P&J Column 1.9.18

Never Mind The Scallops

Cosmo Ludovic Fawkes Hunte, 13th earl of Kinmuck

When I saw the news that British fishermen had been harassed at sea by their French counterparts, my blood boiled. Which was a real disappointment, because I had to throw that batch of black pudding out. But really, this is no way to behave on the high seas. 500 years of naval history demonstrates that the natural order of things is for the British to harass the French. Which is why I type this from the family yacht, The Favoured Mistress. To the Channel I go, clutching the 12th Earl’s cutlass between my teeth, wearing the britches filled by the 5th earl when he stood with Nelson at Trafalgar, and towing the experimental sea mine developed by my great grandpapa, the 10th earl, in 1944 (he offered it for use in the war, but Hitler said he didn’t need it). I swear by Harry, Brexit and Theresa May’s choreographer, fresh caught Gallic shellfish shall be on my dining table tomorrow, and the French flotilla shall receive a firm kick in the scallops.

Struan Metcalfe, MSP for Aberdeenshire North

Crowdfunding. What a concept! What better way to extract moolah from the proletariat, apart from income tax and the National Lottery? ROFL.

Brewdog, for example, have raised oodles of dough through crowd funding over the years, financing new craft beers with names like ‘Imelda Staunton’s Index Finger’ and ‘Posh Blond Flange’. So why shouldn’t we politicians get a piece of the action?

Big Eck Salmond has seized on the idea and is crowd-funding his Judicial Review of the Scottish Government’s sexual misconduct complaints procedure.( #ForFairness. LOL). Well, I tip my hat to him; wish I’d had the nous to do the same when I was up in Banff Sheriff Court after that night on the sauce with Ruth Davidson and one of the Cheeky Girls.

It all ended messily and I was hauled over the coals for breaching the peace with Monica Cheeky and a takeway Lamb Bhuna. If only I’d fleeced my party faithful out of 90 grand for my defence, maybe I wouldn’t have had that night in the cells and a lifetime ban from The Garam Masala, MacDuff. Pip pip!

Davinia Smythe-Barratt, ordinary mum

As an ordinary mum I’m appalled to see our tyrannical over lords, the beastly Tory junta, once again seeking to oppress our youngsters by banning energy drinks.

Don’t get me wrong, I am aware that excessive consumption can be harmful. My good friend Imogen sank 5 cans a day when she chained herself to a lamppost outside Faslane. Her protest certainly lost some of its impact when she began dancing the Macarena and insisting she was the rightful heir to the Tunnock’s Tea-Cake fortune.

But why should sensible adolescents suffer? Fidel, my 14 year old, would be totally lost without his morning “pick me up”. He’s just so tired with all his activities; fencing, lacrosse and his latest hobby – Fortnite.  He’s hooked! I’ve never actually seen it, but he describes it as an international diplomatic negotiation simulator. It’s clearly very stimulating as he often stays up playing it all night.

So, to make sure he’s ready for his 7: 30 Cor Anglais lesson I do what any other ordinary mum would do – I pour a can of red bull into his organic honey and chia seed granola. 5 minutes later, he’s sharp as a tack!

View From The Midden, with Meikle Wartle Television’s Jock Alexander

The floors of romance rarely bloom in Meiklewartle, and fan they dae  it’s often in a vivid, glow-in-the-dark shade o’ yella roon aboot the sewage works. But lately, love his been hingin aboot in the air lik a bad smell. A fermer in the nearby seething metropolis of Strichen proposed tae his beloved by scrawling “Will you marry me?” on the side of her favourite coo. Fair play tae him, cos if you ask me, that wiz a bittie risky. She might hiv mistook it as a message fae Curlytop hersel and run aff wi the coo.  However, a’ went weel, and fan the fermer got doon on one knee in the sharny field, she said ‘aye fairly’.

Esma, wir village postmistress, on the ither hand, has remained a spinster a’ her days since Hardie Winton spelled oot his proposal wi’ his prize Charolais. Nae on the side of the aminal, but instead using fit might be described as “bull’s messages”. Hardie wiz real pleased wi’ the curl he got on his “r”s, but his proposal wiz nae successful. He’d maybe hiv hid better luck if he’d daen it oot o’ doors, instead o’ in the post office. Cheerio!




P&J Column 30.8.18

Digging for ruins and dancing ruined

View from the midden with Meikle Wartle Television’s Jock Alexander

It’s been an paleolithic wik in the village. Quite the wik for being surprised by exposed ancient ruins, and I’m nae jist spikin’ aboot Skittery Wullie’s streak through the tea-tent at the Lonach Gathering. Due tae the recent warm and dry spell, a previously unknown Pictish symbol stone wis revealed on the banks of the River Don.

Noo, you may nae be interested in matters o’ archaeological antiquity; truth be telt I wisnae o’er fussed masel’, but fan she heard how valuable such finds were Feel Moira launching straight intae her latest project – uncovering long-lost ancient steens in Meikle Wartle. Within twa hours, she had dug a 6 foot trench near the burn at the end of her field. I dare say she’d hiv daen it faster if she’d used ony tools, instead of jist howking awa at the grun wi her bare hands.

