re suffering from – condolences to Rangers fans.

Was this one of the top Scottish clubs? Yes.

Will this leave a massive hole in Scottish football? Yes.

Will other sides face similar financial clubs? Looks like it.

I believe one tycoon is still paying some £60,000 of his own money each time his team plays. I do hope this mogul is not getting overly financially stretched. I’d again ask the question if Loirston Loch land – in a Special Area of Conservation – should really be turned into a 21,000 seat football ground with offices and museum in this climate.

  Donald’s granny was Scottish. This gives him good cause to call Alex Salmond ‘insane’

Well, I would ask, but the continuous concrete covering of anything green in Aberdeen seems unstoppable. Thankfully, we all have one tireless, gentle campaigner who is not giving up the fight for ‘Scotland’s heritage’. Step forward, Mr Donald Trump.

You might have seen one or two small news items saying that this gentle giant wants to build the galaxy’s greatest golf course on a no-doubt-underused stretch of coastline. He’s got rid of many of the view-blocking trees, but there are horrible plans to build windfarms offshore which could actually be seen by his guests, if you can believe that!

Now, windfarms don’t actually work very efficiently yet. The technology can, and should improve. But I guess we’re all agreed there are few things in life worse than being a rich golfer who might have to look at an offshore wind farm. For those people in favour of this kind of blot on the seascape, I would remind you that you’re forgetting something very important.

Donald’s granny was Scottish. This gives him good cause to call Alex Salmond ‘insane’ for supporting renewable energy. Please try to keep that in mind, thank you.

Finally, it might have been Valentine’s Day this week, but it looks like the May to December romance between Callum McCaig and Aileen ‘Ho’Malone is over. One of them is an over-blown, over-hyped, over-rated, naïve, headline-seeking soul, blissfully unaware that they are dangerously out of their depth. The other is Callum McCaig.

No more will they share a coalition; there will be no more romps on Tullos Hill; there will be no more late-night negotiations. Maybe yet the SNP will change its tune over the ridiculous cull of deer to plant trees that cannot possibly grow on Tullos Hill. Watch this space.

  the taxpayers’ side of this great granite garden bargain is to borrow £92m and pay the loan, and its interest, back over decades.

There is certainly a current in that direction, not least fuelled by public anger and the wasting of some £43,800 to date. Still, a break-up is hard to take. Final confirmation of this great bust-up comes in newspaper stories announcing that the coalition is still absolutely fine. I am thinking of offering my condolences to Mrs Robinson, sorry, I mean Aileen.

I’m still thinking on it. PS. Message to Irene – feel better soon!

And now back to debunking the debunking of the Myths. The City Garden Project seems to be the only entity that’s been presented with these Myths, and I commented on the first four last week. Here are a few choice words on the remaining five Myths. Thank you CGP for printing these not-at-all-wild and not-at-all-made-up Myths – we’re all really onside now. Their comments are in bold. Old Susannah’s are in regular type

5. It will cost the taxpayer millions of pounds – FALSE.

Sure. All this happens for free, and you’ve not paid a penny, and you won’t pay a penny. I wonder if the CGP forgot about the £422,000, or probably more, of taxpayers’ money Scottish Enterprise has already spent on this project? And, no doubt, our CGP friends don’t think it matters that some of your city councillors voted to set aside up to £300,000 of your money for legal costs.

Old Susannah is still mulling that one over. A billionaire is ‘giving’ Aberdeen £50m, but there isn’t enough money on his side of the fence to pay the legal costs the city will incur? So, rather than getting granny a new wheelchair, or providing 24/7 care at homes which have just announced cuts etc etc, Wood wants your £300,000. But this £722,000, nearly quarter of a million pounds, is small change.  we’re going to chop down existing, healthy trees, thus getting rid of wildlife that’s called the trees home for decades, if not centuries

Multiply that figure by ten and you get close to the amount of interest on the loan Aberdeen City Council has to sign for this project to go ahead, according to one of last night’s radio show speakers. Thanks to Original FM (on 105FM) for hosting last night’s debate. Anyway, the taxpayers’ side of this great granite garden bargain is to borrow £92m and pay the loan, and its interest, back over decades.

If the 6500 new jobs don’t come in and we don’t make £122m each year (I can’t wait to see how this happens), if we go over budget, if anything goes wrong – then it will cost us an unknown additional amount of money in repayments. The trams fiasco has reached a cost of nearly one billion pounds.

But this won’t cost you a cent. Honest, guv.

6. Fake, plastic trees – FALSE.

It’s a great Radiohead song but a lousy Myth. It has been suggested that fake plastic trees will be planted in the City Gardens to act as vents for the giant car park underneath. If any fake trees are seen they will be beside the flying pigs. 186 new trees will be planted, some of them mature and many will be Scots Pines.

Old Susannah doesn’t know where to start with this alleged Myth. She does find it reassuring to find that a job in public relations entails so much creative writing talent. I know of no-one who’s heard of plastic trees being part of the plan. However, if we’re building underground, then we’ll need plants with very tiny root systems. Goodbye 250-year old elm trees, one of only a few surviving clusters of elms free from disease, and home to wildlife. In comes progress. Who needs fresh air, wildlife, shade and beauty when you can have ramps?

   we’re going to chop down existing, healthy trees, thus getting rid of wildlife that’s called the trees home for decades, if not centuries

My favourite bit is the announcement that the trees stay in the Gardens forever, as wood chip and seating. Well, you can’t say that’s not sensitive to nature. Still, the BIG Partnership’s student placement has managed to make a meal of a non-existent plastic tree myth. Perhaps someone will explain how mature trees are going to be magically planted in the new Gardens?

