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 23.8.18

We’ll try to remember Asbestos we can.

Ron Cluny, Official Council Spokesman

There have been complaints from the usual moaning minnies, after asbestos in an Aberdeen school was discovered and then mistakenly left in a skip for 5 days. As the (mercifully, heavily redacted) report says, the Line Manager in question “did not initiate procedure because he forgot about the incident”. Regrettable, certainly, but entirely understandable. I’m not going to underplay the seriousness of this incident, but in fairness, the average local government official’s day is as jam-packed as a  Greggs Doughnut  It’s a non-stop cavalcade of phone calls, appointments, meetings, phone calls about the meetings, meetings about the appointments, and fly time. We cant be expected to remember a’hin.

Especially those horny-handed sons of toil who man the Building Works Department, where ye dinna get a bonnie young P.A. to tell you what you’re supposed to be doing.

There’s an affa stuff to remember, and quite honestly it is only natural that sometimes things get unremembered. For example, last Friday? Complete blank.  I can recall not a jot after I popped in to that party at the Housing Office in Tillydrone and someone passed me a smint. Which reminds me, I need to make an expenses claim for my taxi there, and my helicopter home. So to anybody that wants to have a go at the Council for this, I would say to them; ‘h’min, that asbestos was sitting about in the school for yonks, so what’s another five days? Five days is nothing. There’s potholes on Commerce Street that we’ve forgotten all about for 5 years!  See how easy it is? I can’t remember the last time I didn’t forget something that I was supposed to remember. Or perhaps I did. I forget.  And I’ve got a P.A.


Shelley Shingles, Showbiz Correspondent and Miss Fetteresso 1983

O. M. Actual. Honest. To. Goodness. G! I am totes beside myself! The Beeb have just announced their contestants for this year’s Strictly and they have just made my day!

There’s loads of famous faces; like a wifie from the News, a boy from Red Dwarf and a bloke that used to play cricket, but they’ve only gone and included my all time crush – the totes adorbs Lee Ryan from Blue!

Lee is such a hunk! He was my favourite member of Blue, (apart from Duncan and Simon, obv) but Lee always combined that Boy-Next-Door charm with a y chavvie edge which was oh-so appealing. 

Me and Lee go way back. I’ll never forget the first time I met him. He was attending the premier of Stuart Little 2 in Leicester Square, and I was doing some glamour work, opening the doors of the limousines with an umbrella to keep the rain off the celebs. When Lee emerged from one of them, hair impeccable, suit shining, I’ll never forget what he said to me. “Aarrghh! Hold it up a bit love, the pointy bits gone in my eye!’.

Wise words from a true gent.


Ron Cluny, Official Council Spokesman

There have been complaints from the usual moaning minnies, after asbestos in an Aberdeen school was discovered and then mistakenly left in a skip for 5 days. As the (mercifully, heavily redacted) report says, the Line Manager in question “did not initiate procedure because he forgot about the incident”. Regrettable, certainly, but entirely understandable. I’m not going to underplay the seriousness of this incident, but in fairness, the average local government official’s day is as jam-packed as a  Greggs Doughnut  It’s a non-stop cavalcade of phone calls, appointments, meetings, phone calls about the meetings, meetings about the appointments, and fly time. We cant be expected to remember a’hin.

Especially those horny-handed sons of toil who man the Building Works Department, where ye dinna get a bonnie young P.A. to tell you what you’re supposed to be doing.

There’s an affa stuff to remember, and quite honestly it is only natural that sometimes things get unremembered. For example, last Friday? Complete blank.  I can recall not a jot after I popped in to that party at the Housing Office in Tillydrone and someone passed me a smint. Which reminds me, I need to make an expenses claim for my taxi there, and my helicopter home. So to anybody that wants to have a go at the Council for this, I would say to them; ‘h’min, that asbestos was sitting about in the school for yonks, so what’s another five days? Five days is nothing. There’s potholes on Commerce Street that we’ve forgotten all about for 5 years!  See how easy it is? I can’t remember the last time I didn’t forget something that I was supposed to remember. Or perhaps I did. I forget.  And I’ve got a P.A.