Moira’s exhaustive digging hasuncovered a rough granite block fit has got her a’ excited, given that it does appear tae hae mysterious carvings upon it. I hiv hid a look, and I da wint tae be in the vicinity fan Moira turns it the ither wye up and spots that the symbols are in fact just a roughly-hewn love heart wi’ the words “Skittery Wullie luvs Moira, 1962”. Mind you, she might see the bright side. She’s got a wee soft spot for Wullie, especially since she seen him at the Lonach.. Cheerio!


J Fergus Lamont, Arts Correspondence and author of “One Flew Over the Girdleness” – a history of aviation in the North East

The world of dance suffered a grievous loss this week, with the death of Lindsay Kemp, mime artiste extraordinaire.  But where there is darkness there is also light, for we also saw the birth of a dazzling new talent.  You may be unaware of her – her performance has attracted little, if any, publicity – but in a humble township in South Africa, the avant-garde dance phenomenon ‘Theresa May’ exploded into brilliant life.

May’s ouvre is remarkable; an extraordinarily dark and challenging form of terpsichorean expression.  Standing with her feet seemingly nailed to the floor, she jerks and shuffles in a manner that defies both rhythm and the forces of gravity.  What is causing it?  Electric shocks?  Psychic pain?  It cannot be natural.   With the rictus visage of a 3-day old cadaver, she lurches like a double-jointed newborn giraffe.  And on and on it goes, past the point of humour, past the point of pity, into the realms of the grotesque – and then beyond.  “What is this?” I cried,“An entreaty or a threat?”  And on and on and on. And on.

I was watching the performance on my iPhone.  You may not have heard of the device – it has attracted little, if any, media comment – but it provides an effective means of catching up with popular culture whilst on the go.  I was still watching , rapt, as I walked out onto Broad Street and into the path of the number 19 bus.  And as I lie here in ARI, encased from head to toe in plaster de Paris, I consider the pain a small price to pay, to have seen great new art in the making and to discover that even when only able to move my upper lip, I still dance more naturally than Theresa May.


Cava Kenny Cordiner, the football pundit who lets you know he’s there

I was gutted to hear that ex Spurs skipper Gary Mabbutt had a rat chew a bit off his foot whilst on holiday in South Africa. My missus, the lovely Melody, is always in at me to take her on a safari but Old Kenny is a bit feart at being eaten by something like a lion or a crocodile or a hypotenuse. Now, thanks to poor Mabbo, you can add rats to that list.

It made me think, though, about some of the bizarrer injuries I seen in my extinguished career. Thankfully, I never spent too much time on the psycho’s treatment table, but sometimes the reason I was there would have made your ice water!

One time, when I was playing for Culter, I was nipped on the unmentionables by a forky-tail that had crawled into my jock strap.  Another time, when I was playing for the Dandies, we was all out celebrating a win against Morton in the league cup when we ended up dancing the night away in Ritzy’s. Me and Stuart Kennedy was strutting our staff to “Hit me with your rhythm stick” when he accidentally elbowed me in the coupon giving me a right keeker. Stuart tried to apologise by buying a round of tequila slammers, but Gordon Strachan says it would just be adding in salt to Ian Dury. 

P&J Column 3.5.18

Tourist plans suitable for a’ the loons and equines

Kevin Cash, moneysaving expert and king of the grips

I da ken fit wye people say this city disnae push the boat oot for visitors. Jist look at the latest ideas tae pull in a’ that tourists fit places like Edinburgh and Glasgow seem tae be beating aff wi’ the proverbial stick fit hiv been given the green licht by wir cost-conscious chums at the Cooncil. Ony day noo we can expect tae swamped wi’ vees’tors, flocking here because, if they head doon tae the beach on een of the six random fine days we’ll hae this summer, there’ll be a brand new attraction.  Nae only can you get a shottie on a waltzer and an unimpeded view o’ the worlds maist powerful wind turbine, (BTW – I dinna understand folk that are complaining that it spiles the view. Hiv ye seen foo big the sea is? It’s massive! If ye wint a nice view o’ the sea, jist look at a different bittie!) Soon, you’ll be able tae ging for a hurlie along the esplanade in your choice of unsuitable vehicle.

There’s a mannie fa’s offering tae dae tours o’ the seafront in a ‘TukTuk’, fit’s like a cross between a tricycle and milk float popularly used as a taxi in some countries in Asia. Nae longer dae ye need tae ging a’ the wye tae Thailand tae be ower charged for a run aroon’ the block. God, I wish I’d thocht o’ it first. Mind you, a cut and shut on a mini-clubman and a Vespa isnae the easiest.

But the big news is they’re also bringing back horse-drawn carriages tae the beach. Apparently they wiz affa popular in the 40s and 50s, and are set tae return noo that the quality o’ life in the city his returned tae that level.