Where will their roots go, as there is meant to be underground parking? How do we get to have a thriving pine forest in the city centre – something that doesn’t seem possible according to experts including local architects?

If Old Susannah has this right, we’re going to chop down existing, healthy trees, thus getting rid of wildlife that’s called the trees home for decades, if not centuries, plant some new trees, and have the world’s only pine forest in a city centre.

The pines must grow faster than genetically-modified Leylandii hedges if the drawings I’ve seen are correct, and of course, no-one can fault the accuracy of these precision drawings. I like the giant transparent child romping over the flowerbeds best. So, replacing grass and trees with grass, concrete and trees can be done for only £92m. RESULT!

7. It will cost people their jobs – FALSE.

As a result of the project a projected 6500 new jobs are to be created, not taking into account the hundreds of jobs that will come as a result of the construction. In addition, a transformed city centre will breathe new life across the city, helping us become a World Energy City long after oil and gas has run dry in the North Sea. Existing businesses will be retained meaning existing jobs will be safe-guarded.

These 6500 jobs are going to be wonderful! What will they be? Well, for openers we’ve seen how well Union Square has protected high street businesses. Our small high street shops are struggling whilst multinationals got a cheap rent deal in Union Square. But clearly what we need is….more shops. Surely there is nothing we’d rather do than shop, and you can’t have enough shops can you? It’s not as if a glut of shops will ever result in shop closures, price wars and endless sales, especially ‘Going out of business’ sales.

I wonder if there is any reason that a cafe culture has never really taken off in Aberdeen? Could it be that it’s often too cold, too windy or too rainy? Could it be because the City Council consistently refused to allow anyone to run a snack bar or coffee kiosk in the shelter of Union Terrace Gardens? Clearly not. One wave of the granite wand, and just like those convincing concept drawings, we’ll all be sitting outdoors in short-sleeved shirts, drinking decaf mocha lattes while Toto play on the brand new stage, in front of the existing indoor theatre.

Right. The taxpayer is propping up the AECC with extra money since it can’t make enough by holding events. Same for the Lemon Tree. But the new theatre won’t have any problems making a massive profit and creating loads of jobs.

 So, ‘how many theatres should a taxpayer prop up?’ is one question.

I for one can’t wait to sit through an outdoor electronic folk music competition in February. But, by winter, this theatre will be an ice rink, thereby competing with the ice rink the city tried to kill off before.

But no, there won’t be any harm to jobs. We’ll need people to cut down the trees and get rid of the wildlife. Then there will be jobs cleaning the graffiti off the Web. Yes, the Web will create more permanent jobs in small Aberdeen than the 2012 Olympics will create in Greater London. Rest as assured as I am on that point.

8. It will be entirely made from concrete – FALSE.

Obviously concrete will be used – would you like to relax, visit an exhibition or attend a concert on top of a cardboard box? The project has been carefully designed so there will be 95% more open, green space with a series of pathways providing access for people through, across and in and out of the gardens. These paths will be made of granite, crushed granite and wood.

By now, Old Susannah is finding the content of the dispelled Myths by BIG just a little bit patronising and smarmy. They thought they had to talk us out of believing in plastic trees. Now they explain that we need to sit on something more robust than a cardboard box. Thanks for that! Appreciated.

So, ‘how many theatres should a taxpayer prop up?’ is one question. ‘How many competing businesses should Scottish Enterprise suggest?’ is quite another. They used to have rules on displacement and suchlike, but these seem to have gone, probably about the same time as your employer started to tell you how to vote.

This project has been carefully designed. Of course it has. More green space, but somehow it manages to have a giant concrete, sorry, granite theatre which takes up some 15% minimum of the existing Gardens. They count the giant granite potato-crisp shaped thingy over the stage as green space.

 what if the architects were to give us some drawings showing how these ramps will work safely now rather than later?

Of course it won’t sustain any wildlife, and at best will be a thin wedge of sod over concrete, but if they want to call it green space, fine.

I guess these people call anything green space if they can colour it green with Crayolas on their paper plan.

Looking at the slope of the ramps both up and downwards, I’m wondering how the aged, infirm or wheelchair-bound are going to find this system easier than the current access. The current access could use an additional ramp and you could probably do this for less than £92m as well. For the truly baffled, there is ground level access on the north side, not far from the theatre. This is where vehicles somehow manage to get in.

Clearly there is no other way to ‘relax and visit an exhibition or attend a concert in this town.’ Let’s borrow £92 million and build this beauty.

9. There will be no railings in the Granite Web, people will fall from the paths – FALSE.

Safety will be paramount. The concept design shows the various walkways at different levels but the final design will show how these work safely. And, seriously, do you think any development in a country obsessed with health and safety would get off the ground without proper safety measures?

Our PR work placement is patronising us again. I might be old, but here’s a crazy idea – what if the architects were to give us some drawings showing how these ramps will work safely now rather than later? Are they going to be enclosed, and of course, not at all potential rat traps? Are they going to have fencing that somehow won’t look like Stalag 17? How will wheelchair users go up and down these steep ramps? Details, details.

Well, Old Susannah has run out of space for one week. We will return to normal definitions next week, and take a closer look at who is behind ‘Vote for the City Garden Project’. You will, of course, want to know what businesses are in this group, to make sure you can reward them with your custom. Or not.

Finally, many thanks to those brave business people who have stuck out their necks in favour of saving our city’s only unique, free, green garden.

That’s you, J Milne. It is appreciated.