Struan Metcalfe, conservative MP for Aberdeenshire North

As someone who is in the public eye and indubitably prone to the odd fox’s paw, I have had to make many an apology. In fact I think I have said sorry more times than Justin Beiber (That’s a hip reference to appeal to the younger voters. Look him up. Grandpa!). But it seems that  we have now entered a time in our progress as a species where we (by which I mean politicians) can say virtually anything (by which I mean, ANYTHiNG) without fear that somebody who actually knows what they’re talking about can forensically refute what we are saying because as Trump’s lawyer Rudi Guliani said this week ‘Truth isn’t truth’.  When the truth is a moveable object and facts can be ‘alternative’, the very foundation of political discourse becomes as wobbly as Jacob Rees-Mogg on roller-blades.

And that, my good fellows, is bally brilliant for someone with a chequered past such as I.

That time Felicity my (former) researcher accused me of upskirting….wrongI had my phone out to photograph my new shoes for instagram and had no idea the camera was on selfie mode.

That time I was so drunk I drove home through fields from Oldmeldrum to Cuminestown decimating 3 flocks of sheep? Not my fault. Alien invasion. Go on, prove me wrong, I bally dare you!

That time I put Michael Gove in a headlock until he said “Struan is the best, I wish I was him and he is so witty and handsome to boot” before I would release him? That one’s true. Best. Tory Party Conference. Ever.

P&J Column 16.8.18

The Vape of Things to Come

Kevin Cash, Moneysaving Expert and King of the Grips

I’ve been fascinated tae read the latest reports aboot e-cigarettes, and how they may nae be as entirely harmless as at first thought. Apparently it turns oot that puffin awa on a superheated cocktail of fruit-flavoured chemicals may not be 100% risk-free.  Fa’d hiv thunk it?  Boffins reckon that using a e-cig for 20 years might gie ye  a stronger chance o’ disabling immune cells in yer lungs, leading tae similar effects tae the lung disease contracted by regular smokers. Mind you, these tests hiv nae been conclusive and hiv only been spotted in lab conditions and only over a 48-hour period. It remains too early tae tell if e-fags are harmful in the long term, as naeb’dy has been using them for long enough.  Mind, it’s nae so long ago that ab’dy used tae bang on aboot fit a healthy pastime haein’ a fag wiz, but they’ve changed their mind on that quick-smart.  Of course, it’s nae unusual for scientists to change their minds on things fan new evidence comes in.  My pal Jumbo, fa used to be a chemistry teacher afore he got caught nicking a’ the chemicals and trying to invent a new legal high, initially pled not guilty, but threw in the towel eence he saw the CCTV.  And of course daein’ too much of onythin’ is harmful. Jist ask my mate Mick the Pill who once drank so much coffee that he sneezed wi his eyes open and ended up in A&E.

Of course, I wiz dead against e-cigarettes fan they first got popular. Partly cos I hiv had a fear of ony new technology ever since my mither tried to claw back a bittie o’ value by cutting my hair wi een o those hair-trimming combs fan I wiz wee and took a bit of my ear aff. But maistly cos I hiv 10,000 packs o’ knocked-off Regal Kingsize takin up a’ the space in my shed at hame.  (Still available for £5 a pack; see me in the lounge bar if keen).

But I’ve been looking at the figures at it turns oot that vaping is getting mair and mair popular. Numbers of Vapers has risen fae 7 million in 2011 tae over 35 million 5 years later. Jist look at the number of e-cigarette stores in toon. There’s almost as many as the pound shops and bookies. Well wi that kind of popularity I hiv of course changed my tune, for there is nae sense in ignoring the Aberdeen market’s demands. Saying that, the Aberdeen Market demanded I get lost and stop trying tae flog my stuff on their steps on Market Street, so I jist wandered roond the corner and tried again.