Weel, I can already see great opportunity tae get some extra value fae this.  Far there’s horses, there’s inevitably horse’s doofers, or ‘100%organic composted equine manure’ as we’ll be marketing it. My plan is tae my mate Mick the pill following ahind the carriages catching fit dobbin leaves behind in een o the twa thoosan’ take-away boxes I picked up for a song fan the Yangtze River got closed doon by the food inspectors. OK, ye canna get much manure per box but I’ve thought of that – I plan tae sell it as ‘Fun Size Dung’ for fowk that only hae wee gairdens, or jist a window box.

Mick has yet tae sign up, but there is nae doot in my mind that he is man for the job.  He has stamina, lightning reflexes and since he perforrated his nasal septum, nae sense o’ smell.


Cava Kenny Cordiner, the footballer’s footballer

As yet another season draws to its contusion, Old Kenny is looking ahead to an ever changing footballing landfill.  Next season we could see Video refs with an increased role in games, transfer fees going even more astrologically higher than they already is and, perhaps most surprisingly of all, Steven Gerrard managing The Rangers.  But the thing I is even most surprised about is the possible death of that old football stable, the match-day programme.

English clubs is meeting soon to decide if they need to make one for every game anymore. I’m sure some of them will say “no” as a penny-punching measure.  But I think the loss of the programme would take some of the heart and sole out of the bountiful game. Where else will we get inciteful information on our heroes?

Back when I was playing at Pittodrie, it was a great honour to be chosen for the “Player Factfile”, and the programme boys used to interview you on all the hot optics of the day.  I’ve still got a copy of the one what I featured in.  Aberdeen v Greenock Morton.

Name: Kenneth John Cordiner

Position: Left back in the dressing room

 Height: 5 ft 13 inches

Weight: 12 stone and 1 kg

Favourite club: The Mighty AFC

Favourite music: Phil Collins and Elkie Brookes

Favourite film: Raiders of the Lost Sark

Pet hates: Smoking, fast wingers, horses what don’t run to form

Favourite player: Joe Jordan, because he’s got even less teeth than me.

Ambitions: To own a sophistimicated wine bar in Inverurie what mysteriously burns down just after I’ve insured it to the hilt.

That last answer was a surprise I can tell you!  Who would of known I could be so prophylactic?

P&J Column 26.4.18

“This remarkable work of art  comments on the unequalled quantity of wind to be found in the North-East”

Fergus Lamont, Arts correspondent and author of ‘The Man Who Would Be Kingsford  – The Angus Jamieson Story.

Aberdeen continues to be a bounteous mecca for art of all types! This week I took advantage of the warmer weather by walking the city on the trail of exciting new Nuart festival. You won’t have heard of it; it has received little, if any, publicity, but the City Council should be commended for having the foresight to delay the re-opening of the Art Gallery, thus requiring us to engage our aesthetic senses in the open air for the second year running. Cultural enthusiasts will recall last spring when various unloved and decrepit parts of Aberdeen were painted over with magnificent works of public art, instead of having to be renovated. This year’s event is bigger and, arguably, better than before – extending as it does into what might get be described as the ‘nice bits’ of town, such as Union Plaza and Holburn Junction. I must say, the appreciation of these works is greatly enhanced by easy access to a reasonable decaf skinny latte and not having to trachle around the back of Aberdeen Market, with its unsettling aroma of uncooked meat. However, the most monumental of all the NuArt works does not, inexplicably, appear on the festival’s map at all. Indeed, had I not wandered down to the beach for a vanilla slider from la Café Du Inversnecky, my eyes would never have beheld, a mile from the shore, a series of windmill-shaped structures, over 600 feet tall and gleaming white. I realised immediately that this gigantic art installation was paying homage to the importance of agrarian farming techniques, as well as the bounty of the sea in the historical nurturing of the north-east of Scotland.  Further, the unknown sculptors of this remarkable work of art are clearly passing comment on the unequalled quantity of wind to be found in the North-East. The finished installation will be truly memorable and iconic, and not something any Aberdonian will ever be able to ignore. In fact, so vast will the completed sculpture be that I wouldn’t be surprised if it were visible from Donald Trump’s Golf Course at Mennie. It struck me that even he, not famed for his appreciation of the arts, could not fail to be overcome by the magnitude of the project. We can but hope. With that in mind, I ran pell-mell to the water’s edge in order to shout my approval, my cries mingling with those of the gulls carried by the biting wind over the majestic, unforgiving waters of the North-Sea as they swooped to peck the slider from my very hands. I wept.

Shelley Shingles, showbiz correspondent and Miss Fetteresso 1985

M. Actual. G!  She’s only gone and done it!  Kate, the Duchess with the mostess, has popped her third royal sprog and the nation has gone baby prince crazy!  And it all happened so fast!  The baby was born at 11 in the morning and Kate and Wills were heading home at 6 in the evening.  That’s what I call express delivery!

