The Butter-Fingered Philanthropist

Union Terrace Gardens continues to divide opinion across the City.  Here, local tycoon GRAEME SMART explains why he is a ‘No’.

I would like to set the record straight on why I am against the redevelopment of Union Terrace Gardens.  It has been suggested that my opposition stems from some kind of personal enmity between myself and Sir Ian Wood.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Sir Ian and I go way back. We schooled together at Gordon’s, where I was the Dux and captain of the First XV, and Sir Ian tried hard.  The mischief-makers have referred to an incident in the rugby changing room in 1962, but this has been misconstrued.  Yes, Ian inexplicably dropped the ball in the final minute of the Schools Cup Semi-Final (he was a gangling youth and poor sportsman).  Yes, this gifted our bitter rivals, the Grammar school, the game.  And yes, I, as captain, would have dearly loved to lead the team out in the final at Murrayfield.  But when, after the match, I took ahold of Ian by his gawky shoulders and frog-marched him to the toilets, it was purely out of kindness.  The whole team had been infuriated by Ian’s breathtaking, staggering uselessness – I mean, how hard is it just to keep ahold of a rugby ball!? – and I could see that Ian was upset by their jibes.  Pushing his head into the toilet bowl and flushing it was not an attack, but an act of compassion designed to disguise his tears.  To contend, as the rumour-mongers have done, that this incident resulted in a bitter rivalry between us, and gave Sir Ian the steely determination necessary to make a success of himself, makes no more sense than to claim that I am still smarting, 50 years later, from Eleanor Maitland’s decision to snub me to attend the School Leaver’s ball with Ian.  Yes, my sporting and academic prowess made me the more obvious suitor; and yes, she was a smooth-skinned, doe-eyed beauty possessed of a laugh of such surpassing loveliness as to melt a young man’s heart – but is it really credible to imagine that I might still be nursing a grudge, half a century on?  Is it?  Really?

Is it really 50 years since last I saw her?

Let us be clear: I have nothing but admiration for Sir Ian.  He has done tremendously well for someone who previously found keeping a secure grasp on an oval leather object an insurmountable challenge, and who never got above the second-top maths group.  I wish him well.  Eleanor, too, for that matter.  Wherever she may be.  Lovely Eleanor.

Sir Ian’s success – his remarkable, one might say undeserved success – provides a shining example of what may be achieved by a man of modest abilities who finds himself in the right place at the right time.  As such he is an inspiration to many in the modern world, like Alex Salmond, Andrew Considine, and Dappy from N’Dubz.

“CAVA” KENNY CORDINER – the football pundit who kicks back!

The beautiful game has been on the front pages as much as the back this week.  I is dead against anyone dragging the good name of the sport what I love through the byre – but I feel dead sorrow for my old pal Ally McCoist.  Ally and me go way back.  When he signed for Sunderland in 1981 I was down there too, on trial.  Me and the boys from Forres Mechanics had played a pre-season friendly against a local side and things got a little bit out of hand in the bar after.  Ally thought he’d landed his dream job as Rangers manager, but it has turned out to be a bad dream. What a nightmare. Rangers’ Administrators has already laid off some staff to cut costs – 2 referees and a linesman. Still, it’s not every club can get 10 points chalked off without affecting their league position. It reminds me of the time that the men in suits got in the way of my career. The council sent everybody home from Kaimhill Primary School the day before our Champion Street quarter-final because of an outbreak of nits.  The game was rearranged for the next weekend but I was away at my Granny’s caravan in Burghead.  I was greeting like Gazza.

After Fabio Calippo got his jotters from the England job, I was straight on the phone to the FA to throw my spanner into the ring. They seemed well impressed with my Curriculum Vitamin – I was third in the Parkvale FC Fantasy League two seasons running – and the lady I spoke to said I wouldn’t be required to attend an interview, which can only mean I’m a shoe-in.  That will be a blow for my old mate Harry Redknapp. The English papers reckon he’d be perfect for the top job now he has got off with all that tax invasion. I know all too well how it feels to have the crooked finger pointed in your direction.  When Enforcer’s Wine Bar in Inverurie mysteriously burned to the ground back in 1994, I had just insured it for a tidy sum. Luckily. I was accused of all sorts in the press.  Like Harry though, I just gone about my business without letting it get me down.  The new Jag and the holiday in Barbados never hurt neither.