I have developed my ain range of cut-price e-cigs fit dinna contain ony tar or ony nicotine, so they are hands-doon the safest e-cig available. You can puff awa as much as ye like and it winna cause ye ony harm. I hiv used the very finest low-cost materials, by takin a job lot of second-hand Doctor Who sonic screwdrivers that Mick sourced fae the skip oot the back of the closed doon Toys R Us at the beach, taken oot the batteries, and filled each of them wi the contents of a packet fruit flavoured sherbet dibdabs.  I can guarantee an e-smoke like nae ither.  And watter streaming liberally fae yer een and nostrils.


Cava Kenny Cordiner, the football pundit who knows his bunions

Regulatory readers will know that although he is a football flan through and through,  Old Kenny does follow the croquet from time to time. There’s nothing better than the sound of feather on pillow, except for maybe the sound of studs on shin pad. But the croquet has been at both ends of the newspapers this week.

England’s Ginger-nut all-rounder, Bram Stoker, has been up in front of the beak on charges of Affray. Old Kenny isn’t too hot on his legal bingo, so I had to look up what “affray” meant. Scary stuff. I could have been charged with “affray” pretty much every Saturday back when I was playing!

In Stoker’s case, it all kicked off outside a Bristol nightclub when he’d been out celebrating a big win. He took Oxbridge at 2 lads who was causing trouble and he decided to knock them both for six – something he’s apparently pretty good at.

He’s hardly played for England since, but now that the Judge says he’s not guilty, he can play again with a clean pate. Some folks is up in armpits about it.  It does seem a bit funny that you can get banned for a year’s crocket for changing the condition of the ball and then walk away Selina Scott free after you’ve changed the condition of someone’s face.  Still, I reckon they should leave him be. Let he who is without skin cast the first scone!

P&J Column 9.8.18

‘Give my regards to Broad Street, remember me to Marischal Square’

J Fergus Lamont, Arts Correspondent

Aberdeen continues to lead the way in the field of public art. In December last year I found Marischal Square a bold and brutalist monument with many evocative empty spaces for contemplation. I am pleased to report that the surrounding area has been further revitalised, and that a mere 10 months behind schedule (a nano-second in cultural terms) the art installation known as “Broad Street” is open at last.   Like many, I had wondered what the project would involve, especially as the perpetual absence of personnel suggested the work was being done in secret, perhaps undercover of night. But as I walked down the freshly re-opened street I was immediately struck by the bravery of the artist in leaving several fenced-off areas ‘unfinished’ in a wry comment on the impermanence of man’s works upon this earth.

What defines this piece is that the tired old conventions of road and pavement demarcation have been done away with in favour of a cohesive single level surface where pedestrian, bike and bus can peacefully co-exist. A brave attempt to challenge existing notions of what it means to be ‘safe’ in both our physical and social environment. In furtherance of this narrative the somewhat bourgeois pelican crossing at the top of Upperkirkgate has been removed, allowing the pedestrian to make a dash for it on their own terms. One can scarcely imagine a more immediate or powerful metaphor for Brexit.

I watched as a number 19 bus bore down upon a family of five with a pushchair. Visitors will find themselves frequently participating in this specific piece of exciting street theatre.

Overawed, I stepped onto the ‘road’ and took a glancing blow to the coccyx from a passing bus. I wept.


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

As a scientist, people are always asking me questions, and this week, they’ve mostly been asking me about flies. After briskly checking my spaver, I realise they are referring to Aberdeen’s recent infestation by insectile invaders.

Many a barbecue or game of rounders was ruined last weekend when the hot, humid conditions we’ve been enjoying saw a huge influx of syrphidae (or hover-flies to the non-entomologists among you). These little fellows are completely harmless and extremely beneficial to plant life, but sadly for them have evolved to resemble that most despised of garden agitators, the wasp. As a result, their appearance caused some of the more delicate amongst us to flap hysterically, run about like startled deer and shriek like the audience at a Justin Timberlake concert. Myself included.

However, a little research showed me how benign hover-flies actually are, and as a man of reason, I was able to entirely overcome my basic instinctive terror of yellow and black stripy insects by the power of my rational mind. A pity that I then inadvertently disturbed the byke of wasps in our shed. Thanks to my rational, evolved intellectual response I remained unperturbed just long enough to become something of a vespular pincushion. ‘Oocha beastie’, as Descartes would say.