As I write this, there’s no name yet for Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s little brother.  The bookies are saying that the smart money is on Arthur, Philip or James.  It’s always nice to back an outsider though, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed they display the common touch we all love and choose what many of their subjects tend to cry their third born child; ‘You’.

It will be tough for them, though, looking after 3 kids; with Harry’s big wedding coming up.  Wills is busy enough that day as it is, with being best man and dashing off to Wembley to present the FA cup.  He’ll hardly have time to neck some Asti Spumante, never mind change one of baby’s dirty nappies!  Mind you, my Royal sources say they’ve got people to help them with that kind of thing. I don’t think it’s Grandpa Charles though! No, in royal circles its an open secret that only person of the older generation who knows their way around a packet of wet wipes and a nappy sack is Camilla.

Of course, me and Camilla go way back.  I first met her at the Braemar Gathering in 2005.  She was making her debut as Prince Charles’ new squeeze and I was there dressed as a mealie pudding, as a spokesmodel for Sheridan’s of Ballater.  I’ll never forget what she said to me: ‘Would you mind awfully moving? I can’t see chaps tossing their cabers.’

Wise words from a great lady.


P&J Column 19.4.18

Now Aberdeen is popular with tourists – easily identifiable by their pac-a-macs and expressions of disappointment.

Ron Cluny, official council spin-doctor.

I was delighted to see that the number of tourists visiting Aberdeen has continued to grow. This is one in the eye for the naysayers, always so keen to do the city down. Official council figures show that the Spectra Light Festival, and Nuart have both played their part.

If only we had a vibrant summer festival to capitalise on the energy and dynamism of young people, we might really have been able to make the most of the arts dividend. But, you can’t have everything, as I invariably have to put at the bottom of every agenda of the Finance, Policy and Resources Committee.

The city has also benefitted from the increased global interest in the Highlands from fans of the successful TV show ‘Outlander’, which just goes to show the benefits that accrue when you come before Inverness in the alphabet.

Our figures also suggest that the final group of people who have come to the city are holidaying civil engineers, who get a real kick from seeing exposed foundations and large mounds of building equipment lying about. They have provided a much needed shot in the arm to the new hotels at the Airport and on Broad Street.

Davinia Smythe-Barratt, Ordinary Mum

It’s been a frustrating week for Social Justice campaigners like myself, engaged in the struggle against ‘The Man’, as the press have unfairly rounded on my comrades, both real and imaginary, who oppose the monstrous new stadium at Kingsford. Who cares if they used a pseudonym to give interviews to the press? Haven’t we all done it? I’ve got a pseudonym, actually, and I don’t mind admitting it.

I leave my disparaging hotel and restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor under the name “Don’tMessMum” safe in the knowledge that the proprieties can’t retaliate against me. It’s been a lifesaver, as it prevented my friend Saskia booking into the same god-awful yurt we used on holiday near Rabat. I mean, no wine cooler? Seriously?! We wanted ‘back-to –basics’, not prehistoric!

Those in favour of the stadium have been busy gloating about the apparent “scoop” that the ubiquitous and vocal anti-Kingsford campaigner Angus Jamieson does not, technically, exist, but I’ve got news for them. Fidel has been helping me put together an anti-stadium petition on his computer. He is a whiz with technology. In fact, I can hear more pages whirring from his printer right now. It already bears over 1 million names, though admittedly many of the signatories appear to have identical handwriting. He says it’s called Linotype Zapfino Extra.

To be honest, the whole pseudonym business is something of a sore point for the Smythe-Barratt household, after what happened when my husband Milo set up his offshore account in the Cayman Island under a fictitious name to avoid paying thousands of dollars in tax. Is that a crime? Incomprehensibly, yes. Still he’ll get parole in 3 moths, and the sentence keeps him out of the UK long enough to maintain his non-dom status. So, silver linings.

VIEW FROM THE MIDDEN – Rural affairs with MTV (Meikle Wartle Television) presenter, JOCK ALEXANDER

It’s been a Luddite wik in the village. Ab’dy has been reeling fae the news that noted pub chain and purveyor of reheated foodstuffs, Wetherspoon’s is abandoning a’ social media. Their boss says it’s nae helping the business, and that withoot it they’d be “mentally and physically better off”. Weel, I could hiv telt him that. We in the Village hiv jist discovered the questionable charms o’ Twitface and Instabook and a’ yon, as it’s nae been lang syne onyb’dy in the Village his hid Wi-Fi (in fact, it’s nae been lang syne onyb’dy in the Village his hid a Hi-Fi). But, much like Christianity, we did withoot a’ that muck for hunners o’ years and we managed oor social interactions jist fine. We didnae hae folk in online forums sweiring at strangers and spikking awa tae themselves. We hid them daen it oot in the open air. We didnae hae “Internet trolls” hiding in darkened rooms. We hid real eens hiding under bridges. Or at least that’s fit we telt wir kiddies so they’d avoid the shacky een o’er the Burn o’ Wartle far Feel Moira’s family bade. Aye, a’ things considered, we wiz better aff withoot social media. If we hid an argument, we didna get wirsels a’ workit up ower a keyboard for oors on end, we resolved wir differences swiftly and conclusively – wi’ a punch-up roon the back of the chip shop. Cheerio!

See the Flying Pigs live at HMT Aberdeen in ‘Now That’s What I Call Methlick!‘ June 2018. Tickets available now.

P&J Column 5.4.18

So, farewell to The Aitken’s Diet – nothing but butteries for 6 weeks.

Tanya Soutar, local lifestyle correspondent

I da ken aboot youse, but I was fair knocked aff ma stott tae tae hear aboot the impending closure o’ Aitken’s Bakers. Mony’s the time I’ve staggered intae the Menzies Road een at 3 in the morning efter a big nicht oot and on ivery occasion I have found the staff polite, helpful and delighted tae tak my money in exchange for an excessive quantity of random baked goods. They couldnae hiv served me mair faster, and indeed often helped me oot of the shop at speed an’ a’. It’s funny, is it? Faniver ye ging tae an all night baker ye ayewis buy ower much stuff. I s’pose it’s a defence mechanism for fan ye stagger outside and inevitably drap maist o’ it on the pavement. Normally, I’d apply the 10 second rule and jist pick that macaroni pie and caramel yum-yum up aff the grun, but If I’ve gaan oot in my 6 inch heels there’s nae wye I’m bending doon lik ‘at. Nae again, onywye. Let’s just say I ended up as the star o’ my ain YouTube video entitled ‘Torry faceplant – bambi on ice’. Happily though, I wis unrecognisable thanks tae a faceful o’ pastry and bleed.

But Aitken’s will be a big miss. Their food wis richt fine and, and equally I can testify tae the high quality of their paper bugs, given the number of times I’ve woken up in the morning wi een stuck tae ma coupon.   And yet, here we are, nae much mair than a month since Chalmer’s Bakery wiz reported tae be selling aff stores in Aiberdeen. Noo my pal Big Sonya tells me that traditional bakeries hiv been losing customers tae trendy coffee hooses, and how young Aiberdonians dinna ging tae places like Aitkens because they’re dated and nae modren and funcy. Sonya is a mine o’ information on current trends in retail and catering. As a result o’ her twin hobbies, shoplifting and cake.

But I dinna wint a baker fit jist sells artisanal elderberry muffins and quinoa cronuts. This is Aiberdeen, nae Greenwich Village. So maybe the likes of Chalmer’s and Aitken’s, couldna compete wi’ the fashionable design and state of the art facilities ye might find in, for example, a Greggs, but the young eens are missing oot on mair than they ken. Aitkens his three things you canna get fae ony of these new places; Wifies a’hind the counter. (Wifies are essential for oor communities self- esteem. They dinna judge ye fan ye buy dough-rings in yer PJs), rowies, and maist importantly, character. Especially the characters in the queues at three in the morning, at’s far I met at least 3 of my bairn’s faithers!

Professor Hector J Schlenk, Senior Research Fellow at the Bogton Institute for Public Engagement with Science

As a scientist, people are always asking me questions, questions such as “What is consciousness?“ “Why do we dream?” and “What on earth is that appalling smell?”, but lately they’ve mainly been asking me about footprints, and not just the gently smoking ones I leave behind me when I inadvertently bring fluoroantimonic acid through the lobby on my laboratory crocs.

They’re talking, of course, about the recent discovery of fossilised dinosaur footprints on the coast of Skye.

This new site records two different types of dinosaurs, long-necked cousins of Brontosaurus and sharp-toothed forerunners of T-Rex-hanging around a shallow lagoon.

How are such footprints formed? Well, they require the application of pressure across a padded part of the anatomy onto a pliable surface. I’m sure you will all have formed similar indentations with your posteriors whilst sitting on the couch.

Thanks to advancements in areas like thermal imaging and drome photography, it does beggar belief that these footprints have lain undiscovered for so long. However, they were formed on a harsh and unforgiving landscape in a climate few among us could bare. And 170million years ago, it wasn’t much better!

Learning that there is 170M year old evidence of prehistoric Saurapods and Therapods on Scotland’s Western Isles has caused no small amount of jollity in the Schlenk household. Mrs Schlenk hails from Lewis, you see, and she maintains that most of Skye’s population are still living in the Stone Age. After a polite chuckle I attempted to explain that the
fossils in question are from the middle Jurassic period, and predate the evolution of even the earliest humans by at least 167.5 million years. But Mrs Schlenk simply looked at me stony faced.

See the Flying Pigs live in ‘Now That’s What I call Methlick!’ at HMT Aberdeen 26th-30th June 2018

P&J Column 29.3.18

Sand-papering your balls? That’s just not cricket!

Cava Kenny Cordiner, the sports pundit whose balls have not been tampered with.