Ron Cluny, Official Council Spokesman

As the official spin-doctor to a local authority that has included such luminaries as Barney Crockett, Willie Young and Scott Cassie, I know a wee bit about damage limitation.  So it was with a sense of anticipation and a decent glass of red that I settled down to watch the news after Boris Johnson’s recent claim that Burka-wearers look like bank robbers and post-boxes.

This is, to say the least, an interesting perspective for a man whose political hero made his name fighting religious persecution, and I regret that I would grade Boris’s spokesman’s attempts to justify the comments as a ‘D minus’.

So here’s some feedback that might lead to an improved future performance:

1. Boris Johnson looks like he has been drawn by someone who had suffered broken wrists after falling out bed during a nightmare about a baby that has been covered in shredded wheat.  He is therefore not well placed to pass adverse comment on the appearance of others.

2. Trying to justify slagging off a minority group by stating that you are doing so in order to provoke a debate on liberal values rather overlooks the fact that prime among liberal values is tolerance.  It is also a bit like setting fire to your neighbour’s house in order to provoke a debate on arson.

3. Saying that attempts to make Boris apologise infringe his human rights misses the point that in a competition between religious freedom and the right to be a self-serving racist-baiting plum of epic proportions, freedom of religion is as easy a winner as Willie Miller in a ‘Who Now Looks the Least Like Willie Miller’ competition.

P&J Column 2.8.18

Feel’s Gold

View From the Midden by Jock Alexander of MTV (Meikle Wartle Television)

It’s been an auriferous wik in the village. Ye’ll hiv seen the excited reports aboot a giant gold nugget being discovered in a Scottish river by a mannie fa wants tae remain anonymous. It has been dubbed ‘The Douglas Nugget’, so I can only assume that the mannie fit wishes tae remain anonymous his nae luck. Onywye, it ‘s aboot the size of a gold ball, and is worth £50,000. And naeb’dy kens exactly far it wiz found, as the mannie isnae saying, in case it sparks a goldrush tae the river in question. Of course, this secrecy only means that anybody wi the tiniest stream trickling ahind their house thinks there may be gold in’t. Certainly, Meikle Wartle has nae been slow in proclaiming the nugget may weel have come from here, in the hope that crowds of fortune-seekers come floodin’ intae the village tae boost wir economy.  Noo I da wint tae burst anyone’s bubble, but its unlikely that there’s  gold in the Burn o’ Wartle. I widna advise onyb’dy tae ging prospecting in there. Ye widnae find ony precious metals, though ye might find a water-borne contagion.

However, that didnae stop Feel Moira fae encasing her considerable self in a vast rubber wetsuit and trailing aff doon tae the burn wi’ her flippers on and her face set wi grim determination.. Her first mistake wiz making a running jump doon a slope and belly flopping intae the watter. The burn’s nae the deepest at the best o’ times, but efter wiks o’ unseasonal blazing sunshine it’s doon tae a trickle. Thanks tae the laws of physics, this meant the entire contents of the burn were displaced o’er the surrounding fields, leaving the floundering Moira wedged amidst the chuckies. I did feel sorry for her, but reserved maist of my sympathy for the support team of indomitable wifies fae the W.I. fa hid tae prise her oot o’ the wet suit. Cheerio!


Kevin Cash, Money Saving Expert and King of the Grips

I seen a story the ither day where a bloke managed to steal a shark from an aquarium by disguising it as a baby and pushing it oot in a pram.  ‘Shark-napping’, they cry it.  Only in America, you might think, but I seen something very similar myself in Macduff Aquariaum jist the ither day, fan an apparently well to do wifie tried to smuggle a dogfish oot in a bugaboo.  Turned oot, efter I alerted the staff, that it wiz jist an affa ugly baby.  An embarrassing incident for all concerned.