Regulator readers will know that I’ve never been the greatest fan of the smack of feather on pillow, but even my eyes pricked up when I heard about what happened in Cape Town at the weekend when South Africa took on Austria in the croquet.
When Melody shouted me through and says ‘wait til you see this, the TV cameras have caught some of them fiddling with their balls’, my first reaction was to tell her “fair play to the lads, sometimes, if you is wearing an aesthetic-support on a hot day, it can get right uncomfy”. Then I realised that they wasn’t just doing a spot of gentlemen’s redistribution, but they was trying to cheat.

What a glass neck they had! One of the Aussie lads had some “yellow tape” in his pocket which he was rubbing on the ball, and when he realised he’d been caught yellow handed, he stuffed it down his pants! The whole thing was seed by 30 cameras and now the offenders has been sent home with their tails hung low and their heads between their legs. Even the Austrian Prime Minister, Malcolm Tucker, has had a few words to say, though they was not as sweary as normal.

In this professional era, the steak knives is high, so it’s not much wonder that sportsmen do everything what they can do to gain an advantage over their opponents, and I know of what I speak of about. In my playing days I wasn’t no angel of the North myself – Old Kenny was known to break the odd rule, and opposing striker’s tibia, from time to time. Bending the rules in the heat of battleships is one thing – but pre-medicated cheating is a different kettle of ball games all together.

One of the commentators was saying, he says “they should throw the book at them”. They is missing a trick there, I think. What they should do is get all sandpaper, tape and mud, rough up one of the sides of the book, and THEN throw it at them!
View from the midden – rural affairs with Jock Alexander.

It has been a gastronomic wik in the village. I have been sheltering indoors, central heating on, reclining in my Friesian coo onesie, and getting through a shedload of rowies fit I acquired fae Feel Moira. She swears they had fallen aff the back o’ the Asdas at Huntly, and the fact that she had jist gi’en their loading bay a glancing dunt wi her tractor wiz jist a coincidence. Weel, I wiznae gan tae argue wi her, cos I wis keen tae avoid being the recipient o’ a similar quirk o’ fate masel, and perhaps mair importantly, I likes a rowie.

So too, apparently, does no less a personage than the film director Duncan Jones; son of David Bowie and Hollywood Auteur, fa took to social media last wik tae ask advice for hame-baking a batch of the celebrated north-east delicacy.

I had nae idea that fashionable media types even kent fit a rowie wis, let alone bothered getting their hands a’ mucky making their ain. Nae doot Duncan’s exclusive Islington neighborhood boasts mair than it’s fair share o’ fair trade coffee hooses and artisanal barbershops, but lacks a branch of Thains the baker. Jones awarded his finished foodstuff 7/10, deciding it probably needed “more salt”. Well Duncan, I could hae telt ye that. A’ ye need for a decent rowie is a big dodie o’ lard, and a even bigger dodie o’ sa’t. If ye think ye’ve got o’er muckle sa’t in it, then it’s time tae add mair.

Of course, Duncan’s high profile attempt reignited the online debate aboot fit the delicacy should be cried – Buttery, Rowie or Morning Roll? Weel, the name does vary. Duncan Jones wid ken a’ about that, as he wiz originally cried Zowie Bowie. Parents can be so cruel, as I wiz saying only yesterday tae oor post-mistress, Pocahontas McGinty.

Weel, throughly stappit wi’ rowies, I got oot a’ my auld vinyl LPs of Jones’ faither and gied them an overdue spin. Sadly, David Bowie’s work is nae weel kent in Meiklewartle. The closest we iver got tae glam rock here was Skittery Willie’s brief flirtation wi’ lamé biler suits and platform wellies. In fact, faniver I mention the Thin White Duke folk think I’m spikken aboot an underfed mallard.

P&J Column 22.3.18

Which 80’s biscuit are you? (And how do you feel about immigration?)

Prof Hector Schlenk, Senior Researcher at the Bogton Institute for Public Engagement with Science

As a scientist, people are always asking me questions, like ‘Would you say that Jeremy Corbyn’s hat been photoshopped to make it look more Russian?’, ‘Am I being paranoid?” and ‘Should I turn up the brightness on my TV’?”

But this has been a week of sadness for we scientists, in which we said goodbye to one of the greats, someone who had been at the top of his game for decades despite physical disadvantages, and who famously wrestled with complex mathematical formulae in order to achieve something few of us have ever managed: keeping money hidden from the Inland Revenue.  RIP Ken Dodd. Of course, Professor Steven Hawking is also a great loss to the scientific community, and the world, but to be fair, he never sold out a summer season in Bridlington.

But I have been distracted from these sad departures by the scandal of sleaze, psychological manipulation and data misuse surrounding Cambridge Analytica, the ‘data analytics’ firm which is, together with Facebook, accused of harvesting personal data from Facebook apps, to be used to influence the outcome of the 2016 US Election and the UK Brexit referendum,  There are many questions which come to mind regarding this, the foremost of course being ‘What on earth is ‘data analytics’ and are they hiring?’ And ‘Do all of those quizzes about 80s pop and top 100 biscuits really influence world events?’ Well, it’s all to do with the digital footprint we leave upon the world wide web as we browse.  Think of it like a muddy trail which can be stretched across the living room carpet, causing my wife to hit me about the head with her rolled up copy of TV Choice; except the mud is electronic, and the blows to the head are targeted advertisements for insurance, overpriced slippers and gentlemen’s enlargement devices (though that may be just me).

Yes, data on everything that we see, click, or hover our mouses over helps unscrupulous advertisers (or ‘ advertisers’) to build up a profile of our tastes, influencing which adverts we are assailed with when browsing. It’s not only Facebook that does this, of course; I recently took a hammer to my 4 year old grandniece’s Alexa device to prevent it sending data on her musical choices to Amazon (Little Mix, Mr Tumble, Aphex Twin).

Must we accept that the misuse of our details in this way is part and parcel of modern life? Or should we, as a TV show of my youth once put it, “turn off and go and do something less boring instead”? I tried that, but having done so was stymied by lack of access to my ‘What’s On’ App.

To combat the Cambridge Analyitcas of the world I am currently developing a ‘scrambler’ which confuses online data gatherers by leaving an utterly random trail from which it is impossible to build up a profile. The prototype replicates the web browsing of my 4 year old grandniece on my laptop. Something I was required to allow to stop her telling her mummy about what I did to her Alexa device.

Tanya Soutar, Local Lifestyle guru

The list of names given tae Scottish babies in 2017 has jist been released, and wi’ names like Einstein, Willoughby and Tuppence on the list, it lets ye ken the extraordinary lengths some parents will ging til tae mak their bairn stand oot.

A couple of my pals are up the duff of noo and were asking me how best tae pit their ain unique stamp on their offspring, so here’s Tanya’s top tips for naming yer next bundle o joy!

First of a, there’s nithin mair exotic sounding than using a place name. Mind you, ye’ve tae be careful.  One peer baby born last year was cried “Aberdeen”.  Fit an affront! The classic is tae use the place far the bairn wis conceived.  My pal Sammy-Jo did ‘at wi’ her three, Majorca, Corfu and Folkstone.  It wis meant tae be Brittany, but the ferry wis delayed.

But the best source o’ inspiration fer a unique name is the telly.  Some o the character names in things like Game o’ Thrones and Orange is the New Black are perfect.  Again, ye need tae exercise caution.  A boy I went tae school wi was obsessed wi’ Rod Hull’s Pink Windmill, which is an affa peety for his daughter, Grotbags.

See The Flying Pigs live in ‘Now That’s What I Call Methlick’ at HMT Aberdeen 26th-30th June 2018


P&J Column 15.3.18

Just think; ‘the spit of Jamie Carragher’ used to be a compliment.

Cava Kenny Cordiner, the football pundit who’s gobby in a different way.

My regulatory readers will know that Old Kenny is very open mined when it comes to modern football, but there is some things what has no place in the bountiful game; like racialist abuse, men with ponytails, and match fixing when nobody has not told me what to bet on.  Spitting is another one, and I is sad to say that this week a former great of the game has let his self down badly after he got caught on camera extemporising at a young lassie.

Jamie Carragher might not be the most intelligent footballer in the world,  in fact he might not even be ahead of old Kenny on that list, but he should well have knowed better than to let his emulsions bubble up to the surface when a Man Utd fan was goading him in his car.  Sadly for JC, when the fan kept adding in salt to his injury, he seen red and sent a massive greener across the carriageway.  Like a lot of pros, I was shocked and disappointed, disappointed and shocked.

First of all, his technique was all wrong.  My old school pal, Dunter Duncan, was like a sniper with his grot.  He once took aim at Specky Spalding’s satchel out of the detention room window at Kincorth and hit it right on the buckle!  Dunter always said the trick behind the perfect gob was to smoke 20 Woodbine a day.  He was great at the spitting, was Dunter, but not too hot at the 100 yard dash.

Most importantly though, Carragher needs to learn how to handle situations like that in a much more classier way.  I used to get a lot of attention in the Covenanters Bar back when I had signed for the Dandies.  Folk would come up to me when the Dons had lost and tease me about it.  Yes, it made me angry, but I didn’t spit on them.  I just kept myself composted, and lamped them.

J Fergus Lamont, Arts Correspondent and author of “How Green Is My Buttery: A History of Food Safety in the Baking Industry”

This corner of the world continues to burst full with the most bounteous fruits of artistic endeavour. I’ve heard a lot of weeping and wailing recently both locally and nationally over the loss of the International Youth Festival, the collapse of the Scottish Youth Theatre and the end of free school music lessons, but I don’t know what all the fuss is about.  Aberdeen continues to lead the way when it comes to vibrant culture. You will have noticed that the staff and students of Aberdeen University have this week been presenting a stunning festival of synergistic street theatre, featuring, placard waving protestors, picket lines and sit-ins. All of these of course vividly evoking the bad old days of the late 60s and 70s, with their unionised strikes, power cuts and the 3 day week. But do not worry, gentle reader, this is not, of course evidence of society’s collapse, but a searing commentary on the cyclical nature of history from an artistic collective of unusual perspicacity. History, you see, is very much like my home-brewed parsnip prosecco; it vanishes quickly, but when you least expect it, it will suddenly and violently repeat. Often accompanied by a noisy trump.