Still, there is a lot of value in exotic pets.  My pal, Mick the Pill, recently bought a job lot of goldfish fae a mannie that used to run a coconut shy in the Carnies.  Mick his got ahud of some knocked off Tippex and has been colouring them in like clownfish and selling them on to fans of ‘Finding Nemo’.  I myself hiv made a small fortune by flogging giant tortoise garden ornaments but claiming they’re jist early hibernators.  Best of a, though, is the ‘hatch your own’ Loch Ness Monsters I’ve been selling to gullible tourists.  Never let a job lot of foosty Milky Bar Easter Eggs ging tae waste!  That’s the value!


Cava Kenny Cordiner, the football columnist who’s through on away goals

As I write this, old Kenny is packing his suitcases for a road trip to the Dons’ big European tie down south. What a job I had getting it organized. It was hard getting match tickets, but the train tickets was even worse.

First of all, I booked tickets for Barnsley by mistake. The boy at the station let me change my destination, but when I looked at the map of the North of England, old Kenny was scratching his head. Someone needs to tell them that not every town needs a cake named after it.

Anyway, I got it all sorted so I’m off down the road on Thursday to cheer the Reds on. They done really well in the first leg, and was unlucky to concede that late equaliser. People was off-writing Scottish football but the Dandies proved the doubting tomatoes wrong and left them with egg and cress on their face.  Must remember to pack  some sandwiches.

So I’ve got everything crossed for tonight. Including the box on the bookie’s coupon what said “Aberdeen to win 2-1”! Come on you reds!!!

P&J Column 26.7.18

Pugh Pugh Barney McGrew Cuthbert Dibble and Trump

Ron Cluny – official council spokesman

As chief spin-doctor for Aberdeen City Council, part of my role is to take the heat off the administration and draw attention away from their less brilliant decisions (I am kept busy).  So, as you can imagine, I’ve done my share of talking up unpopular development plans.

But what a pleasure it’s been to see the masters at work, with the announcement this week of the Trump Organisation’s application to build 500 luxury houses, shops and offices at Menie. ‘The Trump Estate’ is a fair size of a development, as big as a small town, in fact – so it’s a bit of a pity the name  ‘Trumpton’ was already taken.

Of course, all the usual nay-sayers will come out with their tired and predictable arguments that the original Trump plan was only granted on the basis of the promise of significant job creation and massive investment in the region, almost none of which has actually been delivered, and the Trump organisation itself has a questionable track record for what some would call ‘sharp business practice’, and others might refer to as swicking.

But that kind of doom-mongering is missing the point. We in the North-East have only recently dared to hope that the green shoots of recovery might be about to poke through the ground frost of the oil slump; so it is reassuring to know that an international concern with the status of the Trump organisation is confident that there’s a market here for funcy hooses priced at over a million a pop.

It’s almost as if they have inside information that the oil price is about to rise dramatically as it typically does in times of international crisis. Such as when conflict is threatened in a country in the Middle East. Like Iran, to choose an example entirely at random.

But the very best thing about this application, is that it’s before Aberdeenshire Council, and not the town. So we can be assured that the final decision will be taken carefully, thoughtfully, and without fear or favour; and that the inevitable stooshie that follows won’t be my problem.


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

As a scientist in a heatwave, people have been asking me plaintive questions like “Is it true that hot drinks cool you down more effectively than cold ones?” “Can you make it rain please?”, and “Is the Torry Pong now officially recognised by the UN as a chemical weapon?”

However, I’ve been too overcome by the current humid conditions to answer such trivia. This sort of weather is not good for me, as I have an excess of excess of forehead, and indeed tophead. Therefore, I have been sitting in the shade of some trees in Victoria Park, with a Tupperware tub full of factor 50, pondering issues of science and technology, and trying to ignore the young ruffians on mopeds who keep doing wheelies around me shouting ‘hoy, baldie – yer ice cream’s melted’.

I have been delighted to see, in the wake of the government recommending ‘full-fibre broadband’ coverage as standard, that Aberdeen is one of only 3 Scottish cities who are getting this super fast digital upgrading right now. Network provider CityFibre has proclaimed it will enable recipients to be more innovative, more productive and more economically active.  An impressive claim, particularly as the scheme is being rolled out in Kincorth.