I was, therefore, delighted when I stumbled upon the actors pretending to be banner-waving strikers at Aberdeen University, with their battle cry: ‘What do we want?’ “No change to the Universities’ Superannuation Scheme from a “defined benefit” pension, which gives workers a guaranteed income, to a “defined contribution” scheme, in which pensions are subject to fluctuations in the stock market.’ ‘When do we want it?’ ‘On retirement!’ .

It so evoked the student protests of my youth that I dashed home to don my purple loon pants and the kaftan which Jimi Hendrix’s roadie was once sick on outside the Cafe Metro. On my return to campus and having swallowed an entire packet of orange tic-tacs offered to me by a passing student, I developed a tremendous thirst, then removed my trousers and ran home, laughing all the way. There, I turned on the news to see that even the UK Government was joining in the nostalgic role-play by upbraiding Russia. Deciding that nothing says 1970s nostalgia like the threat of mutually assured destruction, I wept. Then laughed, for no clear reason. Then wept again.


See the Flying Pigs live in ‘Now That’s What I Call Methlick’ at HMT Aberdeen, June 26th – 30th

P&J Column 8.3.18

‘Beast From The East’ – The aftermath: An affa lot of carrots in an affa lot of gairdens.

Professor Hector Schlenk, Senior Research Fellow, Bogton Institute for Public Engagement with Science

As a scientist, people are forever asking me questions.  Questions like “Is there a correlation between depth of snow and likelihood of a subject not going into work? Does said correlation change if this subject has a 4 x 4 with power steering? And is that factor cancelled out if the same subject has central heating, a fridge full of beer and Netflix?

Of course, the biggest impact after 3 days of snow was the devastating effect on the fresh produce shelves of our shops and supermarkets. With some roads impassable, outlets across Scotland were left without essentials such as eggs, milk and bread while those supplies that did get through were quickly snapped up. I was amazed to watch Aberdonians so terrified by the situation that they were actually buying powdered egg, long life milk, and in the most extreme cases, brown bread. This was both sociologically fascinating and immensely irritating for those of us who like to start each day with eggy soldiers and a latté. However, as always, where extreme weather and human frailty have caused a problem, science will bring the solution. With no bread supplies, I simply decided to make my own.

To my advantage, I had perfect recall of the formula for the optimal ratio of each ingredient, but to my detriment I didn’t in fact have all the ingredients. But scientific progress, as in the discovery of penicillin, often results from serendipity, so I decided to proceed nonetheless, making a few judicious swaps. Alas! I now realise that garlic salt is not an adequate substitute for yeast. And, despite their similar constituencies whilst inert and uncooked, it is not scientifically sound to replace flour with Plaster of Paris. The resultant substance, which I have named ‘Unbread’ is entirely inedible, but possesses such density and adhesive qualities that it has provided invaluable insulation from the floodwaters now rising at my backie.

Davinia Smythe-Barratt, Ordinary Mum

I don’t know about all the other ordinary Mums out there, but I found this recent spate of cold weather more than a little stressful!  I mean, the weather was bad enough, but the behaviour of some people was just abhorrent.

Take the roads, for example.  All we ever heard about was cars getting stuck in snowdrifts, going off the road, unable to get up hills etc.  What’s wrong with people?  Why can’t they heed the very sensible advice and not travel unless the journey is essential? If you absolutely must take the roads, as I did on Friday for a vital Reiki session with my Aromatherapist – leave the MG at home and take the Disco.  Job done.

That’s where I was headed when I had an encounter with a snow-bound young driver who had managed to get his Fiesta stuck in the white stuff. The silly sausage waved me down as I eased past, and asked if I could tow him free. I did what I think we’d all have done in those circumstances – kept going.  Well, how will youngsters ever learn if people are always pulling them out of trouble? Anyway, when I come to sell the Disco (which, like any car, I’ll do as soon as I’ve had it for 2 years. That’s when the screenwash light comes on, which is a handy reminder) just think what having once attached a Fiesta to the tow bar towbar would do to the resale value! Some people are so selfish.

The biggest issue, of course, was all these idiots panic-buying groceries.  At the weekend I had Emmeline’s friends round for a birthday soiree, and the caterers were struggling to find breadcrumbs for the deep-fried langoustine and caviar bonbons.  So, with the nightmare scenario of Emmeline’s party being utterly ruined by a canapé related disaster very much on the cards, I set off to the shops to save the day.

When I got there – the shelves were virtually bare!  I couldn’t believe my eyes!  So of course, I bought every one of the 30 loaves they had left.  The shop manager asked if I would consider leaving some bread for other people, but I explained that our need was greater.

Funnily enough, while I was out the caterers had improvised a really marvellous tempura batter, and didn’t need the bread after all, so I threw it out for the birds. Honestly, you couldn’t make it up!