It will certainly revolutionise things, promising download speeds of up to 20 times faster than we have now, or 200 times faster than the AOL modem I still have plugged into my phone line, as part of my home-made computer lash-up which I cling to as a protest at the exorbitant prices charged by technology companies like Apple and Microsoft. The specs of my set up are available online for all to see. On Myspace.

There are, however, far more scientifically interesting things than fibre-optic cables beneath the ground. There is also the recently demonstrated method whereby trees secretly talk to each other and share resources via a network of mycorrhizal fungi within their root systems. Through this method, trees can pass water, nutrients, and even information to each other, warn each other about dangers like insect infestations or even sabotage their rivals.  It is, in very many respects, a naturally occurring version of social media, only with fewer selfies and more sap. In fact, clever people like me have christened this process the ‘Wood Wide Web’ which might seem like a pretty weak pun to you, but is about as funny as gets for academic botanists who specialise in mycorrhizal fungus.

P&J Column 19.7.18

Michty, fit a heat!

View from the midden with Meikle Wartle Televisions’ Jock Alexander

It’s been a sweltering wik in the village, as Meiklewartle his been assailed by the same heatwave affecting the rest of the country. Files some fowk delight in het weather, their serotonin levels soaring as they ging on picnics, play frisbee, and indulge in a myriad o’ healthy pursuits; I’ve been fair puggled, sat in the kitchen in ma lang-johns, resting ma heed in the fridge. Nae been fine for me, and nae fine for my postie who cam in the back door wi’ my Littlewoods catalogue, took one look at me on the fleer in ma smalls, and swiftly fled. I da blame her. Ootside, the beasts sleep a’ day, the crops hiv wilted, and the midden is fizzing gently in the heat.
I am noo craving a return tae wir regulr North-East summer climate of howling gales and sleet. But in ither parts of the country the dry conditions hiv been been revealing sites of archaeological interest. Wi’ surface vegetation drying oot, aerial images are showing outlines of ancient structures fit have been hidden for decades, if nae centuries. So we’ve hid Roman forts in England, megalithic tombs in Wales, and a “ghost garden” at a country hoose in Lancashire. Weel, onything they can hae in the rest of the country is fair game fer Meikle Wartle, and only yesterday, Feel Moira launched a drone in the hope of finding the ootline of something interesting. I wiz amazed tae hear this, partly as Moira his nae interest in archaeology, but maistly as she disnae hae a drone. Fit she dis hae, it turns oot, is a digital camera, a massive bunch o’ helium balloons liberated fae the Co-opie in Inverurie, and only a passing acquaintance wi’ the laws o’ physics. So off she floats, snapping as she goes. I pity the pilot o’ the flight fae Kirkwall fit passed her at 20,000 feet. How is he gaan tae explain that tae air traffic control at Dyce? Predictably, Moira niver found nithin’ of interest, but gravity reasserted itself jist as she wis floating ower the village square; so at least there is noo an unusual ootline for folk tae look at. Cheerio!

Cava Kenny Cordiner, the football pundit who had panama in the sweeper.

Well, I guess the curtains has been drawed on another World Cup. And what a tourniquet it was! Now that the crust has settled, here’s Old Kenny’s views on who was the winners and losers during the greatest show unearthed:

Winner: France. Howay they blues! Howay they blues! That’s what’s the fans was chanting, and who can blame them? C’est magna feet, Hooky street, as they say in Paris!

Loser: Germany. They maybe experts at reserving sun loungers, but the Germans was useless at defending their title. They got stuffed by Mexico and South Korea and didn’t even make it out of the groups. Don’t mention the VAR! Melody told me to write that bit, I’m not sure why.

Winner: Harry Kane. The England skipper got the Golden Boot and has made a name for himself himself on the world stage. Not bad going for 2 tap ins, 3 pens and a fluke. I still don’t understand why they didn’t not give it to the lad Owen Goals – according to my wallchart, he got 12, and all for different teams!

Loser: Neymar. The Brazilian lad must have gotten his wires cross-eyed when he turned up. He thought he was up against Tom Daley in the diving. He never got given a penalalty, but he might get a BAFTA. There’s nopace in the modern game for stimulation like that. Mind you, I never minded playing against fakers like Neymar, because after a few bits of therapeutics, the ref took no notice when I hoovered them ten feet in the air.

Winner: Russia. Before the World Cup everyone was saying it was a right dodgy country where the regime was corrupt, dissent was cracked down upon and the society was intolerant to minorities. Well, that’s what I cut and pasted off the Guardian website, at any road. But now everyone has seed that its actually a brilliant place, even Donald Trumpet says so, and he is a well known divot. Plus, as anyone who happened to be in an IKEA after England beat Sweden in the quarters seen, people in green-houses shouldn’t roll  stones.

P&J Column 12.7.18

Looks like we’re all resigned to chaos…

Struan Metcalfe, Conservative MP for Aberdeenshire North and surrounding Nether Regions

Sometimes one’s principles are pushed to the limit. There comes a point when one must pin one’s colours to the mast and make a decision that’s so tumultuous, so life changing, one’s botty twitches more than the vein in John Bercow’s forehead. For all of us at Westminster, this has been such a time, and I must now speak out, as my own conscience dictates. My friends, I’ve been supporting England in the World Cup.

I am a proud Scotch (I return to my family seat at Strathbogie at least once every two years) – but I am a man of principle. And principally I have found that if you want to have a snifter or seven anywhere in London at the mo, you better be ready to shout “Up the Engerland’ along with the oiks. And so It was that I found myself last night singing a version of Atomic Kitten’s ‘Whole Again’ whilst being cradled in the arms of a bald and tattooed stranger on the Old Kent Road. ‘Is this’, I wondered , ‘what I want for our nation’s future?’

It was in in that moment that I realised it was time to pick a side in the whole Brexit hullaballoo – and, in that delicate condition my decision was to come out in favour of the Three Brexiteers (D.D., BoJo and the other chap nobody had heard of and who’s name you already can’t remember). So, as the traffic cones whizzed past my head, I did what any true political animal of the 21st Century would do, I tweeted.

@Number10, Please pass this resignation letter to ‘She Who Must Be Dis-May-ed’. (Sorry Theresa, I don’t have your handle to attach you. Hopefully Mickey G will print it out and leave it on your desk for me.) @thegovemeister

Dear P.M. I fully expect the repercussions to be terrible and the fall out devastating, but my dream of political greatness is dying. So, like the former Foreign Secretary, I have no option but to resign. I cannot support the Chequers fudge (also – spoilers – I am pretty sure Boris is mounting a coup against you and I want to be riding his Eton College coat-tails when he does!)” #brexit #ratssinkingship

in reply to @struanmetcalfe

@struanmetcalfe, I don’t think the Prime Minister will be able to accept your resignation, because you aren’t in the Cabinet. You’re a backbencher, you absolute wazzock. And I won’t be printing off your tweet. Famously, I can’t work a room, what makes you think I can work the printer?”

J Fergus Lamont, art critic and author of ‘Sunday Chuddy Sunday – A History of Union Street Deep-Cleaning”

You will of course be aware that the 10th July was National ‘Don’t Step On A Bee Day – a day to increase awareness of the humble bumble bee and not, as I originally thought, a festival of destruction  involving the sanitary-ware in which one washes one’s derrière. Even more excitingly, today is National Simplicity Day, held in honour of that great advocate Henry David Thoreau;  a chance for those us in the busy modern world to abandon our mobile phones, laptops and other modern gadgets, and experience true peace, quiet and contentment.  Separating oneself from the lure of screen based devices can be difficult, but as fate would have it, I managed to achieve something of the technology-free conditions required by inadvertently flinging my iPhone into the washing machine at the weekend with a full load.

So liberated, while wandering the sunny streets, I stumbled upon a stunning new artistic edifice.  If you are feeling bereft at the continued delay in the reopening of the Music Hall or the Art Gallery, then get ye to Mannofield, where can be found an installation in striking monochrome bearing the intriguing name “Oor Wullie’s Braw Fish & Chips”. It comprises a brutalist structure intricately decorated in pictograms that tell an epic tale in demotic Scots. It is something akin to the Bayeux Tapestry. Though rather than depicting the Norman Invasion, the Battle of Hastings and King Harold with an arrow in his eye, it features Wee Eck, Fat Bob and a boy in dungarees sitting on a bucket. I understand that the pictograms are Dundonian in origin, so having them on display here in Aberdeen is one in the eye for the V&A! I attempted to push through crowd to discuss the piece more fully with the white-coated curator behind the stainless steel counter, when a stray squirt of vinegar landed in my eye.

I wept.

P&J Column 5.7.18


The Gull can’t help it

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

As a scientist, I have been considering the questions which are  essential during a heatwave such as  “Can I have a Calippo for my breakfast?“ “ At what temperature does tarmac melt,” and “will this help or hinder the resurfacing of Broad Street, now in it’s 20th year?”

Despite the heat, however, I have been keeping an eye on the latest scientific news, and in particular an experiment in the South Pacific involving New Caledonian Crows. These remarkable creatures have the ability to make and use tools, solve complex problems, and use what has been termed a ‘mental template’ to remember how to make the right size of paper tokens to operate a vending machine and release a reward of food.

This is all highly impressive, considering there are many human beings, myself included, unable to operate such machines and who, when faced with a non-dropping curly-wurly or an unreturned 20p piece, experience a ‘mental template’ of their own

The intelligence of the family Corvidea (which includes the Crow genus) is well known, with ravens the cleverest of all. They have a staggering 2.1 billion neurons packed into their forebrains, and can solve puzzles, establish social hierarchies and replicate human speech. In fact the ravens at the Tower of London have been known to play practical jokes by creeping up behind groups of tourists and barking like a dog or asking them: “what the #@€& are you looking at?”

I found myself wondering if other bird species might be capable of similar feats, so decided to test the intelligence of birds native to this city, and managed to lure two seagulls through my kitchen window with a combination of old kebab wrappers and a half eaten haddock supper from the Ashvale. Not what I normally have lying about in the kitchen of course! But Mrs Schlenk has gone to her sisters for some ‘space’.

I pointed out that, in order to reach her desired destination, her optimal direction of travel would not be south to St Andrews, but straight up – although coincidentally the distances (62.14 miles) are identical. But she was into the Zafira and away before I could finish my sentence.

In any event, with two surprisingly large seabirds eyeing me from the breakfast bar, I began my experiments in earnest. The results have been inconclusive, however.

They have not replicated human speech, though the distinctive pattern they splattered on the table may be some form of pictogram.
They used no tools of any kind, and having been defeated by a spatula, I didn’t hold out much hope for their efforts with the microwave.

But they did display some signs of animal cunning as one pecked me about the face and neck while the other one opened the fridge with its beak, before both escaped through the window with the lasagne Mrs Schlenk had left me.  However, this may not, in fact, be good evidence of avian intelligence, as Mrs Schlenk makes bloody awful lasagne.


Cava Kenny Cordiner, the football columnist who lets the forward know he’s there early doors

Say what you like about the World Cup (unless you’re Russian, then you’d better say what President Putting likes) but it’s been convulsive viewing! The first knockout round had thrills, spills and coupon-busting upsets galore.

Unlike some, I’m not Aunty English, so I was pleased to see the Aldi Enema get through against the Columbos. The South American lads was resorting to real dirty tic-tacs, with shoulder barges, shoving and pushing and even trying to rough up the penalty spot when Harry Kane was waiting to take it. But there was nothing they did what was as bad as when the lad Barrios stuck the head on Henderson. I was sure the Ref was going to give that Colombian his marching powders.

But they got there in the end, England, finally burying their voodoo in penalty shootouts. They’ve got Sweden next in the quarters – I fancy Southgate’s lads to mash the Swedes and make mince and tatties out of them.

Also I seen bicyclist Chris Froome has been cleared of the doping charge what was hanging over him. So now he’s free to ride the Tour de Farce that starts on Saturday. Never before has a man doing a pee caused such excitement in the world of sport. At least, not since the one I done against the corner flag at Banks o’ Dee.